Best camera drones 2024: Capture the world from an entirely new perspective

There's little doubt that one of the main reasons people buy drones is to capture aerial photos and videos with relative ease. With fantastic options available, there's undoubtedly something for every budget and specific requirement in terms of overall features and functionality.

Drone camera technology has moved on leaps and bounds in recent years, with even the best sub-250g models having tiny cameras that punch well above their weight in terms of image quality. But it's the medium-sized and larger drones that offer the best image quality thanks to larger image sensors and, in some cases, adjustable apertures.

Having an adjustable aperture is less important for stills photography, but for video capture it makes it much quicker and easier to make minor adjustments to exposure. You still have to use ND filters to reduce light entering the lens to control shutter speed, but the aperture removes the need to land and change filters if light changes during flights. The trade-off, of course, is that these drones are larger, heavier and ultimately less convenient to carry than sub-250g models.

If you're an absolute beginner, jumping straight onto one of the best camera drones may not be the best way to get started. So, if you’d prefer a budget model to learn how to fly with confidence or a mid-range option that will provide greater longevity check out our best beginner drones guide. For those with a bigger budget, our best drones guide will show you the best models available while our best FPV drones guide is perfect for thrill seekers looking for a first person view drone.

The Quick List

James Abbott
James Abbott

James is an award-winning freelance landscape and portrait photographer, as well as a highly experienced photography journalist working with some of the best photography magazines and websites with a worldwide audience. He’s also the author of The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing.

Best camera drones we recommend in 2024

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Best camera drone overall

Best overall: A combination of portability and great image quality

Specifications

Camera: 20MP 4/3 main camera, 70mm and 166mm telephoto cameras
Battery: 5000mAh / up to 43 minutes flight time
Video: Up to 5.1K
Frame rates: 5.1K up to 75fps / 4K up to 120fps / FHD up to 200fps
Foldable: Yes
Weight: 33.79 oz / 958 g
Dimensions: Folded: 9.10 x 3.85 x 3.75 inches / 231.1×98×95.4 mm. Unfolded: 13.68 x 11.44 x 4.24 / 347.5×290.8×107.7 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Up to 5.1K video capture
+
Three useful cameras

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Three cameras may not be required
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C2 European classification
Buy it if

✅ You're looking for versatility: The three cameras on offer on this drone give you the ability to shoot different perspectives and different focal lengths at the same time, which can help produce more creative content. 

✅ You want to shoot high-quality slow-mo: With this drone, you don't have to choose between quality and frame rates. You can shoot 5.1K up to 75fps, 4K up to 120fps and FHD up to 200fps.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: With all the features on offer, this is quite an expensive drone and may be overkill for casual hobbyists. 

The bottom line

🔎 DJI Mavic 3 Pro One of the best foldable drones on the market, this allows you to get stunning videos and offers great flexibility with three cameras that can film at the same time. The only real downside is the price, but we think beginners and pros would be pleased with this purchase. ★★★★★

Topping our list is the mighty DJI Mavic 3 Pro, which is hands down one of the best drones available in today's market, as we noted in our full DJI Mavic 3 Pro review. It's the first consumer drone to offer three onboard cameras that can operate simultaneously, opening up a range of new creative possibilities.

The main camera is a remarkable 20MP 4/3 Hasselblad camera, featuring an adjustable aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/11, and up to 12.8 stops of dynamic range. It has an equivalent focal length of 24mm. Additionally, there's a 48MP 1/1.3-inch 70mm medium telephoto camera and a 12MP 1/2-inch 166mm telephoto camera. Considering the Mavic 3 Pro's price is comparable to the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine, it's like getting a highly functional 70mm camera thrown in for free. All three cameras support RAW and JPEG formats, delivering outstanding image quality.

In addition to its powerful camera setup, the Mavic 3 Pro comes with a range of advanced features designed to make your flying experience smooth and hassle-free. It offers two smart controller options, each with a 5.5-inch touchscreen, eliminating the need to connect your phone. Both controllers are highly responsive, ensuring a seamless flying experience without lag.

You get three different flight modes and 43 km/27mph wind resistance, as well as an array of safety features such as AirSense ADS-B to detect nearby aircraft and an Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing system that uses multiple sensors to allow the drone to maneuver around obstacles independently. While this is an expensive drone that may be overkill for some people, we think it offers excellent value for money for those who can make use of its three cameras.

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DJI Mavic 3 Pro
AttributesNotes
DesignThree cameras and two smart controllers.
FunctionalityEasy to fly, with obstacle sensing technology.
PerformanceExcellent image quality and videos up to 5.1K.

Best value for money

Best value for money: A more affordable version of this prosumer powerhouse

Specifications

Camera: 4/3 20MP sensor
Battery: 5000mAh / up to 46 minutes flight time
Video: Up to 5.1K
Frame rates: 5.1K up to 50fps / DCI 4k Up to 120fps / 4K up to 120fps / FHD up to 200fps
Foldable: Yes
Weight: 895g
Dimensions: Folded 221x96.3x90.3mm / Unfolded 347.5x283x107.7mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Up to 5.1K video
+
Less expensive than Mavic 3 / Mavic 3 Cine

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive despite reduced cost
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Not aimed at beginners
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Much heavier than the Mini 3 Pro
Buy it if

✅ You want excellent image quality at a more affordable price: This drone contains the same impressive Hasselblad 20MP camera as the other DJI Mavic 3 models but keeps the price down by doing away with the additional cameras.

