A hobby to some and an income source for others, drone photography and videography are quickly becoming the biggest selling points for today’s UAVs.
A capable drone camera with a stabilizing gimbal doesn’t have to cost more than $2,000. What are some of the best camera drones in this price range?
Here are the top camera drones for under $2,000:
- DJI Mini 3 Pro
- DJI Air 2S
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- Parrot Anafi
- Autel Robotics EVO Lite+
- DJI Avata
Paying about $2,000 for a camera drone provides access to top-notch brands, such as DJI, as well as premium bundles with cost-effective accessories.
Join me as I take you through each of these drones, sharing specs, features, and camera details.
1. DJI Mini 3 Pro
Dimensions: 171 x 245 x 62 mm unfolded
Weight: Under 249 g
Max Range: 7.5 mi
Max Altitude: 4,000 m
Max Speed: 16 m/s in Sport Mode
Max Flying Time: 47 mins (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus)
Camera: 1 1/3-inch CMOS
- Has the best image quality on this list
- Offers many photography-friendly intelligent flight features
- Includes a stabilizing gimbal
- The camera can move 90 degrees for portrait or landscape shots
- Requires less post-processing
- You must upgrade the battery for the full 47 minutes of flight time
DJI has a lot of exceptional camera drones, as the list above indicates. While I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite, the Mini 3 Pro might be it for many reasons.
I don’t know the best part of the Mini 3 Pro. Could it be its accessible price point? (It costs less than $1,000!) Maybe it’s the convenient weight, which allows you to forego registering your drone?
Of course, I’m also enamored with its camera, which features a 1 1/3-inch CMOS for capturing the details of your environment in stunning quality.
Shadows? Lighting? It’s all retained beautifully, so footage taken with the Mini 3 Pro will be valuable additions to your portfolio.
HDR output support, an exceptional dynamic range, and dual native ISO are other five-star features of this camera sensor. It supports an aperture of f/1.7 and 2.4 µm pixels.
What kind of photo and video resolution can you expect with a drone like the Mini 3 Pro?
It shoots video in 4K at 60 fps or 1080p at 120 fps and photos in 48 MP quality. That’s excellent quality all around, as the Mini 3 Pro is one of DJI’s newest creations.
The D-Cinelike Color profile will enable you to streamline your post-processing, as the flexibility and color range require fewer finishing touches.
Get in on the vertical photo and video trend by shooting in portrait mode with the rotatable camera gimbal. Since it moves 90 degrees, you can easily switch it back to landscape mode when the mood suits you.
Intelligent flight features, here we come! From Digital Zoom to MasterShots, Hyperlapse, and FocusTrack, it’s never been easier or more efficient to find your target, zoom in, and take photos and videos.
You can also explore the world of panoramas with Sphere, Wide-Angle, Vertical, and 180-Degree panos.
» MORE: Best Beginner Drones Under $300
2. DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S has the ability to perceive its environment in four directions: up, down, forward, and backward, allowing it to actively avoid obstacles, even in complex scenarios and at high speeds.
Dimensions: 183 x 253 x 77 mm unfolded
Weight: 595 g
Max Range: 7.5 mi
Max Altitude: 5,000 m
Max Speed: 19 m/s in Sport Mode
Max Flying Time: 31 mins
Camera: 1-inch CMOS
- Sizable camera sensor for expanded photography and videography
- Incredible color profile that retains more than a billion hues
- Very high-quality video
- Suitable for RAW photography
- Handy automated features for getting great footage
- Post-processing-friendly features to save you time
- The tracking features are not that current at this point
- The camera quality could be better, even if other processing features make up for that
Just as great as the Mini 3 Pro is the Air 2S.
For starters, there’s the camera sensor, a 1-inch CMOS. The sizable sensor and 2.4 µm pixels can capture more of the world around you in stunning, crisp quality.
When I say crisp, I mean it – this drone can shoot video in 4K at 60 fps and 5.4K at 30 fps.
The image quality is 20 MP.
I recognize there are camera drones with better image quality in the DJI family alone, but the rich restoration of color tone and the billion colors in the 10-bit D-Log M color profile make up for what is only sufficient image quality.
That dazzling range of color translates to nighttime photography and videography, by the way. Further augmenting the Air 2S’s camera is a high resolution and dynamic range.
Admittedly, you often can’t fly a drone at night legally, but if you ever can, this is the one to bring.
RAW photographers, rejoice. The 12.6 stop range of the Air 2S’s impeccable camera retains enough of the original character and flavor of the photo that you might spend less time in post.
Oh, and on the note of post, if you often take several shots of the same subject, you will love the HDR technology built into this DJI drone.
