The Best Drones with a HD Camera (or Better!)

Last updated: 1st May 2020
DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Parrot Anafi Base

Parrot Anafi Base

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Modern drones can be used for many purposes, including both professional and leisurely endeavors. But, the rise in micro cameras has brought us the best drones with HD cameras for a reasonable price.

Consumer drones can take fantastic aerial photographs. Because this became an essential feature for most customers, many manufacturers started focusing on additional functions to make a better photo or video with your drone.

While the joined term for these cameras is High-Definition, or HD, this usually implies 1080p — or ‘full HD’. Many current buyers even want to see 2K or 4K cameras — up to 4-times the resolution of full HD. 

Aside from the camera filming capabilities, there are also gyros, barometers, and a range of GPS functionalities that can improve the overall quality of a drone’s imagery.

Finally, there are some drones that have forsaken an integrated camera. Here, you will be able to attach your own professional DSLR piece or a GoPro, and it will work seamlessly with the drone.

The Best Drones with HD Cameras

After the fact that it flies, the camera is the most sought out feature inside a commercial drone. Even low to mid-range drones have some sort of camera integrated into the system.

But, only a few manufacturers managed to make high-quality drones that will make an image comparable if not better than a higher-range smartphone or a dedicated camera. This is a much harder feat to accomplish, as stability in flight is much harder than from the ground.

Finally, the best drones with HD cameras should be easy to fly. Not every drone photographer wants to become an expert drone pilot before ever doing their first work. This is where things like GPS and AI come into action.

With an ideal drone, you will be able to intuitively fly your machine where you want and take any picture with just a few clicks.

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DJI Mavic Mini

The Mavic Mini has replaced the hugely popular Spark model and will become one of the most popular drones of all time.

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DJI Mavic Mini
  • Flight Time: ~28 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~90 minutes
  • Range: 3000m / 9842ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.4GHz & 2.4Ghz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 3-axis gimbal 2K Camera with 12MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 2500m / 8200ft
  • Weight: 249g / 8.78oz
  • Working Temperature: 0°C ~ 40°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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It’s hard to speak about the best drones with HD cameras without mentioning the Mavic Mini. This drone is amazing in its versatility as it will fulfill the needs of both drone photographers and those who want to make a travel blog.

The main pull of this drone is the miniature weight, as it is only 249g heavy, comparable to two smartphones. With the wings folded and the camera protected with a cover, it can even fit in some pockets.

And on this small frame, there is a magnificent camera. DJI advertises it as 2.7K, as there is some leeway needed for the processing to work as intended.

The whole drone is made around making good videos and pictures. The lens is large and takes in a lot of light, and the balance of the whole drone is almost perfect.

Also, the fly-mode and the image post-processing work hand in hand if done right. Sport mode will increase the brightness of the overall picture, allowing smaller saturation to make a more fluid video.

But, the real fun starts in ‘cinematic’ mode. The drone will compensate your controls and move slower, giving the camera time to take in all of the light it needs and make wonderful images and videos.
Finally, the Mavic Mini uses the full range of the DJI Fly app capabilities. This will allow even novice drone pilots exceptional freedom as they will be able to fly the drone with GPS commands alone.

And for those who don’t want to carry around a controller, you can fly this drone with your smartphone alone.

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+ Pros

+ Amazing portability
+ Excellent autonomous options
+ Long battery
+ Excellent camera
+ Long range

- Cons

- Narrow field of view
- Low wind resistance

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

This luxury drone is one of the best in the market and comes with a 4-figure price tag.

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DJI Mavic 2 Pro
  • Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Range: 7 kilometers
  • Camera: 4K resolution at 30 fps; 20 MP stills
  • Weight: 1.64 pounds
  • Gimbal: 3 Axis

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The Mavic 2 Pro has been on the market for some time now, and for a good reason. It is one of the best camera drones available.

This drone is made to be top of the line, and all features included show that. From the crisp and precise camera to the intuitive UI to the foldable and compact design, few users won’t be pleased with what the Mavic 2 Pro has to offer.

The camera is a proprietary Hasselblad L1D-20c, which has a 1 inch CMOS sensor with 20MP resolution. For video, this translates to full 4K UHD with HDR enabled.
But, the camera alone wouldn’t be sufficient to make such amazing pictures and videos. There is a whole range of tools used to stabilize and brighten the image, giving a marvelous viewing pleasure.

Primarily, there is the GPS that holds the drone in AI-assisted lines. When you move forward, it will not be relative to air currents to any positioning of the drone, but to your location.

You won’t need to compensate for anything, but rather fly the drone as if it was a video game with no discernable physics.

Finally, there is an ingenious AI that controls both the drone’s auto-pilot and the imaging. The HDR function will make multiple compressed images of any landscape or object, pressing them into a single beautiful photo.

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+ Pros

+ Incredible photo and video quality that has to be seen to be believed
+ Tight controls and intelligent flight modes make it a breeze to fly
+ Robust obstacle avoidance system makes it one of the safest drones to fly even for inexperienced pilots

- Cons

Parrot Anafi Base

GPS, 4K video and a staggering 21 MP camera allows for some of the most beautiful drone shots imaginable.

