Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

10 Best Drones for Photography and Filming in 2023 — Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on

drone photography

The world is going to the drones. When you get behind the controller, it’s not hard to see why. They’re fun to fly and can take great pictures and videos. However, they’re not the lowest-priced hobby out there, so the last thing that you want to do is buy one only to realize that there’s a different drone that you’d prefer.

That’s why we tracked down and created comprehensive reviews for 10 of the best drones out there. There’s also a thorough buyer’s guide to walk you through everything that you need to know before you buy one!

shutter camera divider 2

A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2023)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
DJI Mini 3 Pro DJI Mini 3 Pro
  • Great mix of price and performance
  • 4K recording capabilities
  • High signal range
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Holy Stone HS440 Holy Stone HS440
  • Affordable
  • Comes with two batteries
  • Great for beginners
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    DJI Mavic 3 DJI Mavic 3
  • Phenomenal recording capabilities
  • Extremely fast top speed
  • Outstanding flight time
  • DJI Mavic Air 2 DJI Mavic Air 2
  • Fast top speed
  • Long flight time
  • Easy to control
  • PowerVision PowerEgg X PowerVision PowerEgg X
  • Outstanding recording capabilities
  • Great signal range
  • Includes face recognition technology
  • The 10 Best Drones for Photography and Filming

    1. DJI Mini 3 Pro — Best Overall

    DJI Mini 3 Pro – Lightweight and Foldable Camera Drone

    Camera quality 48 MP
    Video quality 4K
    Frames per second 60
    Flight time 34 minutes
    Signal range 5 miles
    Maximum speed 13.4 mph

    If you’re looking for a drone that does a great job recording images and videos at a decent price, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is an outstanding choice. It can capture still images with a powerful 48 MP camera, and when you’re trying to record video, you get 60 fps of 4K video quality.

    Even better, it has a 34-minute run time and 5-mile range, so there aren’t many things that you can’t capture with this drone. While 13.4 miles per hour isn’t quite as fast as some other drones on this list, it’s not exactly slow either.

    The DJI Mini 3 Pro is an excellent choice for beginners and experienced fliers alike, easily earning our nod as the best overall drone for photography and filming.

    Pros
    • Great mix of price and performance
    • 4K recording capabilities
    • Up to 60 fps
    • High signal range
    • Great flight time
    • High megapixel camera
    Cons
    • Slightly slow maximum speed

    2. Holy Stone HS440 — Best Value

    Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone

    Camera quality 2.1 MP
    Video quality 1080p
    Frames per second 30
    Flight time 20 minutes (x2)
    Signal range 328 feet
    Maximum speed 11 mph

    Drones can be extremely expensive. But you can get the Holy Stone HS440 drone without breaking the bank, and while the 1080p video at 30 fps might not be as high quality as some of the more expensive drones on this list, it’s not too shabby either.

    That’s especially true when you look at the fact that you’re getting this drone for a fraction of the price of other options. The bigger concern is the 2.1 MP camera for still images and the 328-feet signal range.

    Even with a 20-minute fly time per battery and a top speed of 11 miles per hour, due to the limited range, you’re not going to get too far. Still, you do get two batteries with this drone, which doubles your overall flying time to 40 minutes between charges.

    This product is an excellent choice for beginners and is the best drone for photography and filming for the money.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Comes with two batteries
    • Great for beginners
    • Easy to control and use
    • Has auto-hover
    Cons
    • Low picture quality
    • No 4K recording
    • Short signal range

    3. DJI Mavic 3 — Premium Choice

    DJI Mavic 3 Camera Drone

    Camera quality 20 MP
    Video quality 5.1K
    Frames per second 120 fps
    Flight time 46 minutes
    Signal range 10 miles
    Maximum speed 47 miles per hour

    While the DJI Mavic 3 is expensive, if you’re looking for the best of the best or simply don’t care how much you spend, there’s no denying the outstanding results. It’s the only camera on this list that can record at 120 fps, and with 5.1K video quality, that’s no small feat.

    You also can get outstanding still images with the 20-MP camera. Moreover, you can fly it for 46 minutes in a single flight, and with a top speed of 47 miles per hour and a signal range of 10 miles, you can travel quite far during that time.

    Finally, it has obstacle sensing and a return-to-home feature that kicks in if you do lose the signal. So, while it might be extremely expensive up front, it does a great job of recording, and you don’t have to worry about crashing it soon after you get it.

    Pros
    • Phenomenal recording capabilities
    • Extremely fast top speed
    • Outstanding flight time
    • Amazing range
    • Includes obstacle sensing and return-to-home features
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. DJI Mavic Air 2

    DJI Mavic Air 2 Drone

    Camera quality 48 MP
    Video quality 4K HD
    Frames per second 60
    Flight time 34 minutes
    Signal range 6.2 miles
    Maximum speed 42.5 miles per hour

    The DJI Mavic Air 2 is an outstanding DJI drone that you can use for both photography and filming. You can take still images with the impressive 48-MP camera, and with a 4K HD recording capability at 60 fps, the filming ability is phenomenal too. Paired with a flight time of 34 minutes, a signal range of 6.2 miles, and a top speed of 42.5 miles per hour, this is an impressive little drone.

