Finding a drone with a decent zoom camera isn’t easy these days, especially for regular consumers. The options are super limited, and the good professional drones with zoom cost an arm and a leg.
After piloting drones for years, I wanted to review some of the top zoom camera models for average folks without huge budgets.Out of the 5 I tested, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom was clearly the winner – you’ll see why shortly. DJI’s Mini 3 Pro is also solid for its performance and price.
But I also wanted to highlight some high-end commercial drones with amazing zoom capabilities, in case you’ve got deep pockets. We’ll take a look at those pricey beasts at the end.Alright, let’s dive into the top consumer zoom drone picks based on my first-hand experience!
What is Zoom Camera？
A zoom camera on a drone refers to a camera that has an integrated optical zoom lens system, which allows the camera to magnify or widen its field of view without degrading image quality. Key features of a drone zoom camera include an optical zoom lens that provides greater zoom range, multiple focal length capabilities to adjust field of view on demand, a stabilized gimbal to reduce shake, high-definition video recording to maintain clarity even at a distance, and a compact size versus larger interchangeable lens systems. The benefits of a drone zoom camera are the ability to capture closer perspectives on subjects without moving the drone closer and flexibility to widen the shot as needed, expanding creative filming possibilities.
Best drones with a camera review
Here is a table comparing some key specs for those drone models:
|DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
|Optical 2x zoom
|DJI Mini 3 Pro
|Front, rear, bottom
|DJI Mini 2
|2.8x digital zoom
|Ruko F11 Gim
|4x digital zoom
|DJI Air 2S
|Front, rear, bottom, sides
1.DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is DJI’s premium consumer drone that stands out for its unique 2x optical zoom camera. Key features include:
- Foldable and portable design weighing just 905g
- 12MP 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor camera with 2x 24-48mm optical zoom
- Gimbal-stabilized lens for smooth stable video
- 4K video capture up to 30fps, 1080p video up to 120fps
- 31 minutes max flight time
- Omnidirectional obstacle sensing
- Intelligent flight modes like ActiveTrack 2.0, QuickShots, Hyperlapse
- OcuSync 2.0 transmission, up to 8km range
- Top speed of 72km/h in Sport mode
The Mavic 2 Zoom pairs DJI’s excellent drone technology with a versatile zoom lens perfect for aerial photography and filming. The 2x zoom allows you to capture closer perspectives without moving the drone closer. It delivers excellent image quality and stability for a consumer drone.
With a maximum transmission range of 8km, 31 minute flight time, and a variety of intelligent flying modes, the Mavic 2 Zoom is one of DJI’s most capable folding drones for consumers. Its unique zoom lens makes it stand out from DJI’s other consumer models and expands the creative possibilities of aerial filming.
2.DJI Mini 3 Pro
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is DJI’s latest ultra-lightweight foldable drone, weighing less than 249g. Key features include:
- Compact and lightweight body with foldable arms
- 48MP 1/1.3″ CMOS sensor camera, capable of 4K/60fps video
- 3-axis gimbal for stabilized video footage
- Up to 34 minutes of flight time
- O3 transmission, extends range up to 9km
- Tri-directional obstacle avoidance (front, rear, bottom)
- Intelligent flight modes like MasterShots, FocusTrack, QuickShots
- Top speed of 16m/s in Sport mode
- Advanced pilot assistance features like Return to Home
- Compatible with DJI RC controller, motion controller, goggles
The Mini 3 Pro steps up from DJI’s original Mini drone line with a higher resolution camera, longer flight time, and enhanced obstacle avoidance while retaining an ultra-portable size. It offers great performance for aerial photography and videography in a drone that weighs less than most smartphones. The Mini 3 Pro brings capabilities once only found on higher-end drones to the sub-250g category.
3.DJI Mini 2
The DJI Mini 2 is DJI’s lightweight and portable consumer drone that succeeded the original Mavic Mini. Key features include:
- Ultra-lightweight at less than 249 grams
- Foldable and compact design for maximum portability
- 12MP 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor camera, capable of 4K/30fps video
- 3-axis gimbal stabilization for smooth footage
- Up to 31 minutes of flight time
- Enhanced 4x zoom (2x lossless)
- OccuSync 2.0 transmission, extends range up to 10km
- Downward-facing obstacle sensors
- Intelligent flight modes like QuickShots, Panoramas, Timelapse
- Top speed of 16m/s in Sport mode
- Handles winds up to 24-38kph
The Mini 2 combines an ultra-portable form factor with solid camera performance and transmission tech for great shots on the go. The sub-250g weight means it does not require FAA registration in many countries. It’s an excellent choice for travel and new drone pilots looking for an easy flying camera drone that captures great aerial footage and photos.
The Parrot Anafi is a lightweight foldable drone made by Parrot. Key features include:
- Compact foldable design weighing just 320g
- 21MP camera with 2.8x digital zoom lens
- Shoots 4K HDR video at 30fps, 1080p up to 60fps
- 3-axis hybrid stabilization for smooth footage
- Up to 25 minutes of flight time
- Intelligent flight modes like Dolly Zoom, Hyperlapse, Cameraman
- Front and downward obstacle avoidance sensors
- Top speed of 55km/h in Sport mode
- Omnidirectional 4G connectivity for long range control
- Parrot FreeFlight 6 app with automatic editing features
The Anafi stands out for its 180 degree gimbal swing, allowing for unique upward shots. The digital zoom, 4K HDR video, and intelligent flight modes make it great for aerial filming and photography. It does lack some features of DJI drones like optical zoom and omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. But the Anafi offers an affordable, portable option with solid camera performance and smart flight capabilities. Its compact size makes it easy to pack on travels to capture aerial footage on the go.
