DJI Air 2S

The best 4K drones are a long list of machines, all with at least a 12MP 4K capable camera that hangs by a stabilized gimbal. Truth is, the more capable the gimbal, the more we value the drone. The following list is not really in order, the drones are fairly well ranked by their prices, the more expensive, the better the camera and gimbal.

Choose your budget and do a bit more research before you purchase, but each of these machines should serve you well for standard aerial photography.

Jonathan Feist, Drone PilotJonathan Feist

Why trust Drone Rush?

I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.

 

Best 4K camera drones

DJI Mavic 3: Best consumer drone

DJI Mavic 3 Cine front

There are two versions of the DJI Mavic 3. The standard model rocks a powerful Micro Four Thirds camera, over 45 minutes of flight time, and produces solid 5.1K video from the sky. The DJI Mavic 3 Cine does all that, plus has a high-speed internal 1TB SSD.

DJI packed a fairly large camera into the familiar Mavic airframe, and then vastly improved the connectivity range, flight time, and flight experience. The Mavic 3 airframe is one of the smoothest flights we’ve enjoyed, and the video capture was as smooth as we’ve seen.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic 3

Simply put, the DJI Mavic 3 is the best consumer drone around. The compact size fits in our backpack, the flight time reduces the number of batteries and chargers we need to take with us on the go, and the camera quality is second to none in the compact drone market.

Of course, big features come with a big price. The DJI Mavic 3 has a starting price beyond two grand, with the full Cine package threatening the five grand mark.

What we like


  • Excellent 5.1K camera
  • 46 minutes of flight time
  • Powerful drone
  • Up to 28x zoom
  • 15 range with O3+ connection
  • ActiveTrack 5.0 & APAS 5.0
  • Optional 1TB internal SSD
  • Optional RC Pro remote control

What we don’t like


  • Price

DJI Mavic 3
DJI Mavic 3
  • Fantastic camera
  • 5.1K video
  • Huge flight time
  • Safe and capable drone
  • Class-leading flight range
Imaging Above Everything

A 20MP Micro Four Thirds camera that shoots 5.1K video, and 46 minutes of flight time make the DJI Mavic 3 one of the best camera drones you can purchase today.

DJI Mavic 3 Cine
DJI Mavic 3 Cine
  • Fantastic camera
  • Huge flight time
  • Safe and capable drone
Imaging Above Everything

A Micro Four Thirds camera, 1TB of storage, 5.1K video capture, the RC Pro remote, and 46 minutes of flight time make the DJI Mavic 3 Cine perhaps the best camera drone you can purchase today.


DJI Air 2S: Superb value camera drone

DJI Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S was another in a long line of Mavic drones that surprised us with how good it is. In particular, while the Air 2S can shoot 4K video, it’s the first Mavic drone that offers clean 5.4K resolution.

It remains the smallest drone DJI offers that has a full 1-inch camera sensor.

A major improvement with the Air 2S is the next iteration of Ocusync. You are now able to get up to 12KM of connectivity. That is far beyond the legal flight limit in most countries, but it makes the first DJI drone to completely overcome the high levels of natural magnetic interference where we normally fly.

Why we fly the DJI Air 2S

Simply put, the DJI Air 2S is the best drone on the market for under $,1500 today. No question that the DJI Mavic 3 series is superior, but the Air 2S is an easier package to pack on the go if you do not need the best of the best camera experience.

What we like


  • 5.4K camera
  • 31 minute flight time
  • Upgraded flight features
  • Huge 7.5 mile connectivity

What we don’t like


  • No display on remote
  • Fewer safety features than larger drones

DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
  • Great camera
  • 5.4K video
  • 8X zoom
  • Compact and easy to use
  • Fantastic range
Affordable 5.4K camera

The DJI Air 2S is easily the best camera drone for most uses. The 1-inch sensor produces fantastic images from the sky, and the compact, folding design of the quadcopter is familiar and reliable – it may not be in the name, but this is still a Mavic drone.

$ 1279 at Amazon
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Yuneec Typhoon H3: Pro hexacopter

Yuneec Typhoon H3

The Yuneec H3 is the kind of drone a professional aerial photographer should be looking at. The hexacopter design offers stability and reliability, and the big Leica camera is a step above anything hanging from a Mavic drone. Yuneec also tends to offer payload upgrades over time as well, so this airframe can continue to fly when you are in need of a bigger and better camera.

Why we fly the Yuneec Typhoon H3

When stability matters, the versatility and redundancy of having more propellers is unbeatable, and the Typhoon H3 is simply one of the best hexacopters around. We love the Yuneec remotes, they are basically overpowered Android tablets with lots of buttons, giving you ample control of your aircraft.

What we like


  • Hexacopter stability and reliability
  • Great camera
  • Big and powerful drone
  • Highly capable remote control

What we don’t like


  • Fairly expensive
  • Large drone to transport
  • Limited availability

Yuneec Typhoon H3
Yuneec Typhoon H3
  • Professional camera drone
  • Great Leica camera
Leica camera on a hexacopter

Designed with government use in mind, the Yuneec Typhoon H3 is an update to the Typhoon H Plus, packing a powerful Leica camera onto the familiar hexacopter airframe.


DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0: Iconic powerhouse

DJI Phantom 4 Pro flying

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the cream of the crop in terms of DJI’s consumer-focused iconic Phantom drones. Solid flight time, good range, and a decent 4K camera make this large and powerful airframe ideal for many pilots.

That said, the Phantom series has not seen an update in a while, and we have no reason to expect that DJI will release an update anytime soon. The Mavic series is producing comparable camera quality, in drones that are far smaller and easier to transport.

Why we fly the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

If you need a powerful drone to haul a decent payload, yes, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is a worthy purchase, but if all you want is a capable camera drone, have a look at the Mavic drones instead.

What we like


  • Large and powerful drone
  • Safe and fun to fly
  • Good camera

What we don’t like


  • Older drone
  • Large, tough to transport easily


DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
  • Large and powerful airframe
  • Reliable and safe
Powerful camera drone

Taking the core of the solid <a href="https://dronerush.com/product/dji-phantom-4-pro-and-pro-plus/">DJI Phantom 4 Pro</a>, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 adds more efficient motors, OcuSync connectivity and more.

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DJI Mini 2: Best camera drone under $500

DJI Mini 2 flying bottom sky

Drone Rush Recommends

The DJI Mini 2 is the most compact, and most affordable 4K drone that we would consider as a viable camera drone. That’s right, the last drone on our list today is the one we recommend the most. The compact size is extremely portable, the minimal weight bypasses some legal hurdles, and the price is very appealing for those of us accustomed to buying other 4K drones.

The main reason we recommend the DJI Mini 2 as the best 4K drone for purchase is that 4K is becoming old news. The DJI Air 2S has a 5.4K camera, and we’ve seen some 6K and 8K drones as well. 4K drones remain absolutely viable as high-end camera drones, but we have to assume that if you wanted the best of the best, you’ll opt for something newer and higher resolution, so if you truly just want 4K, why not stick with an affordable craft that is easy and fun to fly?

 

Why we fly the DJI Mini 2

No hesitations, yes, you should buy the DJI Mini 2! Of course, there are more capable drones out there, and there are more affordable ones too, but if you’d be happy with high-end smartphone-quality imagery from the sky, this is the drone for you. It’s also super small to toss in your backpack when you hit the trail.

Pros

 

  • Small and easy to transport
  • Weighs under 250 grams
  • Good flight time
  • Good 4K camera
  • Fun and easy to fly
Cons

 

  • Limited safety features
 

DJI Mini 2
DJI Mini 2
  • 4K camera
  • Very portable
  • Easy to fly
  • 249 grams
Best drone under $500

The DJI Mini 2 is a superb update from the Mavic Mini, now offering a 4K camera, Ocusync 2.0 and more power.


Need more?

Truth is, almost all modern drones shoot 4K video. These consumer aircraft share the same mobile camera sensors as your favorite smartphones. As phones are able to capture up to 8K video these days, you can expect more drones to follow suite.

Unlike a phone, however, the higher-end drones are equipping larger camera sensors, such as the large Micro Four Thirds sensor on the DJI Mavic 3 series. In addition, drones are able to mount larger and more capable lenses, and attach all that on stabilized camera gimbals.

There is still a large gap between the video quality of the best and worst 4K camera drones, so please spend some time researching your options.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is 4K any good, or should we wait for 8K cameras?

As always, your intended use with the captured media should be the deciding factor on the drone you buy. In mid-2020, there are few instances where one needs 8K footage for anything. I’m clearly saying “need,” as I certainly want 8K video! Anyhow, we recommend you look at the quality of the camera sensor and lenses before you worry about resolution at this point.

In a practical sense, high-quality 4K video will still look better than a low-quality 8K clip. We all know that 8K is coming, and we look forward to it, but 4K is quite good, and camera makers are not done with it yet.

If you need a real world example of this, look at the 48MP pictures captured from the DJI Mavic Air 2. The drone does a far better job at capturing 12MP photos, even though it’s a 48MP sensor. That sensor is able to capture 8K footage, but DJI chose to limit it to 4K. Other drones use this same sensor and happily promote themselves as 8K drones, there are many factors to that comparison, but suffice to say that DJI made the choice to limit their drone to 4K, likely because the 8K results were not quite good enough.

Is 4K really much better than 1080p?

The same rules apply as for the previous question about 8K footage, if you are just capturing aerial clips to add to your social media post, 1080p might just be good enough. However, ignoring the resolution topic, we are seeing far superior camera setups with 4K cameras than the available 1080p drones.

These are larger sensors that do a better job at capturing light, and have larger lenses attached, for clearer images. The industry at large is investing heavily on producing great 4K drones, where 1080p machines, and even 8K drones, are not their mainstream efforts. So, yes, 4K drones really are that much better.

What’s the best camera drone?

As far as a consumer-class drone is concerned, the DJI Mavic 3 is our current top pick for a camera drone. If you have a larger budget, the absolute best camera drones on the market range from $15,000 – $450,000.


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