Drone Buying Guide 2021 - Choosing the right drone

Drone Buying Guide 2021 - Choosing the right drone

May 22, 2021


drone buying guide 2021 - choosing the right drone


When buying a DJI drone, it’s important to remember that no two drones are exactly alike. After all, a first-time pilot is going to be looking for something completely different than a powerline inspector or a firefighter. DJI has such a wide variety of consumer and commercial drones that it can be difficult to decide which one fits both your budget and your needs. Each drone shines in a different way, from the affordable DJI Mini 2 to the powerful DJI Matrice 300 RTK.

We’ll go over everything you need to know about the following DJI drones in order to help you decide which one is the right drone for you.


Mini 2

The DJI Mini 2 is the best micro drone on the market. With an incredibly light weight of only 249 grams, it’s lower than the 250g weight limit set by Transport Canada. This means that you don’t need a license or registration to fly the DJI Mini 2, making it a perfect starter drone for beginner pilots. However, just because it’s small doesn’t mean that it is any less impressive than other DJI drones. The DJI Mini 2 comes with a powerful camera and intelligent features that make it easy to use and capture professional-level photos and videos.



Flight Time and Range

The DJI Mini 2 offers an impressive flight time of 31 minutes, which gives you more than enough time to take advantage of one of the QuickShot modes to capture that perfect selfie. It also has a video transmission range of up to 10 km thanks to OcuSync 2.0, sending HD video directly to your controller as you maneuver the drone from one convenient location. The Mini 2 also offers a pretty robust wind resistance of up to 37.8 km/hr, which improves upon that of the Mavic Mini. This ensures that your drone stays safe even in inclement or rough weather.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

The DJI Mini 2 comes with a 4K camera that can shoot 12-megapixel photos in both JPG and DNG RAW formats. It’s also capable of shooting 4K Ultra HD video at up to 30 frames per second. The Mini 2 is even capable of supporting up to 4x digital zoom depending on which shooting resolution you use, which helps you create stunning transitions from one shot to the next.

Obstacle Avoidance
While the DJI Mini 2 does not have any obstacle avoidance sensors, it does include some intelligent features to help keep it safe while in flight. Smart Return to Home can help you instantly send the drone back to you when you’re ready for it to return. Automated takeoff and accurate hovering make it easy to launch and fly the drone without having to worry about colliding into anything.

Intelligent Features

The most impressive intelligent features in the Mini 2 are the QuickShot modes, which help you shoot professional-level videos that can be posted directly on social media. The Mini 2 supports modes such as Rocket, in which the drone flies straight up with the camera pointing straight down. This captures a slow reveal of the world around you, giving you an awesome video with movie-like effects. You can even take advantage of the more complex Boomerang mode, where the Mini 2 moves like a boomerang by flying back away from you before returning up close. Any of these videos can be paired with cool soundtracks or filters using the DJI Fly App.

Cost

The Mini 2 is a low-cost drone that is one of the cheapest DJI drones on the market. While the DJI Mini 2 is only $549, you can buy the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo to get extra products such as a propeller holder, two-way charging hub, and shoulder bag in which to carry the drone. This makes it an incredibly affordable option for those looking for something small with which to start.



Who Should Buy This Drone?
The DJI Mini 2 is perfect for beginners. If you’ve never flown a drone before and you’re not quite sure what to expect, you can mess around with the Mini 2 without having to worry about learning a bunch of fancy controls or spending a fortune. It comes with unique intelligent features that make it incredibly user-friendly, allowing even the most inexperienced pilots to capture videos like a pro.


Mavic Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S has the best combination of portability and image quality of all DJI drones. With an incredible 12 km range and loads of intelligent features, there’s little that the Air 2S can’t do. It’s compact and easy to use, making it perfect for recreational use, beginners, and intermediate users. It also comes with a redesigned remote controller that offers you better ergonomics and a longer battery life.



Flight Time and Range

The DJI Air 2S has a max flight time of 31 minutes and an impressive range of up to 12 km, which is the best of all DJI drones. Thanks to the upgraded OcuSync 3.0 transmission system, the Air 2S can transmit video at 1080p with minimal latency. It also uses a Dual Frequency 2.4/5.8 GHz system with 4 antennae that ensures your video feed is smooth, crisp, and always reliable no matter what the conditions.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

Thanks to the upgraded 1-inch CMOS sensor, the DJI Air 2S can capture high detail and natural color tones at any time of day or lighting quality. The camera can capture 20 MP photos and 5.4K video at high bitrate, giving you stunning quality in every photo or video. It also features enhanced HDR for photos and videos, automatically capturing multiple shots at different exposure levels to merge them into one detailed image.

