Let’s Talk the Best Drones for Sale [2019 Edition]

drones for sale 2019

Drones are everywhere at this point. The fantastic images fill our social media feeds and the videos captured by hobbyists and professionals alike expose the world to us in ways we could only dream about a few short years ago. Down below we take a deep dive on the best drones for sale.

Strapped for time? Our top pick for the top camera drone on the market is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It’s the perfect blend of features, value, and portability.

Before the arrival of inexpensive, off-the-shelf camera drones, aerial photography and videography used to involve strapping into a helicopter and hanging outside the door with a camera.

Yeah…

Not sure how I feel about trusting a harness that’s probably seen better days and dangling out of a helicopter. They don’t make anti-anxiety pills that large and then there’s the cost. Renting a helicopter for a video or photography session isn’t cheap.

The solution? Slap a camera on a drone, and you’re in business. I don’t have to endure a panic attack hanging outside of a helicopter, and who among us hasn’t played video games? Put those skills to use and get the perfect shot or footage.

For me, that includes dropping a Phantom between two cliff faces to get an amazing waterfall shot. Multiple storm chasing shots and video. Chasing my nephew through the woods. A tree won that particular battle but showed DJI drones could take a beating and come out on top.

Want to jump to a particular drone? Below is our list of the best drones for sale today:

Before we dive deeper into the specs and what you can expect from each drone, it pays to know what you’re getting yourself into. Drones are a blast, but these are the questions which always pop up.

The Gist

Looking for a particular drone or our camera drone FAQ? Use the links below to skip to the relevant section:

Best Camera Drone Holiday Deals

With Fall upon us, it means one thing. Holiday shopping season. Whether it’s DJI, Amazon, B&H, Adorama, or Best Buy, we will have the latest coverage on the best deals to save you money for the upcoming holiday season. Black Friday? Covered. Cyber Monday? Check. Random Amazon sales to mess with other retailers? We have your back.

Latest Camera Drone News

While there hasn’t been a deluge of camera drone news, it has started to pick up as we get closer to holiday shopping. 

Skydio Tease New Camera Drone. You’ll remember Skydio from its R1 drone series. The company has released several videos and images of an upcoming consumer drone. Will it be enough to compete with DJI? Stay tuned as we get closer to its release. 

Parrot Anafi FPV. Take what you love about the Anafi and add an FPV mode. What’s interesting about the camera drone is you can toggle the settings to have the camera film as you bank through turns. It still lacks the technology found in DJI, but it’s a fun feature from the company looking to chip away against DJI’s dominance.

Your Camera Drone Questions Answered

What are the Best Drones to Buy?


There are a few options on the market claiming to be one of the best drones to buy. Prices vary but solid values can be had starting at $500. Our list includes:

DJI Mavic 2 Pro: The DJI flagship and our current pick for the best drone for sale on the market today. Priced at $1729.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: It’s the sibling to the Mavic 2 Pro but includes a zoom lens over the 20-megapixel sensor. You can make equal arguments for either DJI drone, but our pick goes to the Mavic 2 Pro. Priced at $1439.

DJI Mavic Air. Everything you loved about the original DJI Mavic Pro into an even more compact package. The Mavic Air is highly portable and serves as DJI’s camera drone under $1000. Priced at $919.  

Parrot Anafi: Parrot is known for its unique drone designs, and it carries over into the Anafi line. When it needed to compete against the DJI juggernaut, the company opted for a 21-megapixel sensor with a vertical movement of 180 degrees. It can shoot straight up or down. Priced at $699

DJI Inspire 2: The professional drone of the list. And it has a price tag to match. DJI’s Inspire line can work with three different proprietary cameras complete with its own lens lineup. Priced at $3499.

What is the Best Drone for Beginners?


For camera drones, the best drone for beginners is something like the DJI Mavic Air. It contains all the obstacle avoidance and safety features to prevent you from plowing into a tree. While it’s on the more expensive side, the price is offset with the peace of mind and durability of the drone. Its camera has enough power to kickstart the hobby and open a world of creativity.

Where Can I Buy Drones Online?


Stores like Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Best Buy, DJI, and others are all excellent options to buy drones online. Each carries the latest camera drones and the accessories you’ll need to keep you in the air.

