Dogs on the beach DJI Mavic Pro

Chances are, if you’ve got a pet, you take photos of them. We know you do, what else is the internet used for?!? We think some of the best action shots of an animal are from the sky, and so, here are some of the best drones for pet photography.

As the title suggests, we will cover the basics of capturing any animal, but we imagine that dogs are the key demographic for drone photos. I mean, if you run your cat in the park and take photos, please share, that’s pretty cool.

There will be a few of you with horses or livestock that you wish to photograph. We’ll approach that from a ‘business of farming’ type perspective another day, for now, let’s mostly focus on those, what do they call them, oh yes, man’s best friend. Everyone loves a cute dog photo, right?

Best drones for pet photography

DJI Inspire 2: Professional drone with modular cameras

DJI Inspire 2 announcement front

The DJI Inspire 2 is one of the best camera drones on the market, which makes it one of the best possible drones for filming your pet. Multiple camera options allow you to operate in many environments, and the drone tops out at highways speeds, so you should be able to keep up with even your fastest pets.

Hot-swappable batteries increase your effective flight time, and versatile storage options keep you filming up to 6K video for the day. Interchangeable cameras hang from a spinning gimbal and the drone can be operated by two users, one pilot and one camera operator.

Why we fly the DJI Inspire 2

The average backyard hobby pilot that just wants some fun puppy photos may not be able to invest into the Inspire system. This is a larger drone that is easy to operate, but is a commitment of time and resources to keep the full flight package ready to roll.

What we like


  • Powerful and fast drone
  • Easy to fly
  • Fun to fly
  • Superb camera options

What we don’t like


  • Large and cumbersome to transport
  • Best operated by two people

DJI Inspire 2
DJI Inspire 2
  • Powerful professional drone
  • Interchangeable cameras
Powerful camera drone

Generally recognized as one of the best camera drones on the market, the DJI Inspire 2 offers great cameras, superb flight and robust controls for your filming needs.


DJI Air 2S: Best camera under $1,000

DJI Air 2S

For users that want a great camera, but can’t afford an Inspire, the DJI Air 2S is our pick for the best drone under $1,000. The familiar, folding airframe is proven reliable and easy for transport, and the hanging 20MP camera can shoot up to 5.4K video.

In addition, the Air 2S is one of very few drones that has a zooming camera, which is important when you are taking advantage of its class-leading range.

Why we fly the DJI Air 2S

Straight up, this is the best drone for most users. We’ll explore more affordable options in this list, and larger drones like the Inspire 2 have better cameras, but we’d happily fly the Air 2S for our needs.

What we like


  • Compact and easy to transport
  • Fast and fun to fly
  • 5.4K video capture
  • Zooming camera
  • Easy to fly
  • Amazing connectivity range

What we don’t like


  • Limited payload options

DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S
  • Great camera
  • 5.4K video
  • 8X zoom
  • Compact and easy to use
  • Fantastic range
Affordable 5.4K flying 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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DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Best optical zoom for under $1,500

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom front angle

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom was almost a one-of-a-kind at launch, as one of very few drones that had a zooming lens on the camera. The ability to zoom is a powerful feature for pet photography, making it possible to snap photos from a greater distance, therefore causing less disturbance to the animals.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Before the launch of the DJI Air 2S, we would have called the Mavic 2 Zoom our top pick for a hobby-class drone for pet photography. The zoom on the Zoom remains the better zoom, and the drone has more safety features and potential for additional payloads, but is otherwise the older aircraft with fewer flight assist features.

What we like


  • Great zooming capability
  • Solid 4K camera
  • Reliable and safe drone
  • Fast and easy to fly

What we don’t like


  • Older drone
  • Least portable Mavic drone

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
  • Reliable drone
  • Solid build
  • Powerful zoom on the camera
Great zooming camera

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is near identical to the Mavic 2 Pro, the main difference being the camera. The zoom capabilities of the Mavic 2 Zoom are impressive, with a hybrid 4x zoom in total. As great as that is, we wish they would have used the same 1-inch sensor as the Mavic 2 Pro, instead of the 1/2.3-inch sensor that is common in drones these days.


DJI FPV: Best high-speed drone

DJI FPV flying top angle

The DJI FPV is a speed demon, for a camera drone. While the Inspire 2 could keep up with a lazy cheetah, the DJI FPV can beat a falcon in a race. This hybrid drone has a capable 4K camera attached to a 2-axis gimbal. The missing axis of rotation makes it ideal for FPV gear, common in racing drones.