The camera features a 2.4μm Pixel size, which gives you superior low light performance. You can take advantage of the Hyperlapse mode to create short videos that speed up movement in order to give you a movie-quality effect. There are also three different Panorama modes that boost the field of view: Wide-Angle, 180°, and Sphere.



Obstacle Avoidance

The DJI Air 2S features advanced obstacle sensing in 4 directions: above, below, in front of, and behind the drone. This is powered by Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS 4.0), which uses complex algorithms to detect and avoid obstacles in complex situations at high speeds.



Intelligent Features

The Air 2S has quite a few intelligent features that help you track subjects and create cinematic videos. It features the QuickShot modes of Dronie, Circle, Helix, Rocket, Boomerang, and Asteroid. The DJI Air 2S also has MasterShots, which will help you execute 10 different cinematic aerial maneuvers with the tap of a button. All you need to do is mark the subject on the screen and let the drone do the rest as it flies in a predetermined motion while shooting.

The FocusTrack feature has three different modes that allow you to follow or orbit your subject. Spotlight 2.0 keeps the subject centered in the frame while you fly the drone, while ActiveTrack 4.0 follows the subject even when obstacles get in the way. Point of Interest 3.0 tracks a perfect circle at whichever radius and altitude you choose, keeping the subject in the center of the frame the entire time.



Cost

The DJI Air 2S is a bit pricier than the DJI Mini 2, with a price of $1,299. However, the drone more than earns its price tag thanks to its powerful camera and impressive intelligent features.

Who Should Buy This Drone?

The DJI Air 2S is best suited for recreational use for either beginner or intermediate users. The intelligent features give inexperienced pilots the help they need to safely fly the drone, while intermediate users will be able to take advantage of some of the more advanced functions. If you’re looking for a drone that’s heavy on the features and can capture professional-level footage, then the Air 2S is the drone for you.


DJI FPV

Redefine the way you fly a drone and shoot footage with the DJI FPV. Although FPV is typically associated with FPV racing drones, the DJI FPV drone is different. It’s meant for capturing cinematic FPV video, flying at high speeds while using RockSteady technology to keep footage smooth. Its upgraded OcuSync 3.0 video transmission system and host of safety features make it an FPV drone worth the price.



Flight Time and Range

Unlike traditional FPV drones that have a flight time of only around 3-10 minutes, the DJI FPV offers up to 20 minutes of flight. It also boasts up to 10 km of transmission range and an ultra-low latency of 28 ms thanks to the OcuSync 3.0 system. The video downlink also has a high bitrate of 50 Mbps, allowing you to download videos off of the drone much more quickly than ever before.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

The DJI FPV is equipped with a wide-angle camera that can shoot up to 4K resolution at 60 fps. It supports up to 120 Mbps video bitrate, capturing crisp and detailed wide-angle shots with a 150° field of view. One thing that really helps you capture smooth footage is the Rocksteady Electronic Image Stabilization technology, which keeps your high-speed videos from seeming choppy during abrupt twists or maneuvers.

Obstacle Avoidance

The DJI FPV comes with forward and downward obstacle avoidance sensors and a ToF sensor for positioning. It also comes with an auxiliary bottom light that can help illuminate the landing zone. The FPV even comes with safety features like Smart Return to Home and Low Battery Return to Home, which returns the drone to you in the event that the battery gets too depleted. It also uses an onboard ADS-B receiver to notify you any time manned aircraft is in the area so that you can avoid it. Lastly, the Emergency Brake and Hover feature can be activated in one tap, stopping the aircraft mid-flight.



Intelligent Features

The DJI FPV features three distinct flight modes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users. The N mode is perfect for beginner users in that it gives you conventional flight controls while still enabling safety features. The S mode is better suited for intermediate users who want to be able to capture complex video while still using simple controls. Lastly, the M mode allows experienced pilots to set their own custom parameters and shoot footage exactly the way they want. This mode allows the drone to go from 0 to 100 km/h in only 2.0 seconds.

