Best DJI drones in 2019

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It’s not always easy to discern the difference between the many camera drones market-leader DJI offer. We are here to help. If you need some help knowing what you get for your money (and which available older models might represent a great deal) look no further. Here is the definitive list.

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!

Facing all that choice, this rundown is organised to help you find the best one for you. Here are 14 great DJI drones - including some older models which you can get great deals on.

NB. Flight times, by the way, are theoretical – best to lop around 15% off for ‘real world’ maximums.

1. 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) | Max Range: 8km / 5mi) | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph

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

The Mavic 2 Pro takes advantage of DJI’s acquisition of Hasselblad, incorporating the camera company’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.

2. 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 doesn’t cope with wind at zoom

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. 

3. DJI Mavic Air

The 4K drone you can take to the beach

Weight: 430g | Dimensions (folded): 168 x 83mm x 49mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 168 x 184 x 64mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 85˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis **Battery life:** 21 minutes | Max Range: 2km / 1.25mi) | Max flight: 21 mins | Storage: 8Gb + MicroSD | Collision sensors: Front/Back/Downward | Max Speed: 72kph / 44.7mph

Amazingly stable 
Fantastic automatic effects like ‘small planet’
Flight time less than ideal

As the name implies, the Mavic Air is a lightweight, compact edition to the range; it has folding legs and a slightly more robust structure making it well suited the casual, travelling user. The camera has no zoom, but still produces great stable video thanks to the full 3-axis  mechanical gimbal. You’re also all set for Instagram success with the SmartCapture gesture controls, QuickShot automatic camera effects and ability to post directly from the app, or 32-megapixel spherical panoramas which work wonderfully on Facebook. The compact folding controller grips your smartphone and still manages the legal range and then some, but it does drops off sooner than all the other Mavics.

4. DJI Mavic Pro Platinum

Mid-life refresh to the first Mavic Pro a cheap option for 24fps fans

Weight: 734g | Dimensions (folded): 198 x 83mm x 83mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 168 x 184 x 64mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 79˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@24fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 4km / 2.5mi) | Max flight: 30mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Front/Downward | Max Speed: 65kph

Refreshed older drone that is ageing well
Good flight time
Flimsy gimbal

Cinema films are shot at 24 frames a second, and this is the maximum rate at which the Mavic Pro and the Platinum can capture 4K. If this is no concern for you, then this older model still has a lot to offer. As a mid-cycle refresh, the Platinum’s main updates (aside from the natty new colour) were to the batteries and propellers. The former achieved a slightly longer flight time and the new propellers reduced noise. No, really. It might sound like marketing nonsense, but the reduction in volume is palpable, quieting the angry insect. This was achieved by mimicking the winglet approach modern airliners use to minimise turbulence, and also benefits fuel economy in a jet (or adds another minute to the flight time here!).

5. DJI Mavic Pro

Get last-generation savings on a 4K drone



Weight: 734g | Dimensions (folded): 198 x 83mm x 83mm | Dimensions (unfolded): 168 x 184 x 64mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 24mm | Field of View: 79˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 4K@24fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 4km / 2.5mi) | Max flight: 27mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Front/Downward | Max Speed: 65kph

Still produces high quality video
Some issues with gimbal calibration - 
Only 24fps at 4K (not 25/30fps)

Not only is the Platinum Mavic Pro still available, but this original model dating from 2016 is too. Up until the arrival of this machine, the Phantom was how everyone perceived drones, but this very capable folding device altered that, and – if you’re happy with cinema’s preferred 24fps – it still is. It is noticeably nosier than the refreshed model (doesn’t sport the quietened propellers, though you can retrofit these). And it does suffer from the same fiddly gimbal that often needs to be re-calibrated, but it is very capable, and even includes digital zoom if you can stomach the quality loss. The props, combined with older motor design, bring the flight time down to a still-perfectly-useful 27 minutes.

6. DJI Spark

The Cheapest DJI drone still packs a punch

Weight: 300g | Dimensions: 143 x 143mm x 55mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 25mm | Field of View: 82˚ | ISO: 100-1600 | Shutter: Electronic, 2-1/8000 sec | Video Resolution: 1080p@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Gimbal: 2-axis | Max Range: 100m (500m with controller) | Max flight: 16mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Front/Downward | Max Speed: 50kph

“Jedi” gesture controls work well 
Mechanical gimbal at good price
Adding a radio control makes Mavic Air seem better

DJI’s most modestly-priced offering cuts a few corners; it can only record in (admittedly still stunning) 1080p (2K, if you prefer) video, and only captures JPEGs, not RAW. It is also the only DJI drone not to include a bundled controller, restricting you to the wi-fi range of your smartphone. For many, though, this is no problem. For an entry-level product it still oozes quality. It not only has the processing oomph for follow-me modes, but even gesture controls (Jedi-mode); you can make a square with your fingers and it’ll take your photo. If you do get the itch to reach the full legal range, you need only buy the controller – not a whole new drone.

