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Drones are exceptional for taking car videos, whether you’re a gearhead who loves documenting car features, own or manage a dealership.
Or just bought a new car and would like to create an eye-catching video of it. Drones add a new aerial perspective to your shot which you could never achieve with a handheld camera.
However, there are so many drones out there, with even more getting released every year.
While you can use almost any decent camera drone to create a high-quality video, some have proven to be more useful than others due to some unique features.
So, which are the best drones for car videos?
Here are the top drones for car fanatics:
- Tracking videos – Skydio 2+
- FPV – DJI Avata
- Best value for money – DJI Mavic 3 Classic
- Best for cinematic shots and highest-quality video – DJI Mavic 3 Pro
- Best cheap drone – DJI Mini 3 Pro
Keep reading to learn why we chose these drones and some tips for creating cinematic car videos!
1. Skydio 2+ – Tracking #
✅ Pros #
- Excellent tracking capabilities
- Easy to use
- Convenient beacon control
- Impressive range
- Unique KeyFrames feature
❌ Cons #
- It’s mainly built for tracking
- Obstacle avoidance may be limited in low-light conditions
Tracking a vehicle as it moves is one of the most captivating features of a drone.
The Skydio 2+ is currently the best tracking drone. This is thanks to its automated flight, 360-degree obstacle avoidance, and excellent camera.
What I love most is the beacon. This handheld device lets you quickly change the drone’s position as it follows you.
This is quite a convenient feature considering most drones in this price range can only follow you in specific positions due to inadequate obstacle avoidance or outdated follow-me systems.
As you can see in the video below, the drone pilot controls the direction the drone will follow and even the height with a lot of freedom.
The intelligent flight modes also allow you to create cinematic footage without much hassle.
Skydio 2+ is ahead of most drones on the market today in automating flight, as it only needs little input from the pilot, and it will do many tasks it’s programmed to.
Besides tracking by identifying the object, Skydio 2+ also uses GPS, where it will locate the GPS position of the beacon or the car in case it loses it.
The obstacle avoidance also works quite effectively, allowing the drone to choose the best path without breaking up the footage and while maintaining excellent transitions in the footage.
However, this doesn’t mean you should expose it to areas with several obstacles. Avoid such areas if possible since even the most advanced drones will bump into tiny objects like twigs or power lines.
Another reason the Skydio 2+ is quite practical for tracking is the range. With the controller, the drone can fly up to 3.7 miles, and with the beacon, you can get a range of up to 1.9 miles.
This means that if one person is using the beacon while in the car and another pilot is stationed at one point, the one with the beacon can still control the drone even when it’s out of the range of the controller.
How about speed? The Skydio 2+ can fly up to 36 mph, so it can keep up with your car. The 27-minute flight time also gives you enough time to take all the necessary shots before recharging the battery.
However, having at least three batteries will help if you need to create more footage.
One unique feature of the Skydio 2+ that you will barely find in other drones is KeyFrames. This feature allows you to add KeyFrames, which work like waypoints, for the drone to follow.
You can come up with the various angles you want to film the car in, add them as KeyFrames, and the drone will fly through them autonomously.
2. DJI Avata – FPV #
✅ Pros #
- Excellent speed
- Decent footage quality and an option to add third-party cameras
- Excellent video transmission
❌ Cons #
- Needs advanced flying skills to fully utilize it
- Limited flight time compared to non-FPV drones
You will have better luck with an FPV drone if you want to create more dynamic and cinematic car videos.
While regular camera drones like the Skydio or the DJI Mavic are good, they work best outdoors and for flying a few meters away from a car.
The GPS and obstacle sensors make flying too close to the car or indoors challenging.
That’s where FPV drones come in. FPV drones are “manual,” which means the pilot has control of the drone’s altitude, and they will have to avoid the obstacles manually.
Whether you want to film very close to the car, indoors, through the car (yes, you can do that), or any other tight spaces, you can do that with an FPV drone.
FPV drones are also perfect for car videos due to their speed.
This is evident from the Sweden WRC rally drone shots, where FPV drones are fast enough to track a racing car, albeit for a short distance, due to the range and flight time limitations.
