Some spectacular drone concepts have surfaced in the year 2018. The introduction of the active tracking system which is quite new and will be seen in many of the upcoming drones as well. Analyzing how drones have evolved throughout the past few years it’s no surprise that they are almost autonomous fliers now.
The continuous feature upgrades and add-ons make cropping down to the top five list a tedious task. Almost every standard consumer drone is equipped with great cameras which can shoot videos at 4K resolution and click stunning pictures. It is just those rare features which set the best apart and make them stand out. It is no wonder that today’s list is dominated by the drone giant DJI (Da-Jiang Innovations). Every product of this Chinese company is crafted and designed with near perfection raising the bar several notches higher for the rivals. However there are a few drones which take it to the extremes in terms if design and performance in comparison to that of DJI drones. Evaluating each drone based on its flight time, performance, and price tag, let’s head right into it:
1. DJI Mavic Pro
This drone hands-down takes the lead for the best consumer drones.
Capturing some great aerial footage of the mountains or the waves crashing on the beach, has never been easier. The highly stable 3-axis gimbal of the Mavic Pro holds every frame and image as still on a tripod. Stunning Ultra 4K recording clings on to every detail ensuring a crisp and vibrant image, at the same time retaining its realism. This drone allows you incredible freedom to shoot in the harshest of conditions as it is engineered with active tracking technology which can not only follow a registered person or object efficiently as it moves but also avoids obstacles.
The color capture is in amazing depth and images are captured in high resolution. It offers portrait mode as well, giving the focused object a much cinematic and raw look. The Mavic Pro is immensely portable and can be folded easily to fit inside of your hand bag. Its superior build quality makes it sturdy and wouldn’t budge from its calibrated position much even during coarse weather.
- Outstanding portability
- Great 4K footage
- Much longer flight time (28 min)
- Active tracking
- Crash resistant
- Highly stable with quieter flights
- May perform vaguely in low lighting.
2. DJI Mavic Air
This drone is an absolute steal for people on the go. Mavic Air is a great shape shifter and fits right inside your bag. The 3-axis gimbal is powerful in stabilizing your shots and offers some amazing HDR photos which honestly are surreal to look at. One of the most highlighted features is the bit rate of the drone. The bit rate lounges to a 100 Mbps while recording 4K as compared to the Mavic Pro which can only suffice 60 Mbps.
The drone has an exceptional build quality with the camera well situated within a frame and the gimbal also has a lock mechanism to make things easier. It also catches up the speed game as in the sports mode it can cruise through a 45 mph (65 Kph). The Mavic Air almost steals the first place and goes par with the Mavic Pro but lacks a point in battery life bounding you in the 20 minute time frame while the Mavic Pro promises 7-8 additional minutes and yes, the Mavic Air is also priced a little higher than the Pro model.
- 32 mp sphere panorama
- 4K shooting capacity
- Environmental sensing
- Smart capture
- 3 axis gimbal camera
- Low flight time (21mins)
- Poor range
- Low dynamic range
3. DJI Phantom 4 Pro
The Phantom 4 Pro, one of DJI’s finest products takes stunning videos and photos. It can record videos in 4K at 60fps. It has some of the coolest features including the draw feature which just allows you to draw a route on the display for the drone to follow. The active tracking smartly enables the drone to avoid obstacles and keep a track on the object it is shooting. The 20 MP 1 inch CMOS sensor enables the drone to capture some incredible aerial footage. It is most of all quite easy to use and also offers a great bit rate at 4K recording of a 100 Mbps. The obstacle steering system gives the drone great autonomous abilities.
The photos taken by the Phantom 4 Pro are crystal clear irrespective of the lighting but the only place it falls short of is the price. Pricing it way above $1000 makes it a little bit debatable.
Price: $ 1,499
- Draw technology
- Gesture mode
- Return to home feature
- Active tracking
- Descent battery life (25mins)
- An up to the mark Camera
- In-built display in the control remote
- A heavy price tag of $1,499
4. YUNEEC TYPHOON 4K
The Typhoon 4K offers some really cool UHD (ultra high definition) photographs thanks to its 3-axis gimbal stabilization. The 4K shoot mode offers great realistic frames and crisp details. This drone is somewhat a comparable one to the DJI’s phantom 3 series. The gimbal in the Typhoon is sturdy as a tripod but gives limited control with the tilt angles. A great feature about the Yuneec drone is that it can have modules attached to it. Its modularity enables it to pile on some additional parts and essential accessories which are hardly seen on other drones. It provides a very steady hand grip as well to take professional shots on the go. It also gives the users two Li-Po batteries which power up the drone for a great 25 minutes. Finishing it all up Yuneec decided to provide a strong aluminum case which is practically very useful for the transportation of the drone as it isn’t fold-able.
It slightly falls short of the camera performance as compared to its price tag. For a $1000 drone the camera shoots a bit of over-exposed photos cancelling out the raw form which makes it a tough job on the editing part. Nevertheless its photos are still comparable to the DJIs and manage to hold a spot in the top 5.
- 4K ultra HD camera
- 3-axis gimbal stabilization
- Watch me feature
- Extra battery
- Carry case
- Cool design
- Integrated FPV monitor
- No in-door positioning sensor
- Slower in speed
- No HD live video feed
- FPV delay
5. Parrot ANAFI
The ANAFI is quite the challenger when it comes to competing with the Mavic series. It does offer camera quality which to an extent is as good as the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air, but at the end of the day it still can’t come anywhere close to the sharpness of the image produced by the Mavic. Despite the differences it produces some pretty smooth images and lives up to the expectations for the 4K recording at 30 fps.
One of the great things about ANAFI is it’s excellent battery life. The battery lasts for about 25 mins as in a standard quality drone but it contains smart battery optimization which enhances your battery life efficiently. It is greatly portable and can be easily folded. The gimbal mounted on the ANAFI can enable the camera to shoot both extreme angles of 90 degrees up and down which is quite a unique feature along with its futuristic design which truly stands out. For a price range of $699 it does an amazing job. The flight time is unbelievably quiet, which is a great relief. Parrot’s ANAFI is a great choice for people starting out with drone photography as its controls are fairly easy and handy. This is an entry level drone at it does the job well enough.
- Very quiet flight
- 4K HDR camera
- Resistant to extreme weather
- Good flight time (25mins)
- Unique gimbal mounts
- No obstacle avoidance
- No safety sensor
- Intelligent flight control requires additional purchase
- Camera quality is average.
This list has incorporated some of the most advanced photography drones which can be used by almost anybody. There are drones far more advanced but those drones are solely for core industry usage. Keeping in mind the feasibility of the consumer this Top 5 list gives you a brief glance into the different products available. Taking DJI for instance has some of the most industry standard drones and the one’s like Mavic Pro, Mavic Air and Phantom 4 Pro are just perfect for professional photographers who seek some extraordinary resolution in their photos and videos and are well versed with the controls and technical aspects of drone photography while the Typhoon and ANAFI are wonderful entry-level drones which give you the ultimate start into aerial photography, specially Parrot’s ANAFI being a very budget friendly drone and it also captures some vivid and incredible aerial shots.