7. 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.

DJI Phantom 4 Advanced

8. DJI Phantom 4 Advanced

The Phantom Pro’s camera, but with more limited collision avoidance

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: Mechanical 8-1/2000sec, 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/Down | Max Speed: 72 kph

Cheaper than Phantom 4 Pro with little loss of function 
Great 20 megapixel camera 
Mechanical shutter eliminates rolling shutter
Not especially portable

Like the Phantom 4 Pro V2, the Advanced is equipped with DJI’s fantastic 20 megapixel camera with mechanical-shutter (eliminating rolling shutter), and the machine is just as nippy (the Phantom might look like an air-cow next to a Mavic, but its motors and battery are more than capable of holding their own, even in stronger wind). What it lacks is the full range of collision sensors which make it less able to automatically avoid crashes, but in truth those are rarely needed by all but the most careless pilots.

9. DJI Phantom 3 SE

The cheapest Phantom drone on the market

Weight: 1236g | Dimensions: 289 mm x 289 mm x 191mm | Sensor: 1/2.3in CMOS | Camera resolution: 12MP | Maximum aperture: ƒ/2.8 | EFL: 20mm | Field of View: 94˚ | Shutter: Electronic, 8-1/8000 sec | ISO: 100-1,600 | Video Resolution: 4K@30fps | Color: 8-bit | Bit-rate: 60Mbps | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 0.5km | Max flight: 25mins | Storage: MicroSD | Collision sensors: Down | Max Speed: 56 kph

4K camera roughly matches a Mavic pro
A bit slower in the air 
Uses the older DJI Go software

The Phantom 3 lives on in the range, even though it doesn’t offer all the advanced flight features of the newer editions. This Phantom 3 SE still has GPS, and a landing sensor, but the camera is closer in spec to the one in the older Mavic Pro than the newer models. It also doesn’t include the smart flight features that the newer ‘DJI Go 4’ app, but the older ‘DJI Go’. So, fewer tricks, but still a proven good quality flying camera – the only worry is how long the original DJI Go app will be supported. It also lacks the quieter props, but (as DJI say) this is still a great way into professional imaging.

10. 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

The ultimate in photographic flexibility
Option for CinemaRAW 
Stunning range of cameras & lenses
Dual batteries make an expensive drone even more 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!

11. DJI Inspire 1 V2.0

Recently retired, this is cheaper way into replaceable lens systems

Weight: 3060g | Dimensions: 530 x 470 x 210mm (travel mode), 480 x 470 x 320mm (flying mode) | Camera options: Zenmuse X3 (12 megapixel 4K 1/2.3”) / Zenmuse X5 (Micro 4/3rds) / Zenmuse X5R (Micro 4/3rds Raw) / XT (Thermal imaging) / Z3 (Zoom) | Gimbal: 3-axis | Max Range: 2.5km | Max flight: 23/27 mins (depends on camera) | Storage: Storage: MicroSD / CineSSD | Collision sensors: Down | Max Speed: 79 kph

Great prices are available 
End of line, but well supported
Lacks Inspire 2’s tracking systems

When launched, over 4 years ago now, the DJI Inspire was jaw-dropping. It brought a 4K camera (impressive enough) and hung it beneath a jaw-dropping design which takes the looks of a Stormtrooper and the shape of a Klingon Bird of Prey. Retractable legs are essential to allow the camera its 360-degree rotation, and the essence of the design lives on in the Inspire 2. The V2.0 was a later revision which supported the Zenmuse X5, DJI’s first interchangeable-lens camera. There is also an XT (Thermal Imaging) option, making the Inspire a good choice for rescue and specialist choices. Unlike the Inspire 2, however, there is no FPV camera – both camera operator and pilot see the main camera, whichever way it is pointed.

12. 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 useful for developers 
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.

13. 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 on drone… 
…so recordings subject to interference 

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 Spark 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. 

14. 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 synchronised drones
Why not include this SDK with the other Tello for free? 
Swarms are great, but you’ll need to buy 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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