As a filmmaker sometimes getting the perfect shot requires more than a human can accomplish. Be it an establishing shot or some movement captured from the sky, you’ll need a drone. But what are the best consumer drones currently on the market?

No longer a toy, drones have become something of an essential tool in the professional photographer’s toolkit. Drones provide you with an easy way to capture mind-blowing images from difficult to reach places.

Drones offer more than just a basic camera with wings. Manufacturers are offering numerous features to draw in photographers, from interchangeable lenses, image stabilization to extra batteries to extend on-air time, drones are more appealing now than ever.

With that said, the options and variety can be overwhelming for a newcomer. That’s why we’ve compiled this beginner-friendly guide on how to choose a drone, what to look for and what to avoid.

The Best Consumer Drones

Well, without further ado, here’s our buying guide to the latest and greatest consumer drones.

1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI is a Swedish industry giant. They made a name for themselves with the first generation of Mavic Pro drones. Since then they launched a new model, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It’s an updated and improved version of the first Mavic. What does it offer? Let’s see.

For one DJI quipped the Mavic 2 Pro with a 1-inch CMOS sensor Hasselblad camera? This, in turn, has led to much-improved image quality and performance.

Clocking in at 20MP image quality and 4K video shooting, this drone is off the wall when it comes to pristine visuals.

The Mavic 2 Pro boasts a battery life of 31 minutes. It is also a quiet drone thanks to its low-noise tapered propellers. In addition, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro can sense obstacles in 5 directions, and thus accidents are less likely to occur here.

In terms of portability, the Mavic 2 Pro is a small and light drone that can easily fit in your backpack.

Overall, if you need a small drone with big features to boast, the Mavic 2 Pro will be more than enough to satisfy the photography aficionado in you.

DJI Mavic 2 PRO Drone Quadcopter Fly More Combo with Hasselblad Camera, with Smart Controller, 3 Batteries, Case, ND, CPL Lens Filters, 128GB SD Card Bundle Kit with Must Have Accessories
  • New built in monitor model, up to 31 minutes flight time, 44 mph max speed, 907G takeoff weight,...
  • Enjoy live view in real time during flight and record 4K videos at higher bitrates with advanced H....
  • Functions include Active Track 2. 0, Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, Hyper lapse, Low-Noise...

2. Parrot Anafi

One thing you’ll notice while browsing drone on amazon is the lack of competition, that’s because DJI is the unabashed king of drone manufacturing.

That’s not to say there isn’t any competition. That’s why we decided to include Parrot’s direct response to the Mavic generation of drones.

Anafi will offer a few features that other drones simply won’t. First of all, it has impressive zoom capabilities that Mavic doesn’t possess.

Additionally, you can capture HDR footage. It’s a feature that you’ll seldom find in any other drones, if at all.

The Parrot is targeting videographers by building a drone that can shoot video in 4K. It’s a great decision since the image quality is frankly stunning and can rival that of DJI’s offerings. In some cases, it’s even better.

In terms of portability, you can fold the Anafi. It won’t be as small as DJI’s Mavic, but it’s far lighter. This will come in handy with saving battery life.

Speaking of battery life, the Anafi shines in this area. It lasts 25 minutes and can be quickly charged thanks to a USB-C port.

Overall, Parrot’s offering is an interesting competitor to DJI. It offers a plethora of interesting features that you can’t find on any other drone like the HDR recording and the impressive zoom capabilities straight out of the box.

The creators of the Parrot have succeeded in appeasing videographers with its drone. So, if you want an alternative to DJI, this is probably the one.

Parrot - Thermal Drone 4K - Anafi Thermal - 2 High Precision Cameras - Thermal Camera -14°F to 752°F + 4K HDR Camera - The Ultra-Compact Thermal Drone for All Professionals
  • Thermal Pro drone: anafi thermal is the ultra-compact and lightweight thermal drone imaging...
  • 2 high precision cameras: Capture the invisible and visible. The flir radiometric thermal camera...
  • Compact and high performance: for the first aid, Civil security and inspection professions, speed is...
  • Thermal imagery accessible to all: from the freeflight 6 application, you can switch very simply...
  • Maximum working altitude - 4,500m above sea level. Compatible mobile devices - Screen size up to 10...

3. DJI Mini 2

Small drones have a bad reputation for being cheaper, flimsier, and less capable toys compared to their counterparts. DJI is here to prove that it’s all wrong. If you’re on the lookout for the best pocketable drone on the market, DJI has you covered.

The DJI Mini 2 can capture 4K video. It especially shines in well-lit environments. Its zoom capabilities are also impressive, being able to maintain a high level of detail and image quality. DJI is targeting beginner drone users with the Mini 2.

It’s clear when you look at the streamlined controls and ease of use. Additionally, the Mini 2 is so lightweight, you won’t even need to register it in most countries.

The battery life of the Mini 2 is impressive considering its small size. Usually, the bigger a drone is, the longer the battery life. However, it seems that the engineers at DJI are wizards since they managed to make the Mini 2 fly for as long as it does.

The DJI Mini 2 is by no means a budget-friendly drone. What DJI is offering is a compact drone that functions similarly to professional larger drones in terms of image quality. Thus, it’ll cost nearly as much as those.

