Never has aerial photography been so accessible to the general public, as the time we live in today. Whatever your need for aerial imaging – as a hobby, as an aerial imaging and photography professional, for aerial mapping, scientific research or any of the other many applications, the aim of this article is to help you find the best drone with a camera available for sale today.
The Best Camera Drones For Sale For Professional Aerial Photos and Videos
A lot of new drone models and brands have been springing up in the last few years. Consumers are now spoilt for choice in the small UAVs market. If you are looking for a drone with a camera to buy, it is essential that you know what your needs are and then, conduct a thorough research to find the right drone that fits those needs.
I wrote this article to give you a brief summary of the most important points about the top camera drones you can buy today.
I take a brief look at points of interest such as pricing, camera specifications, flight handling and responsiveness of the drone itself, and the flight time on a single charge.
I hope that after reading this, you’ll be able to make a decision on which drone best suits your professional aerial imaging needs.
Unless you are a hardcore RC builder, I’m pretty sure you’ll want a drone that you can start using without having to do much assembling or buying of extra parts. Because of this, this article is only going to focus on ready-to-fly (RTF) drones.
All you’ll need to do is to fully charge the battery, read your manual while the battery is charging, power up the drone, go through any calibration requirements, complete any other configuration and viola! you are ready to take to the skies.
What Are The 8 Best Drones With a Camera You Can Buy Today?
Trying to put together a top 8 list of the best camera drones is a challenge. This is because there are tons of good drones out there that won’t be represented on this list. So you are not to take this as an exhaustive list.
Having said this, I firmly believe the drones listed below are the best camera drones out there in the prosumer and professional domain. I came to this conclusion after several hundreds of hours of research and personal experience. I have taken into consideration the experiences of many users of these drones as well. I have done my best to bring you a list that I believe is representative of the thinking in the industry.
So without further ado, here is my list of the best drones with a camera for sale today. Click on a link below to be taken to its review.
- DJI Inspire 2 (most expensive in the list and more suitable for professional production companies)
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Phantom 4
- DJI Inspire 1 V2.0
- DJI Phantom 3 Professional
- Yuneec Typhoon H Hexacopter
- 3DR Solo
- Yuneec Q500 4K
1. DJI Inspire 2 Professional Camera Drone
In late 2016 DJI launched the inspire 2 drone to much critical praise. It is a much improvement on the Inspire 1. The inspire 2 comes equipped with 2 cameras. There is an onboard forward facing 2-axis camera to deliver better FPV (first person view). The FPV camera can be rotated a full 360° to give you a much improved FPV experience.
I know I said it comes equipped with 2 cameras but the main camera does not come as a standard equipment with the inspire 2. You’ll have to buy the camera separately. It uses DJI’s Zenmus X4S or X5S cameras. You can either purchase the camera separately or buy it together with the drone as a bundle. A bundle with the X4S camera can set you back about $3,600 while a bundle with the X5S camera can cost over $6,000. Did I mention it was not cheap?
If you visit my best drones for sale article, I talk a bit more about the two cameras in that article.
Because it has two cameras, the drone can be operated by two people. One person can use the FPV camera to navigate the drone and a second person (likely a videographer or photographer) can focus solely on capturing the best footage.
This is a feature I love about this drone.
Key features on the Inspire 2
- Camera Resolution (Zenmuse X5S): Up to 5.2 K videos and 20.8 MP still images. 4K videos at 60 fps in H.264 format and 4K video at 30 fps in H.265 format. You can push the boundary and go for the X5R camera to get videos in CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes formats. You can obtain cinema-quality footages with this drone.
- Up to 27 minutes flight time on a single charge ( believe it or not, this is in the high-end for drones).
- Flies at a top speed of 67 mph.
- Flight Range: Up to 4.3 miles away from the controller.
- Other notable features include Advanced obstacle avoidance, live 1080i video broadcast, two batteries, two cameras, advanced subject tracking modes, smart return home, and more.
The DJI Inspire 2 uses the proprietary CineCore 2.0 image processing engine, which allows the camera to capture 5.2K video at extremely high bitrate. To handle the high-speed video capturing, the drone uses an integrated SSD storage.
2. DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter
From the moment the Mavic Pro was first introduced onto the market, aerial videographers, filmmakers, photographers, and industry experts have referred to it as a game changer.
The Mavic Pro was launched in mid-2016 and it was introduced to the market as a professional and portable aerial imaging drone. It is even smaller than the DJI Phantom 4 but, don’t let its small size fool you. It hides a very sophisticated and technologically advanced camera drone.
