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Additionally, you get all the same intelligent flight modes as you do with the Mavic Pro, as well as Sport Mode (which enables a 45 mph top speed) and an interesting new mode called Draw (draw a line on the screen, and the drone will fly that route).

If all you want is something to capture aerial footage on occasion for personal use and social-media sharing, you can save several hundred dollars by getting the DJI Spark.

Its lens has a mechanical shutter, and manual controls abound, so experienced photographers can dial in their preferred settings.

Relative to our top pick, it also has a more advanced collision-sensing system and longer battery life (a 25-minute average in PCMag tests), and it has a rugged magnesium-alloy chassis.

I’m a professional photographer who has been piloting drones for nearly three years, relying mainly on a DJI Phantom 3 Professional for landscape and real-estate photography projects in the Northeast and using it to capture video and stills on nearly every project.

During that time, I have experienced everything from minor crashes to having the drone fly onto the top of a tree (instead of returning “Home”), where retrieval required a 30-foot climb after a football-hurling session failed to dislodge it.

It also has a standout wireless range that gives you the ability to see both real-time flight stats and a 1080p first-person view of what you’re shooting from up to a bit more than 4 miles away, using a smartphone mounted to your radio controller.

The Mavic Pro offers a 4K-capable camera with a low-distortion, wide-angle lens, as well as a three-axis gimbal for effective image stabilization.Based on this information, we arrived at some key criteria to help pick the best to test: Using these criteria, we were able to pare the testing field down to the DJI Mavic Pro, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, the Yuneec Typhoon H hexacopter, the Go Pro Karma, and the Parrot Bebop 2.To evaluate performance, I timed battery life by flying each drone continuously until I got a warning to fly home.It also ships with grabber and cannon attachments that allow you to pick up small objects and blast away targets with small plastic pellets.Regardless of which drone you choose, know that there’s an evolving body of regulations surrounding drone flight and appropriate usage that you should get familiar with before buying and flying.

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