The Best Drones For 2022on September 6, 2022 at 13:55 Tech Advisor

0

Drones can capture video and photos from a perspective you’d never get from a smartphone. But for around the same cost as a decent phone, you can buy what is effectively a flying camera.

These drones, which aren’t professional devices but are aimed at enthusiastic consumers, are roughly on a par with the cameras you’ll find in the latest phones for photo and video quality.

These drones, which aren’t professional devices but are aimed at enthusiastic consumers, have built-in cameras that are roughly on a par with phones for photo and video quality.

Aside from the aerial perspective, many drones employ ‘gimbals’ to ensure video is smooth and stable, and the results can be stunning.

Most modern drones fold up to a very portable size, meaning you can take them with you on your travels. Just remember to check the local laws on flying a drone before taking off. And don’t forget to find out where you’re allowed to fly. If in doubt, speak to the landowner or the local authority.

All the drones here are very easy to fly, and many have sensors to help avoid crashing into things. Plus, some can even fly on autopilot while tracking a person (or an object) and avoid obstacles at the same time.

The features you’ll get – and the quality of the camera – will depend largely upon your budget. Here, we’ve hand-picked drones which aren’t toys: they’re serious gadgets and aren’t what you might call cheap. Plus, you tend to get what you pay for, so the higher the price, the better quality and more features a drone will have.

Budget isn’t the only consideration, though. You might be looking for a lightweight drone that doesn’t have to be registered. In the US, for example, you can fly any aircraft with a take-off weight of under 250g without doing any training or paying any registration fees. In the UK, you still have to register such drones, but you have more freedom about where you can fly them, and how close you can fly them to people and buildings. For more information, read about drone laws in the UK.

Scroll down below the reviews to find more in-depth buying advice.

1. DJI Mini 3 Pro

Pros

Has obstacle sensors

Great low-light video quality

Can track subjects

Cons

Relatively expensive

No side-facing sensors


Best Prices Today:


£639 at DJI

DJI’s latest drone weighs less than 250g, so you don’t have to register it in some countries. But compared to previous models in the Mini range, the Pro can detect and avoid obstacles.

It can also track subjects, which was one of the big drawbacks of the Mini 2, for example.

DJI has also bumped up the camera quality noticeably, and the Mini 3 Pro delivers surprisingly good footage in low light – a traditional weakness of tiny drones with small camera sensors.

It will also shoot 4K60 video, or up to 4K30 in HDR, and you can record in D-Cinelike, which allows you to do your colour correction later when editing the video. If you need to record in portrait, the camera can be rotated 90° as well.

Even when bought without a controller, the Mini 3 Pro is much more expensive than the Mini 2 (and 2S), but if you want the extra features it offers, and want the best quality from a sub-250g drone, this is the one to buy.

Read our full
DJI Mini 3 Proreview

2. DJI Air 2S

Pros

1-inch sensor

HDR & Log profiles for video

Cons

App limited to 1080p output

More expensive than Air 2


Best Prices Today:


£899 at DJI

The Air 2S is the best drone to buy if you’re not worried about registration. It’s not worth upgrading to if you already own a Mavic Air 2 but if you don’t, then there are some good reasons to buy the Air 2S instead of the cheaper Air 2, such as the camera’s bigger 1-inch sensor and extra sensors for avoiding obstacles.

Some features are decidedly not for consumers, though. Only pros will be able to get the most out of the Air 2S’s 10-bit capabilities and if you are only going to shoot in standard 8-bit video, you’re may not notice a huge difference in quality at 4K resolution between the Air 2S and Mavic Air 2.

It delivers better quality (then the Air 2) in low light, but this isn’t when most people fly. Put simply: if you care about eking out those last drops in video quality and know what you’re doing, the Air 2S is the obvious choice. If you don’t have the first idea about how to work with Log video and would rather stick to QuickShots and the editor in DJI’s Fly app, you’re probably better off saving your money and going with the Mavic Air 2.

Read our full
DJI Air 2Sreview

3. DJI Mini 2

Pros

Great video quality

No registration required in some countries

Cons

No obstacle avoidance

No ActiveTrack

The Mini 2 is a fantastic drone and still deserves its place in this list. Video quality is markedly improved over the original Mavic Mini, and the ability to shoot RAW photos (as well as the auto exposure bracketing feature) means it’s a great tool for aerial photography as well.

Add the upgraded motors which allow for better wind resistance, the significantly better controller and massively better range (and performance when there’s lots of interference) it easily justifies the price hike.

Even without Active Track (which is the biggest disappointment – not the lack of obstacle avoidance) it’s a great buy for those on a budget.

Read our full
DJI Mini 2review

4. DJI Avata

Pros

Exhilarating FPV experience

Intuitive DJI Motion controller

Compact & durable

Cons

Expensive if you don’t have existing accessories

Not all functions are available with Motion Controller

No automated photo/video modes like other DJI drones

RRP:



From £499 | Kit reviewed: £1,229

Unlike other drones here, the Avata isn’t for recording cinematic footage. Instead, it’s designed to offer a ‘first-person view’, just as if you were on-board the aircraft. You get this view from the camera, yes, but not on your phone screen: you wear something akin to a VR headset, known as FPV goggles.

The Avata is DJI’s second-gen FPV drone and is a very user-friendly way to get into the hobby: traditionally you’d put all the various parts together yourself. But while the Avata itself seems reasonably affordable, it’s expensive if you don’t already own the goggles and controller, which you probably don’t.

If you can afford it, it’s masses of fun to fly.