This intelligent feature automatically merges similar shots to create a supreme composite image. You’ll save so much time!
On that note, the Air 2S includes a suite of tracking tools like ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and Point of Interest.
These are not the latest editions given this drone’s age (it was released in early 2020), but they’re still suitable for getting the ideal shot.
You can also use MasterShots, Panorama, and Hyperlapse, giving you lots to play around with when you take to the skies.
» MORE: Best Drones Under $200
3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Equipped with a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 20MP 1” CMOS Sensor, the Mavic 2 camera drone lets you capture gorgeous aerial shots in stunning color detail.
Dimensions: 319.55 x 256.46 x 90.5 mm
Weight: 907 g
Max Range: N/A
Max Altitude: 6,000 m
Max Speed: 44 mph
Max Flying Time: 31 mins
Camera: 1-inch CMOS
- A stabilizing gimbal retains the crispness of your footage and photos
- The high-quality Hasselblad camera and large, 1-inch CMOS sensor are an unbeatable combo
- Can shoot in low lighting
- Natural Color Solution technology makes photos and videos look more vibrant
- Has a long flight time
- It’s still expensive despite being an older drone
- It could stand to have better image quality
Digging a little deeper into DJI’s roster, the Mavic 2 Pro might not be the new kid on the block anymore, but it’s still a dependable drone with an even more reliable camera.
Its Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 1-inch CMOS sensor promises 20MP aerial photography. That sensor is 4x better than the one that came with the OG Mavic Pro, as it has incredible active sensing.
That’s not all. The sensor boasts an elevated ISO range. In older Mavics, it was only 3200, but in the Mavic 2 Pro, it’s up to 12800. You won’t have to fear low-light conditions anymore.
The built-in Natural Color Solution technology retains the natural wonder of the world around you in all its beautiful colors.
DJI built a three-axis gimbal with this camera, so shaky photos are a thing of the past.
The drone has 8 gigs of internal storage by default, but if you insert an SD card (that you must purchase separately), you can increase that up to 128 gigs.
You’ll have plenty of hard drive space for taking photos and videos.
The Mavic 2 Pro includes an HDR mode and Hyperlapse, adjustable aperture, and ActiveTrack 2.0, all features designed to be a photographer or videographer’s best friend.
4. Parrot Anafi
Dimensions: 175 x 240 x 65 mm unfolded
Weight: 320 g
Max Range: 2.48 mi
Max Altitude: 150 m
Max Speed: 33 mph
Max Flying Time: 25 mins
Camera: 1 2/4-inch CMOS
- High-quality camera and sensor for crisp photos and videos
- Good tilt and zoom capabilities
- Point of interest tracking is handy for photographers and videographers
- The flight times could be longer
The classic Parrot Anafi proves that you don’t have to be a DJI drone to get high marks for camera quality.
One of my favorite features of this drone is undoubtedly its five axes. Three are electronic axes, and another two are mechanical axes.
They’re all designed to stabilize the high-quality camera and Sony optical sensor so you can shoot images and videos without worrying about shakiness.
Let’s talk more about that sensor. It’s capable of 21 MP image quality and 4K video quality. The camera can tilt 180 degrees, enabling you to capture the world from unique and captivating angles.
» MORE: Best Drones Under $100
What if you want to photograph or film a subject that’s far away?
Sometimes, drone laws prohibit you from reaching targets, but that’s okay if you have the Anafi. Its 3x zoom lets you get further even if you can’t physically get close.
The Cameraman mode will be the one you probably use the most often. Simply set a point of interest, and the Anafi takes care of the rest.
It will follow a moving target, from people to vehicles. All you have to worry about is taking photos and/or videos!
This drone is also lightweight and portable, so whether you’re traveling for work or just for fun, you can bring it with you on your adventures.
Want to learn whether this drone is waterproof? Click here!
5. Autel Robotics EVO Lite+
1'' CMOS Sensor with 6K HDR Camera, No Geo-Fencing, 3-Axis Gimbal, 3-Way Obstacle Avoidance, 40Min Flight Time, 7.4 Miles Transmission, Lite Plus More Combo.
Dimensions: 433 x 516 x 95 mm
Weight: 835 g
Max Range: 7.5 mi
Max Altitude: 4,000 m
Max Speed: 18 m/s
Max Flying Time: 40 m
Camera: 1/1.28-inch CMOS
- High-quality image and video quality rivals what you’d find in a DJI drone
- Large camera sensor for quality footage
- Great color range
- Defog Mode for capturing the glory of hazy images and videos
- HDR mode saves you time in post
- Exceptional tracking
- Awesome battery life
- One of the more expensive drones on the list
The EVO Lite+ from Autel Robotics is an impressive drone for many reasons, one of those being its incredible camera.