    What’s even more impressive is that it comes with obstacle-sensing and return-to-home features. That said, its high speeds make it a little hard to control, which isn’t ideal for beginners.

    But if you’re comfortable in your flying abilities, this speedy little drone makes an outstanding choice for both photography and filming.

    Pros
    • Great mix of price and performance
    • Fast top speed
    • Long flight time
    • Great signal range
    • Outstanding recording capabilities
    • Easy to control
    • Obstacle sensing and return to home controls
    Cons
    • High top speed is not beginner friendly

    5. PowerVision PowerEgg X

    PowerVision PowerEgg X Drone

    Camera quality 12 MP
    Video quality 4K HD
    Frames per second 60 fps
    Flight time 30 minutes
    Signal range 3.7 miles
    Maximum speed 40 miles per hour

    The PowerVision PowerEgg X looks different than many of the other drones on this list, but don’t let the appearance put you off. When you dive into the performance specs, there’s much to like about this little drone.

    For starters, it records in 4K HD and captures images at 60 fps. It also has an impressive top speed of 40 mph, so you can quickly zip from location to location. This is especially true when you consider its 3.7-mile range and 30-minute flight time.

    Other great features that you get with the PowerVision PowerEgg X include AI facial recognition technology, obstacle avoidance, follow-me functions, and even a return-to-home feature.

    However, it has slightly low-quality still images. While they’re still decent, there are better options on this list. More importantly, it’s slightly expensive.

    Still, with everything that this drone offers, it’s a great choice that you won’t regret getting.

    Pros
    • Outstanding recording capabilities
    • Fast top speed
    • Great signal range
    • Includes face recognition technology
    • Has obstacle-avoidance, return-to-home, and follow-me functions
    Cons
    • Low-quality still images
    • Slightly expensive

    6. DJI Air 2S

    DJI Air 2S - Drone

    Camera quality 12 MP
    Video quality 5.4K HD
    Frames per second 60
    Flight time 31 minutes
    Signal range 7.45 miles
    Maximum speed 42 miles per hour

    The DJI Air 2S is a small drone, but when you look at the video footage and pictures that it sends back, you won’t be able to tell. The video quality comes in at an impressive 5.4K HD stream, and with 60 fps, it feels like a smooth view the entire time.

    Even more impressive is the 42-mile-per-hour top speed that lets this drone zoom from place to place in no time, and with the 7.45-mile range, you’re not going to run out of space. The 31-minute flight time is impressive, but with how fun the DJI Air 2S is to fly, it’s going to feel shorter than that when you’re behind the wheel.

    The still image quality could be better, and it’s one of the more expensive options on this list. But if you do go for a DJI Air 2S, you’ll love working the controls.

    Pros
    • Phenomenal recording capabilities
    • Great flight times
    • Outstanding range
    • Fast top speed
    Cons
    • Slightly expensive
    • Low still image quality

    7. Autel EVO II Pro 6K

    Autel EVO II Pro 6K Rugged Combo Drone

    Camera quality 12 MP
    Video quality 6K HD
    Frames per second 60
    Flight time 40 minutes
    Signal range 5.59 miles
    Maximum speed 45 miles per hour

    The Autel EVO II Pro 6K records in 6K, which is the highest quality on this list. It also records at this impressive quality at 60 fps, giving you a smooth image the entire time.

    It has a 40-minute flight time, a 5.59-mile range, and a 45-mph top speed, so there’s much to love with this drone. However, even with all these great features, there’s no overlooking the fact that it’s the most expensive drone on this list.

    We could overlook the high price tag if it had better still image capturing, but with a 12-MP camera, it’s in the same range as some of the mid-price range options. It’s not a bad choice if you’re filming, but if you want photographs, you can get a better drone for less money.

    Pros
    • Fast top speed
    • Great signal range
    • Long flight time
    • Extremely powerful recording capabilities
    • Comes with a carrying case
    • Easy to use
    • Has obstacle avoidance
    Cons
    • Extremely high price tag
    • Slightly low still image quality

    8. Ruko F11 GIM2

    Ruko F11 GIM2 Drone

    Camera quality 8 MP
    Video quality 4K HD
    Frames per second 30 fps
    Flight time 28 minutes (x2)
    Signal range 1.85 miles
    Maximum speed 18 miles per hour

    You don’t have to spend a large amount of money to get an excellent mid-range drone for filming and photographs. The Ruko F11 GIM2 records in 4K HD, though with only 30 fps, it’s not quite as fluid as some of the more expensive options.

    That’s also the case with the 8-MP camera. While you can still get decent images with it, it’s slightly lower quality than some other options. The range and maximum speed fit the same bill, with a decent but not great 1.85-mile range and a top speed of 18 miles per hour.

