Drones have exploded in popularity in recent years for both hobbyists and professionals alike. Equipping your drone with a built-in camera and GPS capability opens up a whole world of aerial photography and videography opportunities. In this in-depth post, we will countdown the top 5 drones with cameras and GPS available in 2023 and discuss key factors to consider when choosing the right drone with camera and GPS to match your aerial needs and budget. Whether you want to take sweeping landscape panoramas, document your travels, inspect real estate or construction sites, create YouTube videos, or simply have fun flying, these camera drones make capturing stunning aerial footage easy and fun! Let’s take a closer look at the top options on the market this year:
Top 5 Drones with Cameras and GPS
1. DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is one of the most popular all-around drone choices for its winning combination of portability, performance, camera quality and smart features. This foldable drone weighs a mere 1.2 lbs yet can capture gorgeous 4K/60fps video and 48MP photos, all stabilized by a top-notch 3-axis gimbal. It flies smoothly and responsively thanks to powerful motors and intelligent flight modes like ActiveTrack 3.0, Point of Interest 3.0, QuickShots and more. The onboard GPS and GLONASS keeps the Mavic Air 2 locked into place while floating in the air for perfectly composed shots. With a maximum flight time of 34 minutes and a 4 mile (6.2 km) HD video transmission range, the Mavic Air 2 is capable yet approachable for hobbyists and professionals alike.
2. DJI Mavic Mini
DJI broke new ground with the shockingly tiny yet capable Mavic Mini drone. Weighing less than 0.55 lbs, this ultra-portable quadcopter can literally fit in your jacket pocket. Don’t let its small size fool you — the Mavic Mini boasts a very respectable 2.7K camera stabilized on a 3-axis gimbal and backed by handy intelligent flight modes. It may lack 4K video and some of the cameras specs of the pricier Mavic Air 2, but the DJI Mini retains core functions like GPS/GLONASS tagging, great battery life up to 30 minutes, and intuitive flying modes. For its bargain price point under $400, the Mavic Mini delivers pint-sized aerial photography and videography on a budget.
3. Autel EVO II
Serious aerial photographers should have the Autel EVO II on their radar, as it offers professional-grade camera specs and performance for under $1000. Autel packed a large 1/2-inch 48MP sensor into the EVO II capable of shooting insanely detailed photos and buttery smooth 4K/60fps video stabilized across 3 axes. It transmits an impressive 9 km of HD footage back to the controller thanks to OcuSync. This folding drone is loaded with intelligent modes including subject tracking and RTH (Return to Home). Built-in GPS plus GLONASS ensures rock solid hovering and navigation outdoors. Obstacle avoidance sensors and 40 minutes of flight time give you peace of mind. If camera quality trumps all, the EVO II delivers pro-level results without costing as much as the priciest DJI models.
4. Parrot Anafi
Don’t overlook the Parrot Anafi drone if you’re seeking a highly portable drone that can capture 4K/30fps video and 21MP photos across a wide 210° FOV. Despite having a lightweight carbon fiber design that folds down, the Anafi drone generates 25 minutes of flight endurance and can withstand winds up to 31 mph. Dig into the software and you’ll find useful intelligent flying modes from hyperlapse to dolly zoom to parcel tracking. Built-in GPS plus GLONASS and Galileo satellite positioning gives you reliable outdoor navigation and stable flight control when hovering in place and shooting video. For its reasonable $699 price tag, the Parrot Anafi punches well above its weight class in terms of performance and camera quality.
5. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
The legendary DJI Phantom series built a reputation as one of the most trusted aerial photography drones. The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 represents the pinnacle for serious aerial shooters who demand the utmost quality. The 1-inch 20MP camera is capable of capturing insanely good footage thanks to its mechanical shutter and large image sensor. It shoots flawless 4K/60fps video across an expansive 84° FOV. The long range 9 km HD controller range lets you fly far distances. GPS with GLONASS keeps the Phantomlocked in the air when shooting far away subjects. Obstacle avoidance and 30 minutes of flight time give you confidence. While expensive at $1599, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 offers professional specifications ready for commercial use.
How to Choose the Right Drone with Camera and GPS
With so many drones with cameras and GPS on the market, it can feel overwhelming to select the right model for your needs and budget. Here are the key factors to consider when shopping for your perfect camera drone:
Portability – Do you want an ultra compact folding drone you can take anywhere, or a larger premium model with top-notch camera specs but less portability? Consider your use cases – smaller drones like the DJI Mavic Mini are incredibly convenient to pack and travel with.
Camera Quality – Assess the camera specs like megapixel count, sensor size, lens FOV, maximum video resolution and frame rates. Larger sensors and more megapixels typically produce better looking footage and photos. Look for a minimum of 4K/30fps video capability.
