Drones can be a blast to fly around for fun, or they can be used to capture high-quality footage — or both. In recent years, DJI has proven to be the leader in the industry, known for their quality designs and attention to detail. Before you buy a DJI drone, you should determine your price range and what features are must-haves. Our favorite is the DJI Mavic Air, which boasts an impressive top speed and can film 4K video. To learn more about DJI's selection of drones, continue reading our buying guide.
Considerations when choosing DJI drones
When shopping for a DJI drone, you should first ask yourself what you hope to use your drone for. Some options include taking high-quality videos of vistas, filming yourself while you surf or ski, or simply exploring an area from a different perspective. While many DJI drones are capable of more than one of these tasks, understanding your needs will help you narrow down the key features and must-haves.
Camera quality and features
Most DJI drones are camera drones, which can record live footage and video. This gives you an extremely fun way to control your drone because you see the world from its perspective. The key factors to look for are the still-image resolution and movie resolution. The best camera drones offer 12-megapixel images and 4K video. Not all DJI drones can transmit footage wirelessly. Some DJI drones have a follow feature, which keeps a specific target in view while filming from a variety of angles.
The gimbal is the part of a drone that supports the camera and helps it capture stable video and images. While less expensive DJI drones may have a two-axis gimbal, DJI's high-end drones often have a superior three-axis gimbal for smooth and steady footage.
DJI drones tend to come with a few flight features to improve performance and reduce the chances of crashes. Collision avoidance is a great option for beginners because it can prevent crashes by halting your drone before it collides with an obstacle. Other features like the "return to home" setting and gesturing can give you a different way to control your drone, and ensure that it returns to its launch point before running out of battery.
Drones generally have short flight times, but many DJI drones can remain in the air for 20 minutes or more.
First-time flying tips
By no means should you send your DJI drone flying off into the sunset out of the box. Here are a few tips for starting.
Keep the drone in sight at all times. Even if you have a live video feed, you should always have an eye on the drone to keep all possible obstacles in view. Remember that you can always allow the drone to hover. If you panic, take a deep breath, and come to a stop. If you are planning an aerial shot, plan it ahead of time. Every minute is precious when you're filming or taking pictures, and you don't want to run out of energy while you're up in the air.
For a beginner-level drone that can still record high-quality video, DJI offers several drones in the $500 to $1,000 range. If 4K video and a variety of flight modes are must-haves for you, you should consider DJI's high-end drones, which cost from $1,000 to $2,000.
Q. Are all DJI drones ready to fly out of the box?
A. Yes, all DJI drones come with everything you need to fly — but this doesn't mean they all come with a remote control. Some of their drones, like the DJI Spark, use the DJI GO app on your smartphone; though a controller can be purchased separately.
Q. What do I do if a propeller breaks?
A. Many DJI drones come with spare propellers. If your's didn't, you will have to purchase new DJI propellers. You can also purchase propeller guards to prevent accidents that could render your drone unflyable.
DJI drones we recommend
Best of the best: DJI Mavic Air
Our take: From the 42-mph top speed to the high-quality 4K camera, this is our favorite DJI drone currently available.
What we like: The moderate price point is appealing to beginners, and the compact foldable design makes it easy to take this drone almost anywhere to capture stunning shots.
What we dislike: The maximum flight time of 21 minutes can be limiting.
Best bang for your buck: DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter
Our take: This low-priced drone can still take excellent video, making it a good pick for beginners.
What we like: The flight features and construction are similar to the Phantom 4, one of DJI's most popular modes. Easy to fold up and transport.
What we dislike: The lightweight design is convenient, but it can be easily affected by the wind.
Choice 3: DJI Phantom 4 Professional
Our take: DJI's most expensive drone is also its most sophisticated.
What we like: From the 4K 60-fps video to the 30-minute flight time, this is as good as possible when it comes to consumer-level drones for creating high-quality video.
What we dislike: Some customers have experienced glitches.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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