Cost

The DJI FPV Combo comes with the drone, the DJI FPV Goggles V2, and the remote controller for the price of $1,699. This is one of the pricier DJI drones, but the unparalleled FPV experience makes it one of the best FPV drones on the market. You can also buy the DJI Motion Controller, which allows you to fly the drone using only hand gestures. This gives you a simple acceleration mechanism and ergonomically positioned buttons that let you fly the drone one-handed.



Who Should Buy This Drone?

If you’re a photographer or filmmaker looking to make cinematic videos, then the DJI FPV has the capabilities you need. You can use the goggles to immerse yourself in the view of the drone. Although most FPV drones are meant for racing, the DJI FPV helps you capture fast-moving objects and film at incredibly high speeds. Whether you’re filming someone racing along on a motorbike or you’re filming a sweeping aerial shot, the DJI FPV will give you smooth and stunning footage.


Mavic 2 Series

The Mavic 2 Series consists of both the Mavic 2 Zoom and the Mavic 2 Pro, which both come with long ranges, long flight times, and better wind resistance than ever before. The Mavic 2 Pro shines with its Hasselblad camera and 1-inch sensor, giving you high-quality aerial imaging. The Mavic 2 Zoom has 2x optical zoom, which is a first in a drone this size. It also includes a Dolly Zoom mode, which gives you Hitchcock-style dramatic shots with the press of a few buttons.



Flight Time and Range

Both of the drones in the DJI Mavic 2 Series have a max flight time of 31 minutes and a 10 km 1080p video transmission range. They both use OcuSync 2.0, which can go between 2.4 and 5.8 GHz to give you a stronger signal with less interference.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

The Mavic 2 Pro has a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera, which is co-engineered in partnership with the world-renowned Hasselblad cameras. These cameras are known for their uncompromising image quality, ergonomic design, and craftsmanship. This particular camera possesses Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution (HNCS) technology that captures stunning 20-megapixel stills in incredible color detail.



The Hasselblad L1d-20c camera has a 1-inch CMOS sensor with an active sensing area that performs better in low-light environments and has a larger ISO range of 3200 to 12800. The Mavic 2 Pro also supports a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile that can record over 1 billion colors, retaining in-depth details in both shadows and highlights. It also has an adjustable aperture from f/2.8-f/11.

The Mavic 2 Zoom has a 1/2.3-inch 12-megapixel sensor with up to 4x zoom when shooting in Full HD video. While this camera isn’t quite as powerful as the Mavic 2 Pro camera, it has enhanced zoom technology that allows you to capture fine detail from far away. In addition to the 4x lossless zoom, this camera captures 2x optical zoom 24-48mm. It uses a 48mm lens to compress the perspective captured, enhancing the parallax effect in shots and giving you an incredibly cinematic look from a safe distance.

Obstacle Avoidance

Both of the drones in the Mavic 2 series feature Omnidirectional Obstacle sensing, with sensors located on all sides of the aircraft. This ensures that your flights are all safe and worry-free.

Intelligent Features

The Mavic 2 Zoom comes with a hybrid autofocus feature that combines contrast and phase detection with a focus speed of up to 40%. This keeps subjects clear and sharp when zooming in and out. It also has the Dolly Zoom QuickShot mode that gives the video an intense, warping visual effect. The Super Resolution feature captures nine photos and patches them together into one stunning 48-megapixel photo.

Both drones feature ActiveTrack 2.0, Hyperlapse, and HyperLight, a low-light setting that enhances images while reducing noise. They also support four different Panorama modes including 180°, Horizontal, Vertical, and Sphere.

Cost

The Mavic 2 Zoom is an affordable $1,639, while the Mavic 2 Pro is slightly pricier at $1,969. This is because the Mavic 2 Pro comes with a much more powerful camera that can shoot incredibly high-quality photos at a similar quality to the DJI Air 2S.

Who Should Buy This Drone?

The Mavic 2 Series is perfect for both intermediate and advanced users who need high image quality and good low light performance. If you’re a fan of the zoom feature, then the Mavic 2 Zoom will give you the capabilities you need to shoot from far away. Otherwise, the Mavic 2 Pro has a better camera and will give you the highest quality footage.


Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has a classic design with a great camera, featuring a 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor. It also features a mechanical shutter, which eliminates the rolling shutter effect while in motion and allows you to capture fast-moving objects. In addition to featuring better wind resistance than previous DJI Phantom drones, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the first drone to bring the 1-inch CMOS sensor to the air.



