Camera Drones

Drones are getting lighter and their cameras are becoming higher quality, some ca even plaid on water | Source DJI

The Best of the Best Portable Camera Drones of 2022

Thanks to the advent of drones, capturing spectacular video footage is now within the easy grasp of the casual filmmaker. Whether its footage of mountain ranges from a soaring bird’s eye view or of a surfer dropping in on a barrel from right up close, easy-to-use portable camera drones allow you to capture impeccable aerial shots.

The cameras aboard these engineering wonders are as advanced as any SLR or professional video camera and can be positioned anywhere and in any conditions thanks to the sturdy construction and software inclusions on advanced drones.

The following is not an exhaustive list by any measure, but it should introduce you to some of the main players in the portable camera drone industry and give you some hints to help you buy the best portable drone camera for your needs.

DJI Mavic 3

The Mavic 3 has a take off weight of 920 grams and can fly for a maximum of 46 minutes. However, its most impressive feature is the telescopic lens on the dual camera set up for when you can’t get too close to your subject but still want a high-quality image.

The main camera of the drone was set up for filming and can shoot 5.1K video up to 50fps, Ultra High Definition at up to 120fps and Full High Definition up to 120fps when shooting Apple ProRes.

It handles well in the wind and upgrades to the camera drone’s firmware mean that bugs and fixes are less common. The addition of a manual exposure control means it is squarely aimed at those drone users looking for something a little more professional.

The DJI Mavic 3 comes with three different kits, the standard version plus the cine and fly more variations, each designed for the different uses of the drone.

The standard kit costs A$3,099 including the drone, one Intelligent Flight Battery, an RC-N1 Remote Controller, phone cables, a battery charger, storage cover and three pairs of propellers.

The Cine Premium kit costs AU$7,199, it includes everything in the Fly More kit but has an onboard 1TB SSD rather than the 8GB internal storage. The premium kit supports Apple ProRes 422 HQ video recording and comes with a DJI RC Pro Remote Controller with a built-in 14cm screen.

DJI Mavic 3
DJI Mavic 3, A$3,099 via DJI | Source: Drone DJ

Autel Robotics EVO II

A challenger for the title of most practical and usable camera drone is the Autel Robotics EVO II. Powered by a bigger battery than most, the EVO II can shoot in 6k resolution or 20 MP raw imaging and is able to fly for more than 30 minutes at a time.

A little heavier than the Mavic 3 with a take-off weight of 1150 grams, the EVO II can still hold its own when flying for longer and can last 40 minutes in the air with a top speed of 72 kph.

Obstacle avoidance and flightpaths mean the one-inch sensor camera will remain undamaged and that is lucky because you will be busy shooting high-quality videos and taking advantage of its customisable video profiles.

The EVO II has none of the pesky registration restrictions built into its competitors from DJI and can be flown straight out of the box- within local guidelines of course.

It comes with a handy remote controller so you don’t need your phone to fly the drone, but with no touchscreen on the remote, its menu selections and camera settings are adjusted at a snail’s pace.

You also need your phone to access any of the EVO II’s flight modes. It can perform orbits via the app and can identify and track subjects with several different tracking paths.

The EVO II comes in three versions including the standard model which has some surprisingly impressive specifications in its 48MP of still photo resolution and Quad Bayer sensor, and retails for around A$2,083.

The “Pro” version has a one-inch CMOS, a Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Sensor, which converts light to electrons in a digital camera, and costs around A$2,500.

Autel Robotics EVO II,
Autel Robotics EVO II, A$2,599 | Source: Rise Above

DJI Air 2S

DJI is the leading camera drone company for a very good reason, the biggest name in drone building built its popularity by equipping its drones with high-quality cameras and still achieving a very low weight.

To start off with, the air has the same one-inch CMOS seen in the Mavic 3, which means 5.4K video at 30fps, 4K at up to 60fps and 1080p at up to 120fps. It also gains just 25 grams from its predecessor even with a larger camera, making it an excellent drone to take with you when travelling.

Obstacle avoidance sensors on the top of the drone mean that it is far less likely to be damaged when flying around buildings and trees.

Unbelievably lightweight at just 595 grams, combined with a high-quality camera makes the DJI Air 2S the drone of choice for those looking for something portable. Its flight time is 31 minutes, more than enough time to capture some footage.

Impressive features on the DJI Air 2S include the newly upgraded ActiveTrack 4.0 and Spotlight 2.0 functions which both actively track a moving or stationary subject while you take care of the flight controls.

DJI’s new Master Shots autonomous flight feature is some kind of wizardry. This feature will take full control of the drone, track your location, shoot a variety of angles and sequence it all together, ready for uploading.

DJI Air 2S drone
DJI Air 2S, A$1,699 via JB HI-FI | Source: Camerajabber

PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard

The shape of an egg when folded up, this drone is fully waterproof and can be landed on water when the two pontoons are attached. The PowerEgg has large propellors for good stability and can shoot excellent quality video with its 12MP camera.

Definitely one for the intrepid explorer, this drone would be the perfect camera to shoot selfies in front of waterfalls or footage of difficult climbs in hard to reach locations.

It has a 170-degree field of view and the AI-enabled gimbal can track a subject, similar to other more well-known drones. Its multi-angle facial recognition and deep learning technologies can track, pan and focus on faces.

The drone is designed to withstand the toughest conditions and claims that it can fly steady and straight in winds of up to 39 kmh. With a maximum flight ceiling of 4 kilometres and a flight time of 30 minutes, it is the perfect companion for the intrepid traveller.

Measuring in at 16 centimetres long and weighing in at 860 grams, the PowerEgg will not be too much to bring with you while white water rafting down some gnarly rapids.

PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard
PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard, A$1,999 via Harvey Norman | Source: T3

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