When the first drones hit the retail market, they were best flown outdoors, the higher and faster the better. As cameras got better, and the drones began to hover with amazing precision, close up photography became possible. Even newer drones offer zoom on the cameras, making many drones even more viable for snapping your photo.
Along with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic 2 Zoom is one of the safest drones in the sky. You'll enjoy the flight with...
- 31 - MIN
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 44 - MPH
- 6.2 - MILES
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the first "air" to look like a Mavic drone. It's the perfect midway between the Mini and larger Mavic...
- 34 - MIN
- 4K - 60 FPS
- 42.5 - MPH
- 6.2 - MILES
Introduced in 2016, the DJI Mavic Pro redefined portability for consumer drones. The folding design made for a drone that could safely slide into a backpack...
- 27 - Minutes
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 40 - MPH (65 KPH)
- 4.3 - MILES
The Hover Passport is an extremely easy to use drone, it all but flies itself, you just stand in front of it and make hand...
- 10 - Minutes
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 17 - MPH
- 65 - ft
The DJI Mini 2 is an updated Mavic Mini, now with a 4K camera, Ocusync 2.0, and updated flight features in a package still small...
- 31 - Minutes
- 4K - 12MP
- 36 - MPH
- 6.2 - Miles
Quadcopters were then built smaller and smarter, to the point they could be stored in your pocket, flown indoors without worry of a crash and are getting their selfie game on. That is, they’re allowing you to get your selfie game on. Here are some of the best selfie drones on the market today.
Best selfie drones
Let’s get a few things out of the way first, primarily, I am about to share my thoughts on camera capabilities. I just want to reaffirm that there are many small drones with cameras that can allow you to take a selfie. It is merely my opinion that the difference between a toy and a tool is dramatic.
As fun as it is to use a flying camera to take shots, I wholeheartedly believe it is important to consider what your purpose is for a drone. Fun toys are one thing, a serious camera is another; these two things rarely cross paths in a single product.
Phone or drone?
This is where I draw the line between toy and tool, folks, and if you have been using smartphones over the years, what I am about to say should make perfect sense. The best drone cameras on drones under ~$1000 are on par with the cameras in better phones on the market today. In some cases, we’re talking about the same internal sensors, actually.
Glad to announce: The DJI Mavic 2 Pro packs a 1-inch Hasselblad camera, a marked upgrade from most phone sensors around.
If you think of a $1000 drone like a flagship smartphone, you can appreciate that a $500 drone is still going to be good, but not the best. A $100 drone is going to be, likely, not a great camera experience. Not trying to up-sell you on anything. I just thought it fair to point out that drones are a young and hot market, that manufacturers are still learning how to make better products – many are throwing their hat in the ring without much experience.
My point is simple, we are about to lay out some of the best selfie drones, but none are going to be better than a smartphone of the same price. If you are looking to have fun flying, please be prepared to spend a little more if you also want great shots.
New idea: DJI Osmo Pocket
As I write this, you can order this new pocket-sized, 3-axis stabilized, hand-held camera and gimbal, but it’s still a few days before it starts shipping to consumers. Regardless, if you are happy with the camera output of drones like the DJI Mavic Air and newer DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, the new Osmo Pocket may appeal to you. Check out our review below and stay tuned for more coverage as we go.
Important consideration: Image stabilization
The absolute most important thing you are going to want on your selfie drone is image stabilization. Once airborne, even the absolute best drones wobble in the air. Image stabilization is the tool that makes for great photos and video.
If you are not sure what image stabilization is, I won’t explain it all, but a combination of hardware and software is used to keep your image steady. Flexible parts and motorized leveling arms work on the outside, while software uses cropping or other techniques to compensate for the jolt of rapid movements.
Bottom line, a fixed camera will never produce the same quality as a camera affixed to a Gimbal. However, you may not need the very best, check out the options, there might just be a lower cost unit that does exactly what you need.
Drone legal and safety
Final thoughts before we begin
I want to express a thought before you dive into the camera drones below, well, that was sort of it, actually. Many of the top quadcopters on the market today are highly capable of hovering in place and offering up great photos, so what makes a selfie drone so special? Truth is, we’ve been sitting on this article for a while, some of the cute and highly-portable drones you are about to see have some serious compromises as far as flight goes.
Larger drones offer many flight assist features, including larger batteries, redundant flight controllers and a multitude of positioning and collision prevention sensors. Most of the drones on our list today lack in these departments, mostly just to limit the size of the unit. The DJI Mavic Pro, which originally started off our list, is one of the smallest drones to include the best flight features DJI could muster at the time.
This is not a written rule, it is entirely possible that smaller drones pack just as many safety and flight features as a machine like the Mavic Pro. At this stage in the game, we doubt it. Which is why we will simply say that the best selfie drone is going to be the best camera drone with the form factor you can handle.
Let’s get into the list.
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
Best selfie drones
DJI Mini 2
November 2020Release Date
The original DJI Mavic Mini was a very important machine for the consumer hobby drone market. The DJI Mini 2 is the next generation of super-compact camera drone, it's a solid improvement over the original Mini, especially in terms of the camera and flight capabilities. You still get a sub-250 gram drone, but now get a 4K camera, vastly improved connectivity, a more durable design, and more power.