✅ You want something easy to fly: With two different controller options and an Advanced Return to Home feature, you should be able to get the hang of this drone quite quickly.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're after an affordable beginner drone: While this is more affordable than the other DJI Mavic 3 drones, it's still quite pricey and there are several other cheaper options on the market for beginners.

The bottom line

🔎 DJI Mavic 3 Classic This is a great option for people who want the image quality of the DJI Mavic 3 drones without paying extra for additional cameras that they don't have need for. Although it's still not cheap, it's easy to fly and would make a good investment for keen beginners. ★★★★½

If you're after the very best image quality but your budget can't quite stretch to the first two drones on our list, then the DJI Mavic 3 Classic might be the one for you. DJI have managed to lower the cost of this drone by removing the additional telephoto lenses that appear on the other drones in the Mavic 3 range, but you'll still get the star of the show — the 20MP 4/3 Hasselblad camera.

This camera features an adjustable aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/11 and has a lens equivalent to 24mm. It delivers outstanding image quality for both photos and videos, offering JPEG and RAW formats, 3x digital zoom and shooting capabilities of up to 5.1K video at 50fps, with a dynamic range of 12.8 stops. While other Mavic 3 models offer multiple camera options that may appeal to professionals, this fantastic camera is more than enough to meet the needs of most users on its own.

There are two controller options with this drone. You can choose between the DJI RC-N1 controller, which features a retractable smartphone holder, or the DJI RC smart controller, which features an integrated 5.5-inch touchscreen. After conducting our full DJI Mavic 3 Classic review, we think the improved user experience offered by the smart controller easily warrants the relatively small difference in price.  

The Mavic 3 Classic is also packed with high-end features, including precise GPS positioning, Advanced Return to Home, three different flight modes, aircraft detection and geofencing. Its multiple vision sensors detect and avoid obstacles in all directions and contribute to improved subject tracking. So, if the single camera is enough for you, you really are getting the complete package with this drone.

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DJI Mavic 3
AttributesNotes
DesignSingle Hasselblad 20MP camera and controller options.
FunctionalityEasy to fly, with good safety features.
PerformanceFantastic image quality with 12.8 stops of dynamic range.

Best DJI Mini alternative

Best DJI alternative: A fully featured palm-sized and lightweight drone

Specifications

Camera: 12.5MP 1/1.28-inch sensor
Battery: 2250 mAh LiPo 2S / up to 28 minutes
Video resolution: Up to 4K
Frame rates: 4K up to 30fps / 2.7K up to 30fps / FHD up to 60fps
Foldable design: Yes
Weight: 8.78oz / 249g
Dimensions: Folded 142×94×55mm / Unfolded 260×325×55mm

Reasons to buy

+
4K video and Raw Photos
+
Collision avoidance
+
Sub 250g category drone

Reasons to avoid

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No Raw option for 50MP photos
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4K video limited to 30fps
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Can struggle in wind over 20mph
Buy it if

✅ You want to avoid having to negotiate regulations: Since it weighs under 250g this drone avoids some of the registration requirements set by the FAA in the US or the CAA in the UK.

✅ You want something easily portable: Weighing only 249g and measuring just 142 × 94 × 55mm when folded, this drone is easy to carry around on outdoor adventures.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to film 4K slow-mo videos: The 4K setting on this drone's camera is limited to 30fps, so won't be enough for slow-mo filming.

❌ You don't like using an app: The controller doesn't come with a built-in screen and relies on the AutelSky app on your smartphone to work. 

The bottom line

🔎 Autel EVO Nano+ This drone packs a lot of big-hitting features into a light and compact package. It's easy to use for beginners, with effective collision avoidance technology, and its light weight means it isn't subject to as many regulations, so it's relatively hassle-free for those new to drone photography. ★★★★

The Autel EVO Nano+ is a regulator-friendly sub-250g drone that still offers many of the advanced features found on bigger and more expensive drones. It's a great option to consider, especially for beginners. Its compact and foldable design makes it extremely easy to transport, and it comes in four different colors: Classic Orange, Deep Space Gray, Blazing Red, and Arctic White.

The drone's controller has a built-in phone holder, and to access all the controls, you'll need to download the AutelSky app. The controller feels comfortable to hold, and we found the AutelSky app easy to understand and use in our Autel EVO Nano+ review. The thumb sticks on the controller strike a good balance, being responsive without being too sensitive.

One notable feature of this drone's size is its advanced collision avoidance system. It relies on three-way binocular vision sensors positioned at the drone's front, bottom and rear. These sensors detect obstacles and can automatically slow down or halt the drone to avoid collisions. Beginners will likely appreciate the added safety assurance provided by this feature. Additionally, the drone includes convenient automated flight patterns to help beginners get started easily.

Regarding camera features, the EVO Nano+ sports a very respectable 12.5MP 1/1.28-inch sensor with an equivalent focal length of 23mm and a fast f/1.9 aperture. This means it excels at shooting in low-light conditions, but you'll need to use ND filters to maintain its shutter speed if you want to shoot smooth-looking video. Video is available up to 4K at 30fps and is clear and crisp.

If you're in the market for a sub-250g drone or you're a beginner looking for your first camera drone, the EVO Nano+ is a great feature-packed option.

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Autel EVO Nano+
AttributesNotes
DesignCompact and lightweight with advanced features.
FunctionalityCollision avoidance and automated flight modes.
PerformanceFast f/1.9 aperture great for low-light conditions.