When it was first released, folks were unsure of how it will perform compared to the Phantom 4 or the DJI inspire 1 drones. However, after having used this drone myself, I can confidently say that I am blown away by how well this drone flies and the quality of videos and photos it captures. If you are in the market to buy a professional drone with a camera, then you can’t go wrong with the Mavic Pro.
Key features of the Mavic Pro
- Capture still photos up to a resolution of 12 MP
- Capture 4K (4096 x 2160) videos at 30 fps and full HD 1080p videos at 96 fps for some awesome slow motion shots.
- Up to 27 minutes flight time on a single charge
- Can fly at a top speed of 40 mph.
- Flight range of up to 4.3 miles away from the controller.
- Other notable features of the Mavic Pro include OcuSync link between drone and transmitter, efficient design, advanced subject tracking, advanced obstacle avoidance system, selfie (or is it a dronefie) mode (controlled with gestures), tripod mode, intelligent flight batteries and much more.
This drone has already become one of the highest selling drones in just the few months since it was launched. Based on discussions in the RC communities, video analysis, and my own experience, I have no doubt that this is one of the top camera drones out there for professionals.
You can buy the Mavic Pro drone in three different bundles.
- You can choose the base model which consists of only the drone and the controller/transmitter.
- Or you can buy the Pro bundle which consists of the original drone package plus 2 extra batteries, 2 extra sets of propellers, a charging hub, a car charger, a power bank to battery adapter, and a should bag for transporting and storing your drone.
- Or you can buy the Fly More bundle which contains too many things to list here.
A few accessories for the DJI Mavic Pro
- Additional batteries
- Lens Filters
- Car Charger
- Carrying bag
- Hard case (great protection for your drone)
If you are a professional photographer or videographer who wants to get into aerial filming or photography, the Mavic Pro should be one of the first drones you consider. Recreational and hobbyist users who also want to take their videos and images to the next level as well as fly a fun-to-fly drone, the Mavic Pro is calling out to you. It is powerful, it is portable, it is fun to fly and it captures awesome videos and photos.
3. DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter
The DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter is one of my personal favorite drones. It was launched in March last year. The biggest improvements on the Phantom 3 include a better camera, better obstacle avoidance system, and an improved battery life.
Flight time has been improved to up 28 minutes thanks to the lighter magnesium frame. In contrast, the Phantom 3 Professional has a flight time of 21 minutes.
The Phantom 4 comes with a new lens that gives you higher quality videos and images.
Key features of the Phantom 4 (Standard)
- Camera resolution: Capture DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) videos at 24/25 fps. UHD 4K videos can be captured at 30 fps. And for those super slow-motion shots, there are HD 1080p videos at 120 fps. Photos can be captured at a resolution up to 12 MP in DNG Raw or JPEG formats.
- The drone can fly up to 28 minutes on a single charge.
- The Phantom 4 can achieve a top speed of 45 mph.
- It has a flight range of up to 3.1 miles from the controller/transmitter
- Other notable features include an advanced obstacle avoidance system, advanced subject tracking sensors, advanced flight modes, longer battery life, high-speed breaking, GLONAS and GPS Navigation.
Currently, you can choose from 3 different models in the Phantom 4 family.
- DJI Phantom 4 (Standard)
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro+
The main difference between them is that the Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ (pro plus) have vastly superior cameras to the Phantom 4 pro. They also have a higher flight range (4.3 miles), higher battery life (up to 30 minutes), and better obstacle avoidance.
The only difference between the Phantom 4 Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro+ is that the Pro+ comes with a controller/transmitter that has an integrated 1080p display. The controller for the Phantom 4 Pro and the Phantom 4 Standard does not have a display. You’ll have to attach a smartphone or a tablet to it.
The phantom 4 drone can be fully operated without the need for additional accessories. However, there are a few accessories that you might need to buy to improve your experience.
- Additional Batteries. (A must have if you are going to do some extended shooting).
- Battery Charging Hub (So you can charge more than one battery at the same time)
- Extra propellers. (As good as the propellers are, they can be damaged or lost)
- Hard Case (The styrofoam packaging in the box also acts as a carrying/storage case but if you want better protection and space for extra batteries and other accessories, you’ll want to buy a hard case)
The DJI Phantom 4 is a very easy-to-fly drone with plenty of intelligent flight assistance. Improved vision positioning system allows you to fly the drone easily indoors and close to the ground without the fear of crashing into the ground or obstacles. Professionals and enthusiasts will love this camera drone.