Do I need a License to Fly a Drone?


The short answer is no on needing a license to fly a drone. There are two caveats to the answer. One is for hobbyists. Currently, the FAA is working on a general knowledge test which will be baked into every app, and we will have to pass the exam. It’s expected to be simple, common-sense questions, though no word on when we can expect it to release.

The other caveat is it depends on your usage of the drone. Is it for business? Monetized YouTube content? Then you need to pass the Part 107 exam. Once you dive into the realm of making money, the hobbyist exemption no longer applies to you. And obtaining the license opens up a wealth of opportunities and places to fly.

What Drones do Professionals Use?


Professionals aren’t all that different from hobbyists. The drones they use can vary from a Mavic 2 Pro up to a Freefly Alta 8 with a RED camera attached to it. You don’t need the most expensive equipment for the best results. That comes down to storyboarding your ideas, executing, and skills in post-production.

Are drones legal?


The short answer is yes. The long answer dives into new regulation passed in the recent FAA Reauthorization Act. It lays out general guidelines for both hobbyists and those looking to use their new camera drone for commercial purposes. A lot of it is common sense, but let’s go over it:

Keep your drone within line of sight at all times. 
Stay below 400ft. 
Don’t fly near other aircraft. 
Respect people’s privacy.
Stay away from first responders.
Don’t fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Do not fly in National Parks. 
Be aware of FAA airspace restrictions.

Where can I fly a drone?


Here’s where it can be a bit tricky thanks to different rules governing hobbyists and commercial users. There are plenty of apps to help you figure out where you can fly, any temporary FAA restrictions and help commercial drone pilots (Part 107) automatically apply for waivers to operate within controlled airspace.

A few include the B4UFLY FAA app, Kittyhawk, Hover, and DJI’s app are integrating airspace warnings, LAANC approval systems, and any local ordinances regarding the use of terms. A big one we haven’t seen change is if there will be waivers granted for National Parks in the same way commercial pilots can immediately apply to fly within the five-mile buffer around airports. 

Hobbyists can stick to local parks, your backyard, etc. Use the apps with updated info, and you’ll find there are quite a few areas you can fly your brand new camera drone.

Can I fly in a city?


Yes with a major caveat. An app becomes necessary when flying in a city. You need to know where you can fly, if the FAA has any temporary airspace restrictions, etc. While not required, you may want to invest in earning a Part 107 license, even if you have no intention of using your drone commercially. It’ll open up an array of options to fly within city limits.

How high can I fly a drone?


400 feet. Yes, any off-the-shelf camera drone can easily push 1000 feet, but it’s a no-go zone after 400 feet. Why is there an altitude limit? It protects other aircraft. Even if you don’t live anywhere near an airport, stay under the limit.

A perfect example is where I live. Nowhere close to an airport, but military choppers love using the area as a training ground. Keep it under the legal ceiling, and everyone wins.


Do I need to register my drone?


Yes. There was a lot of confusion surrounding the registration of drones in the past as a court case was making its way through various appeals. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 put the question to bed, and any drone must be registered. It’s cheap and takes maybe a minute or two of your time.

How much does a drone cost?


Prices for a drone vary wildly. A cheap drone for kids is typically less than $100, while a flagship camera drone from DJI, such as the Mavic 2 Pro, cost around $1729

The difference in price centers around the drone camera. You’re looking at a starting cost of $300 for a drone with a camera. A 4K drone starts at $800 depending on the features. If you have the cash to spend, a Hollywood-ready drone from Freefly starts at $15,000.

Need some help with the editing process? Here’s our constantly updated list of the best YouTube channels for all things post-production.

What is a Drone Camera?

The most important part of the camera drone is, well, the camera. A lot goes into each drone camera, and it’s good to know the basics of what exactly you’re purchasing and why each features matters. 

Drone Camera Sensor. The headline of every launch is the sensor. Without it, we aren’t looking at amazing footage or stills. One number you’ll hear tossed about is the megapixel count. 12 megapixels. 20 megapixels. 21 megapixels. What does it matter? The biggest is, the higher the count, the more detail you can render in your photos and videos. It enables you to crop in for that perfect edit.  

