Drone photography offers unique perspectives and breathtaking aerial shots that can transform any wedding album. If you are looking to spice up your wedding photography by adding a drone, we’ve got some tips and recommendations for you.
We’ll break down the best wedding photography drones in greater detail later on but of the drones out there today, here are the handful that I’d at least recommend in some capacity:
Here’s a quick comparison of some of the key specs on those six drones:
|DJI Mavic 3 Pro||DJI Air 3||DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine||DJI Inspire 3||DJI Air 2S||Autel Evo Lite+|
|Camera||-4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera -1/1.3″|
CMOS Medium Tele Camera
-1/2″ CMOS Tele Camera
|-1/1.3″ CMOS Wide-Angle Camera|
-1/1.3″ CMOS 3x Medium Tele Camera
|-4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera|
-1/1.3″ CMOS Medium Tele Camera
-1/2″ CMOS Tele Camera
|-Full-frame 8K/75fps ProRes RAW|
-Full-frame 8K/25fps CinemaDNG
|1” CMOS||1” CMOS|
|Approximate flight time||46 mins||46 mins||46 mins||28 mins||31 mins||30 mins|
|Dimensions (folded, without propellers, and presented as Length x Width x Height)||231.1 × 98 × 95.4 mm||207 × 100.5 × 91.1 mm||231.1 × 98 × 95.4 mm||500.5 x 709.8 x 176 mm||180 × 97 × 77 mm||210 x 123 x 95mm|
|Weight||958 g||720 g||958 g||3,995 g||595 g||820g|
There are tons of excellent camera drones on the market, and it can be difficult to know which one is best specifically for wedding photography. But there are a few key features that every wedding drone photographer should prioritize in their equipment.
Here are the critical specs that photographers should look for in a wedding drone:
Key features of wedding photography drones
Ever been to a wedding where the photographer runs right up to the bride and groom after you hear “You may now kiss the bride?” blocking them completely from friends and family? Buzzkill. You’ll want to capture the shot, without being in the shot. Zoom capabilities allow you to capture candid quest reactions and intimate moments from afar. A long lens is recommended as it allows for variety in shots and shooting at a distance. A lens with an 80-200mm f/2:8 zoom is a good option.
Similarly to the drone blocking the shot, the noise can interfere with the vibe. No one wants to hear the low humming of your drone during the vows.
Opting for a drone with advanced noise reduction technology will help you while capturing breathtaking visuals. As a rule of thumb, smaller motors produce less sound than larger ones. Of course, that zoom capability can also cut back on noise by nature of the sound having to travel farther.
Support for RAW Format
The ability to shoot in RAW format provides greater flexibility during editing which is especially critical for wedding photography. While landscape photographers might have the flexibility to sit around and wait for the perfect light, wedding photographers don’t have that luxury. Should lighting conditions be tricky during the ceremony, you’re stuck with the photos you got. But shooting in RAW can at least fix poor lighting conditions in post-processing.
That’s because RAW images contain more data and allow for finer adjustments to color, exposure, and other settings.
Since you can’t afford to miss any memorable moments, look for drones with extended flight times so you can spend more time shooting and less time recharging. Of course, purchasing an extra battery or two is also a solid option.
Ideally, you’ll bring plenty of MicroSD cards, and never run out of memory. But accidents happen and things get left behind. And since you can never be too prepared, I’d recommend finding a drone with a good amount of internal storage to serve as a backup.
The overall best drone for wedding photography: DJI Mavic 3 Pro
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro has it all and is generally the best in the market for wedding photography. It’s tough to narrow down the best features on the Mavic 3 Pro, but probably the top two most important to photographers are the three cameras and 46-minute battery life.
The Mavic 3 Pro has a three-axis gimbal with three cameras built-in, which are:
- A custom Hasselblad wide-angle camera (24 mm)
- Medium tele camera (70mm)
- Tele camera (166mm)
The three different camera lenses allow you to stay far away but still get that perfect shot without disturbing guests.
The DJI Mavic 3 is also set up with MasterShots, a suite of professional-quality drone and camera movement settings to create cinematic wedding content quickly and easily. The DJI Fly app can take your footage and automatically edit it for share-worthy content in a few taps. Making your job as a wedding photographer a little bit easier.
With a price tag of $2,950, it’s more expensive than some other picks — but it provides excellent overall value.
The best if you prioritize dual-cameras (budget pick): DJI Air 3
The DJI Air 3 is the best option for wedding photographers who are on a budget yet are looking for something portable and versatile. The photo quality is certainly not as good as the DJI Mavic 3, but at $1,099, it’s far cheaper.
The newest addition to the DJI Air series is by far the most powerful yet and steadily climbing into the top spot of the best drones for photographers of 2023 seeking a high-quality camera.
The DJI Air 3 takes on a dual-primary camera system, meaning one drone has two cameras integrated with it. Like the Mavic 3, the Air 3 comes with MasterShots and four other intelligent features, as DJI calls them (FocusTrack, Night mode, hyper-lapse, and Slow motion).