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Parrot Anafi Base
  • Flight Time: ~25 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~240 minutes
  • Range: 4000m / 2.5mi
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.4GHz & 2.4Ghz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 180° adjustable f/2.4 ASPH lens 4K Camera with 21MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 4000m / 2.5mi
  • Weight: 320g / 11.28oz
  • Working Temperature: -10°C to 40°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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Everyone’s first drone photos are simple landscapes from as far up as our device will go. But, those enamored with aerial photography and videography will quickly try to pass onto action shots.

This is where the Parrot Anafi shines! It is a fast drone that can quickly turn and change directions. But, on top of it, there is a powerful 21MP camera with an ASPH lens.

The mix of high-end features showed by the Anafi is due to quite an interesting change in design from a regular drone. To gain speed and agility, Parrot left the camera in line with the body of the drone. But, to gain better image stability, they have made it separate and independently standing.

The gimbal is attached to one of the sides instead of underneath the drone. This reduces the drag and balances the weight, but still leaves most of the advantages of a protruding camera.

Additionally, there is a fast processing AI connected to the camera itself, allowing the system to focus on moving targets. You can simply order the camera to follow you, and it will focus directly on the subject.
Finally, the Anafi offers a wide range of FPV options, either via a smartphone or by using goggles. With the second, you will be able to have a clear view of whatever the camera is seeing.

By borrowing the exact view of the drone, you will not only be able to feel like a bird but also to find that perfect angle available only at greater heights.

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+ Pros

+ Very portable
+ Excellent GPS features
+ Superb camera
+ Very long range

- Cons

- Somewhat delicate — we recommend that you have some prior drone flying experience
- Reports of customer service related issues

Autel Robotics EVO

A 4K drone with a 12MP camera that folds up for handy portability. It’s water-resistant, too!

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Autel Robotics EVO
  • Flight Time: ~30 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~210 minutes
  • Range: 7050m / 4.4 miles
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 2.4GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 3-axis gimbal 4K 60fps camera with 12MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 7000m / 4.3 miles
  • Weight: 863g / 1.9lbs
  • Carry Capacity: N/A
  • Working Temperature: 0°C ~ 40°C
  • Rated for outdoor use

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Combining an excellent camera with high durability and range, the EVO is made for those who want to go far and wide with their drones. Even in less than perfect weather, this drone can make some amazing images and sustain stability to take a memorable photo.

The camera piece has a 3-axis gimbal, but it is focused on the front of the camera, allowing for less versatility than some models. The benefit of this choice is that the whole drone is streamlined and can reach higher speeds.

Additionally, the resolution can be reduced from 4K to 2K if you want to gain a calmer video or a clearer picture.

Because the EVO is splash-proof, you will have an easy time taking pictures near water, especially on the oceanfront. Any water picked up by wind will bounce off the chassis and won’t damage the drone.

Once you have finished using the drone, simply clean it up with a damp cloth to remove any salt stains, and you will be good to go.

There is a possibility to buy this drone with the casing. But as the wings can be folded, any backpack or safety-case will work fine in protecting the EVO during transport.

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+ Pros

+ Follow Me modes are great for taking awesome looking shots autonomously
+ Stunning video quality thanks to the powerful 4K camera onboard
+ Sensors and safety features like obstacle avoidance keep your drone and others around you safe

- Cons

- Can be tricky for beginners to pick up straight away

Tello Quadcopter

The Tello Quadcopter is our value pick due to great features and a budget-friendly pricepoint.

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Tello Quadcopter
  • Flight Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Charge Time: 75 minutes
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Remote Controller: none included; uses a smartphone app for control
  • Camera: 5 megapixels at 720p HD resolution
  • Weight: 82g
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to find out if a camera drone is a right thing for you. The Tello quadcopter will give you most of the features available on a bigger drone, only scaled down to a reasonable price.

This little drone uses most of the components developed by DJI and will give you a nice flying experience for an entry-level price.

This may not be one of the best drones with HD cameras when it comes to features, but it ranks very high when it comes to value.

It has a 720p camera that can easily record in MP4 format, and it has a solid range of 100 meters or 320 feet. For most novice drone pilots, it is an excellent drone to start with and test what kind of images you would get.

The 5MP camera will take some nice aerial photos that are comparable to a mid-range smartphone. Given that these images can be taken from 30 feet into the air, it will allow you for a new perspective and a good idea of what to expect from drone photography.

For anyone on the fence about getting a drone, it is an excellent entry model to make you fall in love with the idea of taking pictures while flying.

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+ Pros

+ Remarkably lightweight
+ Great for training drone flying skills
+ Completely programmable meaning you can extend the drone's functionality
+ Affordable price
+ HD video recording

- Cons

- Scratch programming language isn't very robust
- Unusable in low-light conditions

Fat Shark FPV Drone

A good introduction to the world of drone racing, but won’t win you competitive races.

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Fat Shark FPV Drone
  • Flight Time: ~4 minutes
  • Top Speed: 20 mph
  • Charge Time: ~30 minutes
  • Range: 40m / 130ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.8GHz & 2.4GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 130° CMOS
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 21m / 70ft
  • Weight: 50g / 1.76oz
  • Working Temperature: 10°C to ~40°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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This little drone is incredibly fun to fly, and one of the best ways to enter drone racing as a sport.