Sensor size is another vital piece of the camera assembly. The larger the sensor, the more surface area light has to render the image or video. It’s why you hear the Mavic Pro 2 marketing immediately push the one-inch sensor feature. Here’s a visual of why the sensor matters in terms of quality.

sensor size comparison
Sensor Size Comparison

Field of View (FOV). One area you may not hear much about is the FOV. It’s vitally important to get it right because some camera drones will start to restrict it when heading into different 4K video formats. We all know the old GoPro fisheye look. That was an extreme field of view. Drones like the Mavic 2 Pro have a FOV of 77-degrees giving a wide image but not to such an extent the quality begins to suffer. 

Bitrates. Nearly every camera drone can use some form of 4K video at a 100Mbps bitrate. It’s a measurement of the amount of data that can be pushed to the storage device. The higher the number, the more detail you can pull out in post-production.

Aperture. A basic explanation is the aperture represents the opening of the lens. The lower the aperture, the more light can hit the senor. It’s at these low numbers you can start to get the background blur known as bokeh past your subject. In higher apertures, the lens begins to close up, and you’ll have both the foreground and background in focus.   

Want a deep-dive on all things camera related? The Digital Photography School has a great intro course that will walk you through the terminology and different techniques.

What are the Best Drones for Sale

Now that we know the basics, it’s time to get kitted out with the best camera drone for you on the market. Remember the old adage of just because it’s expensive, doesn’t make it better. Photography and videography have a lot to do with the user over the equipment.  

1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The Mavic 2 Pro is our pick for the best drone for sale in 2019. It merges a laundry list of features into an ultra-portable and affordable package.

DJI’s current flagship 4K camera drone takes everything we loved about the original Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro and combines it into one hell of a photography or videography platform.

DJI Mavic 2 series best drone

The Mavic 2 Pro is the first DJI drone line to benefit from the company’s partnership with Hasselblad. Name sound familiar? It was a Hasselblad camera snapping photos during the first moon landing. That’s a great pedigree and the Mavic 2 Pro sports a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a new one-inch CMOS sensor.    

The Specs

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is packed with the latest tech. A one-inch sensor leads the way in headline features along with an array of new sensors and capabilities:

  • Camera Resolution: 20 megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 4K drone camera with 10-bit HDR and maxes out at 30 frames per second.
  • Adjustable Aperture: f/2.8-f/11
  • Battery Life: 31 minutes. Real World: 28-29 minutes.
  • Ultra-Portable
  • Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance
  • OcuSync 2.0

DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro packs a ton of value into the foldable drone. The omnidirectional obstacle avoidance is a first for a DJI, allowing it to smartly avoid objects in its flight path and prevent those ‘oops’ moments.

A headline shot mode for the Mavic 2 lineup is the hyperlapse. You can set it to four different modes, and the Mavic 2 will start shooting images in both JPEG and RAW at the interval you set and stitch them together to form an aerial timelapse.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro’s 4K Drone Camera in Action

The Mavic 2 Pro opens up a world of possibilities. I already mentioned the hyperlapse, but let’s dive deeper and get visual. You can select from Free, Circle, CourseLock, and WayPoint.

Why stop at a hyperlapse? DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro has an enhanced HDR toolset to stack multiple images at various exposures for a crystal clear image free of artifacts and no ghosting across a 14 EV range.

Panoramas are improved across the Mavic 2 allowing for a sphere, 180-degree, horizontal and vertical panoramas.

Need more control? The Mavic 2 Pro offers a 10-bit-Dlog-M flat profile to really make videos your own through extensive color grading. Add in the 10-bit HDR video and the H.265/HEVC codec, and you have a beast of an aerial video platform which folds and fits into an oversized pocket.

Mavic 2 Pro Aerial Photography

Mavic 2 Pro Bundles

There are four purchasing options for the Mavic 2 Pro. The base drone-only package which is $1729. The recently released DJI Smart Controller offers up a bundle at $1899. Interested in FPV (first-person view) flying? You can snap up The Mavic 2 Pro with DJI Goggles RE for $1948. And finally, the best deal is combining the drone-only package at $1729 with the Mavic 2 Fly More Kit for $379.