5.Ruko F11 Gim
The Ruko F11 Gim is a budget-friendly drone with some premium features like a 4K camera and four-axis gimbal stabilization. Key specs include:
- Brushless motors for stability and power
- 48MP camera capable of 4K/30fps video
- 4-axis gimbal stabilization for smooth video
- 30 minutes maximum flight time
- 4000mAh intelligent battery
- 4x digital zoom
- Optical Flow positioning for indoor hovering
- Automatic return home functionality
- Foldable arms for easy transport
- Control range of up to 3000m
While the Ruko F11 Gim lacks some features of more premium drones like obstacle avoidance sensors, its combination of a high-resolution 4K camera, 4-axis camera stabilization, and 30 minute flight time make it a compelling budget-friendly option. The digital zoom and Optical Flow features allow you to capture good quality aerial photos and video. It’s a great entry-level drone for new pilots looking to get into aerial photography and videography.
6.DJI Air 2S
The DJI Air 2S is a compact, foldable drone designed for aerial photography and videography. Key features include:
- 1” 20MP sensor capable of 5.4K/30fps, 4K/60fps video
- 3-axis gimbal stabilization for smooth footage
- 31 minutes maximum flight time
- O3 transmission extends range up to 12km
- Forward, backward and downward obstacle avoidance
- Intelligent flight modes like MasterShots, Hyperlapse, QuickShots
- APAS 4.0 obstacle avoidance system
- Top speed of 19m/s in Sport mode
- 10-bit D-Log video capture for color grading
- 5.2K/30fps RAW video capability
With its 1-inch camera sensor, the Air 2S captures outstanding 20-megapixel photos and high-quality 5.4K video. Obstacle avoidance in three directions adds safety. Smart flight modes, long transmission range, and a maximum 31 minutes of flight time make it capable for aerial filming. The Air 2S packs in premium camera features like 10-bit D-Log in a portable, folding drone design perfect for travel and outdoor use. It’s an excellent drone for demanding aerial photographers and videographers.
Zoom Camera Drones Buying Guide
When testing out these zoom drone cameras, I wanted to judge them fairly on the features that really matter, not get distracted by gimmicks. So I came up with this buyer’s guide to focus on the key elements to consider when buying a zoom drone.
First up – the type of zoom. You’ll see either optical zoom or digital zoom, sometimes both.
Optical is better since it actually changes the lens focal length, keeping things crisp and clear even when zooming in. Digital just crops the image, so things get pixelated and blurry if you zoom too far.
Next is portability. You’ll be traveling to shoot, so something compact or easily packed up is crucial. Don’t need any bulky, awkward shapes weighing you down.
Build quality matters too, especially the gimbal. You need mechanical 3-axis stabilization to cancel out shake, though some drones just have 2-axis or software stabilization.
Overall camera specs impact the image. The sensor is a big one – higher quality means clearer zoomed shots. Megapixels help capture more detail if you’ll digitally zoom later.
Finally, smart features like active track put pro-level moves in anyone’s hands. They let you nail cool angles and motion without ruining the shot.
Keeping those key factors in mind really helps evaluate which zoom drones deliver where it matters most. Distills it down to image quality, stabilization, intelligent assistance, and portability.
Final words about Best Zoom Camera Drones
Out of all the zoom drones I tested, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is my personal top pick. It nails that sweet spot between optical and digital zoom at a great consumer price.For most pilots though, I’d probably recommend the DJI Mini 3 Pro. It flies even better than the Mavic 2 Zoom and is more budget friendly.
Have you bought any of these drones I featured? Let me know your experiences with them in the comments!I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve taken one of these models out for a spin. How’d the zoom perform? Any other pros or cons I didn’t mention?Getting feedback directly from other pilots is so valuable for anyone trying to decide which zoom drone is the best fit for them. So drop your thoughts below and help a fellow flyer out!
FAQs about Best Zoom Camera Drones
What are the benefits of a drone with a zoom camera?
The key benefits are the ability to zoom in on details from afar without moving the drone closer, and the flexibility to widen the field of view when needed. This expands creative filming capabilities.
What is the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom on a drone camera?
Optical zoom uses the lens to magnify without loss of quality, while digital zoom just crops the image, resulting in reduced image quality at high zoom levels.
Which drone has the best zoom camera for consumers?
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is regarded as having the best consumer-level zoom drone camera, with 2x optical zoom and 24-48mm adjustable aperture.
What should I look for when buying a drone with zoom camera?
Look for optical zoom capabilities, overall camera resolution, stabilization features like a 3-axis gimbal, intelligent flight modes, transmission range, and battery life.
Do I need a drone pilot license to fly a drone with a zoom camera?
In most countries, you do not need a license to fly a drone recreationally. However, be sure to check local regulations for any requirements.
What is the range of most consumer drone zoom cameras?
Many offer at least 2x optical zoom, with some offering up to 5x zoom capabilities. Digital zoom can provide even more zoom but reduces image quality at high levels.
Are drone zoom cameras good for photography too?
Yes, the ability to zoom in on details makes drone zoom cameras very useful for photography, especially for subjects like wildlife, people, or properties.
What is the best drone with zoom camera for professional use?
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Phantom 4 Zoom are top choices. For higher-end use, the DJI Inspire 2 with Zenmuse zoom cameras offers exceptional quality and 5x zoom.