The aircraft alone is quite petite, making it possible to fit easily on the palm if needed. Most of the drone is relegated to the relatively large blades that provide a good balance.

In the top, protruding through the mouth of the shark is a large and stable FPV camera with a wide-angle lens that provides good position awareness to the pilot. 

With the goggles included in the kit, the visibility is akin to a motorcycle helmet, though without being able to turn your head.

The controller and the goggles are connected with a 5G wireless connection, allowing for quick streaming of analog 360p video to the Fat Shark Recon goggles. This provides the stream with very low latency and no lag at all.

The top speed of this drone is around 20mph, placing it less than professional racing drones. It has brushed motors, which slightly reduce the power of the device itself.

But, for an entry-level racing drone, the Fat Shark 101 is a good way for someone just starting with the sport to learn about different options and to get accustomed to wearing goggles while flying.

Finally, there is a free app that comes with the Fat Shark 101, which will allow you to simulate flight on your computer. The app will give you the ability to learn how to fly and test the physics before you even turn on the drone.

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+ Pros

+ Good response time
+ Wide camera
+ Comes pre-paired with the controller

- Cons

- Short battery time
- Lower speed
- No AI support

Buyer’s Guide: Drones with HD Cameras

While some occupations and industries don’t care about the camera quality when it comes to drones, for the consumer market, it is one of the most sought after features.

Even if you don’t want to become an Instagram celebrity or a travel vlogger, it is nice to have a camera that can take crisp and clear images of what the drone sees. It gives you a bird’s eye perspective and the ability to share what you have seen with your friends.

When looking for the best drones with HD cameras, it is important not to fall into the trap of quoting megapixels. The resolution is important, but it is not the only thing needed for a good shot.

The primary concern should always be your ability to calmly fly the drone while looking for the footage you need. Features like GPS and accelerometers can often be the key.

Finally, you should always take the object you want to film into consideration. Depending on if you prefer video or stills, and the distance of the shot, you may opt for different solutions.

How to Choose the Best HD Camera Drone

Before you begin, imagine your target. Depending on if you are filming or taking images, and the distance and type of the subject you are trying to capture, a different drone will be your best pick.

If you are looking to become a drone photographer, you will be interested in the size and quality of the lens. There is no way to miniaturize light, so bigger is always better. This will give your images true colors and much better exposure.

But, if you are planning on taking a video, you should focus primarily on the stability of the drone. GPS features, or even opting for a hexacopter, might be much more important than the size of the camera.

It is much better to have a seamless stream of clear video in 720p than to have a choppy and shaky 4K video that needs to be heavily edited in post-production.

Finally, the width of the aperture will also be important. For selfies and close photography, it is better to have a wide-angle lens that will capture more of the images. But, for filming topography, you will want a narrower lens to get the most from your pixels.

What Other Features Can Improve Image Quality?

Those familiar with the smartphone camera will know that the number of cameras is not the main issue. What makes images from flagship phones better than cheaper models is the processor handling the image.

It is the same for drones.

Market leaders have invested in high-quality lenses, as well as fast processors and operating systems that can understand what they are seeing. This automatic post-processing is what makes the image so clear.

While drones have more space to put all of the instruments in, they also have a higher purpose. The processor needs to make the drone fly easily, and not take in too much power doing so.

The balance and flight of the drone are also important, and flight time can’t be sacrificed too much if we want to have time to set the scene. Only what is left can be given to the camera to do its magic.

The final mix of drone flight, processing, and the quality of video equipment is what makes a good camera drone. And, the best drones with HD cameras are those that don’t have a bottleneck in any of these areas.

Entry Models vs. Pro Models

Thanks to the development in camera technology, there are good options for HD camera drones regardless if you are entering the market from the top or the bottom.

It is more than possible to buy good drones on a budget, and even drones that are under $100 have something to offer. While having solid cameras, they will often be more of a proof of concept than something you can make a career with.

For those with no experience with drones, it is often better to buy something that won’t dent your wallet. Once you know what you want from a drone, you will be able to make a better and more informed choice of a ‘pro’ model.

But, if you are an experienced photographer or videographer, don’t be afraid to spend a bit more as to get the features you need. 

Conclusion

A good camera is one of the key features of any consumer drone. But, if you want to find the best drones with HD cameras, you will need to search for more than just the resolution.

By combining the drone’s stability and ease of flight with its camera quality and processing, you are sure to find just the drone you need. This drone will be easy to set up and able to make some amazing images.

With just a little bit of research you have found here, you will be able to find the best drone for you and start taking the pictures you have always wanted, from perspectives that were, until now, impossible.

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DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini

The Mavic Mini has replaced the hugely popular Spark model and will become one of the most popular drones of all time.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

This luxury drone is one of the best in the market and comes with a 4-figure price tag.

Parrot Anafi Base

Parrot Anafi Base

GPS, 4K video and a staggering 21 MP camera allows for some of the most beautiful drone shots imaginable.