Why is the Fly More Kit the better value over the Smart Controller or the DJI Goggles? Batteries. You end up with a total of three which means up to 90 minutes of flight time. The Fly More Kit also includes a car charger, battery hub, extra props and a shoulder bag which fits everything.

If it were me, I’d opt for the extra batteries and consider the Smart Controller later down the line. On the FPV goggles, that’s an individual case. I have vertigo and equilibrium issues, so you won’t catch me wearing those, but they always get rave reviews.

Let’s recap the four options for the Mavic 2 Pro:

2. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

Rather punch in with optical zoom? The Mavic 2 Zoom is for you featuring 2x optical zoom and up to 4x lossless digital zoom.

Want to save a bit of money but still get nearly all the perks of the Mavic 2 Pro? The Mavic 2 Zoom is priced at $1249. The difference between the two flagships is the sensor size, and the Mavic 2 Zoom has 2x optical zoom and up to 4x lossless digital zoom.

Other differences are on the video front with the 4K drone camera on the Zoom not having access to the HLG 10 bit and other ‘pro-centric’ features.

Owners also get access to a special shot mode dubbed the Dolly Zoom.

Yes, you can get this effect on the Pro, but it involves some skill with video editing. On the Mavic 2 Zoom, it’s a button push.

The Specs

There’s considerable overlap between the second generation Mavics, but here’s what you need to know for the Mavic 2 Zoom.

  • Camera Resolution: 12 megapixels (Pro has 20MP)
  • Video Resolution: 4K at 30 frames per second
  • Zoom: 24-48mm optical. Up to 4x lossless digital zoom.
  • Battery Life: 31 minutes. Real World: 28-29 minutes.
  • Ultra-Portable
  • Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance
  • OcuSync 2.0

The Mavic 2 Zoom is one hell of a drone, and if you’re looking for an aerial platform with optical zoom, you can’t go wrong. Yes, you lose the one-inch sensor in favor of the smaller sensor found on the original Mavic or the Air. 12MP versus 20MP. A lot of the color profiles advertised in the Mavic 2 Pro are gone, but you still have access to the D-Cinelike.

If you’re fine with the output of the smaller sensor, the Mavic 2 Zoom could just as easily be number one on the list.

What Can You Capture

I mentioned it above, but the amount of overlap in features is substantial between the Zoom and Pro The biggest difference comes with the drone’s camera sensor. Making up for the sensor difference is the ability to shoot super-resolution photos at 48MP. DJI accomplishes the feat by shooting nine separate images before stitching them together into a final image.

drones for sale aerial photography

Another feature exclusive to the Mavic 2 Zoom is the Dolly QuickShot. It’s easier to show you versus explaining the effect:

Like its more expensive sibling, the Mavic 2 Pro, hyperlapses are the most impressive of the shot modes. There are amazing creators making unbelievable videos using various modes. Take a look below:

Other QuickShots include Panoramas, Asteroid, and Boomerang. What you can capture is only limited by your imagination.

Mavic 2 Zoom Aerial Photography

Mavic 2 Zoom Bundles

It’s the same setup as the Mavic 2 Pro. DJI offers four buying options:

Best Mavic 2 Accessories

After settling on which Mavic 2 Pro package you’re getting, there are a few accessories you can add to maximize your footage and images you capture. And then other accessories are quality of life improvements. Let’s break them down.

ND filters. Think sunglasses for your drone camera and you’re on the right track. If you don’t want to invest in a solid set, you can make use of the Mavic 2 Pro’s adjustable aperture. On bright days, you can move to a higher aperture to allow less light in to get your desired shutter speed for video.

Prefer to leave the lens wide open? ND filters are a must. Polar Pro and Tiffen are the go-to filters, with Polar Pro offering long exposure photography filters. 

Mavic 2 Pro PolarPro

Mavic 2 Zoom PolarPro:

Tiffen:

Need a primer on ND filters?

Next up would be a solid bag. Yes, the Fly More Kit comes with a shoulder bag, but most of us want extra room and protection for our gear. My favorite bags come from Lowepro.

