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7 Best Drone Cameras in 2023

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Nothing “lifts” your photography like a drone camera. The best drone cameras offer a perspective that’s almost impossible to get any other way. They are used in real estate photography, landscape and nature, and industrial work. Sometimes they are used for inspection work. Others are used to add cinematic “Wow!” to music videos or action photography.

If you’re looking for the best drone camera to use in your photography, we’ve researched the field. Most of the drones in this review will open up the world of commercial drone cameras for you. We’ve included one budget option if you just want to try out the aerial world. Our top pick is the PowerEgg X Wizard. It’s waterproof, can land on water, and is also a standalone AI operated camera.

PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
Experience the ultimate in aerial photography and videography with this waterproof multi-purpose drone.

[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here].


What Is the Best Drone Camera?

You’ll need to balance your requirements for image quality, price, and drone capability. Before we look at the drone cameras in detail, here is a summary of our choices.

Our Top Pick
PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
  • Waterproof design
  • Can land on water with float attachments
  • Works as AI handheld camera
  • 40 mph top speed
  • 4K video
Best for Video
DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
  • 1-inch image sensor for 5.4K/30 fps and 4K/60 fps video
  • MasterShots for best shots with a tap of the screen
  • FocusTrack features for easy tracking
  • Records up to 1 billion colors
  • 7.5 miles max video transmission for clear image feed
Best Compact Drone
DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
  • 5.4K video
  • 42 mph maximum speed
  • Up to 60 fps 4K video
  • Flies in wind speed up to 23.9 mph
  • 31 minutes of flying time
Most Versatile Twin Camera Drone
DJI Mavic 3 Classic
DJI Mavic 3 Classic
DJI Mavic 3 Classic
  • Two on-board cameras
  • 20 MP Hasselblad main camera
  • Up to 28x telephoto
  • 46 minutes of flying time
  • Maximum 120 fps video
Best Value 5.4K Drone
Autel Robotics EVO Lite Plus Drone
Autel Robotics EVO Lite Plus Drone
Autel Robotics EVO Lite Plus Drone
  • 5.4K video
  • 40 minutes of flying time
  • 20 MP camera
  • 2.7K video feed to controller
  • Flies in up to 38 mph winds
Best Autonomous Drone
Skydio 2+ Autonomous Cinema Drone
Skydio 2+ Autonomous Cinema Drone
Skydio 2+ Autonomous Cinema Drone
  • Autonomous flight modes
  • Excellent obstacle avoidance
  • Can be guided by handheld "wand"
  • 4K video
  • AI-controlled subject following
Best Beginner Drone
Ryze Tech Tello: Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids
Ryze Tech Tello: Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids
Ryze Tech Tello: Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids
  • 5 MP camera
  • 720p video
  • Easy control via smartphone app
  • Programmed flight actions
  • Simple takeoff and landing

Choosing the Best Drone Camera

Now let’s look in more detail at our recommended drones.

1. PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone

PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
Brand PowerVision
Max Video Resolution 4K
Max Stills Resolution 12 MP
Flying Time 30 min
Range 3.7 miles
Max Speed 40 mph
Weight 18.4 oz
Other Key Features Waterproof, can land on water, detachable rotors for handheld use
Best For Anyone looking for drone footage near water

If you’re looking for something different, the PowerEgg X Wizard will catch your eye. With its egg-shaped body (hence the name) and optional floats, it stands out from the crowd. But it’s not the looks that should pique your interest.

It would not be wise, to put it mildly, to take most drones out in the rain. And it’s even less wise to fly them over water unless you accept the risk of the potential watery grave for your beloved toy. But the PowerEgg is designed for all of this. It has a detachable waterproof cover to protect it in the rain. And the floats allow you to land on water.

The innovation doesn’t stop there. You can separate the PowerEgg completely from its rotors and use it as a handheld camera. And it has gimbal stabilization. There’s even a wrist strap that attaches to the body in place of one of the rotor arms. It’s all rather clever.

Finally, you can also attach a tripod mount and use the PowerEgg as a standalone camera. Facial recognition and AI allow it to track you as you film. This simply sets it apart from other drones.

This is all well and good, but is the PowerEgg any good as an actual drone? Well, the answer here is yes. It can capture 4K video and RAW stills. There are two onboard microphones with optional noise reduction. And there is a microphone on the controller, so you can choose one or both for your footage.

The quality of the captured images is perfectly good for most consumer purposes. RAW is a better option for stills. The in-camera JPEGs lack some sophistication. And, of course, shooting through the weatherproof dome has a slight impact. Similarly, raindrops on the dome will impair vision slightly. But this drone is designed to capture shots that are impossible for other drones. So it’s a choice between some less-than-perfect footage and none.

