Nowadays, there are a dizzying array of drones available to purchase. It can be very hard to find the right one for your needs, especially if you’re a beginner in the world of drones. However, there is a distinct division between drones that you should consider. Cheaper drones are fun but will never fly as well or produce amazing cinematic shots compared to premium drones. When it comes to these remote-controlled flying vehicles, you get what you pay for.
The best mini drone with a camera in 2021, in our opinion, would be the DJI models; specifically, DJI Mavic Air 2. DJI Mavic Air 2 dominates the top picks for many mini drone users, including us. This is because it includes all the features you want in a high-quality drone, for affordable prices.
If you’re not attending film school or aiming to impress YouTube viewers with your cinematic aerial shots, you don’t have to drain your wallets on premium drones. DJI’s Mavic model series is easily the best mini drones available in the market.
DJI models are very popular for a good reason, this is because the company is always various steps ahead of its competitors. DJI has a wide product catalog that has models at various price points; ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality mini drones, no matter the budget. These models make up the majority of our list in this article.
If you want to learn more about why we chose DJI Mavic Air 2 as the best overall mini drone with a camera, read on to find out! We’ve also outlined the best models and brands for specific categories. If you believe that a mini drone can help in your next project, then we can help you find the right one.
Mini drones may seem like toys, but a high-quality one can be a very serious investment. The proper mini drone can significantly add tons of production value to a film project with relatively low effort, compared to other methods.
Drones have revolutionized the way we view our world. They’ve taken the once very cumbersome, expensive, and difficult moviemaking “magic” techniques and made them accessible to any aspiring filmmaker or average joe. Videos and films that used to require a full camera crew, super expensive cranes and countless hours of filming can now be done in a few minutes with a press of a button.
In this article, we’re going to list out our top mini drones with a camera in 2021. These models will be listed by best in a category. We’ve made sure to include various drones for different types of consumers.
The Best Mini Drones with a Camera – Categories
There are numerous mini drones out there, with differing specs, prices, and designs. In this section, we’re going to split up the best mini drones into their corresponding categories. If you don’t have the time to read the details, we’ve provided a summary below.
Best Overall Mini Drone
- Newbie-friendly and easy to fly
- Easily take 4K/60fps videos
- 34-minute battery life
- The camera feed occasionally stutters
- No screen available on the controller
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is our top pick for the best mini drone currently available on the market. If you’re new at flying drones and don’t know which one to pick up, this is the model we highly recommend buying. It is very lightweight and portable while still packing a very impressive ½ inch sensor for taking high-quality videos and images.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 has plenty of automation that increases your convenience. You can just start flying and take all the pictures and videos you want; the drone will avoid obstacles and do all the tracking by itself. It is also capable of shooting 4K resolution videos at 60 frames-per-second, achieving that crisp and smooth video. The Mavic Air 2 is a huge improvement from the Mavic Air, making it the best all-around mini drone for any hobbyist or beginners.
Finally, let’s talk about the Mavic Air 2’s controller. It features the Ocusync 2.0 connectivity. This boosts the drone’s range to up to 10km and improves the stability of its signal to the DJI Fly App.
Best Budget-Friendly Mini Drone
- Very compact, perfect for travel
- Excellent battery life
- Simple to use app and controls
- Pricier compared to the Mavic Mini
- Does not have a “follow me” mode
Even though the Mavic Air 2 was our top pick, it can be pricey for plenty of people. Another affordable yet also high-quality option is the DJI Mini 2. Our favorite thing about the DJI Mini 2 is it flies incredibly well, even better than its much larger siblings. However, you need to watch out for strong wind gusts that can ground the Mini. Because it lacks collision-avoidance sensors, the DJI Mini 2 is best used by more experienced fliers.
Despite the various caveats, the DJI Mini 2 is still a strong entry-level drone, great for those looking to try getting into drone-flying without breaking the bank. This drone is very fun and fairly easy to fly, can shoot stunning 4K videos, and weighs almost nothing; at 249 grams. The DJI Mini 2 is so compact, it’s almost like a cellphone. You can pretty much take it everywhere you go.
Best Premium Mini Drone
- Outstanding foldable design
- 1-inch 20 MP sensor
- This drone is advanced yet it is easy enough to fly for beginners
- The portrait shooting option is unavailable
- The noise can reach ISO 100 and above
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is considered the king of premium drones. It’s in a class on its own. Many in the industry dub this drone the best drone you can buy right now, and we agree. Both the video and image quality produced by the Mavic 2 Pro are outmatched by none. It also can track objects and travel at 45 miles per hour means that you won’t miss any shot you need.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro also features omnidirectional obstacle-avoidance. At this price point, you’re going to want your drone to avoid any obstacle it flies by. It has a 25-minute flying time, which allows you to stay in the air longer than most drones. Overall, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro packs some serious tech for serious professionals looking to capture the highest-quality drone footage. This is pretty much the perfect mini drone if you can afford it.
Best Budget-Friendly & High Video-Quality Drone
- Can take 4K UHD at 60 FPS videos
- Has a 180-degree vertical camera
- Doesn’t feature obstacle avoidance
This bug-like drone may be small and light-weight, but the photos it can produce are some of the most impressive ones around. The Parrot Anafi features a 180 degrees’ vertical camera. This enables the drone to take photos directly upwards; a feature that none of the drones on this page can do. It also features a 2.8x zoom-able lens that doesn’t reduce image quality.
