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The best DJI drones in 2021: the top drones from the top drone brand

best DJI drones
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Choosing the best DJI drone deal isn't the easiest decision. The market-leader drone producer now has a number of models in its portfolio, so knowing which one to go for can be confusing. But never fear, we're here to help. In this definitive list of the best DJI drones, we'll reveal exactly what you'll get for you money, plus which available older model might represent a great deal. 

It's no surprise DJI drones top our list of the best drones around. From a bit of high-flying fun, through to the ultimate selfie-drone; from a photographer’s favorite through to industrial and educational quadcopters, DJI have at least one offering in every area. There’s even a drone for crop spraying! The range has already been extended with two remarkable drones in 2021, with the arrival of the racing DJI FPV and the foldable DJI Air 2S.

It’s also important to be mindful of the latest drone rules on registration, which in many places means that there is more paperwork involved with drones weighing more than 250g.

Facing all that choice, this rundown is organized to help you find the best model for you. Here are 12 of the best DJI drones, for every skill level and all budgets. 

The best DJI drones in 2021

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DJI Air 2S

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DJI Air 2S

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DJI Air 2S

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DJI Air 2S

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DJI Air 2S

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01. DJI Air 2S

The ultimate travelling photographer’s drone

Weight: 595g | Dimensions (folded): 180 x 97mm x 77mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 183 x 253 x 77mm | Sensor: 1” CMOS | Camera resolution: 20MP | EFL: 22mm | Field of View: 88˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 5K@30fps | Color: 10-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Battery life: 31 minutes (3500mAh) | Collision sensors: forward / backward / upward / downward | Max Range: 12km / 7mi | Max Speed: 68.4kph / 42.5mph

1-inch sensor for low noise
Range of options for videographers
Excellent AI features 

The April 2021 arrival of the Air 2S pushes the Mavic 2 Pro from top spot in this list by offering the same or better specification in nearly every category. The only thing lacking is an adjustable aperture (or the exploitation of the Hasselblad brand), but in the context of aerial photography these are pretty thin areas to try and push the ‘Pro’ as any better than the Air 2S. The drone does feature easily swapped lens filters, and matching ND filters are even included in DJI’s Fly More pack.

On the other hand, the latest hardware and software developments have equipped the Air 2S with the best collision and tracking system on any similar drone – finally a drone you might trust to follow you through some trees and keep the camera on you. The recording itself is also of exception quality, with D-Log M and HDR video at up to 5K 30fps and a full choice for filmmakers (4K 60fps and 1080p at 120fps amongst them), at up to 150mbps – again higher quality than many pricier models in DJI’s range.

(Image credit: DJI)

02. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The ultimate travelling photographer’s drone

Weight: 907g | Dimensions (folded): 214 x 91mm x 84mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 322 x 242 x 84 | Sensor: 1” CMOS | Camera resolution: 20MP | EFL: 28mm | Field of View: 77˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@30fps | Color: 10-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Battery life: 31 minutes (3850mAh) | Collision sensors: Omnidirectional | Max Range: 8km / 5mi | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph

1-inch sensor for low-noise images
10-bit video for post-processing
No mechanical shutter

The Mavic 2 Pro takes advantage of DJI’s acquisition of iconic camera manufacturer Hasselblad back in 2017 – incorporating Hasselblad's processing algorithms into the best camera found on any compact drone. 

Cinematographers will appreciate the support for 10-bit Dlog-M and HDR video (allowing post-processing), while photographers will be equally excited by the high ISO shooting and rich quality provided by the large image sensor. 

While many pros might not mind carrying bigger equipment, the ability to be able to sneak this into a spare lens bay in a camera bag provides multi-tasking pro photographers with a whole new dimension. DJI’s Occusync technology means the Mavic 2s can be paired with the company’s stunning FPV goggles, making this truly one of the best DJI drones around. 

