The 8 best drones to buy in 2022 – BBC Science Focus Magazine

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Take to the skies with some of the most exciting drone-tech on the market.
Published: 11th February, 2022 at 15:50
Capturing dramatic photos, shooting high-resolution videos, performing air stunts… Drones can do a lot these days. The technology is advancing to improve drone usability, camera quality and much more, so the range of drones available is growing. DJI continue to dominate the market, with most of their models making up the most well-reviewed drones out there.
Here’s our selection of the best drones to buy for a number of different price ranges. Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-use model for beginners, or bring your drone work to a professional, experienced level, check out our list below.
The DJI Air 2S is an impressive all-rounder, having some of the best features from some of DJI’s most advanced drones. It stands out in its ability to capture details in photos and videos, thanks to its 1-inch image sensor and 2.4μm pixels. It also has a number of features to streamline image capturing: FocusTrack can help the drone follow or circle a subject while MasterShots can determine the best shot.
The 20MP camera on the DJI Air 2S can shoot 5.4k video and can transmit a 1080p feed to a device up to 12km away. All of this tech is packed into a compact 595g drone that can travel up to 19 metres per second.
A popular choice for the mid-high price range, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has you covered for just about everything you’d want to achieve. It has cinematic capture that supports 8k Hyperlapse for immersive, city-spanning footage. The camera is positioned on a 3-axis gimbal for smooth image recording and it can shoot 4k video at 60fps.
The drone has a battery life of up to 34 minutes and a transmission distance of up to 6km, so you can fly a decent distance and still pick up the 1080p FHD stream. The Mavic Air 2 tracking technology, POI 3.0, can lock on to subjects and keep them in the centre of the shot.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, the DJI Mini 2 is a widely popular choice. The drone shares many features with some of the higher-end models in its range packed into a lighter, more compact drone.
The 12MP camera can shoot 4k video at 30fps and it’s on a 3-axis gimbal for smooth rotation and positioning. Even in its small size, the Mini 2 can resists level 5 winds. Plus, it can take off at a maximum altitude of 4000 metres while being able to zoom up to 4x. For an under-£500 drone, the Mini 2 has an impressive amount of tech.
The Autel EVO II has one of the most advanced cameras out there, but it’s also one of the most expensive. The camera can shoot 8k video at up to 7680 x 4320 resolution and stills at up to 8000 x 6000 resolution. These images are large enough to fit 100″ prints, making this a fitting choice for professional use.
The EVO II was designed with versatility in mind, so pilots can alternate between 8k, 6k and dual thermal/8k payload options. The 1.1kg drone can take off in 30 seconds, and other streamlining features, like the quick release propellers and built-in locking mechanism, allow for an ergonomically designed drone.
The Ryze Tello drone, from drone-experts DJI, is a fun, affordable choice if you’re not looking to spend too much. The drone can perform stunts and up to 8 different flips by swiping your finger on the touchscreen control.
The small drone weighs only 80g and has a battery life of up to 13 minutes. An interesting feature is the ability to program your own flight patterns using the Tello coding system.
The Mavic 3 is one of DJI’s most expensive models, and they claim the camera is advanced enough to bring your footage to a professional level. This is done with a 4/3 CMOS Hasselbad camera that can shoot 5.1k video and a sensor with a dynamic range of 12.8 stops, to retain more details in light and shadow.
A notable feature on the Mavic 3 is its intelligent return function, where it can optimise a safe return to its starting point while using omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. Plus, it has a maximum transmission distance of up to 15km.
This is one of the most compact drones in its range – making it one of the safest and most portable options available. It weighs under 250g which is almost as light as the average smartphone.
It features a 12MP camera that can record 2.7k Quad-HD video, on a 3-axis gimbal for added stability. Its remote controller can receive an HD stream up to 4km away. An added bonus is the DJI Fly app that includes a flight tutorial.
The DEERC D10 is designed to be user-friendly and ideal for beginners. The tech isn’t too advanced, which is reflected in its under-£100 price tag, but it can achieve a lot for somebody looking to start piloting drones.
It can shoot HD footage from up to 100m away and it can fly for up to 24 or 30 minutes, depending on the battery. There are also voice and interactive commands, such as saying ‘take off’ or waving your arm in the direction you want it to fly.
Digital Writer
Dan works across a range of Immediate’s special interest brands. With a keen eye for what makes a product great, their expertise comes in handy when writing for publications like Countryfile, Science Focus and Discover Wildlife. Outside of work, their passion for creative culture pushes them towards music and the arts.
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