4. DJI Inspire 1 v2.0 Quadcopter
Anyone looking for a drone with a camera that can pan 360° degrees should consider the DJI Inspire 1 v2.0 as a good alternative for the Inspire 2. One thing I love about the DJI Inspire range is that you can remove the gimbal and camera from the drone with ease. This is great if you want to transport the drone. It also means you can easily upgrade the camera system in the future.
You can upgrade it with any of DJI’s Zemuse range of cameras.
The Inspire 1 was built with aerial imaging in mind. Straight from the box, it comes with a DJI’s extremely powerful Zenmuse X5 camera. The drone’s arms are retractable for easy transport. They arms lift upwards during flight, to give the camera an unobstructed 360 degrees view of the scene below.
The only thing that is a bit lacking is the range. It has a maximum range of 1.2 miles compared to the 4.3 miles range of the Inspire 2 and the Phantom 4s. One other major drawback is that the Inspire 1 does not have obstacle avoidance. You’ll have to be an experienced pilot to fly this one or someone willing to spend some time learning to fly it on a simulator. The camera and gimbal system are removable so you should remove them before practicing to fly with the drone.
Key features of the Inspire 1. v2.0
- The drone’s camera captures DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) video at 24p and 25p, UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p and FHD (1920 x 1080) at up to 60p. You can capture photos at a resolution of 16 MegaPixels.
- It can achieve a flight time of up to 18 minutes on a single charge.
- Flight range is up to 1.2 miles away from the controller/transmitter.
- Top speed is up to 49 mph.
- Other notable features include; It can be operated by two people using two transmitters at the same time, support for different cameras.
The DJI Inspire 1 v2.0 can be flown by two operators using two controllers/transmitters. One person can navigate the drone while another focuses solely on the shots you want to get.
- You can buy the standard version with just one controller
- You can buy a bundled version which comes with 3 additional higher capacity batteries, two controllers, a battery heater and a hard case.
5. DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Almost everybody knows that DJI dominates the drone market and it is no wonder that the top 5 spots are occupied by DJI drones.
The DJI Phantom 3 is probably the best selling drone in the past couple of years.
There are 4 models in the Phantom 3 family. These are listed below.
- Phantom 3 Standard
- Phantom 3 4K
- Phantom 3 Advanced
- Phantom 3 Professional
To know the difference between all four models, I have created a post that explains the differences between the different Phantom 3 models.
However, the best of the lot is the DJI Phantom 3 Professional which is what I’m going to focus on here.
As is suggested by the name, the Phantom 3 Professional is built with professional aerial imaging in mind. It comes with an awesome 4K camera with Sony EXMOR sensor. It can achieve a flight time of 23 minutes on a single charge and can cover a range of up to 3.1 miles away from the controller/transmitter.
It comes with all the advanced intelligent flight modes you expect from DJI. Flight modes such as waypoints, follow me, course lock and home lock are standard on the Phantom 3 Professional.
Until the Phantom 4 arrived, this was my personal favorite. It is still a very capable drone and has a lot of features that are the same on the Phantom 4s.
Key features of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional.
- The camera resolution is similar to that of the Inspire 1 v2.0. It can capture DCI 4K videos at 24p and 25p, UHD 4K videos at 30p and FHD (1920 x 1080) videos at up to 60p. Photographs can be captured at 12 MegaPixels resolution.
- It can achieve up to 23 minutes flight time on a single charge
- It has a maximum flight range of 3.1 miles away from the controller/transmitter
- It comes with a top speed of 36 mph.
Here are a few accessories that help improve your usage of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone.
- Additional Batteries
- Compatible memory cards
- Additional Propellers
- Hard Case
- Battery Charging Hub
- Compatible lens filters
- HDMI Output Module
- Launch Pads
For those of you on a tight budget but still want an advanced drone with a good camera for aerial imaging, the DJI Phantom 4 Professional is a very capable alternative. For about $400 less than the cost of a brand new version, you can buy a DJI certified refurbished Phantom 4 Professional on eBay. It is just as good as the brand new and no one will ever notice any difference.
6. Yuneec Typhoon H Hexacopter
Did we finally make it to a drone not name DJI? Well, they are not the only players in town. Yuneec has stepped up their game in recent times and the Typhoon H is a testament to the strides they’ve made over the past few years.
They may not be a household name like DJI but Yuneec has some high-quality camera drones on the market. With the Typhoon H, they’ve opted to go with the hexacopter model. It has 6 rotors instead of the 4 rotors on DJI’s models.
Some say hexacopters give you better redundancy, sharper turns, more velocity and more trust. However, I believe it’s all about the power of the motors.
The Yuneec comes equipped with a powerful 4K 3-axis gimbal stabilized camera. The landing gear retracts when flying to give the camera an unobstructed 360 degrees view of the scene around it. The drone is ready-to-fly out of the box and is pretty easy to fly even for the novices.