However, most FPV drones require customization and great skills to fly. That’s why I recommend the DJi Avata, especially for beginners.
This is an FPV drone that you can pick up and fly even if you don’t have any experience. Its controls has been simplified, allowing you to fly in beginner modes (Normal and Sport).
Once you’re comfortable with it, you can switch to Manual or Acro mode where you’re in control.
Besides being the easiest to fly, Avata has a good enough camera that shoots up to 4K at 60 fps. It’s possible to mount a GoPro, DJI Action camera, or an Insta360 if you want to spice up your footage further.
The overall design of the Avata also makes it safe to fly indoors, close to cars, and even close to people.
Avata is more of a Cinewhoop drone, which explains its small size, and the propellers are enclosed in a frame.
As such, if it bumps into anything, the props will not be damaged, and they will not cause any injuries.
Avata also features an 18-minute flight time, which is quite long considering that most FPV drones can barely achieve 10 minutes.
With a speed of up to 60 mph, you can rest assured that the Avata can film a moving car, as seen below.
This video shows Avata flying through a Porsche museum in Germany. Watch how close to the cars it flies and how it flies in tight spaces such as under cars and through the windows.
While it takes a lot of flying and video editing skills to develop, the drone’s flight time, strong video transmission, excellent camera sensor, and overall flight performance played a significant role.
3. DJI Mavic 3 Classic – Best value #
✅ Pros #
- High-quality camera
- ActiveTrack 5.0 to include tracking directions
- Great value for money
❌ Cons #
- Limited tracking video resolution.
The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is a great prosumer drone.
Adapted from the OG Mavic 3, the Mavic 3 Classic was built for those who found the OG Mavic 3 too expensive but thought drones like the Mavic Air 2S are too limiting.
DJI stripped down one camera, leaving the Mavic 3 Classic with one 4/3 CMOS camera that can film in up to 5.1K at 60 fps and take 20 MP still images.
This camera is better than the one you will get on the Skydio 2+ or the DJI Avata, making it the perfect option if you want the highest-quality car video. However, tracking videos are limited to 4K at 30 fps.
Another reason the Mavic 3 Classic is one of the best drones for car videos is ActiveTrack 5.0. This is the latest edition of ActiveTrack, which has been improved for optimum performance.
Unlike drones like the Air 2S or the Mini 3 Pro, the Mavic 3 Classic allows you to switch the drone’s position as it follows you.
You can place it in front, back, right, left, or diagonally. This gives the viewer a dynamic view of all sides of the car and gives you room to correct the drone’s position in an emergency.
The Mavic 3 Classic also features 360-degree obstacle avoidance, making it aware of its surroundings and avoid obstacles from all directions.
This drone has a Nifty mode in the Bypass mode. These features allow the drone to fly smoother and sometimes closer to obstacles, producing some of the best footage.
Watch how this user flies the Mavic 3 Classic to track a 1970 Corvette Stingray.
Check out how he changes the drone’s position, how the drone avoids obstacles, and the quality of footage he gets from the drone.
4. DJI Mavic 3 Pro – Best for cinematic shots #
✅ Pros #
- Convenient multi-camera setup
- Excellent quality footage
- 1TB built-in memory
- Long flight time
- Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance
❌ Cons #
- It could be complex for first-time users
- Additional post-processing time may be required due to the setup
- Limited zoom in some of the cameras/modes
This is the ultimate drone for car videos. It features not one but three cameras, each providing a different perspective. This gives you a lot of footage to choose from after a few takes.
These cameras include the 4/3 Hasselblad sensor that you will also find in the Mavic 3 Classic, a 1/1.3 Medium Tele camera, and a ½ Tele camera.
These three cameras film at different focal lengths; you can even combine them to create various artistic combinations for your shoot.
Another feature you will find in the Mavic 3 Pro that’s lacking in the Mavic 3 Classic is the zooming feature.
The Hasselblad camera has a zoom of 1-3x, a Medium Tele lens of 3-7x, and a Tele camera of 7-28x in Normal and Explore modes.
