Best Drones with Cameras in 2022

June 23, 2022

Fancy giving your photography a new perspective and flying a drone? Angela Nicholson explains our top-picks for the best drones with cameras.

A few years ago aerial photography was a very expensive enterprise and way beyond the means of the average amateur or even professional photographer. The rapid development of drone technology, however, means that you no longer have to charter a ‘plane or hire a helicopter to shoot from the air anymore. Drones have because much more readily available at relatively affordable prices and, crucially, they are a lot easier to fly than the first models that took to the sky.

A note on weight – why 250g matters

Look for a sub-250g drone if you don’t have a licence, as you only need to get a Flyer ID and Operator ID from the CAA to fly a drone under 250g, in the UK. Once you have these, you’re able to fly it most places, apart from in the flight restriction zones around airports, military bases and prisons etc. You can even fly over people as long as there isn’t a crowd.

DJI is the dominant force in the drone market and each year it brings out increasingly sophisticated models that promise to enable you capture better images more easily than before.

It’s not the only player, so let’s take a looks at our choice of the best drones with cameras in 2022.

Best camera drone for enthusiast photographers: DJI Mavic 3

Best Drone for enthusiasts - DJI Mavic 3

DJI Mavic 3

At a glance

  • 20Mp Four Thirds type and 12Mp 1/2-inch type sensors
  • 24mm (equivalent) f/2.8-11 and 162mm (equivalent) f/4.4
  • 5.1K video at up to 50p
  • Max flight time 46 minutes
  • 895g
  • £1719

DJI makes two versions of the Mavic 3, the standard and the Cine version. The Mavic 3 Cine is aimed at filmmakers and has a 1TB SSD onboard plus the ability to record in Apple ProRes 422 HQ, but the standard Mavic 3 is more than enough of most enthusiast photographers and it’s likely to keep many pro videographers satisfied too.

It features not one, but two cameras, with a 12Mp 1/2-inch type camera with an effective focal length of 162mm sitting next to the 20Mp 1-inch 24mm (equivalent) main camera. In practise, you’ll want to limit the tele camera to checking out routes or distant objects and use the main camera for the serious photography.

Like all the drones in our list, the Mavic 3 folds for easier transport. It’s added bulk over models like the Mini 3 Pro, and its more powerful motors means that its very stable in flight and can cope with pretty strong winds. It’s also very easy to fly manually but comes with DJI’s suite of automated flying modes to keep things simple.

Read our DJI Mavic 3 review

Best sub-250g drone: DJI Mini 3 Pro

Best sub-250g drone - The DJI Mini 3 Pro when folded up

The DJI Mini 3 Pro when folded up

At a glance

  • 12/48Mp 1/1.3-inch type sensor
  • 24mm (equivalent) f/1.7
  • 4K video at up to 60p
  • Max flight time 34 minutes
  • <249g
  • £859

Weighing less than 249g means that the Mini 3 Pro is regulation-friendly and can be flown in residential, recreational and industrial areas, and even over people (but not crowds) – provided you have Flyer and Operator ID’s from the CAA.

Thanks to its 1/1.3-inch type CMOS sensor, the Mini 3 Pro captures better quality stills and video than the DJI Mini 2. It’s sensor also has a quad-Bayer design which means that each of its 12-million-pixels are split into four sections that can report separately to deliver 24Mp images, or they can combine to give 12Mp images.

Unlike the Mavic 3, which has omni-directional sensors to inform its object avoidance system, the Mini 3 Pro tri-directional object avoidance, so you need to take care if there are overhanging branches etc. It’s also prone to drifting in the breeze, but the stills and video are impressively good for such a small drone.

Read our DJI Mini 3 Pro review

Best first drone: DJI Mini 2

DJI Mini 2 Drone

DJI Mini 2 Drone

At a glance

  • 12Mp 1/2.3-inch type sensor
  • 24mm (equivalent) f/2.8
  • 4K video at up to 30p
  • Max flight time 31 minutes
  • <249g
  • £549 (Fly More Combo)

Aside from the smaller sensor and the lack of an object avoidance system, the Mini 2 is similar to the DJI 3 Pro, but it’s more affordable, making it a great choice for a first drone.