Flight Time and Range

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has a maximum flight time of up to 30 minutes, as well as up to 7 km of range. This drone will even intelligently calculate its remaining battery life against the range to alert you of when it needs to start returning home. It also includes all-new aerodynamic 9455S propellers and FOC ESC drivers that make the drone 60% quieter in the air for a more enjoyable flight.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type



The camera of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has a powerful 1-inch CMOS sensor that can record up to 4K 60 fps video and 20-megapixel stills. The camera also features an f2.8 aperture and mechanical shutter that work together to give you more detailed and brighter imagery. It’s the first DJI Phantom drone to feature both of these elements, giving you a max shutter speed of 1/2000s that eliminates rolling shutter distortion known as the “jello” effect. Lastly, it features a wider 11.6 stops of dynamic range, which gives you a powerful aerial imaging solution that captures dynamic shots in the air.

Obstacle Avoidance

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has an upgraded FlightAutonomy system that includes 5-directional obstacle avoidance sensing, alleviating your fears of crashing. This adds rear and side sensors that didn’t come with the previous Phantom drones to give you a full 360 obstacle avoidance system.

Intelligent Features

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 comes with three different ActiveTrack Modes. Trace Mode makes the drone fly in front of or behind any selected subject while avoiding objects in its path. Profile Mode has the drone fly alongside the subject, while Spotlight Mode keeps the subject in the center of the frame no matter where you fly the drone.



TapFly Mode allows you to tap the direction you want the drone to fly in so that you can focus solely on the camera and gimbal. It also features an upgraded Return to Home in addition to Gesture Mode, which allows you to control the drone when you make a certain gesture.

Cost

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 costs $1,969, which is an affordable price for most drones of this caliber. The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is also available with a remote controller that has a built-in tablet and a high brightness screen with the Plus version costing $2,359.

Who Should Buy This Drone?

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is perfect for users who want to shoot fast-moving objects. This is because the mechanical shutter eliminates the rolling shutter effect while in motion, allowing you to capture the footage you need at high speeds. It’s also good for beginner mapping thanks to its high-resolution lens.


Matrice 300 Series

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is the most advanced commercial drone that DJI has produced to this day. With a 15 km transmission range and a max flight time of 55 minutes, the Matrice 300 RTK can fly further and longer than any other Matrice system. Whether you’re an inspector, a surveyor, or a first responder, you can rely on the efficiency and the safety of the DJI Matrice 300 RTK.



Flight Time and Range

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK features an incredible 55 minutes of flight time, which is almost twice as much as most consumer DJI drones. It can reach flight speeds as high as 82.8 km/h and resist winds as fast as 54 km/h. It also has a video transmission range of up to 15 km, allowing you to fly the drone wherever you need to without having to relocate. This is crucial for law enforcement officers or firefighters who need a drone that can last through the mission without putting lives in danger.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is compatible with the Zenmuse H20 series payloads as well as the Zenmuse P1 and L1. When you use the Matrice 300 with one of the Zenmuse H20 series payloads, you can unlock the potential of the AI-powered core for enhanced automated operations, which saves you time and money.

Obstacle Avoidance

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK has an Omni-directional obstacle avoidance and positioning system that helps you fly with unparalleled safety. The sensing system positions the drone so that you can fly between and underneath objects. The dual-vision and ToF sensors can detect obstacles up to 40m away, giving you plenty of time to maneuver the aircraft. This drone is also rated IP45 for ingress protection, making it dust and water-resistant. This allows you to fly it in all weather conditions.



Intelligent Features

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is designed with extensive system and sensor redundancies that make the drone safe and reliable. The dual inertial measurement units mean that if one IMU fails, a backup will activate within 200 milliseconds. It also features a redesigned Primary Flight Display that allows you to access flight, navigation, and obstacle information in one spot. This displays the aircraft’s heading, flight path, wind speed, direction, and any nearby obstacles.



This drone can maintain its position and flight path thanks to the advanced propulsion system and flight control algorithms. It can also support multiple payload configurations, allowing you to pair it with up to three payloads at once. This includes either a single downward gimbal, a dual downward gimbal, a single upward and single downward gimbal, or a single upward and dual downward gimbal.

