The Best Drones to Get in 2023
Buying a drone is a great opportunity to learn a new hobby and add a new tool to your photo and video toolkit for this year – but the process of selecting the best drone for you is hardly an easy one. After all, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, DJI Mini 3 Pro, and DJI Mavic Air 2 are all different drones with very different price points and utility. So we figured it was time to dig through the noise and give you a breakdown of the best drones available for the summer and autumn of 2023.
We’ve gone ahead and broken down this list into four different categories – The best professional drone, the best beginner drone, the best compact travel drone, and the best FPV drone system. There are some crossovers throughout the lists, but finding what you might need is the first step to deciding which drone would be best for your uses. While the professional drones might have the best features and image quality, I promise you don’t want to be lugging a DJI Inspire around a foreign country for a few weeks – trust me, I’ve tried it. So let’s start our list with just that, here are the best professional drone options for 2023.
Best Professional Drone – DJI Inspire 3
To start the list is the best all-in-one drone solution you can buy – the DJI Inspire 3. Picture this: a sleek, futuristic design that’s sure to make heads turn. This bad boy is like the James Bond of drones, with all the bells and whistles you could ever dream of. Shooting at 8K, the DJI Inspire 3 is at the top of the class in drone camera resolution, but also top tier in features as well. Whether you choose 8K25 CinemaDNG or 8K75 Apple ProRES, you’re getting some of the highest image quality available.
But perhaps the most impressive feature is its Centimeter-Level RTK positioning system, giving you the most accurate location data for a drone yet. As shown in the video above by Corridor Crew, this advanced tracking system allows you to use the drone much like a dolly or crane shot to have repeatable shots done with almost perfect recreation again and again. Meaning that with this positioning system, you’re able to effortlessly shoot compositing shots from a drone – something that wasn’t practical or easy until now.
Runner Up – Sony AirPeak S1
While Sony might not be known for their drones, they’re one of the industry leaders when it comes to camera and equipment, so of course they’ve gone and made a drone of their own, with the Sony AirPeak S1. Designed to specifically carry the Alpha series or FX3 series of cameras, this behemoth drone is designed with professionals in mind. While the ability to use your own Sony Alpha camera gives this drone a huge advantage in image quality, it does offset that advantage with its high cost. At $9,000 for the drone, which doesn’t include the required S1 Gimbal or a camera, it’s a bit hard to justify this system over the DJI Inspire 3.
Best Beginner Drone – DJI Mini 3 Pro
Its first of two appearances on this list, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is an exceptional drone for those who are wanting to give aerial photography and videography a try, but don’t want to spend a few thousand dollars on the latest and greatest. What makes this a great beginner drone? Well for one, it’s size. At about half a pound, this drone sits under the requirements to have it registered with the FAA. It also offers 4K footage from its incredibly small frame. But perhaps most important for beginners, it has multiple obstacle avoidance sensors, helping you narrowly avoid the tree branch you might otherwise clip.
Runner Up – DJI Air 2s
If you were one of the lucky few that were able to take advantage of the DJI deals during Amazon Prime Days a couple of days ago, you’ve probably already done plenty of research on the Air 2s from DJI. With plenty of sensors used both for obstacle avoidance as well as automatic modes used for filming, the DJI Air 2s is likely the easiest drone available to start flying. But with 30 minutes of flight time, a 1″ CMOS sensor capable of 5.4K video footage and 20MP stills, and its automation flight modes, you’re certainly not short of features with this drone. Perhaps though, it might be waiting for the DJI Air 3, expected to be announced at any moment.
Best Travel Drone – DJI Mini 2 SE
What makes a great travel drone? Well, for one, it needs to be small and affordable, both boxes the DJI Mini 2 checks with ease. At under 0.55lbs, this drone doesn’t require registration with the FAA, which makes it a great travel drone, as you don’t need to go through the tedious process of registering your drone with the country you may be visiting (Though it’s important to check and follow all rules and regulations). It also shoots 2.7K footage, has stable hovering at up to 24mph of wind resistance (despite its small stature), and can fold up and be placed in an incredibly small bag, making it compact, easy to use, and discrete. But it’s not the newest of drones, so let’s look at the runner-up in this category, and the follow-up to this very drone – the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
Runner Up – DJI Mini 3 Pro
Listed only as a runner-up because of its higher price tag, the DJI Mini 3 is the latest hyper compact drone from DJI. At the same .55lbs size and weight, the Mini 3 offers quite a few upgrades from the Mini 2, but most notably, it includes obstacle avoidance sensors, assuring you to keep your 38 minutes of flight time safe. Additionally, the sensor has been upgraded to support 4K30 video and is most commonly included with the DJI RC Remote – an all-in-one solution to your flying experience (With no need for a smartphone or tablet to use). While this system is a worthwhile upgrade, it was named the runner-up only because of its marginally higher price tag.
Best FPV Drone – DJI Avata
If you’re looking to get into First Person View droning (where you wear goggles and get the perspective of the drone in live view), it’s really easy to make a case for the incredibly cool and innovative DJI Avata. Using the incredibly intuitive DJI Motion Controller, the movements of the drone are controlled by twisting your wrist, allowing you to make precise movements quickly and easier than ever as you experience flying in real time. And with footage quality at 4K/60fps through the use of the 1/1.7-inch sensor, it’s easy to use this drone both as a fun flying experience, while also getting exceptional image quality through that experience. Perhaps most notable though is the rugged design of the DJI Avata – whereas most drones are pretty fragile, the Avata has built-in propeller guards and has been reported to take quite a beating without breaking.
Runner Up – DJI FPV
And finally in the drone recommendations comes the DJI FPV. Prior to the announcement of this drone, FPV flying was only really possible by buying a kit of parts, and assembling your drone for FPV capabilities. And until this drone, FPV drones were largely used recreationally – used primarily for racing and stunts. DJI changed that a couple of years ago with the announcement of the DJI FPV drone – the first of its kind with both a focus on aerial mobility and video functionality. Though with its rigid design, the DJI FPV is admittedly pretty fragile, and should only really be chosen over the DJI Avata if you were able to get a killer deal on one.
Anything you think we missed? Feel free to chime in using the comments below.
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