Why we fly the DJI FPV

The DJI FPV is exhilarating to fly, but it might be a tough sell. You can get better racing drones for less money and you can get better camera drones for less as well, but there are none that do both this well. For high-speed pets, and for pilots looking to learn a little about racing drones without having to sacrifice the glory of a camera drone, the FPV is the drone for you.

What we like


  • Super fast
  • Very fun to fly
  • Race training tools
  • Good 4K camera

What we don’t like


  • 2-axis gimbal shoots different style of video
  • Expensive for a camera drone
  • Expensive for a race drone

DJI FPV
DJI FPV
  • 4K camera
  • Over 85mph!
  • Versatile flight modes
  • Very fun to fly
  • Motion Controller is unique and fun
Hybrid racing drone

The DJI FPV is a fantastic hybrid drone. It takes the very best from both the racing drone scene and the camera drone experience, making for one of the most exciting flying machines around. Blending the two has compromises, including shorter flight times than camera drone pilots would like, and agility that may not keep up on a tougher race track.

$ 999 at Amazon
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DJI Mavic 3: Best consumer drone

DJI Mavic 3 Cine flying fog

The DJI Mavic 3, and the Mavic 3 Cine, are easily the best consumer camera drones on the market at their time of launch. Offering up a solid 1-inch camera with an optional internal 1TB of SSD storage, it is able to compete with far larger drones.

Including the best flight features, and a superb camera, you might be wondering why it is not at the top of our list today? Simple, it’s a costly investment. The standard Mavic 3 starts at over $2,000, and the Cine model, with the SSD, runs as much as $5,000.

At this price range, it may be hard to justify the lack of interchangeable camera.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic 3

Simply put, the DJI Mavic 3, in particular the Mavic 3 Cine, is the best consumer camera drone on the market. The best camera output, with the best flight features and huge flight time, there is lots to love.

What we like


  • Powerful drone
  • Superb 5.1K camera
  • Up to 28x zoom
  • 15KM range with O3+ connection
  • APAS 5.0 & ActiveTrack 5.0
  • Optional RC Pro remote has a great display
  • Optional 1TB internal SSD
  • All-direction obstacle avoidance

What we don’t like


  • Price

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.


PowerVision PowerEgg X: Waterproof drone with reliable follow-me camera

PowerVision PowerEgg X in hand angle close

The PowerVision PowerEgg X is a unique piece of camera gear. When you first open the box, you are presented with and egg. Just an egg. As you reach for the propeller arms, you notice there is a tripod attachment, a waterproof shell and more, allowing you to operate in hand like a camcorder, or follow through with installing the propeller arms and taking to the sky.

Why we fly the PowerVision PowerEgg X

The PowerEgg X is starting to show its age in the camera. While it remains one of the best gimbals we’ve seen for object tracking, the sensor is only a decent 4K shooter. The ability to make the drone waterproof, and attach pontoons that let you land on water, take things to a level that may be worth it for you.

What we like


  • Module system can be a camcorder or drone
  • Waterproof shell

What we don’t like


  • Older drone
  • Decent camera

PowerVision PowerEgg X
PowerVision PowerEgg X
  • Waterproof drone
  • Works as hand-held Camcorder
  • Good object tracking
Versatile waterproof camcorder drone

The PowerVision PowerEgg X is a camcorder and waterproof drone all in one. Fly in the rain, remove the shell to add some flight time, or just use the AI as a handheld camera.


Yuneec Typhoon H3: Best consumer hexacopter

Yuneec Typhoon H3

The Yuneec Typhoon H3 is a drone we wish was more accessible, portable, and affordable. The hexacopter design makes for reliable and stable flight, and the beast of a camera is one of the best in the consumer market. Yuneec also includes wonderfully functional controllers, and the ability to work with open source flight software.

Why we fly the Yuneec Typhoon H3

The Typhoon H3 is the kind of drone we would rarely travel with, it’s just too big to fit in a backpack, but we would happily fly it when portability is not critical.

What we like


  • Reliable and stable hexacopter design
  • Great camera
  • Large drone for alternative payloads

What we don’t like


  • Large drone
  • Limited range

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.


Parrot Disco: Long range fixed-wing drone (airplane)

Parrot Disco fixed wing drone

The Parrot Disco is one of the oldest aircraft from Parrot, it’s a pusher-style fixed-wing aircraft, or what you might call an RC airplane. Best used to cover large plots of land, the Disco cannot hover, but if you have a heard of horses, expect some amazing video from this drone.

Why we fly the Parrot Disco

The Parrot Disco is not a drone like we think of today. This large, plastic and foam wing is a capable airplane with a decent 4K camera on the nose, if you’ve got the room and inclination, it’s totally worth it, just don’t expect to fly inside the city very much.

