Best drones for photography – Evening Standard

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Elevate your perspective with these photo-and-video-shooting drone
t would be difficult to exaggerate the impact drones have had on the fields of video and photography. Their airborne capabilities and high-quality in-built cameras show us the world as we’ve never seen it before, opening up opportunities for jaw-dropping aerial photography by professionals and talented amateurs alike.
In this article, we’ll be looking at seven of the best models on the market, including models suitable for beginners, enthusiasts and semi-professionals. Before we talk details, we have outlined a few key points and common questions for anyone looking to buy a drone.
Most drones which are used for photography are of the quadcopter variety – which means they are lifted and directed by a set of four propellers. Quadcopters tend to offer the stability and manoeuvrability needed to take good photos, and we have therefore focused on this type of drone in our review roundup.
Before you set off on your drone photography quest, you should read the official guidance and regulations concerning drone use in the UK. It’s especially important to bear in mind that the maximum height at which a drone can legally fly in the UK is 120m. For this reason, we’ve listed the max. flight height of each drone featured in this article as 120m or less, despite the fact some of the drones are technically capable of flying higher. Go to to get the full picture.
You should be aware that most drones won’t work without a compatible smartphone. Before you buy, check the product specs to ensure your handset fits the bill.
Best for: otherworldly flying and photography performance
Controlled by: smartphone and remote
Resolution: 4K
Max height: 120m*
This is the life. Cruising at 100 meters, watching back crystal-clear FPV footage on a brilliant, 5.5in, 1000 candela per m2 controller screen, changing course on a whim with the greatest of ease.
Piloting the Phantom 4 Pro+ is an absolute thrill, and its photo and video capabilities are second to none. The drone itself is solid, smart-looking and easy-to-assemble – just attach the propellers, connect the controller to your smartphone, calibrate the compass, and off you fly.
Its price undoubtedly places this outstanding drone at the prosumer end of the market, but what you get in return could well be the gift-to-self of a lifetime.
£1,819 | Argos | Buy it now
Best for: kids and a great performance for under £100
Controlled by: smartphone (can also be used with a controller – sold separately)
Camera resolution: 720p​
Max height: 30m
Though it may look toy-like, the Ryze Tello is referred to as an “aircraft” in its instruction manual – a reminder that this charming little drone is powered by beefy DJI Flight Tech. Once you’ve launched it and witnessed its impressive powers of flight, you’ll realise it certainly isn’t kidding about.
Speaking of kids, the Tello is well suited for younger pilots and the relatively rough treatment that demographic has been accused of meting out (whether rightly or wrongly). You can set it off by tossing it into the air; command it to land on the palm of your hand; even set it to execute flips and tricks with a swipe of your smartphone screen.
As for the photography side of things, the Ryze is best suited to capturing fun pics and videos for social media, rather than for high-quality photography.
If you’re just learning the ropes of drone piloting and photography, this will feel like £100 exceedingly well spent. Be aware that the Tello has a flight height limit of 30m, so it’s not suitable for panoramic landscape shots. It’s also very light, and so is best reserved for calm weather flying.
£93.54 | Amazon | Buy it now
Best for: mid-range price point with topnotch results
Controlled by: phone and controller
Camera resolution: 4k
Max legal height: 120m*
Parrot SE is widely considered DJI’s leading rival in the consumer drone market. The Anafi is surely the French firm’s most exciting creation to date, with 25-minute flight time, a 4k HDR camera, and 2.8X lossless zoom – ideal for capturing fine details from high up.
In a move designed to trumpet the Anafi’s photography focus, Parrot have partnered with Adobe to give users two months’ free membership of Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. Check with your retailer to ensure you qualify for the offer.
£549.99 | Parrot | Buy it now
Best for: outstanding performance under £1,000
Controlled by: controller (sold separately) or phone
Camera resolution: 4k
Max legal height: 120m*
The Mavic Air is our favourite “sensibly-priced” option for low-effort, high-quality drone photography. Everything about it seems perfectly tuned for ease-of-use, from its 27-minute flight time to the editing and sharing options in DJI Go 4 Editor (which comes with the software used to pilot the drone).
If we’re being ultra-critical, we’d have to admit the Mavic Air does fall short of the Phantom 4 Pro+ in certain respects.
For instance, its camera shoots at 30fps rather than 60fps – so you won’t be able to capture details like the movements of tree branches in quite such exquisite detail.
That said, the Mavic Air is more than good enough for all but the most serious of drone photographers: a dream to fly, safe to use, and capable of capturing glorious HD photographs from above.
£759 | Amazon | Buy it now
See all drones with cameras on Amazon
Best for: remarkable value-for-money
Controlled by: controller
Camera resolution: 1280p​
Max height: 50m
This cheap-as-chips Recon drone offers impressive flight and photography capabilities for less than the price of a brand-new video game.
We can think of no more compelling reason for tech-lovers to get off the settee and into the great outdoors. The Observation Drone captures photos and videos via its underside camera at the press of a button, providing an effective, no-frills way to document flights and reconnoitre your surroundings.
It’s clear to see in the materials it’s made from that this drone is very much at the toy end of the market – but at that price, why not grab one and give it a go?
£39.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
See all drones with cameras on Amazon
Best for: super-smart features
Controlled by: controller (sold separately), phone or gestural controls
Camera resolution: 4k
Max height: 120m*
DJI’s entry-level drone may not be quite so stout or high-quality as its pricier siblings, but what the Spark lacks in brawn, it more than makes up for in brains.
For instance, you can command it to take aerial photographs using hand gestures alone. And perhaps even more impressively, it can lock onto and automatically track video subjects (e.g. a person on the move). It can even help improve your composition, using its QuickShots mode.
A unique and fantastically fun photography experience, especially for relative newcomers to drone piloting.
£399 | Amazon | Buy it now
Best for: capturing pictures on holiday
Controlled by: phone and controller
Camera: sold separately
Max height: 120m*
There’s more to GoPro than capturing extreme sports footage and getting slapped in the face by octopus-wielding seals. The action photography brand has also excelled in the field of drone manufacturing, if the GoPro Karma is anything to go by.
Discontinued in January this year, the Karma remains an outstanding mid-range option while stocks last – especially if you already own a GoPro camera. Beautifully designed, sufficiently compact to cart around on your adventures and able to tap into GoPro’s unique camera tech, it is fully deserving of its cult classic status.
The Karma is compatible with the GoPro Hero4 and Hero5 cameras, which are sold separately.
£629.99 | Argos | Buy it now
If you’re aiming to stick to a sensible budget, we would urge to avoid trying the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ at all costs. It’s simply a cut above the rest – a marvellous tool for creating beautiful photography and experiences. One flight and you’ll be hooked.
The only drawback is the price. If you fancy saving about a grand, go for the Mavic Air instead.
*Flight height capped at 120m according to UK Civil Aviation Authority regulations.