This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. After 45 hours of research and test flying 14 models, we think the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the best drone for aspiring aerial photographers and videographers thanks to its high-end camera, autonomous obstacle avoidance, long battery life, and portability. Pilots of all skill levels will find it to be exceptionally reliable and easy to fly. The Mavic 2 Pro features a Hasselblad-branded camera (DJI bought a majority stake in the camera brand in 2017), which captures 20-megapixel photographs and 4K videos that look more colorful than those captured by the competition. Its ability to sense and avoid obstacles in all directions and steadily hold its position even in moderate winds lets you focus on your cinematography instead of worrying about keeping the drone steady. It also features DJI's smart-flight modes like ActiveTrack, which directs the drone to autonomously follow and film a subject while still avoiding obstacles. Its 31-minute battery life means you don't have to land for a battery swap as often as other drones, and at 8.4 by 3.6 by 3.3 inches folded and 2 pounds, you can take the Mavic 2 Pro almost anywhere--it fits exceptionally well in our top pick for drone backpacks. It's also compatible with the DJI Goggles FPV headset we recommend.
It's easy to get lost in the great pantheon of consumer drones. Even just looking at industry leader DJI's options, there are enough choices to set your head spinning faster than a quadcopter blade. Coming in at a cool $1,800, this marks the top end of what could be considered DJI's consumer line, with the next level up being the $3,000 pro-level Inspire 2. Nice controller with a bright screen comes bundled. Some of the autonomous flight modes are still lacking. The tablet controller isn't as powerful as your phone, and the app experience while streaming video is glitchier too.
I look down and start gliding toward a dilapidated skate park below. Once I'm near the ground I pull my nose up and look level with the horizon. Spotting two trees, I race toward them, pass between them, then turn on a dime, skirting some shipping containers on my left. It's like every dream I've ever had about flying, but faster. I take off a pair of video goggles, and I see the shipping containers come into focus, this time directly in front of me, as my eyes adjust to the sunlight.
Flying a drone is tricky business. The prosumer models are powerful, fast and can get into trouble in a hurry if you don't know what you're doing. That's why smart, logical design and intuitive controls are so important in the drone game. SEE ALSO: The FAA's new rules for drones are bad news for Amazon Don't get me wrong, the 1,299, six-rotor drone is expertly designed. It has a third more rotors than, say, the DJI Phantom 4 and, unlike virtually every other drone I've tested, folds up for relatively easy transport: the rotor arms fold down to the body when not in flight.
Dr. Scot Refsland didn't know he was standing on hallowed ground in the aviation world. He was just looking for a scenic backdrop (and more importantly a legal area) to hold the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships in New York City. His journey eventually took him to the picnic point on Governors Island, with the Statue of Liberty to the left and the Manhattan skyline to the right, painting a picture-perfect postcard of the city. The National Drone Racing Championships were held on Governors Island in New York City the first weekend of August as the best pilots in the country dueled for the right to represent Team USA in the world championships in Hawaii this October. What Refsland didn't know at the time was that this was the same location where Wilbur Wright (of Wright brothers fame) built the first aerial canoe in 1909.