Flight times are acceptable. They are reduced slightly by the extra weight and drag of the housing and floats. But you don’t have to use these when the conditions don’t require them.
The controller is a fairly standard setup with two joysticks and a mount for your phone.

The PowerEgg X Wizard is a great choice if you want its waterproof features. If you often fly your drone around water, then this could be the drone for you.


2. DJI Inspire 2 Drone

DJI Inspire 2 Drone
Brand DJI
Max Video Resolution 5.2K
Max Stills Resolution 20 MP
Flying Time 27 minutes
Range 4.1 miles
Max Speed 58 mph
Weight 7.6 lbs
Other Key Features Interchangeable cameras, Micro Four Thirds lens mount
Best For Filmmakers

The DJI Inspire 2 is a big beast designed for professional users. Its big selling point is the mechanism which pulls the legs up once airborne. This allows a full unobstructed view for the front gimbal-mounted drone camera.

There are three compatible cameras. The top two offer interchangeable lenses and up to 6K capture with Apple ProRes and DNG. All of which is to say that this is a serious and expensive piece of kit.

Additional features that help to make this a strong pro-level contender are the top speed of 58 mph (93 kmh) and 4.3 mile (7 km) transmission range. Whichever camera you choose, there is a permanent on-board camera so you can see where you’re going. And two operators can use this drone for precise shots. This means one pilots the drone and the other operates the camera.

The recording camera can autofollow your subject, giving you professional footage. And the interchangeable cameras and lenses means that you have a wide choice up to and including power zoom lenses. The camera has a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, which is handy if you have these already. There are counterbalance weights to let you trim the drone properly.

We think that the DJI Inspire 2 will find most of its fans among pro-level drone photographers. The hefty price tag won’t be such a deterrent. And the two-operator possibilities mean opportunities for slick and sophisticated filming.


3. DJI Air 2S

DJI Air 2S
Brand DJI
Max Video Resolution 5.4K
Max Stills Resolution 20 MP
Flying Time 31 minutes
Range 11.5 miles
Max Speed 42 mph
Weight 1.15 lbs
Other Key Features One-inch sensor, Active Track focus following, up to 60 fps video
Best For Anyone looking for a compact drone with a high MP count

There has been some discussion online about where the DJI Air 2S fits in the product range of the dominant drone camera producer. But that should not distract from the fact that this is a fantastic drone in its price range.

Photographers will be pleased with the upgrade to a one-inch sensor. But with a drone, a camera is only as good as the drone’s ability to position it where you want it. And in this respect, the Air 2S is also a fine performer.

In fact, it delivers a blend of flying ability, portability, and image quality that is hard to beat. The camera delivers 5.4K video and HDR from its 24 MP sensor. And it does it in a body that’s remarkably compact compared to other one-inch sensor drones. And flyability is exceptionally good.

The 5.4K video is impressive, but some might find the 22mm equivalent focal length lens a little wide for their taste. The good news that if you crop down to 4K you get a tighter shot. You also get 60 fps at 4K (instead of 30 fps for 5.4K).

Flight highlights include a range of sensors to enable the Air 2S to cope in tricky situations. Navigating through trees or other tricky obstacles is handled well. And DJI says it will cope with windy conditions up to 23.9 mph (38.5 kmh). This can certainly help you to focus on composition rather than control.

Transmission range is impressive. And video will successfully reach your mobile device from up to 7.5 miles (12 km) away. And if you lose contact, the automatic return to home uses GPS/GLONASS to find you easily.

The DJI Air 2S offers good image quality, some impressive smart features, and portability. It’s an attractive choice for drone camera photography.


4. DJI Mavic 3 Classic

DJI Mavic 3 Classic
Brand DJI
Max Video Resolution 5.1K
Max Stills Resolution 20 MP + 12 MP
Flying Time 46 minutes
Range 8 miles
Max Speed 42.5 mph
Weight 1.9 lbs
Other Key Features Twin cameras, manual exposure control, 28x telephoto
Best For Anyone looking for a drone camera with flexible focal length options

The DJI Mavic 3 brings a Micro Four Thirds sensor camera to a foldable drone. There was a time when folding drones were seen as distinctly amateurish. But things have changed. And the Mavic 3 certainly makes the case for taking foldable drone cameras seriously.

Of interest to photographers, of course, is the camera. Or rather cameras. The main camera is a Hasselblad-branded affair. It boasts a 20 MP sensor and can capture 5.1K video. In pro mode, you have control over the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There is an impressive 12.5 stops of dynamic range.