The DroneGuard BP 250 is perfect for the Mavic 2 and has space for days. It strikes the right balance of protection and comfort. Sure, it’s not a hard pelican case, but the idea of a portable drone is portability. You can mix and match what gear you want including your drone, another camera plus a lens, batteries and dedicated space for your laptop and tablet.

Another accessory you don’t readily think you need? Landing gear. One of the biggest pros of the Mavic 2 is its size. Then you notice on takeoff and landing how close the camera and gimbal are to the ground. The solution is snap-on landing gear. PolarPro makes a set that retracts for easy storage. You don’t need them, but for $30, it qualifies as a quality of life accessory.

Finally, lights. You’re probably thinking why do I want my drone to have lights? Check out Lume Cube’s set for the Mavic 2, and you’ll see why:

Yeah, it’s not a must-have but damn if it doesn’t expand your horizons on the type of images you can capture.

3. DJI Mavic Air

Want a sub-$1000 drone that punches above its weight class? The Mavic Air offers a rich feature list (including a 4K drone camera) inside an insanely portable body.

Is the Mavic 2 not portable enough for you? DJI has you covered with the Mavic Air. It shares the same sensor as the Mavic 2 Zoom without the optical zoom lens.

Think of the Air as the selfie drone. DJI went all-in on the Smart Capture technology allowing you to control the Mavic Air with simple gestures.

The Specs

While the Mavic 2 series is outstripping it in technology, the Mavic Air still impresses when you consider just how small the drone is compared to the rest of the lineup. ActiveTrak, QuickShots, SmartCapture, and TapFly all make their appearance on the Mavic Air. No hyperlapse mode, but you do get Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, Asteroid, and Boomerang. 

  • 12MP Sensor / 4K Video at 30fps
  • 3-axis gimbal
  • 3-directional environment sensing
  • Smart capture / gesture control
  • 21 minute max flight time
  • Weighs less than 1 lb.
  • Foldable and portable

What Can You Capture

Thanks to the incredible portability, the Mavic Air is designed to be kept close at hand. It may not have the range of the Mavic 2 line, but the SmartCapture feature signals the drone’s market is clearly in the travel sphere and those beach or camping trips where you want some great aerial group shots.

Sharing the same sensor and bitrate as the Mavic 2 Zoom means the video is no slouch. Its camera can take incredible 4K video and features 120fps at 1080p for slow-motion work.

Mavic Air Bundles

Without OcuSync 2.0, there’s no smart controller option, but DJI does have the Fly More bundle under $1000.

4. DJI Inspire 2

The big leagues of off-the-shelf drones. It will set you back serious cash, so it resides in the arena of professionals or hobbyists with a lot of disposable income.

DJI’s Inspire 2 is the only true, off-the-shelf, professional camera drone. One of the biggest selling points is it’s more of a platform thanks to its interchangeable lenses and the variety of camera payloads DJI offers.

It breaks down into three separate buying options, each offering its own list of specs and performance options. There are a few specs that are standard across the line of options.

The big leagues of off-the-shelf camera drones. It will set you back serious cash, so it resides in the arena of professionals or hobbyists with a lot of disposable income.

The bank account buster. DJI’s Inspire 2 is the only true, off-the-shelf professional camera drone. One of the biggest selling points is it’s more of a platform thanks to its interchangeable lenses and the variety of camera payloads DJI offers.

It breaks down into three separate buying options, each offering its own list of specs and performance options. There are a few specs that are standard across the line of options.

The Inspire 2 Spec Sheet

  • Max Flight Time: 27 minutes
  • Max Speed: 67 mph
  • Dual-Operator Mode, Two Cameras, Obstacle Avoidance
  • 360-degree gimbal.

What Can You Capture

DJI’s Inspire 2 is a professional system. You can shoot professional films using this aerial platform and the price more than reflects its capabilities.

DJI Inspire 2 Aerial Photography

Inspire 2 Bundles

Inspire 2 Standard Combo. Priced at $2999, it features the Zenmuse X4S camera with a one-inch sensor. It can handle 4K video at 60fps and oversamples to 5.2K at 30fps. Burst rate on the photos can hit 20fps, and like all Inspire 2 combos, it has the option for a dual operator mode with the forward-facing camera.