What we like


  • Capable fixed-wing craft

What we don’t like


  • Can not hover
  • Needs lots of space to operate, and to land

Parrot Disco
Parrot Disco
Fast fixed-wing drone

In a world with hundreds of RC airplanes to choose from, the Parrot Disco offered an FPV camera experience on a fixed-wing drone.


Parrot Anafi: Flexible camera gimbal

parrot-anafi

The Parrot Anafi is largely an average drone, but it has a really neat trick, it can point the camera straight up. The 4K camera is decent, and the drone has a good selection of GPS-enabled flight features, but that ability to point the camera upwards makes the Anafi invaluable for some users.

Why we fly the Parrot Anafi

Anafi folds up into a long cylinder, and the camera can point upwards, if you do not need these features, you can get better camera drones for the money.

What we like


  • Camera points up
  • Very portable
  • Easy to fly

What we don’t like


  • Decent camera
  • Average drone

Parrot Anafi
Parrot Anafi
  • Camera can point straight up
  • Versatile platform
Diverse platform

The Parrot Anafi is one of few drones that looks up as well as it looks down. The 4K front mounted camera is on a long-travel articulating Gimbal, so you can look straight up all the way to straight down.

$ 449 at Amazon
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DJI Mini 2: Best drone under $500

DJI Mini 2 flying bottom angle sky

The DJI Mini 2 is simply the best drone you should consider for less than $500. The 4K camera is decent, flight time is on par with larger machines, and flight features keep up with the best, but you’re skipping out on some safety sensors and some strength.

A major benefit to the Mini 2 is that it weighs less than 250g, so you do not need to register with the FAA before you fly.

Why we fly the DJI Mini 2

If you are looking for the most affordable camera drone out there, this is it, the DJI Mini 2 is not only affordable and capable, but it’s fun to fly. We love to slap this drone in a backpack and hit the trail.

What we like


  • Small and easy to transport
  • Best drone under $500
  • Good 4K camera
  • Weighs under 250g
  • Easy to fly

What we don’t like


  • Just a little camera drone
  • Limited safety sensors

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.


Special considerations

Commercial drones and professional drones

DJI Matrice 300 RTK

We wanted to keep the list on the shorter side today, but most any of the higher-end commercial and professional drones on the market will capture great shots of your animals. The key thing here is that you’ll be better off with a zoom lens.

Flying low and close to your animal is not ideal, a zoom lens gets the shot you’re hoping for while keeping some distance between expensive machine and beloved living creature.


Best camera drones

DJI Air 2S camera

I don’t want to repeat what I just said above, but zoom lenses really are the key to great animal shots. Ask any bird watcher how close they can get to a flying ball of feathers. Regardless their answer, they’re almost certainly using a zoom lens. Some of the best camera drones allow you to pack on your own DSLR or have a powerful manufacturer option, check them out for more details.


Safety first

Drone dog photo Cassie frisbee

Before anything else, you should get to know your animal. Make sure they are comfortable around noisy things, like a vacuum. Make sure they are not scared of things that fly, like birds. I think you get the idea, drones and animals do not exactly mix.

My own personal experience, there is a dog in my life that is a bird hunting dog. He’s prey driven and loves the chase. I have more than a few aerial photos of this pooch, I also have a photo taken just moments before the pup flew through the air and took down a drone from about seven feet up. He’s an athlete.

Unfortunately, my drone was mistaken for a bird. Even more unfortunate, this was a larger drone with powerful motors. The pup nearly required stitches.

That was the last time I flew around that pup, which is too bad, he’s quite photogenic.

I suspect more animals will be afraid of a drone than not; respect them, do not chase them, do not make things worse. Your animal may never warm to drones, you may never get that awesome photo you have in mind, I’m sorry, no photo is worth scaring an animal.

We spoke with the team at SoundGuys on their podcast about animals and drones, check it out.

Make no mistakes, there are drone laws that you must follow! These include the need for a hobby-class drone license before you fly for fun, and a commercial-class drone license if you will be paid to capture videos of animals.

Plan your shots

When it comes to photography, children and animals are wildly unpredictable. They are especially sensitive to changes in their routine. For best results, try to film your animals doing the things they do normally each day. In the case of a dog, chasing a ball or frisbee in the park is about as good as dog photos get from a drone. Actually, you’ll probably want video, please understand that I mean either video or still photography when I say things like ‘photos’ today.