The second camera is not the same quality as the main one. But it is equipped with a digital zoom. Or rather, with switchable fixed focal lengths. So you can switch from the same point of view as the main lens, up to 28x telephoto. It’s a digital telephoto zoom, so image quality takes a hit at the longer lengths. On the plus side, it does help you to see from a distance if an object is worth flying closer to.

Video from the main camera can be shot at full resolution at up to 50 fps. Drop down to 4K and you get an impressive 120 fps. It’s easy to see how action drone shots at this combination could make for compelling viewing.

As for flying properties, the Mavic 3 is not lacking. Full sensor coverage makes your flying generally safe. Tree avoidance is reliably effective. And the top speed of 47 mph (76 kph) is plenty for some exciting footage. You’ll still receive video signals at up to 9.3 miles (15 km). That footage is a decent 1080p at 60 fps too. And it has return-to-home mode if you lose sight of it.

The DJI Mavic 3 is not cheap. But it provides a wealth of features that many will find attractive. Especially if they want the increased portability of a folding drone camera. It has an impressive hover time of 46 minutes. This could be a deciding factor for some users.


5. Autel Robotics EVO Lite Plus Drone

Autel Robotics EVO Lite Plus Drone
Brand Autel
Max Video Resolution 5.4K
Max Stills Resolution 20 MP
Flying Time 40 minutes
Range 7.4 miles
Max Speed 42 mph
Weight 1.8 lbs
Other Key Features Manual exposure control and long flight time
Best For Long flight time with high-quality video

The Autel Evo Lite Plus offers some competition to the DJI Air 2S. Many of the specs are similar and it has better flying time. The highlight features are a one-inch 20 MP sensor, adjustable aperture, and 40 minute flight time.

That camera can capture video at up to 5.4K at 30 fps. If you want 60 fps, you’ll have to settle for 4K. But that’s still fantastic footage. The sensor size also means that low-light capture is decent. Especially when you consider that low light is gong to restrict your flying anyway.

Flying the drone is a breeze. And you can fly it when the wind is more than a breeze. It is rated for up to 38 mph (61.2 kph) winds. That’s pretty impressive. There is a theoretical altitude ceiling of 16,404 feet (5 km). This is mainly theoretical because of likely local flying regulations. But it gives you an idea of the transmission capabilities.

A more meaningful distance is that between you and the drone at more workable altitudes. Here, the Evo Lite Plus impresses too. Up to 3,200 feet (1 km) you’ll receive 2.7K video. Between that and 4.3 miles (7 km) you’ll still get 720p footage. Of course, you won’t be able to see the drone, and again that might break local rules. Always know your local drone regulations before flying!

The quality of photos and videos is one of the strong points of the Evo Lite Plus. The sensor size means that digital zooming can increase your shooting options. And you’ll still have usable footage. The drone maintains stability that helps produce good footage. There is even an automatic five-shot HDR facility.

The adjustable aperture also means there is less need for ND filters. Autofocus works well. Some photographers might see the lack of 10-bit recording and D-Log profile as a dealbreaker. But for many, it won’t be important. You might need compelling reasons to spend more on the DJI Air 2S than on this Autel Evo Lite Plus.


6. Skydio 2+ Autonomous Cinema Drone

Skydio 2+ Autonomous Cinema Drone
Brand Skydio
Max Video Resolution 4K
Max Stills Resolution 12 MP
Flying Time 27 minutes
Range 3.7 miles
Max Speed 36 mph
Weight 1.76 lbs
Other Key Features Autonomous flying, can be operated from phone
Best For Filming yourself without needing to fly the drone

The Skydio 2+ is a different beast from all the other drone cameras in this review. At its most basic, you don’t even get a controller. That isn’t uncommon for cheap hobby drones (like the Tello). But it’s notable in such an expensive and technical drone.

But the Skydio is designed to take full advantage of AI to make an autonomous drone. This has clear advantages for some users. But others will see it as a compromise. If you want a drone to do the hard work of filming you, and you are the star of the footage, then this could be a great choice.

The only drone footage of me is of a portly middle-aged man looking with apparent bemusement at his mobile phone. The Skydio solves that problem. Well, not the portliness or bemusement. But it does allow you to carry a “beacon” that helps the drone identify you as the subject. It will then follow you, fly around you, and keep you centered in the footage. This can be a considerable advantage. Not everyone is a natural drone pilot.