The newer 1/2.3-inch sensor produces 12MP stills, and 4K video at 30 fps and 100Mbps data rate. For some, the most exciting update is lossless zoom. With up to 4X zoom, you can safely fly at distance from your subject, perfect for those pet photos or to capture shots of a waterfall in the distance.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
August 2018Release Date
If you run down the spec sheet, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro are the same machine, with one major exception, the camera. The folding quadcopter design offers great portability, the multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors assist in safe flight, and the new capabilities of OcuSync 2.0 add versatility for control and accessories. That is true for both of the drones, the Mavic 2 Zoom, on the other hand, rocks a 2x optical zoom lens on top of a 12MP camera. It shoots 4K video at 100Mbps and can digitally double that zoom for an impressive close-up.
DJI Mavic Air
January 2018Release Date
DJI found great success with the Mavic Pro, they followed that up with the far less expensive Spark. The Mavic Air bridges the gap between these two, offering all the fun features from the smaller Spark as well as all the pro flight features of the Mavic Pro. Better yet, the Mavic Air introduced a 100Mbps data rate for video capture on a DJI drone under $1500. That sounds like a mouthful, suffice to say that the Mavic Air instantly took the crown for the best video at the lowest price of any drone on the market.
After the launch of the Mavic 2 series of drones, we had to recommend the newer Mavic line as the best camera on a compact drone, but the Mavic Air still remains our top pick if ultimate portability is your concern. The Mavic Air manages to pack down to almost fit comfortably in your pocket.
DJI Mavic Mini
November 2019Release Date
With a long list of drones that start with the name Mavic, DJI has launched yet another consumer machine, perhaps their most consumer friendly yet, the new, very compact, folding DJI Mavic Mini.
As the name implies, the DJI Mavic Mini is a very small machine, and in true DJI fashion, it has few compromises to make it all work. The first thing to note is that the Mavic Mini weighs less than 0.55 lbs, which means you do not need to register it with the FAA before flight. Registration is quick and easy, but not requiring it at all is a bonus.
Related reading: DJI Mavic Mini review
Don't let the small size fool you, this drone packs a 12MP camera, shoot 2.7K video from a 3-axis stabilized Gimbal and has all of the flight features you'd expect from a Mavic drone today.
DJI Mavic Pro
November 2016Release Date
The DJI Mavic Pro is a compact, folding drone that was a pioneer for portability. This quadcopter folds down to fit easily in a backpack, or large pocket, while opening up to take 4K video to over 40mph in the sky. The 3-axis stabilized gimbal offers very smooth footage and OcuSync enables long range and HD live video streaming. The Phantom line of drones may have established DJI as a leader in the consumer drone market, but the Mavic Pro made high-quality aerial photography fun and highly accessible.
January 2017Release Date
The Hover Passport was one of the first drones to make the news for extreme ease of use. Just toss this drone into the air in front of you, and it will fly in place. The system visually locks onto you, making it ideal as a floating selfie camera. Gesture controls take photos, make the drone follow you and more. It's sort of a one-trick-pony of a drone, but it performs that trick quite well.
Check out the Hover Passport for around $199.
JJRC H37 Elfie
Summer 2017Release Date
The JJRC H37 Elfie is a toy-class drone all the way through, yet, it manages to be a solid selfie drone. Control this machine using your mobile device, snap photos on the tiny 0.3MP camera and fold the drone down to slide in your pocket when you're done. A simple experience with an underwhelming camera, but at just $24, it's a fun machine for young pilots.
May 2017Release Date
The DJI Spark introduced a brand new segment for the drone company, launching a tiny machine that packs more fun features than powerful specs. This drone had everyone talking about the Jedi mind tricks you can play with the machine, using the front camera and object detection to accept hand gestures for some basic controls. All of these fun flight features made for a focus on two other features, the ability to fly without a remote control in hand and making you the object of the flight.
The DJI Spark is small enough to easily pack around wherever you might like to go. It's powerful enough to combat some decent winds and the 12MP camera can snap some fun photographs. While the camera may have a 4K sensor on the inside, it only records 1080p video. The HD video resolution allows the use of the extra pixels for image stabilization. The Spark mechanically stabilizes two-axis of movement, using the sensor cropping to handle side-to-side image stabilization. Admitting that this makes for some of the worst video capture from a DJI drone in the last 5 years, we can't deny that that is still pretty good, and the compact nature and low price of the drone make it well worth consideration.
DJI Mavic Air 2
May 2020Release Date
The DJI Mavic Air 2 drone is more than just a successor to the original Mavic Air, it's more of a transition from its own form-factor into a true Mavic drone. The Mavic Air 2 maintains its place as a mid-tier drone in DJI's lineup. In terms of size, price, and capability, the Mavic Air 2 sits almost perfectly in between the Mavic Mini and the Mavic 2 series drones.
In the same way that the Mavic Air stepped up the camera game for small drones, the Mavic Air 2 is an exciting update in the camera department as well. You're looking at a new 1/2-inch sensor that shoots 12MP stills, but does so from a 48MP sensor! You can capture 48MP stills as well, but the 12MP shots are better, using pixel binning managed by Quad Bayer technology. Photos are great, but the new 4K video capture at 60fps, and a data bit rate of 120Mbps, are more exciting to many users.
Check out the DJI Mavic Air 2 for a starting price of $799 for the base package, $988 for the Fly More combo at launch in May 2020.
Please do remember that the best selfie drone, in terms of image quality, is not going to be one of the compact flying machines that can fit in your pocket. Check out our Best camera drones for a solid camera experience. However, because these little machines can fit in your pocket, or close to, they do offer a unique experience and may just be the best machine for your needs.
If nothing else, one of the pocket portable drones on our list today should perform about as well as your smartphone, and is a bit easier to have in place than your selfie stick.
What is your favorite drone for taking selfies? Rather, do you bother taking selfies using a drone, or do you just ask strangers to hold your phone?