Read our full
DJI Avatareview

5. DJI Mavic Air 2

Pros

Shoots 4K video at 60fps

Good obstacle avoidance

Cons

No LOG video profile

App limited to 1080p output

The Mavic Air 2 is still one of the best options under £800/$800. And it’s still one of the best consumer drones around. It’s still widely available, but may not be for much longer as it has been replaced by the 2S.

Shooting 4K60 is great as it means you can slow the footage in your video editor for a more cinematic look, and you can also shoot slo-motion footage at 240fps in 1080p.

Add the upgraded obstacle avoidance, remote control and flight time when compared to the original Mavic Air and there’s no contest: the Air 2 is superior in every way.  It isn’t perfect due to the lack of obstacle sensors on the sides, but accept and work around its limitations and you’ll be extremely happy with it.

The Air 2S is better, but it’s more expensive and only those that understand 10-bit video will really benefit from the upgraded camera.

Read our full
DJI Mavic Air 2review

6. DJI Mini SE

Pros

Affordable

Under 250g

Cons

Basic video quality

No obstacle avoidance

DJI quietly released the
Mini SE last year, and it’s the company’s cheapest drone yet.

It’s sort of a cross between the original Mini and the Mini 2.

It’s easiest to consider it a Mini 2 with cut-down specs that match the original Mini for things like maximum video resolution (2.7K), transmission distance (2km) and flight time (30 minutes).

As it costs just £269 / $299, it is a real bargain if you don’t need to shoot 4K videos or RAW photos.

Aimed at first-time fliers, it’s a competent drone which is easy to fly, but it doesn’t have obstacle avoidance like some of DJI’s more expensive drones.

The good news is that it takes respectable video and photos, and it’s light enough to be flown without registering in many countries (not the UK, sadly).

Read our full
DJI Mavic Minireview

7. Parrot Anafi

Pros

Camera can tilt upwards

Shoots 4K HDR video

Cons

No obstacle avoidance

Some features behind paywall

With a gimbal that can tilt up 90 degrees as well as down, plus a battery that charges via USB-C and the ability to record 4K HDR video, the Anafi is a good alternative to some of DJI’s drone, especially if you can find it on sale at a discounted price.

The snag is that it has no obstacle avoidance and some of the autopilot modes are locked behind in-app purchases which grates when you’ve just spent this much on a capable drone.

Read our full
Parrot Anafireview

8. DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2.0

Pros

Camera has mechanical shutter

Shoots 4K60 video

Cons

Big, but doesn’t fold

Not as portable as other drones

RRP:



From £1549

Best Prices Today:


£1549 at DJI

Re-introduced after a shortage of components, the Phantom 4 Pro v2.0 is still one of DJI’s most capable drones. The main disadvantage is that is doesn’t fold, so unlike a Mavic, it’s not nearly as portable.

The v2.0 was originally launched in 2018, but still holds up in terms of specs. It records 4K video at up to 60fps, but the main attraction is the mechanical shutter. Admittedly, this is only really a benefit if you want to use a drone for mapping (photogrammetry), but none of DJI’s other consumer drones have a mechanical shutter. 

It has OcuSync 2.0 HD for image transmission to the remote controller, plus obstacle detection in five directions and avoidance in four. 

If you’re looking for the specific features on offer here and don’t need portability instead, the Phantom is still a good choice.

Drone Buying Guide

Some people just want to fly for fun, but most people want a drone to take aerial photos and videos. And if you want them to be any good, you will need to spend mid-range smartphone money. We’ve yet to see a cheaper drone achieve stabilised, great quality video.

You tend to get what you pay for with drones, so the higher price, the better the camera and the more features (such as obstacle avoidance) that are included.

Flight time and range

Flight time varies a lot, and it isn’t tied to price. The
Mavic Mini is DJI’s cheapest drone, yet flies for up to 30 minutes on a charge.

Don’t pay too much attention to range. It sounds great to be able to fly several kilometres away, but most local laws (including in the UK) say you must keep drone in sight at all times. What’s useful about long range claims is that these drones should cope much better with radio interference, unlike short-range models which can lose connection to the controller, or have a choppy video feed.

Very small and light drones can be blown around in the wind, which is why having GPS on board is a must: it allows the drone to automatically hover in place. Look also for the wind speed which a drone can resist: the lower the speed, the calmer conditions you’ll need to wait for before you can fly.

Spares

Although it’s rare on most of the drones below, crashing is a distinct possibility. Almost all drones come with a full set of spare propellers, but as two rotate anti-clockwise and the other pair clockwise, you’ve got only two spares for each pair of spindles.

Check first if spare parts are easy to obtain for a particular drone, and also their prices.

Cameras

Not all drones come with cameras. You don’t need a camera, since you should always have the drone in your line of sight while flying it. 

At the cheaper end of the price scale you should go for at least 1080p (1920×1080). Bear in mind that – as ever – you can’t trust specs alone. Read our reviews to find out how good each drone’s camera is. Bitrate is just as important for detail in video: the DJI Mini 2’s 4K video is impressive because it can record at up to 100Mbps. The older Mavic Mini was limited to 40Mbps.

Also, you’ll only get smooth, stable footage if you buy a drone with a gimbal. This is a stabilised mount for the camera which keeps it steady when the drone tilts or moves around.

Some drones record video directly to a microSD card but others record from the remote control, or even over the air to a smartphone. Direct recording is usually more reliable and better quality as the video doesn’t have to be transmitted before being recorded.  

Drones

Leave a Comment

Generated by Feedzy