Best 4K Drones | Droneblog
Camera drones have revolutionized aerial photography and changed the way we capture those jaw-dropping images from the sky. When talking about 4k drones we are really talking about the ability of their cameras to capture detailed high-resolution footage. Cameras with 4k capability have quickly become the norm on smartphones, tablets, and other recording devices and flying drones are no exception.
Some of the best 4k drones on the market today include the DJI Mavic Air 2, Autel Robotics Evo NANO+, Parrot Anafi, DJI Mavi Mini 2, Skydio 2+, and Hubsan Zino Mini Pro.
What is a 4K drone?
A 4k drone is a drone that is equipped with a camera that offers four times higher video resolution compared to lower quality 1080P camera drones. The term 4K, which is also referred to as UHD (Ultra High Definition), means there are approximately 4000 pixels in the width of your photo or video frame. This results in richer, more detailed footage and sharper, clearer images.
A drone with 4K capabilities also supports faster frame rates, extended colors, and better contrast dynamics to take your footage to the next level.
Should I get a 4K drone?
That depends. Anything less than a 4k drone by today’s standards is more or less considered a toy drone. Even so, they are still good enough to post some decent aerial photos online to platforms such as Facebook or Instagram which may be enough for some people.
In the end, cheaper drones are fun but they’ll never deliver the same quality video and photo results as a camera drone equipped with 4K capabilities. If you’re serious about drone photography, you need to get a 4K drone.
Advantages of shooting in 4K
There are significant advantages to choosing a drone with 4K capabilities. Let’s break it down.
Shooting in 4K allows for the ability to edit your images and video without degrading resolution quality and allowing your footage to remain detailed and crystal clear. Just like shooting photos on the ground with a handheld camera, most pilots are likely going to want to edit those amazing aerial photos before showing them to the world.
Being that 4K cameras contain four times as many pixels as a 1080p camera, those extra pixels allow you to crop, zoom and perform other editing tasks while still maintaining HD resolution. This is important because once a photo or video has been taken, there is no way to increase the resolution you started with, so even simple editing or trying to crop a still image from moving video significantly decreases video resolution and will cause footage to be noticeably less sharp and even grainy.
Better presentation on bigger screens
Most households today have bigger TV screens with 4K capabilities. To view in 4K though, it’s necessary to film with a camera that captures 4K resolution. If you’ve ever viewed an old movie from the 80’s you can’t help noticing how dull and grainy the images are, even on a big screen, compared to today’s modern technology.
There’s no question that drones equipped with a 4K camera will just look better on 4K screens.
Future proof your footage
You’ve spent all that time capturing some awesome footage. Chances are that now you’re going to want to show it off. Although online platforms like Facebook still downgrade the video to 1080P once it is posted, other venues such as YouTube now support 4k videos to be uploaded to the site.
Choosing a 4k drone over a lower quality model such as a 1080p drone will help to future-proof your video so it looks great on 4k viewing platforms well into tomorrow. Technology matters.
What to look for in a 4K drone
The flight time of most 4k drones on the market today ranges from 10 to 40 minutes. The cheaper the model, the less flight time you’re going to get. Also, keep in mind that the flight time advertised on most consumer drones is when flying under ideal conditions. There are many variables that go into how much actual time in air you’ll get with your drone, such as wind and other weather conditions.
You’ll also need to allow enough flight minutes to safely return to home without running out of battery power. So the longer the flight time on your quad, the further you can fly and the longer you can stay in the air.
When it comes to camera drones, the more capable the gimbal, the steadier the camera will be while in the air.
Many cheaper model 4k drones don’t come equipped with a 3-axis gimbal and instead, they rely on the drone’s frame to simulate it, resulting in less than perfect results. Splurging for a 4k drone with a 3-axis gimbal will ensure the footage is smooth and cinematic.
Drones have quickly become more affordable to the average consumer and although quads equipped with 4K cameras come at a higher price than cheaper low-resolution quadcopters, the extra value you get is well worth the upgrade.
Today there are more affordable 4K capable drones on the market than ever before and it’s possible to purchase a feature-packed 4K capable drone at a modest cost.