However, the biggest downsides of this drone are that it’s not as sharp as the DJI models and it doesn’t feature any obstacle avoidance. The first thing you’ll notice out of the box is that the Parrot Anafi feels quite sluggish to fly. Fortunately, you can remedy this. Go into the settings and increase the speed. It’ll feel like it flies the same as some other expensive drones. The total flight time of this drone is around 25 minutes. A huge plus when flying the Anafi is that it is very quiet.
Best Stability and Durability Drone
- Very fast and sturdy drone
- Features a large 1-inch 20 MP sensor
- Can shoot 4K resolutions and 60p videos at 100Mbps
- Very large and bulky
- More expensive than the Mavic 2 Pro
- It is more complex to use compared to foldable drones
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is like a dinosaur in the world of drones, it is a large and bulky relic of the past. DJI hasn’t released any update to their Phantom product line in four years. However, despite these, this drone is still a reliable old giant. If you’re a professional filmmaker or drone enthusiast, the Phantom 4 V2.0 is still a solid option to pick up.
It is one of the most stable and responsive androids you can fly. It can also shoot outstanding 4K, cinema-quality videos and is smart enough that you can pretty much leave it to fly on its own. The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is sturdy enough to withstand gusts that can down any other drone. Of course, with its size comes some portability problems. It won’t be as convenient to bring around as a Mavic Pro 2.
The DJI Phantom series was responsible for pushing the drone scene to new heights. If you’re looking for a very reliable and sturdy drone to shoot some footage during unfavorable weather, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 can do the job.
Best Toy Drone
- Pretty good performance for its price
- Easy to fly, perfect for children
- Sold fly time for its size
- Not the sturdiest looking toy drone
If you want to test out the feel of flying a drone or just want to give your children a fun and easy drone to play with, the Syma X20 mini drone is a solid pick. It is very cheap yet very fun and can perform better than it looks. The drone is so small that it can fit in any pocket, perfect for your children to take on trips.
However, the best place to use the Syma X20 mini drone, in our opinion, is indoors. The drone is too small and frail to withstand the winds outside. If there are no strong winds or rain, then you can use it outside. Just be careful that it doesn’t hit you while inside as it can hurt.
Things to Consider When Buying a Mini Drone
Now that you know our top picks of drones for different categories, we’re going to outline some things you should consider when shopping for a mini drone. These tips will help you avoid any costly mistakes as these drones can be a huge investment.
Drones You Should Avoid
There are some drones that you should generally steer away from. One of these is the Mavic Mini. DJI is still selling them even though it was replaced by the Mini 2. The Mavic Mini is $50 cheaper than the Mini 2, but it isn’t worth it. We recommend spending the extra $50 on the Mini 2 as it has plenty of superior features, making it a better deal overall. You should only consider buying the Mavic Mini if you find it on sale for less than $300 or less.
Another thing you should be wary about is the “toy” drone market. Whenever you search for drones for sale online, you’ll be met by a wave of $50 to $150 priced drones. High-quality and well-made drones are still quite expensive for the average person. There are plenty of low-quality and knock-off drones because the parts that make a basic drone are fairly inexpensive on a wholesale level.
Make no mistake, some drones that are under $100 (like the Syma X20 mini drone) are very fun to play with. However, you shouldn’t expect any of these cheap drones to produce any quality images or videos. With that said, if you don’t care about creating content others see and just want to have fun flying around a drone, then toy drones can be a risk-free entry point.
Drone Regulations and Safety
Depending on your region, the rules and regulations of flying drones can vary quite a lot. In the US, if your drone weighs more than 250 grams or 8.8 ounces, you’re going to have to register it to fly legally outdoors; even if you only fly over your property. For UK drone fliers, they will have to register their drones with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Otherwise, they’ll get a fine of up to £1000. Below are some of the basic rules you should know when flying a drone.
- Don’t lose sight of your drone while flying
- Don’t fly over 400 feet
- Never fly within restricted airspace
- Never fly over gatherings of people
- Don’t fly near airports or other areas with nearby aircraft
- Never fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Don’t fly over sports events and stadiums
- Never fly near emergencies such as huge fires
Yes, a lot of these rules are basic common sense. You’ll need to use plenty of common sense whenever you decide to fly a drone.
If you are just looking to get started there might be many options out there, toy-like drones and such, but some are overpriced for what they can actually do. However, if you mean business when it comes to drones the ones we have gone over here are the ones to consider.
That concludes our deep dive on the top mini drones with a camera in 2021. If you’re looking for well-built drones, you can’t go wrong with the ones listed above.
What is a drone?
The word “drone” is widely used to refer to unmanned vehicles or UAVs. A drone is a robot that can fly and do tasks autonomously through special software. It can either be controlled through a remote device or premade flight plans.
Does one need a license to operate a drone?
Drones laws entirely depend on which region you’re flying. Most countries allow private flights of drones that weigh less than 2kg in open areas; around 150m from the city, towns, and other places where it isn’t populated.
Who are the largest manufacturers of drones and drone equipment?
Multiple reports indicate that DJI is the largest and most complete drone manufacturer in the industry. Their products, specifically the DJI Inspire 1 and DJI Phantom 3 are the number one choice of professional filmmakers when it comes to drone shots.
How high can drones fly?
This depends on the model and its range. Most of the consumer drones such as the DJI Phantom 3 Standard have an impressive range of 500 to 1000 meters. There are also drones such as the Phantom 3 Professional who can reach up to 2KM, perfect for taking shots of large landscapes.
What is the average flight time of drones?
The flight time will vary for each drone and largely depends on their battery size. Most camera drones have a flight time of around 25 minutes. Larger drones made for commercial usage, often have a flight time of around 15 minutes.