Who Should Buy This Drone?

The DJI Matrice 300 RTK has numerous commercial applications depending on which payload you pair it with. The Zenmuse P1 and L1 are both best suited for mapping and surveying, while the Zenmuse H20 Series are efficient at inspections and search and rescues. Any first responders can use the DJI Matrice 300 RTK to perform their mission as quickly and safely as possible.


Zenmuse H20 Series

The Zenmuse H20 Series is compatible with the DJI Matrice 300 series and is DJI’s first hybrid sensor solution. This payload has several unique features that allow you to intelligently collect data for a variety of missions. Whether you’re a firefighter looking to use the thermal camera to detect hotspots or you’re an inspector taking pictures day after day, the Zenmuse H20 Series is a powerful payload that can help you get the job done right.



Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

The Zenmuse H20, a triple-sensor solution, comes with a 20 MP zoom camera, a 12 MP wide camera, and a 1200 m Laser Rangefinder. The zoom camera features 23x hybrid optical zoom with a 1/1.7” CMOS sensor that captures 4K videos at 30 fps. The wide camera has a focal length of 24mm and a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor with a DFOV of 82.9°, giving you an incredible field of view.

Radiometric Thermal Imaging

The H20T-quad-sensor solution comes with an additional 640 x 512 px radiometric thermal camera that can visualize temperatures immediately. You can monitor temperatures in the air, measuring precise readings in real-time by tapping a point on the object. You can also select an area to view the lowest, highest, and average temperatures within view.

Intelligent Features

The Zenmuse H20T has several intelligent features that help you measure temperatures. Isotherms help you visualize a specific band of temperatures, while you can use the color palettes to adjust the colors applied to the thermal data based on the needs of your specific scenario. You can also adjust gain modes to capture both small and wide temperature ranges based on how sensitive you want it to be to temperature differences. You can even set a temp alarm to be notified in the event that object temperatures exceed your preset alert values.



The Zenmuse H20T comes with an AI feature that automates inspections, saving you time and money. This allows you to pre-mark targets, returning automatically to take a photo at the same angle, zoom level, heading, and location every time. The Smart Track feature will easily identify and mark moving objects, while the Pin Point feature marks an object’s coordinates as an AR icon, streaming it to another remote controller or to FlightHub.

Who Should Buy This Payload?

These payloads are best suited for inspections and search and rescues, as the powerful camera and intelligent features help you save time, money, and even lives. The thermal camera of the H20T can help firefighters to detect hotspots, while also helping people with search and rescue missions by enabling you to detect lost or missing persons among wild terrain.


Zenmuse L1

The Zenmuse L1 is DJI’s newest payload for the Matrice 300 combining a LiDAR module, high accuracy IMU, and a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor-powered visual camera on a 3-axis gimbal. This is the first-ever LiDAR payload by DJI, which combines the visual images from the camera with LiDAR data to create true color point clouds and models. You can use the Zenmuse L1 together with the Matrice 300 and the DJI Terra desktop software, fusing data from the onboard IMU, the drone GNSS (Positioning system - GPS and RTK), and visible light. This enables you to generate highly accurate reconstructed models and reports for various missions.



LiDAR Sensor

The Zenmuse L1 contains a Livox Mid70 LiDAR Sensor, which can produce up to 100% effective point cloud results. It has a detection range of 450m (at 80% reflectivity and 0 klx) or 190m (at 10% reflectivity and 100 klx). The sensor also supports 3 returns, enabling you to measure Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), Digital Surface Models (DSMs), and vegetation height. The onboard IMU also has incredibly high accuracy, giving you centimeter-level accuracy in rendered data.

Integrated RGB Camera

The RGB visual camera has a 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor with a Mechanical and Global shutter and adjustable aperture that’s similar to the Phantom 4 RTK. This RGB camera adds real-time color rendering data to the LiDAR module, giving your point clouds and reality models true color. It also allows you to use the Zenmuse L1 to perform basic photo-taking and video-recording functions as well. There’s even an auxiliary vision sensor that continuously provides orientation data and vision-based positioning to maintain altitude data in the event of GNSS failure.

Intelligent Features

The best feature of the Zenmuse L1 is its ability to produce true-color point cloud models in real-time. These show you instant on-site insights, giving you the ability to make strategic choices midflight. You can also test the point cloud details right after each flight to verify the quality of the fieldwork. Once you generate a model, you can rotate it, zoom in and out, and scroll using the DJI Smart Controller Enterprise screen in the DJI Pilot app. It also allows you to either switch between live view and the point cloud display or view both in a split-screen.