Key features of the Typhoon H (standard)
- The camera captures video at a UHD 4K ((3840 x 2160) resolution at 30fps and photographs at 12 MegaPixels.
- It can achieve a flight time of up to 25 minutes on a single charge.
- The maximum range on the Typhoon H is about 4,000 feet or 0.8 miles. But the video being sent back to the controller will start chopping up at about the 0.5-mile mark. Note that this does not affect the quality of the video being recorded onto the storage cards.
- It has a top speed of about 43 mph.
The standard Typhoon H comes with an ultrasonic collision prevention sensors. It stops the drone from colliding with obstacles but does not allow it to fly around them. So if you are tracking a subject and the drone encounters an obstacle, it stops in mid-air and loses track of the subject.
There is a second configuration which uses Intel’s new RealSense tracking technology. This creates a 3D mapping of the drone’s environment and allows it to fly around any object in its path instead of stopping in mid-air. This is great if you are tracking a subject and need the drone to stay on the subject at all time.
There is also a bundle that includes the Wizard Wand and a backpack. The Wizard Wand is a TV remote control style controller that allows the drone to be operated by two people. One pilot can focus on navigation and a second pilot on operating the camera.
Or this bundle which has all the above features but without the Intel RealSense (it has the ultrasonic collision avoidance sensors).
The controller comes equipped with an HD 72op screen. It does not have a device holder so you can’t use it with your tablet.
7. 3DR Solo Quadcopter
Maybe you’ve been reading this thinking, what about a drone that supports the very popular GoPro cameras? If this is what you wanted, then your prayers have been answered with the 3DR Solo drone.
The 3DR solo comes with a gimbal system that supports the GoPro Hero 3+ and Hero 4 cameras. It does not support the Hero 5 cameras. Technically, the 3DR solo is not a camera drone since the standard configuration does not come with a camera.
However, there are bundles that include either the GoPro Hero 4 or the Hero 3+.
The drone itself does not have obstacle avoidance but 3DR has released software updates that enable this feature using the GoPro Cameras.
It features advanced flight modes such as subject tracking, return-home and safety net modes. The controller does not have an integrated display but has holders for your tablet or smartphone for FPV.
If you are not familiar with the GoPro cameras, here are the video resolutions you can get with the camera.
- Her0 4 Black: UHD 4K (up to 3840 x 2160) at 30 fps, FHD (1920 x 1080) at up to 90fps, HD (1280 x 720) at up to 240fps. You can take photos up to 12 MegaPixels in resolution.
- GoPro Here 3+: 4K (4096 x 2160) videos at 12fps, FHD (1920 x 1080) videos at up to 60 fps. It supports a photo resolution of 12 MegaPixels.
- You can buy just the drone with gimbal system if you already have a GoPro Here 3+ or Hero 4 camera.
- Or a bundle that includes the GoPro Her0 4 Black.
8. Yuneec Q500 4K Quadcopter Drone
You may not know it but Yuneec has been manufacturing components in the RC aviation industry since 1999.
I have flown the Q500 4K on a few occasions and I loved it a lot. It is quadcopter, unlike the Typhoon H. It comes with a 3-axis gimbal stabilized camera capable of panning 360 degrees.
The camera can be easily detached from the drone and attached to the included Steady Grip stick – which is a handheld gimbal system – for shooting smooth and stable videos on the ground. I have to admit the steady grip works very well and the video is super smooth even for those with the shakes.
One other thing I really loved is that the Q500 4K comes with its own aluminum hard case which gives great protection for the drone and has plenty of room for accessories. You won’t have to purchase a separate hard case.
Key features of the Yuneec Q500 4K.
- Capture videos in 4K at 30fps and FHD 1080p (1920 x 1080) at up to 120 fps. Capture photographs at a resolution of 12 MegaPixels.
- It can achieve 25 minutes flight time on a single charge.
- The top speed is not so impressive. It can do 18 mph maximum.
- It has a range of about 300 meters or approximately 0.2 miles. So the range is rather very limited.
The controller of the Q500 4K comes with an integrated 5.5-inch touchscreen display for FPV.
The Yuneec Q500 4K may not be the best camera drone for sale today but as an older model, it is cheaper and yet is a capable drone for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money but want good quality aerial videos.
You’ve got loads of options to choose from when it comes to buying camera drones. After reading through this guide, I hope that you’ve found a camera drone that meets your requirements.
I will be updating this guide frequently to include new drones on that market that make the cut.
Please have fun flying but always practice common sense flying.