Inspire 2 Professional. Get ready for a massive price leap. The Inspire 2 Professional combo prices out at $10,110 and includes the Zenmuse X5S over the X4S. In addition to the standard remote controller found on the standard edition is the Cendence Remote allowing for dual operator mode.

The X5S is an upgraded 20.8MP MFT sensor capable of Apple ProRes video at 5.2K. Dynamic range is expanded on the X5S camera to 12.8 stops.

Also in the combo are two 7.5-inch Crystal Sky monitors. No more sunshades over your tablet to see where you are flying the camera drone.

Inspire 2 Premium. Priced at $12,560, it forgoes the standard controller for two Cendence controllers, ultra-bright CrystalSky monitors, and two 480GB CineSSDs. The X5S is still the onboard camera with the option to add interchangeable lenses.

5. Yuneec Camera Drones

Stepping away from DJI brings out the company’s largest competitor, Yuneec. While DJI does control a sizable share of the market, it’s not the only 4K camera drone maker in town. The Typhoon H does have an ace up its sleeve thanks to its retractable landing gear and 360-degree gimbal and Intel RealSense obstacle avoidance system.

Yuneec feels like it’s one generation away from having something extraordinary. The 360-degree gimbal with a price which doesn’t break the bank is great. The 12MP sensor? Not so much when compared to the competition.

The Specs

  • Retractable Landing Gear
  • 360-degree Gimbal
  • Intel RealSense Obstacle Avoidance
  • Integrated Screen on Controller
  • Battery Life: 25 Minutes
  • Range: One Mile

What Can You Capture

Much like DJI, Yuneec is big on various flight modes, or what the company dubs Task Modes. Orbit, Point of Interest, Journey, Cable Cam, and Follow Me are the modes you can set waypoints and create your video.

Yuneec Typhoon Buying Options

Yuneec doesn’t overwhelm you with various combos. The $1500 gets you everything you need to get out and fly that day. Two extra batteries, a backpack, extra props are all included in the price.

6. Autel EVO

One look at the Autel EVO and you see a Mavic competitor. And on the specs, it gets close, especially with its camera shooting 4K at 60fps. Still, DJI’s ecosystem and reliability win out.

Where the EVO falters is on the price. It packs a similar sensor as the Mavic Air, but is priced higher. Still, it checks all the right boxes on features, including flight time and a drone camera capable of 4K video at 60fps for under $1000.

The Specs

  • Flight time: Up to 30 Minutes
  • Range: Up to 4.3 Miles
  • Integrated Screen on Remote
  • Front and Rear Obstacle Avoidance

It shares similar specs and stylings as the Mavic, but it loses ground to DJI’s innovative shot modes. However, competition breeds innovation and the Autel EVO is one to watch.  

Autel Evo Buying Options

Similar to Yuneec, Autel keeps it simple with a $999 package which includes plenty of extras. You’ll want to invest in additional batteries to keep you flying.

7. Parrot Anafi

One of the more unique camera drones of 2019 is the Parrot Anafi. It looks like a Mavic clone, but its gimbal makes it stand out from the pack. It can rotate 90-degree down and 90 degrees up along its vertical axis.

The Specs

  • Three-Axis Gimbal Which Rotates 180 degrees Vertically
  • 21MP Sony Sensor
  • 2.8X Lossless Zoom
  • 25-minute Battery Life

The Anafi has its collection of smart shots including dronies and cineshots. It can’t match the breadth of what DJI puts forward technology, but a $699 price tag does make it compelling against the Mavic Air.

Wrapping 2019’s Best Drones for Sale

Now that we are deep into 2019, all eyes are on early 2020 for potential new drone releases. Expectations are high DJI will continue its Phantom line with the Phantom 5. Rumors continually surface on it featuring interchangeable lenses. It would need something special as the Mavic 2 Pro borrowed its sensor.

Then there are the wild cards. Will a major company step into the camera drone space? Sony has a patent for a consumer drone. Is it just a patent to store or something else?

For now, the best 4K drone is the Mavic 2 Pro. It combines class-leading features and value. Grab one and start creating.

Don’t forget to check out our latest buying guides on mirrorless cameras, the best vlog cameras, DSLRs, and travel cameras.

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