Another great feature of the Zenmuse L1 is the ability to acquire and interact with critical parameters using measurements and annotations on the cloud point model. DJI Terra will perform POS data calculations and fuse IMU and GNSS data so that you can easily create reconstructed models and accuracy reports. This makes post-processing that much easier.

Who Should Buy This Payload?

The Zenmuse L1 has many different applications. People working in topographic mapping, architecture, engineering, or construction surveying can use the L1 to create maps and 3D models of their projects. Anyone working in energy, infrastructure, or agriculture and forestry management can also take advantage of these tools to get the details and insights they need. Lastly, law enforcement and emergency responders can use the real-time point cloud view to gain critical insights and enhanced situational awareness to keep their personnel safe.


Zenmuse P1

The Zenmuse P1 is exclusively compatible with the M300 and is designed for photogrammetry and mapping. It is DJI’s largest image sensor with the highest resolution ever, giving you incredibly high accuracy without the need for ground control points. It also has high efficiency, enabling you to cover larger areas in a single flight. The Zenmuse P1 stands out for its versatility, as it can create both 2D and 3D models and maps.



Full Frame Sensor

The Zenmuse P1 comes with a full-frame image sensor that is larger than both the Phantom 4 RTK and the Zenmuse X7. It has the best dynamic range and resolution of all the current DJI cameras. It has multiple fixed-focus lens options, using the DJI DL Mount for lenses and supporting the DJI DL 24/35/50mm lenses. It even includes a Global Mechanical Shutter with a shutter speed of 1/2000 seconds.



With this 45 MP full-frame sensor, you can shoot as fast as 0.7s intervals for faster data capture. It also features a 4μm Pixel Size and microsecond level data alignment with OcuSync 2.0. You can cover an astounding 3 sq.km in just one flight with the Zenmuse P1.

Smart Oblique Capture and Data Management

The Smart Oblique Capture feature automatically rotates the gimbal to take photos at different angles, making your mission that much more efficient. This feature allows the Zenmuse P1 to cover 7.5 sq.km at a GSD of 3 cm and an overlap of 80% for front and 60% side in just one workday.

It also only takes photos that are necessary for reconstruction at the edge of the flight area, making post-processing more efficient as well.


The Zenmuse P1 streamlines all captured data, making it easy for you to access what you need in post-processing. You can also generate a Fieldwork Report in the DJI Pilot App to verify data quality immediately after the flight before you leave the area. This report will display the number of images required, RTK status, and positioning accuracy throughout the flight.

Missions

The Zenmuse P1 can perform several different missions using this payload. You can generate 2D Orthomosaics without the need for Ground Control Points (GCPs). You can also collect oblique images in order to create 3D models, which is perfect for urban design and smart city planning. If you’re performing comprehensive reconstructions or geological surveys you can obtain ultra-high-resolution image data of vertical or slanted surfaces from a safe distance. Lastly, you can perform mapping missions in real-time using DJI Terra.

Missions

The Zenmuse P1 can perform several different missions using this payload. You can generate 2D Orthomosaics without the need for Ground Control Points (GCPs). You can also collect oblique images in order to create 3D models, which is perfect for urban design and smart city planning. If you’re performing comprehensive reconstructions or geological surveys you can obtain ultra-high-resolution image data of vertical or slanted surfaces from a safe distance. Lastly, you can perform mapping missions in real-time using DJI Terra.

Who Should Buy This Payload?

Anyone who needs to perform topographic mapping or cadastral surveying can use the Zenmuse P1 to generate 3D reality models. Architects, engineers, and construction surveyors can use the 2D and 3D data from the P1 to perform surveillance. The Zenmuse P1 is also perfect for natural resource management, geological investigation, and disaster site modeling.


Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is a combined thermal and visual camera similar to the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual. This drone features a compact, foldable design that makes it easy to transport and store. The dual thermal and visual imaging enables you to measure all of the data you need on your mission from a safe distance. With a smaller price tag than the Matrice 300, the M2EA is a more budget-friendly alternative that can help you get the job done right.