(Image credit: DJI)

03. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Best folding drone for video

Weight: 905g | Dimensions (folded): 214 x 91mm x 84mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 322 x 242 x 84 | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8-ƒ/3.8 | EFL: EFL: 24-48mm | Field of View: 77˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Battery life:: 31 minutes (3850mAh) | Max Range: 8km / 5mi | Max flight: 31 mins | Storage: 8Gb + MicroSD | Collision sensors: omnidirectional | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph

Mechanical zoom 
Cheaper than the DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Gimbal struggles with wind

The Mavic 2 Zoom is built on the same folding body as the Mavic 2 Pro, but the camera takes a different approach. The lower resolution (4000 x 3000 pixel stills) is still perfectly capable of 4k video. Sure, pros will say it misses a little of the nuance, and with normal 8-bit rather than 10 there is less room for color grading, if that’s your thing, but in exchange it’s not only cheaper but features a 2x optical zoom lens (no loss of resolution). That’s great because it ties so well with DJI’s software to create the dollyzoom “horror movie” effect and a cunning panoramic stitching system. In flight this (and the Pro) are great, with the only slight issue that constantly adjust the zoom can lead to a little confusion if you’re flying using the camera view. 

In 2021 it is worth noting that there are digital zooms on the Air and Air 2S models, which are certainly cheaper, and aside from the omnidirectional sensors the Mavic 2 series are starting to look a little old in many respects, not to mention slightly bigger and heavier. It’s such a shame that a real zoom and a big sensor is still, right now, the preserve of the Inspire 2, and even then the lens is an option. 

• See DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Zoom

(Image credit: DJI)

04. DJI Mini 2

All the drone you can possibly get under the registration weight

Weight: 242g | Dimensions (folded): 138mm x 81mm x 58mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 159 x 203 x 56mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 83˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 4-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 10km / 6.2mi | Max flight: 30 mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Downward | Max Speed: 57kph / 35.7mph

Side-steps registration fees
A lot of drone for the money
4K video and Raw mode camera
No forward collision sensors

The Mini 2 is a reimaging of the Mavic Mini (see below); it takes a well-engineered ultra-light airframe (the weight is non-negotiable) and addresses the areas which drone geeks complained about. Well, the ones who usually flew much more expensive drones mentioned, anyway. Principally these were: the radio range, the response to cross wind, and an assortment of camera features. 

Now the Mini 2 has essentially the same fantastic new OcuSync 2.0 controller from the Mavic Air II, with automatic frequency hopping. Together with  more powerful motors and improved software this drone can handle Force 5 (not too bad for such a light craft). Photographers have been rewarded with Raw, Exposure Bracketing (though only 3 stops), and DJI’s spectacular automated panorama features, while video enthusiasts finally have 4K under 250g (and a shiny logo near the lens to prove it), topped off with digital zoom (useful to have, not essential to use). 

The new drone also sports some improvements to file transferring making it easier to go from drone to phone, and an extra hue-changing light for, er… well, it’s fun to change the color using the remote. Perhaps the next update will bring a better reason?

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The safest insanely fast FPV racer on the planet

Weight: 795g | Dimensions : 178 x 232 x 127mm (without props) | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | EFL: 14.6mm | Field of View: 150˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 1/50-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@60fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 1-axis | Battery life:: 20 minutes | Max Range: 10km / 6mi | Max flight: 20 mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Forward / Downward | Max Speed: 140kph / 87mph

Fun beyond any rational measure
Exceptional collision prevention for FPV
Not targeted on photographers

This is the kind of tech so gorgeous and exciting a Luddite would rethink their life goals on first sight. Apparently eschewing their usual creative goals, DJI have put everything into making this a speedy stunt-capable drone which can more than hold its own in the world of FPV racing; it has a top speed of 140kph and the first 100 of that can be reached in a blinding 2 seconds.

Not forgetting their photography customers (and perhaps understanding that an ordinary racer costs somewhat less), this drone has also been equipped with a much more capable camera system than usually seen on similar drones. The standard practice is to strap a GoPro to the top and recover the footage later, but here a single axis gimbal (still one more than most FPV racers) has been paired with software to achieve a system capable of capturing excellent 4K video at 60fps, meaning this drone might be for more than just racers.

(Image credit: DJI)

06. DJI Mavic Mini

The most accessible way to get started with DJI drones

Weight: 249g | Dimensions (folded): 140mm x 82mm x 57mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 160 x 202 x 55mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 83˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 4-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 2.7K@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range:: 3.5km / 2.17mi | Max flight: 30 mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Downward | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph

Side-steps registration fees
GPS and Altitude Hold
JPEG stills only
No forward collision sensors

In terms of bank-for-buck this is a great drone. Even before the newer Mini 2 arrived and pushed this into a few bargain sections, the Mavic Mini was a bargain. It includes a proper camera with gimbal, altitude control, GPS, a remote controller, and subject-tracking QuickShots. Oh, and it cost less than a pair of batteries for the Inspire 2. Sure, the camera has smaller optics, but it can remain aloft longer than the Inspire too, need only one battery to do so, and (without feeling cheap) can actually serve as its own charger with nothing more than a USB socket. 