The most important thing I don’t want you to learn the hard way, please do not try to fly your drone and throw the ball for your pup at the same time. Enlist help, either a pilot or an animal handler.

Drone dog photo Luken

As animals can be unpredictable, do what you can to predict their actions. If throwing a ball in the park, that’s pretty easy to guess at. Consider the position of the sun, where you want the drone and more before you take off. If shooting horses, maybe close that gate that leads into the wooded area of your fields – drones and trees seem to be attracted to each other,

Once you know what shots you’re looking for and have at least a rough idea how you’re going to get them, charge up those batteries and hit the road.

Suggestions

Drone dog photo Luken Jager

Before we move on to the list, here are a few ideas for shots that we think look great.

Fly high, look straight down: The important thing with creating compelling video looking straight down is to have a line, and follow it. Perhaps there is a row of trees at the edge of the park, line them up with the left or right third of the frame, then fly the drone and throw the ball parallel to the hedges. Try going in the same direction as the running pup, then the opposite direction.

From the side: We all have seen a side scrolling video game, I’m sure. The likes of Mario and others create a 2D world that is, actually, pretty fun to watch unfold. You have in your hands the controls to the camera for a side scrolling world. You won’t be able to fly at eye level to your animal, but get your drone safely low and fly sideways parallel to your animal running. Even better if you have a straight-line obstacle course for your, probably four-legged, friend to navigate.

What DJI calls the Rocket: Starting fairly low, directly over your subject with the camera facing straight down, simply fly straight up. This is not as dramatic if you have just a single animal, but if you have many animals, so that you can only see one or two when low, but reveal more of your fantastic beasts as the camera rises… That’s the money shot.

Chase cam: I hesitate to suggest this one, but the concept is simple, if your animal is game. Either have the drone directly follow your animal, or have the animal chase the drone. In the first you will be flying forward, in the second you will be flying backward. If you can safely fly low with the animal chasing the drone, you will get to see them in their full running glory. Again, that’s a Hollywood shot, please don’t strain or stress your animal to get it if they don’t appear to want to participate.

In all these cases, we think it is better if you can capture your animal in action. A photo of a cow chowing down on grass is not as compelling as a video of 8 horses galloping in the wind.

Do not chase wild animals - They may chase back!

Stay away from wildlife. Not only are you needlessly disturbing the peace of a living thing and risking your drone on unexpected animal behavior, you're also risking fines in many places of the world. To this end, a good zoom lens on your camera will let you get your shots without getting too close.

Zoom lenses: I may say this a few times before we’re through, the best animal photographers use crazy zoom lenses on their cameras. Not all of our drones today have zoom, sorry, you might have to ignore the ones that do not have zoom, depending on your animal. You can sometimes cheat your way through if you have a 4K camera and are producing 1080p video, for example, but digital zoom still hasn’t outdone optical zoom. 

I understand the appeal of capturing your little creatures, and big creatures, on film. Their best years are fewer than we’d all like them to be, but the memories last a lifetime. Help those memories stay fresh and share them with family and friends from a new perspective, from the sky.

It is almost guaranteed that this won’t be easy. Take the time, introduce your animal to this noisy flying machine before you force it on them. The great thing about digital cameras, like the one in your drone, you can capture way more footage and photos than you’ll ever need, but at least you have options and can choose the look and feel from there.

Please, again I beg you, use best practices to ensure the safety and comfort of your animal. Then use best practices to ensure the safety of your drone. This can be a great experience, but it can easily go bad, don’t let it.

Anyone willing to share their animal photos or videos with us? Ping us in the comments below.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can a drone hurt an animal?

Yes. We can tell you from experience that the spinning blades of a drone propeller are both sharp enough and powerful enough to break skin and cause bruises. Your pet’s thick hair may prevent the kind of damage I’ve endured on my fingers, but a biting dog may take the blade to the face. Please be careful.

Can I fly an animal on a drone?

We highly recommend you do not try this. There is no rule against transporting an animal, specifically, on a drone. There are rules about weight restrictions, securing your cargo, transporting goods, and more that may be used to penalize you for this action, not to mention animal abuse laws, but I suppose, technically, as far as airspace rules go, you can legally fly an animal on your drone. Just please don’t.

Can I fly over top of animals?

While the FAA has clear regulations preventing you from flying over top of people, they do not specify that you cannot fly over top of animals. There are protected animal reserves, but that’s a protected area, not a law to avoid animals.

Having said all that, the laws of the sky are totally separate from noise, harassment, animal abuse, and personal injury laws. If you cause an animal harm, even if by just flying over top of it, you may face repercussions from law enforcement and not the FAA.


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