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Top 4 Best DJI Drones for 2017

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Posted: 07/08/2017 at 9:50 AM   /   by   /   comments (0)

Drones have made a significant impact over the past few years. While their growth has rapidly expanded, there are still a lot of people asking questions about which drone is best for them? The first things you need to consider are; what do you want to use the drone for? Have you ever used a drone before? Do you want to race your drone or shoot stunning aerial photography or video?

I’ve written up some information on each drone to give you some background on why it received its ranking; I’ve also included an infographic at the bottom of the article to give you a quick rundown on each drone’s best use case.

Number 1 - Best Overall: DJI Mavic Pro RRP $1,699

Mavic Pro

Mavic Pro

What makes the Mavic Pro the best

In all honesty, the Mavic Pro isn’t the cheapest option, it doesn’t have the best camera, it’s not the most powerful regarding speed or stability; basically, it’s not the best in any one factor. I'll stop there because you're probably questioning if I understand how rankings work at this point. Hopefully, this clears it up, the Mavic Pro is the second best in almost everything. For example, In the Consumer category, the Phantom 4 Pro has a more powerful camera making it number 1 in that regard. However, any extra accessories like batteries, cases and DJI care refresh can be quite a lot more expensive than the Mavic’s. The Mavic’s accessories are also not the cheapest, the DJI Spark has the most affordable accessories but comparatively does not have a powerful camera.

When the Mavic Pro was released, it was an answer to a question that had just started to be asked - How can I afford a high-quality drone? This is the core reason as to what makes this drone the best, it opened up the drone market creating a viable option for many consumers to invest in a high-quality, affordable drone. 

The Mavic is made for adventures and travellers, it’s extremely versatile regarding shooting capacity handling many different photo and video situations efficiently. The biggest selling point for me though is its foldability and storage use. You don’t need to devote a whole bag just for the drone rather it can be easily added along for a hike, kayak, ride or drive and as always the best camera is the one you have on you. Speaking of the camera while I mentioned that the Mavic has the second best camera, the camera it does have is incredible, it's capable of shooting in crystal clear 4K at 4096 x 2160 24p.

Mavic Pro Specs

I’ll include a full video mode list in the specs, but you can find the whole specs list here on our website. The Mavic also features full obstacle awareness and return to home landing if you ever lose connection which are handy backup features.

I won’t go into a huge amount of detail here, there are thousands of in depth reviews on the Mavic, we actually already wrote one here. I’ve attached a photo of the Mavic folded vs. unfolded along with some of the more important specs. 

View Mavic Pro Spec Sheet

Aircraft

 

Max Speed

65 kph (40 mph) in Sport mode without wind

Overall Flight Time

21 minutes (in normal flight, 15% remaining battery level)

Weight (including battery and propellers)

  • 734 g (1.62 lbs) (excluding gimbal cover)
  • 743 g (1.64 lbs) (including gimbal cover)

Camera

Sensor

1/2.3 (CMOS), Effective pixels: 12.35 M (total pixels: 12.71M)

Lens

FOV 78.8° 28 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.2

Distortion < 1.5% Focus from 0.5 m to ∞

ISO Range

100-3200 (video)

100-1600 (photo)

Video Recording modes

C4K: 4096 x 2160 24p

4K: 3840 x 2160 24/25/30p

2.7K: 2704 x 1520 24/25/30p

FHD: 1920 x 1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p HD: 1280 x 720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p

Remote Controller

 

Supported Mobile Device Size

Thickness Supported: 6.5 - 8.5 mm

Max length: 160 mm

Supported USB port types: Lightning, Micro USB (Type-B), USB (Type-C)

Stabilisation

3-axis (pitch, roll, yaw)

Number 2 – Best Photography: DJI Phantom 4 Pro RRP $2,599

Phantom 4 Pro

Phantom 4 Pro

Who is the Phantom 4 Pro for?

The Phantom 4 Pro has the best camera in the Consumer category. I’m making the Consumer distinction here as later I will talk about the DJI Inspire 2 which is in a Professional class of its own for many reasons. The Phantom 4 Pro camera is more powerful than the Mavic’s which I’ll use as a base comparison. It features a wider FOV meaning in certain windy conditions the Phantom 4 Pro footage will appear more stable. The Phantom 4 Pro also performs much better in Low light conditions, it retains a clarity and sharpness to the image that the Mavic simply cannot match. The other main distinctive factors are its larger image sensor, faster image processor, full aperture control and mechanical shutter. The Phantom 4 Pro has a 20MP camera capable of shooting in 4K at 60fps.