The 2.7K video is good quality, though the dynamic range could be better, but compared to some competitors in this price range DJI’s technology is ahead of the pack. A software update brought manual exposure (after a few months of auto only) bringing the camera up to at least interesting for people wanting to experiment with quality drones while keeping the budget reasonable. In essence, though, this is as easy to use as a flying phone camera, which works well so long as you’re in low wind and don’t stray too far.

• See full DJI Mavic Mini review
• See
DJI Mini 2 vs Mavic Mini

(Image credit: DJI)

07. DJI Mavic Air II

The 4K drone you can take to the beach

Weight: 570g | Dimensions (folded): 180×97×84mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 183×253×77mm | Controller: Yes | Video resolution: 4K 60fps | Camera resolution: 48MP | Battery life: 34 minutes (3500mAh) | Max Range: 18.5km / 11.4mi | Max Speed: 68kph / 42mph

Amazingly stable 
Foldable, portable design
4K shooting at 60fps
Object avoidance with course correction

The Mavic Air 2 is the predecessor to the new top of this list. It replaced one of DJI’s most flawed drones, the Air 1, but it is somewhat harder to justify now unless you can find a good bargain price on the older model. While the Air 2 introduced the same basic airframe, it does not have quite such advanced tracking features (it lacks the upward facing collision sensors which really help when the drone leans into speedy flight). It can stay aloft for up to 34 minutes thanks to the lighter camera, but what DJI like to call 48 megapixels is a quad-Bayer design that many purists see as 12 megapixels. 

The big appeal to photographers and videographers is 4K at 60fps, and half-inch the quad-Bayer filter makes for pretty good looking video and stills even in lower light. Not only that, but you also get the excellent controller that can also keep your phone charge topped up as you fly, useful if you’re planning more stops on your outing, just as with the new Air 2S, so if sensor size and collision avoidance is less important to than any saving you can find, this drone is worthy of serious consideration. In truth, though, it’s probably worth getting the Air 2S if you can.

(Image credit: DJI)

08. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

The iconic design, with a pro-grade camera & AI

Weight: 1388g | Dimensions: 286 mm x 286 mm x 187mm **Sensor:** 1in CMOS | Camera resolution: 20MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 84˚ | Shutter: Electronic 8-1/8000 sec | ISO: 100-12800 | Video Resolution: 4K@60fps | Color: 8-bit | Bit-rate: 100Mbps | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 3.5km | Max flight: 30mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Forward/Backward/Sideways/Down | Max Speed: 72 kph

Solid in the air 
Great camera without rolling shutter
Not particularly portable

The Phantom’s chunky body isn’t as portable as the Mavic, but it’s stable and the system comes with a big, pro-feel controller. Back-packs are available for this size craft, too. That extra heft brings a camera that largely outperforms the Mavic 2 Pro, even without “Hasselblad” written on it. The main improvement is a mechanical shutter and generous buffer (it can manage a 14fps burst at 20 megapixels). Videographers may bemoan the 8-bit limit, but on the plus side the Phantom can capture 4K video ay 60fps, making for flawless slow-mo. The props now sport low-noise winglets and collision sensors that can be used by the AI to plot swooping flights. The chunky pro-sized controller has room for an iPad as monitor, so – while you can opt for a 5.5” built-in 1000-nit screen, you’re better off with a monitor hood and an iPad Mini.

Best DJI drone - DJI Inspire 2

09. DJI Inspire 2

A professional airframe, with interchangeable cameras and lenses

Weight: 3440g – 4250g | Dimensions: 530 x 470 x 210mm (travel mode), 480 x 470 x 320mm (flying mode) | Camera: Zenmuse X5S | Aperture: ƒ/2.8-11 | Sensor: 1in CMOS | Camera resolution: 20MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 84˚ | Shutter: 8-1/8000 sec | ISO: 100-25600 | Video Resolution: 5.2K@30fps / 4K@60fps | Color: 10-bit | Bit-rate: 4400Mbps | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 3.5km | Max flight: 23/27 mins (depends on camera) | Storage: MicroSD / CineSSD | Collision sensors: Upward / Down / Forward | Max Speed: 72 kph

Ultimate in photo flexibility
Option for CinemaRAW 
Stunning range of cameras & lenses
Dual batteries costly 

If the Mavic 2 Pro is a “creative compact,” this is a high-end DSLR. Unlike an SLR, though, the entire camera assembly is removable, so you can choose between the X5S 4K camera, similar to Phantom 4 Pro, or one of two interchangeable lens systems: Zenmuse X5S and X7, some with mechanical shutter. This means you can opt to fit, and remotely control, a Micro Four Thirds zoom lens over the X5S’s stunning sensor; Olympus do a great one. 

