The Best Drones for Photos and Video

If you’re an aspiring aerial photographer or videographer, a drone is your ticket to the sky. After test-flying nearly 25 models, we’ve concluded that the DJI Air 2S is the best drone because it combines a high-end camera with the latest autonomous technology for less than $1,000. We also recommend the DJI Mavic 3 and the DJI Mini 2. Pilots of all skill levels will find that DJI’s drones are exceptionally reliable and easy to fly.

Note, however, that even though a 2021 Pentagon report indicates that DJI drones that had been used by the US government and were alleged to include malicious code are safe for use, there are ongoing concerns about the security of the drones, as well as allegations that the company provided drone technology to Chinese detention camps. Another concern: Android users have to download the company’s DJI Fly app directly from the website instead through the relatively secure Google Play store.

The DJI Air 2S package combines ease of flight with long battery life and a camera that can shoot 5.4K video (we recommend the Fly More Combo option because, among other things, it includes three rechargeable drone batteries). The Air 2S can sense and avoid obstacles approaching from the front, back, top, and below, and it can alert you to approaching aircraft. It can also hold its position steadily, even in moderate winds (DJI says it’s safe to fly in winds up to 23.9 mph; during our testing, the drone had no problem flying in 10 mph winds), so you can focus on your cinematography instead of having to worry about keeping the drone steady. This model also features DJI smart flight modes such as ActiveTrack, which directs the drone to autonomously follow and film a subject while also avoiding obstacles. Its 31-minute battery life is long enough for you to grab several shots before landing for a battery swap. And the Air 2S can go with you almost anywhere: At 7 by 3.8 by 3 inches folded and 1.3 pounds, it fits exceptionally well in our top pick for drone backpacks.