When shopping for a flying camera, the reputation of the brand or manufacturer is important. If you look on Amazon, you can find all kinds of drones that boast 4K capabilities but fall short in the long run. Just like any other type of technology, cheaper isn’t always better or even comparable.
It’s best to purchase a brand drone that’s been tested and reviewed by more experienced pilots.
Built-in smart features that allow the drone to do all the work in capturing professional-looking photos are a photographer’s dream. The ability of your drone to perform hands-free maneuvers such as perfect circles around your subject or tracking a moving object means that even a newbie can produce smooth cinematic results without worrying about driving the drone during the shot.
What are some of the best 4K drones on the market today?
DJI Mini 2
The DJI Mini 2 is a small foldable drone that weighs in at less than 249 grams, which makes it one of the most impressive compact and affordable 4K drones on the market. Whether you’re a newbie buying your first drone, or a seasoned pilot adding 4k portability to your fleet, the DJI Mini 2 is packed with impressive features that make this drone fun and easy to fly.
Flight time: 31 minutes
Camera: The Mini 2 features a 12MP camera which allows images to be captured in either JPEG or RAW format for still images guaranteed to impress.
The DJI Mini 2 supports 4K hyperlapse and contains three built-in panoramic modes which allow you to easily capture epic wide-angle, 180-degree, or sphere panoramas.
Gimbal: The 4k camera on the Mini 2 is housed on a 3-axis motorized gimbal that keeps the camera steady in almost all conditions.
Transmission: The Mini 2 comes with DJI’s innovative OcuSync 2.0 technology to boost transmission, which results in excellent anti-interference capabilities, giving you the ability to fly further and see clearer without losing reception for a maximum distance of 10km.
Smart Features: The Mini 2 comes equipped with pre-programmed flight modes that simplify the flight experience and make it easy for beginners to capture high-quality professional-level videos with just a few taps of a button. These include Dronie, Helix, Circle, and others.
Cons: No obstacle avoidance
DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is older, but still one of the best drones for those in the market for a 4K quad packed with high-tech intelligent features and from a top-notch reputable company.
Flight Time: 34 minutes
Camera: The Mavic Air 2 features a 48MP camera that is capable of recording video footage in 4K at 60/fps and can capture 8K time-lapse videos with its hyperlapse feature.
The Air 2 also comes with 6 pre-programmed quickshots to allow even beginner uses to capture short cinematic footage with a few taps of the screen.
Gimbal: The camera on the Mavic Air 2 is stabilized via a 3-axis gimbal to reduce image and video distortion and can be tilted in 3 directions for better viewing angles.
Transmission: Using DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 the Air 2 automatic transition system works on dual-band Wi-Fi automatically switching to the best channel with the lowest interference to significantly improve the range of the aircraft in challenging environments.
Smart Features: The Mavic Air 2 features a suite of easy-to-use intelligent tracking features including Active Track 3.0, allowing you to unleash creativity to produce professional-looking cinematic clips. SmartPhoto technology integrates scene recognition in 5 categories including sunset, skies, grass, snow and trees for optimal image results.
Obstacle Avoidance: Equipped with 3-way obstacle avoidance, the Mavic Air 2 provides an extra layer of protection for pushing the limits in complex scenarios increasing safety.
Autel Robotics EVO Nano +
The Autel Nano+ has been an exciting addition to the sub 250g line of 4K camera drones on the market. The Evo Nano + is packed with all the features you’d look for in a compact foldable machine, allowing you to take your aerial photography to the next level.
Flight Time: 28 Minutes
Camera: The EVO Nano+ is equipped with a 50MP camera that can record ultra-sharp 4K/30fps video in rich detail. The camera also can capture four modes of panorama including spherical, wide-angle, landscape, and vertical.
Gimbal: The Evo Nano+ comes equipped with a 3-axis mechanical gimbal to prevent vibration and ensure smooth footage in all conditions.
Transmission: The Nano+ uses its strongest transmission system yet, SkyLink, which allows you to fly further with less interference while maintaining crisp, clear visuals for a range of up to 6.2 miles.