Gimbal Stabilization – A 3-axis gimbal provides the best stabilization and vibration dampening for smooth footage, while some cheap drones may only have 2-axis digital stabilization.
Intelligent Flight Modes – Smart features like subject tracking, orbiting, hyperlapse, panoramas, and pre-programmed flight maneuvers allow you to capture complex shots easily. Advanced drones typically offer more autonomous flight modes.
GPS Accuracy – Drones use GPS plus GLONASS at minimum, while higher end drones may also use Galileo satellites for improved positioning accuracy when hovering and maneuvering. This results in a very stable aerial filming platform.
Battery Life – Flight time ranges from 20 to over 30 minutes for most consumer drones. Bring extra batteries and charge them in advance to extend your flying. Longer flight times allow you to capture more footage during a session.
Obstacle Avoidance – Models with forward, backward and downward facing sensors can detect then avoid nearby objects and hazards automatically for safer flying and landing. This gives you additional peace of mind.
Safety Features – Beginner friendly drones have simple controls, automatic return home capability if the signal is lost, and geofencing to prevent entering restricted areas. Consider how easy and safe the drone is to operate for your needs.
Ask yourself what type of photos or videos you hope to create, then select your aerial gear accordingly. Real estate agents and surveyors need to view objects directly below, so a drone with a gimbal that tilts 90° down like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro would be ideal. Vloggers will appreciate the Anafi and Mavic Mini’s ability to track and follow subjects. Cinema buffs need professional spec 4K or 6K video supported by the Inspire 2 and Phantom 4 Pro. When shopping for your next drone with camera and GPS, always match the features and capabilities with your intended application.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drones with Cameras and GPS
Q: Do I need to register my drone with the FAA?
A: Yes, if your drone weighs over 0.55 lbs (250g) you need to register it with the FAA before flying outdoors. This applies to most consumer camera drones like the DJI Mavic, Phantom, etc. It costs $5 to register and is valid for 3 years. Having an FAA registration number on your drone is required.
Q: How far can I fly my drone?
A: Most consumer drones have a range limit of 4-8km when flying at optimal conditions. So under perfect conditions, a drone can be flown 4-8km away and transmit back HD video. But range depends on interference, weather, transmitter strength, and more. When flying far, maintain line of sight.
Q: Do I need a license to fly a drone?
A: You do not need a license to fly a drone recreationally as a hobby. But if you want to use your drone for commercial purposes, you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA which requires passing a test.
Q: Can I fly my drone anywhere?
A: No, there are airspace restrictions on where you can fly drones, even if recreationally. You cannot fly near airports, over groups of people, or above 400 feet altitude without special permits. Residential neighborhoods also often restrict drone use. Know your local laws.
Q: What are the rules for flying drones in cities?
A: Most cities prohibit drones from being flown over private property without permission, over people or moving vehicles, or at night. Some cities require obtaining a permit. Many cities ban drone use in public areas like parks as well. Check your city ordinances.
Q: How high can my drone with camera fly?
A: The FAA altitude limit for recreational drones is 400 feet high. Flying above 400 feet requires special approval. Most consumer drones are programmed not to exceed 400 feet max altitude. Be aware of your drone’s height at all times.
Q: How far can a drone transmitter communicate with the aircraft?
A: Most consumer drones can transmit a signal approximately 1.2 – 1.6 miles (2 – 2.5 km) before latency or lost signal issues occur. Longer range systems like DJI Lightbridge can extend this range significantly. But always fly within line of sight.
Q: Can I fly my drone over people?
A: Flying drones directly over people is prohibited for safety reasons without a proper waiver. Maintain at least 25 feet horizontal distance from people when flying your drone. Also avoid flying over moving vehicles.
Q: What drone accessories should I get?
A: Essential accessories include extra batteries, battery charger, propellor guards, landing pad, tablet/phone holder for the controller, ND filters for cameras, and propellor replacement parts. Hard carrying cases and gimbals provide protection. FPV goggles allow for immersive first-person-view flying.
Aerial photography and videography has never been more accessible and fun thanks to today’s best drones equipped with stabilized cameras and GPS navigation. As you can see, you have a diverse range of excellent drones to choose from at different price points capable of capturing stunning 4K aerial footage, from the DJI Mavic Mini’s bargain price and portability to the more advanced Autel EVO 2 and Phantom 4 Pro’s pro-grade camera specs. Consider which camera capabilities and intelligent flight modes matter most to you. Budget accordingly, purchase some must-have accessories like extra batteries, and get ready to take your aerial photography hobby to new heights! Just be sure to fly safely by registering your drone, learning local rules, getting properly trained on your new aircraft, and insured in case of accidents. Happy flying!