Choosing a mini drone with a camera

Remote-controlled drones used to be fun toys you flew around the backyard. While they are still fun, the addition of a camera to the front opens up more possibilities for exploration. Think you might have leaves clogging the gutter? Just send up a mini drone for a quick inspection.

These tiny fliers are great for quickly capturing your surroundings, whether it’s in your backyard, in the woods or at the lake. They are highly portable and have long flying times, so they are the best way to record memorable aerial footage.

Size and weight comparison

Mini drones are exactly as the name implies. They are much smaller than regular drones, and can often fit (and even land) in the palm of your hand. For example, DJI’s Mini SE drone measures 2 inches tall and 5.4 inches long when folded. Compare that to DJI’s Mavic 3, 3.5 inches high and 8.7 inches long when folded. The Mavic 3 also has a takeoff weight of 31.5 ounces, while the Mini SE has a takeoff weight of fewer than 8 ounces. 

Flying time and battery recharging

While mini drones are compact and light, their reduction in bulk also limits their range. It largely comes down to the manufacturer, but you should be able to get about 20 minutes of flying time. Some full-size drones can fly for twice that, as they have bigger batteries and can easily support the added weight. 

Photo and video resolution

Speaking of cameras, there are several photo and video resolutions for mini drones, so consider what you want to capture with it. Professional mini drones have high-quality cameras that capture footage in 2K or 4K, while more affordable models have 1080p (Full HD) or 720p cameras. The addition of a camera limits the flying time, but mini drones are rarely used for epic photo shoots, so it shouldn’t be a major concern. 

Registration with the FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration requires the registration of many drones in the United States, especially if they weigh more than 55 pounds. If you fly for recreation only and your drone is under 55 pounds, you might not have to register it. In that case, it is highly recommended that you take and pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test.

There are separate regulations for recreational use, governed by the FAA’s Rules for Recreational Flyers. It’s a set of things you must keep in mind whenever you take to the sky. These include:

  • Watch: Always keep the drone within visual range or use an observer when crossing your line of sight.
  • Yield: Give way to and don’t interfere with manned aircraft
  • Stay high: When flying in controlled airspace, you are only allowed to do so at or below 400 feet with prior authorization.
  • Or stay low: In uncontrolled airspace, you must fly below 400 feet. 

It is also an excellent idea to join a local drone flying group or an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization. These groups know the latest rules and regulations and help to keep everybody safe.

Best mini drones with a camera

DJI Mini SE Camera Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal

DJI Mini SE Camera Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal

One of the best mini drones available, the Mini SE has a 12-megapixel camera for photos and records video at 2.7K resolution. It has a flying time of around 30 minutes, and even though it only weighs 8.7 ounces, it can resist winds of up to 23 miles per hour.

Sold by Amazon

DeerC D20 Mini Drone for Kids with 720P HD FPV Camera

DeerC D20 Mini Drone for Kids with 720P HD FPV Camera

Perfect for kids or those just starting out, this drone has a front-facing 720p camera that can transmit live footage to your phone. It has one-touch takeoff and landing, has a flying time of about 20 minutes and can fly according to custom waypoints.

Sold by Amazon

Holy Stone HS420 Mini Drone with HD FPV Camera

Holy Stone HS420 Mini Drone with HD FPV Camera

There shouldn’t be any fear of damaging this mini drone’s propellers, as they are fully encased in protective chambers. The camera has a resolution of 720p and can livestream footage to your mobile phone. The drone has a flying time of around 12 minutes on two batteries and can do flips and fly in circles.

Sold by Amazon

Drone Eye 4DV2 Mini Drone with 720P Camera

Drone Eye 4DV2 Mini Drone with 720P Camera 

Small enough to fit in your palm when folded, this drone has a 720p camera with live streaming video to your mobile device. You can control it through voice and hand gestures and it has a flying time of around 30 minutes. For a bit more fun, it can do 360-degree flips, automatically fly in a circle and do high-speed rotations.

Sold by Amazon

Holy Stone HS720 Foldable GPS Drone with 4K UHD Camera

Holy Stone HS720 Foldable GPS Drone with 4K UHD Camera

Sleek and lightweight, this drone has a much longer flight time than most, clocking in at over 50 minutes. The 4K resolution camera sits inside a shock absorption housing and can rotate 90 degrees. The transmitter’s control range is 3,000 feet.

Sold by Amazon

DJI Mavic Mini Portable Drone Quadcopter Starter Bundle

DJI Mavic Mini Portable Drone Quadcopter Starter Bundle

The Mavic Mini is an excellent drone by itself, but this bundle adds everything you need to get off the ground quickly. With 30 minutes of flying time, the drone has a 2.7K resolution video camera and captures 12-megapixel photos. The bundle includes extra propellers, batteries and a control stick.

Sold by Amazon

Autel Robotics Evo Nano+ Premium Bundle

Autel Robotics Evo Nano+ Premium Bundle

This bundle is great if you’re new to mini drones. It includes the Evo Nano, which weighs 8 ounces, has a 4K resolution camera and captures still images at 50 megapixels. The drone can sense obstacles in three directions and has a flying time of about 30 minutes.

Sold by Amazon

 

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.