Smart Features: The Nano+ allows you to create professional-level videos with four pre-programmed automatic shooting modes, allowing even the most novice users to create flawless maneuvers while in the sky.
Obstacle Avoidance: The EVO Nano+ aircraft includes an advanced three-way obstacle avoidance system that allows the drone to automatically brake when it senses obstacles in the way to avoid collisions and crashes.
The Parrot Anafi 4K drone is another portable, take-anywhere drone that can be set up in seconds and weighs in at 320g. It can reach speeds of up to 34mph.
Flight Time: 25 Minutes
Camera: The Anafi Parrot camera is equipped with a 21MP camera that is capable of 4K video at 30fps. What’s more, the Anafi comes with 2.8 optical zoom which is a function many other compact 4K camera drones lack.
Gimbal: The camera on the Parrot Anafi is held by an integrated 3-axis gimbal that ensures stable footage no matter where you are recording. The hybrid gimbal on the Anafi also boasts a 180-degree tilt that can capture shots from unique angles so you don’t miss a moment.
Transmission: That Parrot Anafi SkyController 3 has a flight range of about 2.5 miles, which is more than enough distance to capture some amazing footage.
Smart Features: The Anafi also comes with a number of intelligent flight modes that make capturing professional-looking videos a breeze. The Dolly Zoom effect allows unique capabilities such as SmartDonies which lets you take automatic aerial selfies.
Skydio 2 Plus
The Skydio 2+ is Skydio’s newest quadcopter with fully autonomous operation packed with an upgrade of features compared to their older model.
Flight Time: 27 minutes
Camera: The Skydio 2+ is equipped with a decent 4K camera that shoots up to 60fps.
Gimbal: The 3-axis gimbal on the Skydio 2+ keeps the footage cinematic smooth so you don’t have to worry about wind decreasing the stability of the camera while in flight.
Transmission: With the addition of a new high-power 5GHZ radio for a more robust connection and two collapsible omnidirectional antennas, the Skydio 2+ can achieve up to 2x the range of its predecessor.
Smart Features: The Skydio 2+ can do the flying so you don’t have to. With the press of a button, you can perform complex maneuvers with perfect composition. One improvement Skydio made with its smart features is KeyFrame. Keyframe allows you to define complex camera movements and play them back at various speeds. The Skydio 2+ also has an impressive follow-me mode.
Obstacle Avoidance: The Skydio 2+ is equipped with 360-degree obstacles avoidance to prevent accidental collision with obstacles in the drone’s flight path.
Hubsan Zino Mini Pro
The Hubsan Zino Mini Pro is in the running when it comes to decent 4K drones. This foldable compact quad comes at a bargain price and has plenty of great features compared to other drones in its class.
Flight Time: 33 minutes
Camera: This drone is equipped with a detachable camera that is able to record 4k video and can capture high-quality images at 12MP resolution in both RAW and JPEG, giving you more options for post-production enhancement.
Gimbal: The Zino Mini Pro is equipped with a 3-axis gimbal to stabilize the camera and minimize distortion and ensure smooth footage in all types of conditions.
Transmission: The Zino Mini Pro is equipped with Hubsan’s 3rd generation Suncleas 3.0 communication system and is advertised to be able to reach a range of up to 10km away from the remote control.
Smart Features: The Zino Mini Pro features three modes of intelligent flight that include orbit, waypoint, and image tracking. The drone also features a Follow Me smart flight mode which allows you to follow people or moving objects like cars using the built-in tracking feature.
Obstacle Avoidance: The Zino Mini Pro includes 3-way obstacle avoidance ensuring your drone can veer away from obstacles such as trees, buildings, and people.
What kind of SD card should I use with my 4K drone?
4K drone footage takes up a lot more space than Full HD. A single minute of 4K video footage can clock in at more than one gigabyte. When operating a 4K drone, it’s necessary to purchase an SD memory card capable of at least 30MB per second write speed with a U3 rating to allow recording at quality settings up to 200mps.
Be sure to purchase SD cards that are made to handle the 4K footage. The Sandisk Extreme SD card is built for 4K video and is perfect for optimal performance and transfer speeds.
Cover Photo by Josué Soto, DJI, Autel Robotics, Parrot