Flight Time and Range

The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced features a maximum flight time of 31 minutes and a range of 10 km with Full HD video transmission, giving you enough time and flexibility to complete your mission in one go.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced has a 48-megapixel visual camera that supports up to 4x lossless zoom and up to 32x digital zoom. It’s powered by a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor, which captures clear and detailed images of key assets. It also has a 640 x 512 resolution thermal imaging unit that features up to 16x digital zoom and a 30 Hz refresh rate. This comes with a ±2°C Temperature Measurement Accuracy that can be used for anything from inspections to firefighting applications.

One of the best features of the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is the dual vision function, which allows you to quickly and seamlessly switch between live feeds of either thermal or visual feeds. You can also do split-screen feeds to view both kinds of data at once depending on the needs of your mission.

Obstacle Avoidance

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced includes Omnidirectional obstacle sensing, allowing you to fly it in tight spaces without having to worry about the safety of the drone. There is also a modular RTK accessory that enables the drone to achieve centimeter-level accuracy for positioning data using an NTRIP network. This supports up to 240 waypoints per mission, allowing you to design your own mission based on your specific needs.

Accessories

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced comes with several modular attachments that can help you perform many different kinds of missions. The M2E spotlight can enhance vision in low-light areas, which is perfect for emergency responders who need to direct lost persons to safety at night. The M2E speaker can be used to communicate with ground teams or with stranded individuals. You can even use it to store multiple voice recordings to play whenever you need. Lastly, the M2E beacon can be used to extend the VLOS distance and help you maintain sight of the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced at night while it’s in flight.



Cost

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced costs $7,999, which makes it one of the more affordable DJI commercial drones. This is the perfect alternative to the DJI Matrice 300 RTK if you’re looking for something a little less expensive that can still perform the functions you need it to.

Who Should Buy This Drone?

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced has a wide variety of functions. Powerline inspectors, firefighters, search and rescue teams, and law enforcement can all use its dual vision camera to perform their missions in a safe and reliable way. Environmental and wildlife protection can also make use of the M2EA and its modular attachments.


Phantom 4 RTK

The DJI Phantom 4 RTK is a purpose-built mapping and surveying platform that features centimeter-level accuracy and TimeSync. It is the cheapest RTK based high-precision mapping drone on the market. The 1-inch 20-megapixel camera comes with a mechanical shutter that provides high resolution and eliminates rolling shutter distortion. If you’re in need of a drone for mapping or other precise survey work, then the Phantom 4 RTK is the drone for you.



Flight Time and Range

The Phantom 4 RTK has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes and a range of 7 km, giving you enough time and flexibility to perform your mapping or surveying mission in one go.

Camera Resolution and Sensor Type

Thanks to the 1-inch, 20 megapixel CMOS sensor, you can capture high-quality image data with the Phantom 4 RTK. It also includes a mechanical shutter that allows you to move the drone without the risk of rolling shutter blur. The high-resolution camera enables you to achieve a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of 2.74 cm at 100m flight altitude.

One noteworthy fact about the Phantom 4 RTK camera is that each camera lens goes through a rigorous calibration process during which tangential and radial lens distortions are measured. They then gather the distortion parameters and save them into each image’s metadata, making post-processing that much easier.

Obstacle Avoidance

The Phantom 4 RTK features obstacle avoidance sensors in the front of the drone, helping you avoid collisions while in flight. Although this is not quite as advanced as the Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance of some of the other DJI drones, it can still help you keep the drone safe when performing a mapping mission.

Intelligent Features

The centimeter-level positioning system is one of the best features of the Phantom 4 RTK, giving you improved absolute accuracy on image metadata. This RTK module also has a redundant GNSS module located underneath it to maintain flight stability in the event of the signal getting lost. The new TimeSync system will continually align the flight controller, RTK module, and camera to make sure that each photo uses the most accurate metadata. It also fixes the positioning data to the center of the CMOS sensor, which optimizes the results from photogrammetric methods.

You can use the GS RTK app to intelligently control the Phantom 4 RTK with two different planning modes: Waypoint and Photogrammetry. These let you select the flight path of the drone while adjusting overlap rate, speed, altitude, camera parameters, and more. This automates your inspection or mapping workflow and saves you time and money.