The Air 3 also has 46 minutes of flight time, certainly making it a suitable alternative to the Mavic 3.
The best drone for wedding photography (upgrade pick): DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine
If you’re intrigued by the DJI Mavic 3 but really want the most top-of-the-line product, then consider our upgrade pick, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine.
The ‘Cinema’ version of the Mavic 3 Pro, the Mavic 3 Pro Cine has everything the Mavic 3 Pro has and then some. Visually, the two drones look virtually similar. The major differences are what happens under the hood (and the price point, of course). The Mavic 3 Pro Cine starts at $4,799.
The major upgrade of the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is its support of the Apple ProRes 422 recording codec. Apple ProRest can be used to capture rich wedding footage that’s easier to edit when it comes time for post-production.
The Mavic 3 Pro Cine comes with a built-in 1TB SSD, eliminating the need for external recording devices. No more lost or corrupted SD cards! However, it still does support MicroSD cards.
If you are a wedding photographer who needs as much video data as possible and the highest quality footage, then the DJI Mavic Pro Cine is for you.
Most wedding photographers should be able to get away with simply the DJI Mavic 3 Pro. However, if you’re a serious wedding photographer seeking to run the absolute, most professional operation, you’ll want to upgrade to the Mavic 3 Pro Cine.
- Order the Mavic 3 Pro Cine drone from Amazon now.
- Order the Mavic 3 Pro Cine drone from B&H Photo now
The best drone for wedding photography (serious upgrade pick): DJI Inspire 3
If the Mavic 3 Pro Cine isn’t professional grade enough, and you are looking to shoot an Oscar-worthy wedding ceremony and have a massive budget then the DJI Inspire 3 is the right pick for you. The Inspire 3 is DJI’s only cinema-grade drone with a price tag of $16,499.
The DJI Inspire 3 most impressive features include a full-frame 8k imagine system, Tilt Boost and 360° Pan dual configurations, and dual-control for operators.
Keep in mind, that the Inspire 3 is much bulkier than other drones on the list, something photographers may want to keep in mind when traveling from venue to venue with your equipment.
- Order the DJI Inspire 3 now from Adorama.
- Order the DJI Inspire 3 now from B&H Photo.
- Order the DJI Inspire 3 now from GetFPV.
The best drone for wedding photography (ultra-budget pick): DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2s is small but mighty, and with a folding design, it is a solid choice for wedding photographers who are always on the move and don’t mind losing a little quality. With a price tag starting at $799 (that’s the lowest-priced of any done in this guide to best wedding drone), it is the ideal choice for anyone on a budget.
The DJI Air 2S has advanced features such as MasterShots and FocusTrack modes and 31 minutes of flight time.
Unlike many of the other drones that made this list, the DJI Air 2S only has 1 camera, which has a 1” sensor offering 20-megapixel photos and 5.4k video. While the camera images are still stunning, you’re zoom capabilities will be significantly hindered. Keep this in mind when planning your key shots.
The best DJI alternative: EVO Lite+
What if you want to patronize a company that is not DJI? The Autel Evo Lite+ is an affordable and respectable alternative for any wedding photographer looking for a higher-end DJI alternative drone. ‘
While the EVO Lite+ provides a 6k camera and 40 minutes of flight time, your video quality won’t be as crisp or colorful as its DJI competitors. If you are looking to veer away from DJI, due to concerns of huge market share or some politicians seeking to blacklist it over its Chinese ties, then EVO Lite+ is a solid and reliable alternative.
Prices for this easy-to-fly drone start at $1,399.
- Order the Autel Evo Lite+ Amazon
- Order the Autel Evo Lite+ from Adorama
- Order the Autel Evo Lite+ directly from Autel
- Order the Autel Evo Lite+ from B&H Photo
Other tips for using drones for wedding photography
If you’re already an established wedding photographer, it can be smart to add a drone to your camera kit. There’s no shortage of reasons why you should incorporate a drone into your wedding photos.
All of the above drones are easy and safe to fly, but there are still a few additional things you need to know before flying drones at weddings.
- Insurance: While drone insurance is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration, some venues might require that photographers have it. Check out this quick guide to drone insurance.
- Where you can legally fly: Especially if a venue is near an airport or in otherwise restricted airspace or airspace that bans drones (including National Parks), you might not be cleared to takeoff there. Use this guide to find out if you can legally fly at that particular venue.
- You need a pilot’s license: Under the FAA’s Part 107, anyone wanting to operate a drone commercially (that includes wedding photographers) needs to obtain a drone pilot license, formerly referred to as a “remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating.” In order to get that, you will need to pass an in-person written exam., which many people refer to as the “Part 107 test.” The best way to pass that test is usually by enrolling in a Part 107 online test prep course.
For more, check out these 7 tips for using drones for wedding photography.
What drone do you prefer for wedding photography? Tell us in the comments!
Featured image courtesy of Matthew Robert Creative, a wedding videographer based in Chicago, Illinois.