So many Drones - Which one is for me? (Buying Guide for Beginners)

Buying a drone is the most childish experience I’ve had in a long time. My gosh how many dumb excuses was I making for why I definitely NEED 3 extra batteries, every filter, active tracking, a drawstring bag with the words "Extra Propellers" on it.

There are so many cool features like active-tracking, orbit, tap-to-fly. I've tried ALL of them. Tried. That was it, never needed them again, so don't stress if you don't have some obscure extra thing.

The meat of this is the Sensor - the video quality in the end. You have to balance that with the experience - will you want to fly it often to actually practice?

This is what I consider the barrier of entry for Video Production with a drone, just like Photography, it is the DJI Mini 2 - $200ish Used. $250 New.

Honestly that's like the LOWEST quality you can get people to buy with and it still rocks. It also takes RAW photos.

Being sold as the updated version with better range now called the DJI MINI 4K and you have to buy it on Amazon strangely


  • 4k Footage - 3840 x 2160
  • Identical controls/settings to higher end models, you can fly smooth and slow in Cine mode.
  • 3-axis gimbal, just as stable in wind/shakey flying as Mavic or Air and even at the beach it has done well
  • Viewable clearly through app on phone as preview monitor
  • $200ish used if you're looking locally.
  • Lots available on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace

It will get the job done just fine so long as you set it up the way we set all our drones up - in manual, exposed correctly, steady PATIENT flying.

Don't try to push it and do something crazy like filming a sunset expecting rad footage... Look away slightly because facing the sun will be just too much work for that little sensor.

DJI told me they don't want the Mini 3 & 4 to compete with the Mini 2. Mini 3/4 isn't a replacement its just a more VIP option but the same size.

Mini 4K (2020) - $300
(newest version of the Mini 2)
4K Video, RAW photos, no collision sensors but can live in your pocket

Mini 3 (2022) - $400
4K, RAW photos, Great connection, Vertical Filming, .76 inch sensor, really impressive for the convenience and ease. No anti-bonk

Mini 4 Pro (2023) - $750/$900
Get the $900 one, it is a billion times worth having a dedicated smart remote especially for so little extra.
.76 inch sensor, 4K footage, vertical filming, 12 megapixel RAW photos, quietest body type, looks like a bug when its flying. I could write an essay about this thing. By far the most fun to use, incredible connection. Footage often looks like it came from a bigger drone. Activetrack to follow you around if you care about that.
I've got a video on the Mini 4 Pro vs Mini 3 Pro as well, LOVE it.

Air 3 (2023) - $1000
MASSIVE improvement on its predecessor, 2 camera on it which I actually use equally and didn’t expect that. Sensor has improved low-light and exposure balancing is really great in this generation, even if the sensor is same size as mini 3 pro.
4K footage, .76” sensor, 12 megapixel photos.
60fps if you care (I don't). It is cooler than the Mini 4 Pro because of camera 2 and the sick looking body, but Mini 4 Pro is just so convenient so its a tossup. Get mavic 3 classic if pro quality is priority.

Autel Evo Lite Plus (2022) - $1100
6K 1 inch sensor, 20 megapixel photos. Flies pretty rigid so stick to front/back and left/right. Really nice picture, lovely reds like in all Autels. Oversharpened image but I can live with that, just adjust some in editor. Fun colors to pick from give it extra points, could use it for work and still get the job done if DJI gets hit by a car one day. Doesn't beat DJI but this isn't bad.

Autel Evo Nano Plus (2022) - $700

Mavic 3 Pro (2022) - $2200
4/3 inch Sensor, 5.1K footage, 20mp photos. Long flight time. Get the normal version not the $4000 Cine version if you don't know what Prores format is.
This is the Business Class plane ticket drone, there is no going back after having this. Unbelievable dynamic range. UNREAL stability, default color, flight control, flexible rich data for color grading.
A 3x and 7x telephoto lens comes on it. Never use the 7x aside from fun, but the 3x is a great length and useful… just hard to give up the quality of the wide camera that is 5.1k.
Still great for cool angles and cinematography nerds. In general most of what I film on this drone looks better in the end than what I thought I was getting while shooting. They knocked it out of the park with this drone, no limits honestly.

Mavic 3 Classic - $1300
Not typing all that again, you get the point. Minus the Zoom lenses, everything else is the same. Crapping myself at the price being so cheap now. What a deal.

DJI Mini 5 - No, don't even start asking.

Inspire 2 + X5S camera - $5000+ Used
Shoots 6K RAW Video (literally filming in RAW photos)
5.2K 422 Prores and 4K Proress 4444 incase you know what that all means. Cinema formats but such a pain to lug around, and the noise is a lot. It's more like a once in a while, Ace in the hole to blow something out the water or shoot Stock Footage and practice cinematography. Interchangeable lenses are really nice too.

Thankfully there isn't really a brand that charges 3x the price for the same quality of drone. You pretty much get what you pay for.

Complete and Continue