I’ll make it clear because I’ve seen some disputes about this in the past, the Phantom 4 Pro is the superior camera drone (It’s a significant step up from the original Phantom 4). If your image doesn’t look as good as what you have seen other people producing on their Mavic Pro, make sure you set the image focus by tapping on the screen. (Sorry for the classic IT speel of have you tried turning it off and on again, but the Phantom 4 original had auto focus unlike the Pro and Advanced models which some people forget.) You may also need to adjust the photo settings on the Phantom or use some post production video and image editors. Generally, the Mavic footage will look better as it tends to oversaturate its images making everything look more vivid. The Phantom 4 Pro keeps the original image settings on purpose to allow you the widest range of editing options for colour and lighting. 

Now the reason the Phantom 4 Pro is not in the number 1 spot is due to the defining features of the Mavic. The Phantom 4 Pro is clunky to transport, its accessories are also expensive which if you really want to get into drones having an extra battery or two along with some filters for different shots can be important. These accessories are much cheaper for the Mavic which make these extra accessories much more viable.

*Quick side note, I’ve left the Phantom 4 Advanced out as both units are very similar and share the same camera. Which is, in my opinion, the defining feature of the Phantom 4 Pro.

Phantom 4 Pro and Mavic Pro Video Comparison

View Phantom 4 Pro Spec Sheet

Aircraft

Max Speed

72 kph (45 mph) (S-mode); 58 kph (36 mph) (A-mode); 50 kph (31 mph) (P-mode)

Max Flight Time

Approx. 30 minutes

Weight (Battery & Propellers Included)

1388 g

Camera

Sensor

1" CMOS; Effective pixels: 20M

Lens

FOV (Field of View) 84°, 8.8 mm / 24 mm (35 mm format equivalent)

f/2.8 - f/11.

auto focus at 1 m - ∞

ISO Range

Video: 100 - 3200 (Auto); 100 - 6400 (Manual)

Photo: 100 - 3200 (Auto); 100- 12800 (Manual)

Video Recording Modes

H.265:

C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps

4K:3840×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps

2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @65Mbps

2720×1530 48/50/60p @80Mbps

FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @50Mbps

1920×1080 48/50/60p @65Mbps

1280×720 48/50/60p @35Mbps

H.264:

C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps

4K:3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps

2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @80Mbps

2720×1530 48/50/60p @100Mbps

FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @60Mbps

1920×1080 48/50/60/120p @80Mbps

HD: 1280×720 24/25/30p @30Mbps

1280×720 48/50/60/120p @45Mbps

Obstacle Sensors

Advanced 3D Vision Positioning for More Stable Flight

Front, Side, and Rear Facing Obstacle Avoidance 

Number 3 - Best Professional: DJI Inspire 2 RRP $10,698

Inspire 2

Inspire 2

Where do I begin with the Inspire 2? It’s the most powerful drone on this list; It should be too. This is not a drone you purchase lightly, by no means is this for your casual Saturday trip to the Sunshine Coast. Well, you could take it there and take a stunning photo or video, but this is a drone designed for serious filming and photography. The Inspire 2 at this moment has an RRP of $10,698. This price includes the drone, the X5s camera and licenses for Adobe CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes. I’ll add some specs below, but there isn’t much explanation necessary, it outperforms every other drone regarding camera functionality, safety features for obstacle avoidance, tracking features and also speed and general performance. There is also an option to purchase the Inspire 2 without a camera, this is to allow you to install the previous camera iteration the Zenmuse X4s (Which at this point is comparable to a Phantom 4 Pro camera)  

If this list disregarded price and ranked solely on performance the Inspire 2 would be at the top; but the price is a major factor, the Inspire 2 is out of reach for the average consumer. It belongs to a unique category for professional users. Below I’ve included some comparable specs to give you an indication of how powerful the DJI Inspire 2 is. Specs are all well and good but DJI knows it audience so to really show how powerful the Inspire 2 is, they shot a short film entirely with the Inspire 2 drone which I've included below. They're also responsible for most of the footage for the current world rally championships.