The large aircraft is powered by two (expensive) batteries, and features other backup systems. It can also capture CinemaDNG or Apple ProRes video onto SSD-based memory cards (backing up to Micro SD at the same time). All of this is aided by 360-degree unobstructed camera rotation, lending itself to dual-operator flights, or fly-bys with automated object tracking. The pilot can choose from a forward-facing FPV camera or the main camera, which might be pointed anywhere!

Best DJI drone - DJI Matrice M100

10. DJI Matrice M100

The drone for developers

Weight: 3600g (max) | Dimensions: 530 x 470mm x 210mm (travel mode), 480mm x 470mm x 320mm (flying mode) | Camera options: Optional extra | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 3.5km | Max flight: Max flight: 13-22 mins (0-1kg payload) | Collision sensors: Upward / Down / Left / Right / Forward | Max Speed: 94 kph

Collision system
A starting point for entrepreneurs
Not as practical as the M200

Developed from the original bird-of-prey (the Inspire 1), this less intricate drone serves as a more flexible platform onto which developers could add whatever technology they are developing, for example I.R. cameras for research and rescue. Since it’s essentially just a platform (though capable of carrying the Inspire 1’s Zenmuse X3 camera & gimbal if wanted), it’s very flexible. It also offered all-direction sensors, and has even been adapted by programmers to detect illegally parked vehicles. Like the retired Inspire 1, an optional extended battery can add a few minutes to the flight time.

Best DJI drone - Ryze/DJI Tello

11. Ryze/DJI Tello

The best toy drone out there

Weight: 80g | Dimensions: 98mm x 92mm x 41mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 5MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 20mm | Field of View: 83˚ | ISO: auto | Shutter: auto | Video Resolution: 720p@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: none | Max Range: 100m | Max flight: 13mins | Storage: none | Collision sensors: Down | Max Speed: 29kph

Light and compact
Long flight time for a compact drone
No memory card

Found in DJI’s store, but not strictly their lineup (it’s under the Ryze brand), this compact drone nonetheless has much in common with its bigger brothers; it can hold position using downward visual sensors rather than GPS. It can also do stuff a Mavic Mini won’t: perform “8D” Stunts (flips in a number of directions), for example. The camera is built-in, so impressive software stabilization keeps the 720p video fairly stable; the signal is recoded on your phone (subject to signal errors) rather than an SD card, and there are a selection of social-friendly EZ Shots (a bit like QuickShots on DJI’s pricier drones). This isn’t a photographer’s drone though, it’s for fun – where it excels. It’ll also brighten up learning, with Scratch, a visual programming language, and a complete SDK. Also check out the cool-looking Marvel Iron Man version of this drone, that looks like it has come out of Tony Stark's labs.

12. Ryze/DJI Tello EDU

The best drone for education (and it’s still fun)

Weight: 80g | Dimensions: 98mm x 92mm x 41mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 5MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 20mm | Field of View: 83˚ | ISO: auto | Shutter: auto | Video Resolution: 720p@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: none | Max Range: 100m | Max flight: 13mins | Storage: none | Collision sensors: Down | Max Speed: 29kph

Program swarms of up to 4
Sophisticated SDK
Swarms mean more drones! 

The same aircraft as the Tello – although with a cool partially transparent shell – but sold with a more sophisticated SDK (software development kit) that offers the chance to do more with the 14-core processor, chief among which is swarm flying. At present the Swift Playgrounds app allows the control of up to four aircraft at once – be your own wing commander! You’ll also find, in the box, mission pads which the drones can fly over; you can use these as hovering points for your swarm (recognised by the downward sensor). For less programmed flying, either Tello variant benefits from an optional game controller.

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Adam Juniper

Adam is Digital Camera World's resident drone expert. He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video, and The Drone Pilot's Handbook.