Technology continues to update at incredible speeds and one place this can be seen is in the consumer drone/quadcopter market. In the early days of the consumer drone scene, often they would be hand-built by the user, and this would consist of constructing a frame, adding in a flight control module and often a GPS unit and FPV camera. This process required skill, often soldering abilities and many hours of flying experience to fully enjoy the hobby… only to find that the resulting photos that were taken were sub-standard to say the least.
Fast forward to today and things have progressed almost beyond recognition. A consumer drone is now mostly purchased pre-built and pre-configured to fly out of the box and the technology is vastly superior to those drones back in the early years.
The Best Consumer Drones
Below we will list our favourites, and in our opinion, the best drones in the consumer marketplace and explain why we love them. As you’ll see, it is dominated by the DJI brand, but that’s the reality of the consumer drone market right now.
DJI Mavic 3 Drone
Without doubt one of the most popular and well-known brands in the drone market is DJI. From their humble beginnings of the Phantom series (which still exist today), they have innovated and improved upon their offerings and the best drone in our opinion right now based on cost and features is the DJI Mavic 3 Drone. With its superb 4/3 CMOS camera made by leading camera manufacturer Hasselblad, the image quality is simply astounding. On top of this, it also has Apple ProRes 5.1K for those people who want to take their photography and videography to the next level. As well as the Hasselblad camera, there is also an additional telephoto camera for those close-up shots. And when you consider all this weighs in at just under 900g, it truly is an incredible feat of technology.
For the beginners, there is the remarkable omnidirectional obstacle sensing so you’re far less likely to end up face down in the dirt. And what’s more, with the maximum range of up to 30km (18.5 miles) and a maximum flight time of 46 minutes, you will find plenty of opportunity and time to take that perfect picture or video.
DJI Mini 3 Pro Drone
One of the restrictions of larger and heavier drones is the ability to fly these legally within built up areas. However, with the DJI Mini 3 Pro drone you are far less restricted due to its size and weight. Coming in at a meagre 249g, this drone manages to avoid many of the European restrictions that apply to drones that weigh 250g+.
With the DJI Mini 3 Pro, you should not be deceived by the size as bigger is now always better. This mighty mini manages to pack in some incredibly impressive features for its size including a 34-minute flight time with a range of 8-12km (5-7.5 miles), obstacle avoidance sensors, automated flight modes and a 12.1MP camera with 1/1.3” sensor which delivers crisp and clear images even in low light. What more could you ask from a drone that is so small, it can fit in your pocket.
DJI Avata FPV Drone
Whilst some content creators like to just hover majestically above the landscape and leisurely take photos and videos at a relaxed rate, some prefer the experience of FPV drone flying, which is exhilarating and more akin to the sensation of flying a jet, specifically if using FPV goggles.
The DJI Avata is designed from the ground up specifically for FPV flying. This is a relatively new area for DJI who have focused primarily on smooth flight and steady-shot videography previously with their other offerings. Now, they have taken the FPV market by storm and the Avata is a force to be reckoned with. Designed to be crash-proof and with a range of up to 10km (6 miles) it utilises its 48MP camera to great effect and can whizz along at a mind-blowing 60mph.
The Avata comes with the very impressive DJI goggles, and you also have the option to pair it with a DJI Motion Controller which mimics your hand movements to fly the drone, or you can opt for the more familiar FPV Remote Controller which will appeal more to the traditional drone flyers out there.
DJI Ryze Tello Drone
If you’re just starting out as a beginner and looking for a first time, inexpensive drone that can capture a few photographs, then the DJI Ryze Tello is not a bad first choice. Of course, it’s competing with the likes of the DJI Mini Series or the DJI Air Series, but given the combination of cost versus features, the Tello holds up.
Whilst the Ryze Tello only comes with a 5MP camera shooting 720HD and 13-minute flight time, it’s perfectly adequate for taking aerial photos and video. Sure enough, the nose-mounted camera isn’t going to be as clear or sharp as the offerings from the more expensive DJI drones, but then it is a great way to see how you feel about the hobby before committing to the more expensive consumer/pro level drones.