Overall, it’s a great little device that is perfect for people looking for a compact drone that can shoot video in 4K. Just beware you don’t burn a hole in your wallet buying it.

DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo – Ultralight Foldable Drone, 3-Axis Gimbal with 4K Camera, 12MP Photos, 31 Mins Flight Time, OcuSync 2.0 10km HD Video Transmission, QuickShots, Gray
  • 【PACK LIGHT, FLY FREE】: at less than 249 g, it weighs about as much as an apple and fits in the...
  • 【OCUSYNC 2.0 VIDEO TRANSMISSION】: mini 2 supports up to 10km of hd video transmission and has...
  • 【POWERFUL PERFORMANCE】: with a max battery life of 31 minutes, dji mini 2 grants more than...
  • 【4X ZOOM】: there’s no need to get so close for your dream shot. 4x digital zoom makes it safer...
  • 【QUICKSHOTS】: with just a few taps, dji mini 2 automatically records and shoots...

4. Autel EVO 2

We’ve looked at 2 DJI drones and one competitor, so let’s round up things with another company that’s given DJI a run for their money.

Autel is offering the EVO II, a beast of a drone. This is by far the most impressive, overengineered, and boastful of all drones we’ve seen.

This beefy drone weighs 1174g. Its most impressive feature is the ability to film video in 8K and take pictures at 48MP. This comes with one caveat. The 8K video can only be captured at 25fps, if you want 60fps you’ll have to film at 4k.

EVO II boasts the longest battery life we’ve witnessed so far: an impressive 40 minutes and its flight range goes all the way up to 9km.

Similar to the Mavic 2 Pro, the EVO II has omnidirectional sensors which mean it can sense obstacles from all eight directions and stop itself before it collides into them.

EVO II is a little chunky but it makes sense considering its rugged build. This one can withstand some damage. We’re not saying drive into the sides of cliffs. But if an accident does happen, the EVO II will most likely make it out unscathed.

A neat feature is the 3.3-inch OLED screen attached to the remote control. This means you won’t have to connect the drone to your phone in order to fly it. Just don’t forget the remote at home.

Overall, this is the most boastful of all drones on the market. If you really want a hardcore drone at top dollar, this is the one for you.

Autel Robotics EVO 2 Rugged Bundle 8K Camera Drone Foldable Drone Quadcopter, No Geo-Fencing (2021 Fly More Combo)
  • 【8K Camera, HDR Video】Autel Robotics EVO II Drone is world’s first 8K foldable drone on the...
  • 【40 Mins Flight Time】 EVO 2 8K Drone comes standard with a 7100mAh rechargeable EVO 2 battery,...
  • 【360°Obstacle Avoidance】EVO II 8K camera drone comes with 12 computer vision sensors, 2 sonar...
  • 【5.59 Miles Transmission Range】 Autel Robotics EVO 2 allows video transmission and drone control...
  • 【EVO II Fly More Combo】 Combo Includes: 1* Ready to go EVO II Aircraft(1*Battery, 4*Propellers,...

Your Buying Decisions

Let’s take a look at a few of the key buying decisions when you’re considering which consumer drone to opt for.

Flying time

You buy a drone because it flies, and so the most important aspect is how long can the thing fly. The answer varies depending on what type of drone you buy.

For the needs of a photographer, a professional drone that can fly up to 30 minutes on a single charge will do the job. If you plan on doing extensive shooting for a day, extra batteries are mandatory.

Batteries

Considering the extensive amount of time it may take a photographer to get the perfect image or shot, it stands to reason they’ll want a drone that flies longer.

Therefore, make sure your drone has interchangeable batteries. That is unless you want to wait out for it to charge.

Range

If you’re planning on doing long aerial tracking shots or something similar, you’ll want a professional drone. Their flying range is up to 2KM. Just make sure to keep it in sight unless you want an unfortunate accident.

Camera

Since you intend to use your drone for professional photography, you’ll want the best results. Anything from full HD to 4K will do the job depending on your budget.

Also, make sure there’s built-in image stabilization unless you want shaky, amateurish, and unusable footage.

Another helpful option is the first person view which allows you to see what the drone is seeing. It’s pretty instrumental in getting things right if you ask us.

A Few More Things To Consider

Although what we covered are the most important features you’ll want in your drone, there are a few more helpful ones that might interest you. GPS support is a nice thing to have.

Not only can you always keep track of where your drone is but you can also program routes it can follow and even command it to return to its take-off spot.

The last thing we need to mention is the ease of repair. It’s inevitable that crashes and damages may occur to your drone. This is an unfortunate but ever-present reality of being a drone user.

In that case, you’ll want a drone with easy to replace parts. In addition, we recommend getting drones that operate on brushless motors since they last longer and need fewer replacements.

Best Consumer Drones – Wrapping

That’ll be all for our comprehensive guide on the best consumer drones for beginners.

Remember that the right drone for you is the one that will accomplish the things you need and suit your budget.

Any drone you buy, however, must tick all the boxes we mentioned. Flying time, interchangeable batteries, flight range, and an adequate camera are the least things a drone has to excel in to justify a purchase.

Hopefully, these guidelines, tips, and our list of fantastic drones will guide you in the right direction. Good luck!