Cost

The Phantom 4 RTK has a price tag of $7,975, although you can buy the Phantom 4 RTK + DRTK2 Mobile Station Combo for $11,599. The Combo includes the D-RTK 2 Mobile Station works with OcuSync 2.0 to provide you with real-time differential data so that you can form an accurate surveying solution. This gives you centimeter-level accurate data in even the most extreme environmental conditions.



Who Should Buy This Drone?

The Phantom 4 RTK is ideal for mapping missions, so anyone who is performing an inspection or a survey will get exactly what they need with this DJI drone. This includes construction, mining, or any other industry that requires precise survey work. If you’re looking for a commercial drone to be used solely for mapping and surveying, then you can save a lot of money by buying the Phantom 4 RTK and skipping over one of the more expensive drones that have a lot of added features.


Honorable Mentions


Mavic Mini

The DJI Mavic Mini is the predecessor to the Mavic Mini 2, costing only $449. Like the DJI Mini 2, this drone weighs under the 250g limit set by Transport Canada. The Mavic Mini can capture 12-megapixel stills and 2.7K HD video at a range of up to 4 km. It has a flight time of up to 30 minutes and features the Smart Return to Home Feature. The Mavic Mini  also features four QuickShot modes: Dronie, Rocket, Circle, and Helix.


The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the predecessor to the Mavic Air 2S, priced at $1,139 for the single unit and $1,409 for the Fly More Combo. The Mavic Air 2 drone features the same compact foldable design as the Air 2S and captures 48 MP photos with the 1/2“ Sony IMX586 image sensor. It records 4K/60fps video in HDR, giving you natural color transitions and sharp detail. This drone has a video transmission range of 10km and has obstacle avoidance in three different directions.  

In addition to HyperLight, Hyperlapse, and QuickShot modes, this drone uses SmartPhoto, which uses scene recognition to optimize camera parameters.


Inspire 2

The DJI Inspire 2 is one of DJI’s drones that excels in professional aerial video and photo cinematography. For the price of $9,959, the Inspire 2 can record up to 6K in Cinema DNG/RAW or 5.2K in AppleProRes with the Zenmuse X7 camera. It has two different directions of obstacle avoidance as well as an onboard FPV camera to give you greater control over your flight. The Inspire 2 also features TapFly, ActiveTrack, and QuickSpin flight modes to help you shoot even more challenging shots.


The DJI Matrice 200 Series V2 is created for professionals in the commercial sector. Whether you’re in the public safety, construction, or agriculture, you can use the Matrice 200 to collect precise aerial data from the sky. The Matrice 210 and 210 RTK support multiple gimbal configurations and the RTK model is suitable for high precision mapping and surveying. This drone has a max flight time of 35 minutes and a range of up to 7 km, and it can be configured with up to three different payloads. It’s compatible with the Zenmuse X4S, X5S, XT, and Z30 payloads.


The Mavic 2 Enterprise is available for the low price of $3,189, made specifically for commercial users (especially those in the public safety sector). This drone features a powerful 2x optical and 3x digital zoom camera, allowing you to easily view and detect subjects in difficult or complex environments. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual features a combination camera that supports visual as well as thermal imaging. It has a max flight time of 31 minutes and a range of up to 8 km.

This drone can also be used with the modular accessories of the Spotlight, Beacon, and Speaker for added capabilities.


The Phantom 4 Multispectral is suitable for agriculture as well as environmental surveillance and inspection. Agriculture professionals may use multispectral imagery to help them grow more precisely since it provides data that they wouldn't be able to get otherwise. This knowledge can be extremely useful in assisting them in making the right decisions for lowering prices, ensuring crop health, and maximizing yields while conserving resources.


Which Drone Is Right For You?

The first thing you’ll want to do when choosing a drone is to decide what your budget is. If you’re looking for something more affordable for recreational purposes, then the DJI Mini 2 is an excellent starter drone. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced is another affordable commercial drone that can help you perform inspections without having to shell out tens of thousands of dollars. However, if you’re looking for the best that money can buy, then the Matrice 300 RTK is truly the workhorse of all commercial drones.

Once you’ve decided what your budget is, you can narrow down your choice by asking yourself what you’re using the drone for. Are you looking to perform inspections, create cinematic videos, or just shoot a few cool drone selfies with your friends? Do you want something with a powerful camera, or are you looking for something that can give you both thermal and visual effects? No matter what your needs, there’s a DJI drone that can help! Take a look above to see which one you like best.