The large CMOS sensor generates more crisp details when shooting videos and photos.
The intelligent moonlight algorithm enables this drone to reduce noise and maintain detail when filming after dark. However, check your drone laws before using this mode.
With many drones, the camera aperture is what it is, with no option to adjust it. That’s even the case with some DJI drones, but not the EVO Lite+.
You can toggle the aperture settings between f/2.8 and f/11 to set the depth of field and exposure just how you like it.
The camera takes 20 MP photos and video in 6K at 30 fps.
Although its color profile might not rival the depths that some of these camera drones go, the EVO Lite+ will automatically adjust exposure levels while shooting to produce natural, appealing colors.
The RYYB color filter array also retains hues.
Defog Mode is another godsend for drone photographers and videographers, especially those relying on getting a clear shot to make some money.
If conditions were hazier than you realized, this mode can clean up your image, restoring lost vibrance.
The EVO Lite+ has an HDR mode for building composites of images the same way some DJI drones can.
It will produce an image with the best dynamic range and contrast so you don’t have to spend hours in post.
This drone is also quite good at tracking, even if a subject moves fast. The dual focus algorithm and phase-detection autofocus follow the subject without skipping a beat.
The SkyPortrait mode is for casual, fun photography, as the EVO Lite+ can automatically take selfies, then add a series of appealing effects so your photos are ready to go on social media.
6. DJI Avata
Dimensions: 180 x 180 x 80 mm unfolded
Weight: 410 g
Max Range: 11.6 km
Max Altitude: 5,000 m
Max Speed: 27 m/s in Manual Mode
Max Flying Time: 18 mins
Camera: 1/1.7-inch CMOS
- Has a wide-angle lens and adjustable camera
- Takes high-quality video and photos
- Has D-Cinelike color to shorten post-processing
- Features dual image stabilization
- It’s an FPV drone, so you must practice before using it
- The drone can fly unstably in some modes
Let’s round out our list with one more DJI selection, the Avata. This is an FPV drone, meaning it plays by different rules than the other drones I’ve reviewed.
It can fly a lot more unpredictably, so you’ll have to practice using FPV simulators before you launch it.
Once you do, it will be oh so worth it. Avata has a 1/1.7-inch 155-degree, super-wide FOV lens that can shoot video in 4K at 60 fps.
With this camera, you can get way up close to the action and take wide-angle videos and images.
Bring more magic into your drone footage with DJI’s D-Cinelike color mode in post. The color grading will make your photos and videos more lifelike and vibrant.
Avata boasts not one but two image stabilization settings, HorizonSteady and RockSteady 2.0.
Since this drone can reach exceptionally high speeds in Manual Mode, you need a camera that can keep up without producing blurry footage, and these modes allow for that.
Best camera drones under $2,000 – Buyer’s guide
To ensure your $2,000 is well spent, here are some criteria to narrow down your drone search.
Image and video quality
By far, your biggest priority in your drone search is exceptional image and video quality. The days of 12 MP images are long behind us unless you buy an older or lower-cost drone.
For around $2,000, you should expect at least 20 MP image quality and possibly double that, such as the DJI Mini 3 Pro’s 48 MP quality.
As for video, 4K is the standard, but some drone cameras supersede that quality. You might not see too many of them in your price range, but as long as the video quality exceeds 1080p, you’re in good shape.
Electronic Image Stabilization
Electronic image stabilization (EIS) is a must in a camera drone.
Without it, as soon as your drone moves, you have footage quality no better than the illustrious shots of Bigfoot. It’s blurry and messy, making it unclear what you’re looking at.
Although not mandatory, it’s nice to have an adjustable camera with your drone.
Whether the camera tilts just a little or a lot, you can expand your shooting horizons (quite literally, in this case) and take more dynamic footage.
Colors add richness to our world, so you’ll want as many as you can retain in your drone footage.
The drones I reviewed in the last section go to great lengths to restore and retain colors, and some even have support for over a million colors.
You’ll appreciate the vibrancy of your footage.
Intelligent modes make it easy for beginners to pick up a drone and fly. Even if you’re an intermediate pilot, these modes help you focus more on photography and videography than flying your drone.
They can track a subject, send the drone on a predetermined path, take slow-mo footage, or zoom in close.
You must pay attention to a drone’s flight time, as the longer it spends in the sky, the more fun you can have.
A flight time of around 30 minutes is standard, but if your drone can go longer, that’s even better!