The Skydio doesn’t have class-leading camera specs. It has a 12 MP sensor and can shoot a maximum of 4K video at 60 fps. But there are 13 stops of dynamic range and an adjustable aperture. And 4K footage of you talking to the camera is better than 5.4K of you looking at your phone. And for action enthusiasts, you can set your Skydio to capture your moves while you concentrate on the action.

The operational range is up to 3.7 miles (6 km) with the controller. And you can max out the speed at 36 mph (58 kph). So you can make pretty rapid progress across the sky. If you want to be the center of your drone’s footage and you don’t have a spare operator, the Skydio 2+ is an intriguing proposition.


7. Ryze Tech Tello: Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids

Ryze Tech Tello: Mini Drone Quadcopter UAV for Kids
Brand Ryze
Max Video Resolution 720p
Max Stills Resolution 5 MP
Flying Time 13 minutes
Range 100m
Max Speed 18 mph
Weight 0.17 lbs
Other Key Features Great value, optical height sensors
Best For Anyone wanting their first experience with a drone camera

We include the Ryze Tech Tello as a bit of an outlier. It is a great beginner camera drone. It is the cheapest here by a long way. The price barrier to a drone camera that will be useful in a commercial setting is high. But the Tello allows you to dip your toe in the water and explore the possibilities.

The low cost inevitably brings compromises. But, there’s no denying that the Tello is a great entry point into the world of drone photography.

There’s a 5 MP camera that records video at 720p. This is way below what the best-equipped drones in this review can do. But you could buy 10 or 20 Tellos for the same price. So there are bound to be differences.

The image is well-stabilized and there are optical sensors to help the drone hover steadily. Control is easy via the app. There are two virtual joysticks to pilot the craft. Takeoff and landing are pre-programed. And you can execute a number of tricks and pre-planned maneuvers easily.

It’s unlikely you would use this drone as part of a business. The video is not high enough quality and there are some issues of compression. It is also unusable in anything more than the lightest of breezes.

But as an introduction to the world of drone photography, the Ryze Tech Tello is hard to beat. It’s fun, easy to use, and comes at a price that won’t break the bank.


Buyer’s Guide for the Best Drone Camera

There are a few things to know before you buy and fly a drone. Read on to learn what they are.

What Are the Regulations for Flying a Drone?

There’s no shortcut here. You will have to do your research. Each country has its own regulations. In the US, drone regulations are overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In the European Union, there are EU-wide regulations governed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The relevant authority in the UK is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The responsibility falls on you to make sure your drone camera activities are in compliance with local regulations. Remember that local facilities such as airports or military bases will have specific regulations.

How Difficult Is It to Fly a Drone?

The cheapest drones are often the simplest. They assume the pilot has little to no experience. And they want to introduce you to the fun of drone use. That doesn’t mean the more expensive ones are difficult to fly. They all use sensors to make the flight steady and level. They will all compensate for the wind. But this will vary by drone. Tiny drones like the Ryze Tello will be pushed around by anything more than a slight breeze.

Other than that, you will have control over ascent, descent, direction, and rotation. This is usually done with two joysticks. The drone controller will also have other functions related to takeoff and landing and camera control. How easy you find this will be different for everyone. And as with all such things, it will improve with practice.


What Camera Features Should I Look For?

Obviously, the camera is one of the main considerations here. The camera specs of the drone will affect your choice. And these will depend on your need. If you’re a fitness vlogger, you might want to prioritize a drone’s auto-follow capabilities. For commercial real estate photography, you might want the best zoom quality to improve the range of photos you can take.

Other camera features are the same as for any regular camera. Questions of sensor size, video resolution, and exposure control will affect your decision.

What Other Features Are Important?

With a drone camera, one of the most important criteria is flight time. Most of these drones are available in different packages. Buying the package with extra battery capability makes sense. Your drone is pretty useless if it is grounded. And your investment won’t repay you as quickly if you’re waiting around on site for batteries to recharge.

Some of the drones in this review have impressive maximum height and range capabilities. But these will often be of little use. Both FAA and EASA regulations in general restrict you to line-of-sight flying and a ceiling of around 400 feet (120 m for EASA). But in the right conditions and in approved locations, the extra distance might be something you want.

Automatic return-to-home is very important for an expensive piece of kit like this. Low battery or loss of communication will usually trigger an automatic return to you.


Conclusion: The Best Drone Camera

The PowerEgg X Wizard brings versatility to drone flying that is absent in many of its competitors. The waterproof design, optional floats, and AI capabilities make this our top pick for a camera drone.

PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
PowerEgg X Wizard Multi-Purpose Waterproof Drone
Experience the ultimate in aerial photography and videography with this waterproof multi-purpose drone.
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