Like the Mini 3 Pro, it can be flown manually (with the benefit of GPS), but there’s also DJI’s QuickShots modes (Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle and Boomerang) which make it easy to get smooth video footage.

DJI supplies the Mini 2 with the RC231 controller, which is also available withe the Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro. This has a clamp and cable connections to hold a smartphone, with the DJI Fly app giving control over the drone.

Technically, the Mini 2’s maximum flight time per battery charge is only 3 minutes shorter than the Mini 3 Pro’s, but in reality we found it more like 8-11 minutes shorter. That’s not a major issue if you invest in the Fly More Combo and get a couple of extra batteries though.

In flight, the Mini 2 is stable for its weight and it delivers good quality stills and video.

Best step-up drone: DJI Air 2S

DJI Air 2S Drone

DJI Air 2S Drone

At a glance

  • 20Mp 1-inch type sensor
  • 22mm (equivalent) f/2.8
  • 5.4K video at up to 30p
  • Max flight time 31 minutes
  • 595g
  • £860

While its 595g weight means that you don’t get as much freedom to fly the DJI Air 2S as you do with the Mini 3 Pro, it has a 20Mp 1-inch type sensor which enables it produce high-quality stills and 5.4K video at up to 30p. There’s also 10-bit D-Log, bringing greater scope for grading footage.

It’s size and weight means the Air 2S is more stable than any of DJI’s Mini range of drones and, while its wind resistance is rated the same as the Mini 3 Pro’s (10.7m/s or 24mph), it’s much less prone to drifting in a breeze.

It also has DJI’s MasterShots and QuickShots modes to simplify flying complex manoeuvres and FocusTrack lets you select a subject to follow.

In addition, you get up to 31 minutes flying time with each battery and 4-way obstacle sensing to help avoid collisions with trees and the like.

Best non-DJI drone: Autel Evo Lite+

Autel EVO Lite+ - Best non-DJI drone?

At a glance

  • 20Mp 1-inch type sensor
  • 29mm (equivalent) f/2.8-11
  • 5.4K video at up to 30p
  • Max flight time 40 minutes
  • 820g
  • £1799 (Premium bundle)

With a 20MP 1-inch type sensor, this non-DJI drone goes head-to-head with the Air 2S. The Evo Lite+ can capture 5.4K video at 30p and the aperture is variable from f/2.8 to f/11, which makes controlling the shutter speed a bit easier. A firmware update has also added a Log profile and you get up to 40 minutes flight from a single battery charge, giving this Autel drone extra appeal.

Autel has also equipped the Evo Lite+ with forward, backward and downward-facing sensors to help you avoid obstacles in flight and it handles well in the air whether you’re controlling it with the sticks or using one of its autonomous modes.

Crucially, the Autel Evo Lite+ produces great-quality video and stills with the 4K 60p and 1080p at 120p modes giving the opportunity for slow-motion playback.

Best budget drone: Ryze Tello

DJI Ryze Tello - Best budget drone

DJI Ryze Tello – Best budget drone

At a glance

  • 5Mp 1/1.28-inch type sensor
  • 23mm equivalent
  • 720p video at up to 30p
  • Max flight time 13 minutes
  • 80g
  • £99

It may not be the most feature-rich drone but the Ryze Tello uses DJI technology and costs less than £100. That means if you’re not sure if you’re going to like flying a drone, or you want to give the kids a taste of being a pilot, you’re not risking quite as much as with another drone.

Ryze doesn’t include a controller in the basic kit, that’s extra, but you can fly it using the Tello app on your phone.

With a 5Mp camera on board and video limited to 720p, the Tello isn’t for serious use, but it weighs just 80g, so you have to freedom to fly it almost anywhere. As usual, you can extend its 13 minute flight time with extra batteries and it’s ideal for getting aerial shots on holiday and having fun at the park or in your back garden.

If you’d like more help in choosing a great camera or lens, have a look at our latest reviews, and buying guides.

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