How to choose the right DJI drone for you
The best way to get amazing aerial photos or stunning landscape footage is to send a drone up into the sky. There are plenty to choose from, but DJI has managed to dominate the market for several years.
The Chinese company was founded in 2006 and quickly capitalized on the growing interest in drones early on. It now accounts for almost 70% of all drones globally.
DJI’s professional drones are often used in Hollywood films and for music videos, and even by some governments and law enforcement agencies.
A drone for every purpose
With such a huge selection of drones, it can be confusing to settle on the perfect model. But it becomes a bit easier when you break it down into what you need. DJI is incredibly attuned to specific industries and develops drones to best suit each.
The most common DJI drone for aerial photography is the Phantom. It has a long battery life, has an excellent camera and can fly at a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. That’s great for leisurely capturing landscapes, but it will come in last in a drone race.
For that, you’ll need the DJI FPV that goes from a stationary position to 62 mph in only two seconds. It has hair-trigger controls, and the pilot wears a head-mounted display to see everything in a first-person view.
But there is no better way to capture the raw beauty of nature or fast-paced action than with the DJI Inspire 2. It has a control range of over 4 miles but sports a highly complex camera that captures 6K and 5.2K Apple ProRes resolution footage.
The camera matters
Elements such as flight controls and range are important, but most people will use a drone for photography or recording videos. If you want professional footage, then you’ll need a built-in camera that can keep up.
But even for capturing family holidays, you’ll want a drone camera that won’t blur, go out of focus and shake. It will be disappointing when you spend hundreds of dollars on a drone only to find that the videos and photos are of poor quality. A good choice would be a DJI drone with a camera resolution of 1080p (Full HD).
Unfortunately, battery life is something that all drone pilots need to contend with. Generally, the more advanced and heavier a drone is, the shorter the flying time will be.
It’s a bit of a catch-22, as you need more rechargeable batteries to fly longer, but they add weight which, in turn, reduces the flight time. On average, you can expect to get around 30 minutes of flying time from a DJI drone.
The drone’s battery life isn’t always related to the flying range. In smaller drones, this is usually limited to the range of the communications receiver. Drones typically have two limitations: flying range and transmission range.
- Flying range: This is determined by the receiver and indicates the absolute maximum distance that the drone can be away from you. Beyond that, you’ll lose connection, and the drone will automatically return home.
- Transmission range: This is the distance in which the drone can transmit video and photo signals to you. If you store the footage on an external drive, the drone wirelessly pushes the data to storage. The transmission range also relates to the distance in which the drone can show you a live feed from the camera.
The transmission range is usually shorter than the flying range, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many professional drones can fly on a predetermined course well outside the transmission range. Any recorded footage is then stored on an internal memory card.
Best DJI drones
This drone captures incredible footage with the 5.1K Hasselblad camera. It has a maximum flying time of 45 minutes and a transmission range of almost 10 miles. It weighs only 31 ounces and uses a cellular connection. Sold by Amazon
One of the lightest DJI drones, the Air S2 weighs only 21 ounces and has a flight time of 30 minutes. It captures video in 5.4K resolution at 30 frames per second or 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. It has a transmission range of 7 miles. The combo includes extra batteries, propellers and cables. Sold by Amazon
This tiny drone weighs only 8 ounces and folds up for compact storage. It records 4K videos at 60 frames per second and takes photos at a resolution of 48 megapixels. It has a flight time of 34 minutes and a transmission range of 7 miles. Sold by Amazon
For the ultimate experience in drone flying, this gadget goes from 0 to 62 mph in just two seconds. It is perfect for drone racing but also keeps up with fast-moving action. The drone is controlled with a joystick, and the pilot wears first-person view goggles. Sold by Amazon
The Phantom is one of the most popular DJI drones and helped to popularize the company. It has a 4K resolution camera that captures footage at 60 frames per second and still images at 20 megapixels. It has a battery life of 30 minutes, a top speed of 45 mph and a transmission range of 4.3 miles. Sold by Amazon
Few professional drones can keep up with the Inspire 2.0. It records 4K and 5.2K footage in the low-compression Cinema DNG raw and Apple ProRes formats. It has a top speed of 34 mph and has advanced obstacle sensors with forward and downward vision. Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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