The use of drones has diversified over the years as various industries found practical uses for them, such as managing and simplifying day-to-day operations. But perhaps the more popular use for drones is photography. The drone industry continues to enjoy a steady growth in demand as drones become more accessible to the average photography enthusiast, and there seems to be no forecast of it slowing down. In fact, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, the number of drones is expected to more than double over the next year to more than 2.4 million units. And among all the millions of drones being used around the world, photography reigns over all its other commercial uses.
Are you one of the potential consumers of drones for aerial photography? If you are still planning to buy one for your own, we’re here to help you pick the best one on your quest to capture stunning photos of the mountains, the seas, and the cities. Here are our top recommendations of drones for aerial photography.
Top Drones for Aerial Photography in 2020
DJI Inspire 1 Pro
Any list of the best drones will never be complete without DJI dominating it. This is because DJI knows just what its buyers need. The DJI Inspire 1 Pro, for instance, was created with serious professional photographers and filmmakers in mind. Its camera is one of the smallest cameras to date, being a Micro 4/3 camera, but it was specifically designed for filmmakers. With the Zen Muse X5 4K camera you are getting 4K video at 30 fps and 16 MP still photographs in Adobe RAW DNG. These specs ensure that professional filmmakers and photographers are equipped with the best camera on a drone.
The jog dial ensures that the settings of the camera can be changed quickly. You can personalize the flight, photo settings, etc. using any of the customize buttons on the controller as well.
DJI Inspire 1
The DJI Inspire 1 has a ready-to-fly aerial system that boasts a 4K camera and a 3-axis Zen Muse X5 gimbal stabilization system. This drone has some of the best M4/3 imaging capabilities currently on the market, and has a sleek, glossy black shell to go along with it. Enjoy up to 2 kilometers of flight range and unique features that maximize your photography experience.
In terms of camera capabilities, you get a 1/2.3” sensor and can record in 4096x2160p at 25fps or 1920x1080p at 60fps, along with a 9-element rectilinear wide-angle lens and 12 MP photographs as well. Your 4K videos are amplified with the 360-degree angle range and the 3-axis gimbal stabilization system.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom
Many photographers consider this to be the best drone for real estate photography. The Mavic 2 comes in two versions: Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro. Mavic 2 Zoom stands out for an optical zoom camera, but the matrix size is 1/2.3″, while the Mavic 2 Pro has a 1″ CMOS. One of the most stunning flight modes the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom has is Hyperlapse, an aerial time lapse that can include motion and is processed in moments onboard. Flight range is up to 8 km, while flight time is up to 31 minutes. There are sensors on all sides, which “see” the obstacles in front of them and automatically avoid them or stop.
Equipped with a 20 MP Hasselblad L1D-20C camera with a sensor and variable aperture of f/2.8-f/11, the Pro version is suitable for shooting 10-bit HDR video. The Zoom version, on the other hand, retains the still very decent 12 megapixels of its predecessor but has a zoom lens (24-48 mm effective focal length) which is more useful for cinematic effects.
Parrot used to be a brand that photographers did not really consider, but when Anafi was released in 2018, it changed the game. Parrot’s Anafi is perhaps the most convenient drone for aerial photography and travel. Its carbon-fiber elements of the body may feel a little cheap, but in reality, this is one of the best built frames on the market. It is very easy to operate, thanks to automatic takeoff, landing, GPS-based return-to-home, and an exceptionally well-built folding controller with a hinged phone-grip, one that seems so much easier to operate than its competitors from DJI. Featuring 4K at 100 Mbps with HDR, the Anafi captures 21 MP photos.
However, its gimbal is only powered on two axes, relying solely on software to handle sharp turns. But it manages this quite well, and its axis settings can be turned all the way up for an unobstructed angle most drones can’t manage.
Yuneec Q500 Typhoon
The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon deserves a spot among DJI drones because of its superb features. With the 4K CGO3 camera, you get up to 4K resolution at 30 fps for ultra high definition and 1080p resolution at 120 fps for slow-motion videos. The No-Distortion lens ensures that you get a perfect shot every time, which is made better by the integrated 3-axis gimbal precision stabilization system.
Special features like Follow Me and Handheld SteadyGrip maximize your potential of getting the best shots possible. Follow Me, for example, can be turned on to record what you are currently doing. You can also use the ST10+ Personal Ground Station’s 5.5” display to view a live feed of your flight.
The controls also offer adjustable video resolution, white light exposure, white balance, and other useful controls including Shutter Speed and ISO. You can choose between JPEG or RAW DNG format for your photos and videos. You can download the CGO3 app to customize and edit all of your photos and videos, as well. It can be linked with the controller itself for Handheld SteadyGrip.
DJI Phantom 4
The Phantom 4 Pro is the first aerial photography drone with a professional-quality camera with a 1″ matrix. It offers high-contrast ratio, maximum ISO of 12800, 20MP resolution, and an f2.8 aperture. The lens has a wide 84° viewing angle, allowing you to take pictures in both JPEG and DNG format. All these features help you take spotless images with extensive post-processing capabilities.
Because of its powerful camera, one can compare the Phantom 4 Pro with semiprofessional cameras. It allows you to capture a 360-degree nature and landscape panorama without additional efforts. You also won’t have to worry about shooting high up in the mountains as its maximum flight range is at 4 miles above sea level. Enjoy up to 30 minutes of flight time despite the model carrying only one battery and a maximum flight range of up to 4.3 miles. Aside from nature photography, the Phantom 4 Pro is also perfect for wedding photography.
Yuneec Typhoon H Plus
This model is slightly up a notch compared to the Phantom. With a one-inch sensor, the Typhoon H Plus has a camera that can rival its DJI counterpart. Its body is supported by a big and stable six-rotor frame, and its retractable landing legs allow for a 360-degree lens rotation.
Capable of high resolution 20 MP stills and 4K video at 60 fps, the C23 one-inch sensor camera allows users to capture imagery in captivating detail. The Typhoon H Plus furthermore boasts an improved low-light performance from previous models, and the upgraded camera features larger aperture optics and an extended ISO range. The Intel RealSense obstacle avoidance sensor, most especially, is the leading reason to consider this drone over others.
DJI Inspire 2
The most recent and functional models often have a steep price tag accompanying them. The DJI Inspire 2 offers you professional aerial photography experience with a cost that justifies it. Bordering on the benchmark of filmmaking, the DJI Inspire 2 has an adjustable lifting chassis for you to rotate the camera 360 degrees without risk whatsoever. Furthermore, the Inspire 2 gives you three cameras of varying capabilities.
The first is a Zenmuse X4S, featuring 20 MP resolution, CMOS 1 “sensor, F/2.8-11 lens, 8.8mm (35 mm equivalent: 24 mm), 12.8 exposure steps, 4K video (60 FPS), mechanical shutter (8-1/2000s), electronic shutter (1/2000-1/8000s), and ISO at 100-12800. The second camera is a Zenmuse X5S, featuring CMOS 4/3 matrix, 20.8 MP photo, and video up to 5.2K-5280 × 2972. The last one is a Zenmuse X7, which is a completely new camera. It has Super 35 sensor, 6016×4008 photo resolution, 6016×3200 (6K) video resolution, and an ISO of 100-25600 (photo).