View Inspire 2 Specs Sheet

Max Speed

93kph

GPS Hovering Accuracy

Vertical: ±1.64 feet (0.5 m) or ±0.33 feet (0.1 m, Downward Vision System enabled) Horizontal: ±4.92 feet (1.5 m) or ±0.98 feet (0.3 m, Downward Vision System enabled)

Max Flight Time

Approx. 27 min (with Zenmuse X4S)

Weight

7.25 lbs (3290 g, including two batteries, without gimbal and camera)

Sensor

CMOS, 4/3”
Effective Pixels: 20.8MP

FOV

72° (with DJI MFT 15mm/1.7 ASPH )

Photo Resolutions

4:3, 5280×3956
16:9, 5280×2970

Video Resolutions

H.264
C4K: 4096×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97/47.95/50/59.94p @100Mbps
4K: 3840×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97/47.95/50/59.94p @100Mbps
4K: 3840×1572
23.976/24/25/29.97p @100Mbps
2.7K: 2720×1530 23.976/24/25/29.97p @80Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @100Mbps
FHD: 1920×1080
23.976/24/25/29.97p @60Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @80Mbps
119.88p @100Mbps

H.265
C4K: 4096×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97p @100Mbps
4K: 3840×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97p @100Mbps
4K: 3840×1572
23.976/24/25/29.97p @100Mbps
2.7K: 2720×1530
23.976/24/25/29.97p @65Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @80Mbps
FHD: 1920×1080
23.976/24/25/29.97p @50Mbps
47.95/50/59.94p @65Mbps
119.88p @100Mbps

C-DNG RAW
5.2K: 5280×2972
23.976/24/25/29.97p, up to 4.2Gbps
4K: 4096×2160, 3840×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97p, up to 2.4Gbps
4K: 4096×2160, 3840×2160
50/59.94p, up to 4.0Gbps

Apple ProRes
5.2K: 5280×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97p, 422 HQ @1.3Gbps
4K: 3840×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97p, 422 HQ @900Mbps
4K: 3840×2160
23.976/24/25/29.97p, 4444 XQ @2.0Gbps

Number 4 - Best Beginner: DJI Spark RRP $859

Drone DJI Spark

DJI Spark

The Spark is DJI’s latest drone addition and represents a perfect entry point for consumers new to the world of drones. This is the drone for you if you’re looking for a casual or fun experience. I’ve seen a lot of negative comparisons between the Spark and the other DJI drones, but I think it’s a very powerful little drone at a very purchasable price point.

The camera is not as powerful as any of the other drones mentioned so far, but it shoots beautifully in 1080p and has a huge range of smart features to help you take cinematic shots without the need for hours of practice and learning. Not to say that it takes out all the fun, there’s still plenty to play with on the DJI Spark. It also has a lot of fun gesture control features that in my opinion make you look cool (I’ve had a couple of people disagree with me on this, but their views don’t matter). Click here if you want to read a full product spec comparison on the Spark and the Mavic Pro

I’ll detail the specs below but the affordability, cost of accessories and the camera makes the Spark one of the best drones to come from DJI.

View Spark Specs Sheet

Max Speed

50 Kph in Sports Mode without the wind

Max Flight Time

16 minutes

Sensor

  • 1/2.3" CMOS
  • Effective pixels: 12 MP

Lens

FOV 81.9° 25 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.6 (shooting range: 2 m to ∞)

ISO Range

  • Video: 100-3200
  • Photo: 100-1600

Electronic Shutter Speed

2-1/8000 s

Image Size

3968×2976

Still Photography Mode

  • Single Shot
  • Burst Shooting: 3 Frames
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3 bracketed frames at 0.7
  • EV Bias
  • interval: 2/3/5/7/10/15/20/30/60 s

Video Resolution

FHD: 1920×1080 30p

Below I’ve listed a breakdown in the cost of accessories for the Spark, Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro. The Spark is cheaper in every regard except for the Charging hub and the propeller guards.

DJI Spark, Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro Accessories Prices

Product

DJI Spark

DJI Mavic Pro

DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Battery

$79

$149

$289

Charging Hub

$119

$69

N/A

6 Pack filter

$159

$179

$219

Propeller Guards

$29

$26

$35

Propellers

$16

$16

N/A

Remote

$259

N/A

N/A

*These are the RRP and subject to change

Quick Drone Ranking Guide

Drone Summary