    It does come with two batteries, though, and since each one lasts up to 28 minutes, you can fly the drone for just under 1 hour before you have to head back home to recharge the batteries. It’s not the best choice out there, but it’s not as expensive as many other options, and it gives you more capabilities than the lowest-end choices on the market.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • 4K recording capabilities
    • Decent top speed
    • Comes with two batteries
    • Decent signal range
    Cons
    • Low fps
    • Low-quality still images
    • No obstacle avoidance sensors

    9. DJI Mini 2

    DJI Mini 2 Ultralight and Foldable Drone

    Camera quality 12 MP
    Video quality 4K HD
    Frames per second 30
    Flight time 31 minutes
    Signal range 6.2 miles
    Maximum speed 35.8 miles per hour

    In many ways, the DJI Mini 2 is a slight upgrade over the Ruko F11 GIM2, except that you only get one battery that can handle 31 minutes of flight time. However, with 4K HD recording at 30 fps, it’s the same video quality, and the 12-MP camera is better.

    More impressive is the 6.2-mile signal range and a top speed of 35.8 miles per hour, which is quite fast considering the price of this drone.

    However, without any safety features like obstacle avoidance, this high maximum speed means you’ll need to practice restraint in more crowded environments. Otherwise, you might crash your new drone if you don’t have the experience level to handle the higher speeds.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Great signal range
    • Outstanding top speed
    • 4K HD recording
    Cons
    • Low fps
    • Low megapixel image quality
    • No obstacle-avoidance sensors

    10. Holy Stone HS700E 4K UHD

    Holy Stone HS700E 4K UHD Drone

    Camera quality 12 MP
    Video quality 4K HD
    Frames per second 60
    Flight time 23 minutes (x2)
    Signal range 1,640 feet
    Maximum speed 26.8 miles per hour

    The Holy Stone HS700E 4K UHD is a drone that you’ll want to check out if you’re on a tight budget. Not only is it affordably priced, but it also comes with anti-shake technology that helps stabilize images that you take while you’re flying.

    Moreover, it includes auto return-home and follow-me features that most other low-end drones don’t have. However, it doesn’t have obstacle-avoidance sensors, so you’ll want to be especially careful with the auto return-home function.

    It records in 4K HD at 60 fps and has a decent camera considering the price, but the real drawback of this drone is the maximum range. At just 1,640 feet, it’s a small fraction of what other drones offer. Still, with a price point this low, it’s hard to complain about it too much.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Anti-shake image technology
    • Has auto return-to-home and follow-me features
    • Comes with two batteries
    • Decent top speed
    • Outstanding video quality
    Cons
    • Short range
    • Low still image quality
    • No obstacle-avoidance features

    shutter camera divider 2

    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Drones for Photography and Filming

    With so many great drones out there, it can be overwhelming trying to narrow it down to just one. Do you really want 4K HD streaming? What fps do you need for a smooth image?

    There’s so much to take in, so check out this buyer’s guide, as it will break down everything that you need to know and help you get the perfect drone the first time.

    What Video Quality Do You Need?

    When we’re looking at drone video quality, we can break it down into two categories: professional and recreational. If you’re a pro, spend the extra money to get the best possible equipment because you’re investing in your career.

    For recreational purposes, 4K HD streaming is more than adequate for most hobbyists, and unless you plan on trying to capture slow-motion films, you don’t need more than 30 fps.

    Those extra frames are nice, but it’s not always worth the extra money. If you’re keeping the film in real time, stick with 30 fps and 4K HD.

    Do You Plan on Taking Pictures?

    If all you plan on doing is watching film, don’t worry about the camera quality for still shots. But if all you care about is still photography, don’t spend extra cash on a drone with an upgraded streaming setup.

    Know what you want, and look for the drones that prioritize the equipment that you actually plan on using when you fly. Everything else is just a bonus.

    man flying a drone in the field

    Image Credit: DisobeyArt, Shutterstock

    Keep the Range — and Law — in Mind

    Some of the drones on this list have impressive ranges. However, keep in mind that in the United States, you’re supposed to keep your drone in your line of sight. So, unless you can see 5 miles off, you shouldn’t be flying your drone that far.

    However, if you do have permission to take your drone out farther, an improved range can be a big advantage to help you cover more ground.

    Finally, with drones of these sizes, you will need to register them to fly them legally. It’s a simple process and not one to ignore.

    Safety Features Matter

    Many people act as if they can maneuver around anything and don’t need safety features like obstacle avoidance. While you might be the most experienced drone pilot out there, everyone makes mistakes.

    One moment of lapsed concentration and you can fly your drone right into a branch, tree, or another obstacle and watch your expensive flying machine go down in smoke.

    Safety features help protect your drone, and considering how much you’re spending and how much you’re going to enjoy using it, that’s an investment that you’ll strongly want to consider.

    drone pilot

    Image Credit: Kenny Eliason, Unsplash

    shutter camera divider 2

     

    Conclusion

    If you’re still trying to figure out what drone is right for you after reading through these reviews and the buyer’s guide, why not go with our top choice? The DJI Mini 3 Pro is great for filming and photographs.

    If that is out of your budget right now, the Holy Stone HS440 is a great entry-level drone. It’s more than enough to help you get your feet into the field, and once you build experience and save more, you can upgrade down the road.


    Featured Image Credit: Halfpoint, Shutterstocck

    About the Author Robert Sparks

    Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

    Robert Sparks Profile Picture