The zooming feature opens up even more creative options, allowing you to pull off shots like the dolly zoom before you use any editing software.
The Mavic 3 Pro also features omnidirectional obstacle sensing and avoidance, a further improved system to give optimum performance and smooth video.
Combined with ActiveTrack 5.0, you can develop some of the best tracking car videos.
And if you forget your SD cards when traveling for a shoot, the 1 TB inbuilt memory in the Mavic 3 Pro can hold enough footage.
Other features that make this drone perfect include the 43-minute flight time, small foldable design, and reasonable pricing considering all the work you can do with it.
Below is an epic car video filmed with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro.
5. DJI Mini 3 Pro – Best cheap drone #
✅ Pros #
- Lightweight and easily portable
- High-quality camera
- Tracking feature and obstacle sensing
- Intelligent flight modes
❌ Cons #
- Limited obstacle sensing
- Limited tracking options
- Limited zoom range in some resolutions
You don’t need a drone that costs thousands of dollars to create cinematic car videos.
You can get the DJI Mini 3 Pro for less than $1,000. While it may not have all the features in Mavic 3, Skydio, or Avata, it still produces decent videos.
The Mini 3 Pro weighs less than 250 grams with the standard battery, so you will not have to register it if you’re filming your vehicles or friends’ vehicles for fun.
Secondly, it has a tracking feature and three-directional obstacle sensing. You can use it to create tracking videos, but you must avoid areas with obstacles since it can’t sense obstacles on its side.
Unfortunately, you can’t select which direction the drone should follow you in; you only have the Trace and Parallel options.
The Mini 3 Pro features a 1/1.3 CMOS sensor which can take 48 MP photos and film in up to 4K at 60 fps. This is enough to produce high-quality footage.
The drone also features a 31-minute flight time, but you can get a 47-minute battery.
However, this will make your drone weigh more than 250 grams. Whether you go for 31 or 47 minutes, both are still long flight times for a mini drone.
What I love most about the Mini 3 Pro is the intelligent features; QuickShots and MasterShots.
QuickShots has features like Dronie, Circle, Boomerang, Asteroid, and Helix, which help create dynamic shots at the click of a button.
On the other hand, MasterShots combines all these shots into one take. You will find similar features in the Mavic 3 mentioned above. Still, it’s convenient to have such features In a cheaper drone.
You also enjoy a 2X zoom in 4K and 4X in HD, making it possible to pull off a wider range of shots.
Below is a sample car video shot with a DJI Mini 3 Pro.
Tips for getting excellent car videos #
Below are some tips for taking the best car shots with a drone.
- Plan your shots – Before you start flying and filming, survey the area and plan your shot. Each video should have a theme or tell a story. Determine the story you want to tell, identify the best location, and pick the best shots that will tell the story.
- Improve your flying skills – While most drones come with automated features such as QuickShots or MasterShots, sometimes you may need to fly the drone manually to achieve the shoot you’re looking for. Suppose you’re planning to do an FPV shot. In that case, you will need to have good flying skills to get good shots and prevent damaging the car or injuring yourself and others by crashing the drone.
- Safety first – Things could go wrong pretty first when flying drones. As such, prioritize the safety of yourself and anyone around you and of the car and any nearby property.
- Choose the right drone – Once you know the types of shots you need and the nature of the surroundings, you can choose a drone with all or most of the features you need. Sometimes you may need two drones, a camera drone and an FPV drone.
- Fly slow and smooth – The best way to film anything, especially with a drone, is to fly and use smooth movements. Jerky movements may render your footage unusable. Like with FPV, getting smooth movements takes practice.
- Test angles and altitudes – Fly at different heights and angles to choose the best footage. Drones like the Mavic 3 Pro even allow you to film at three different focal lengths so you can choose the best one or combine them.
- Use tracking shots – Tracking shots are one of the most effective ways to film cars with a drone. They create a sense of movement and allow the viewer to experience the car’s speed and agility. Look for drones with advanced tracking capabilities, like the Skydio 2+ mentioned earlier, which can follow the car autonomously and avoid obstacles.
The best shots to take when filming a car #
If you’re unsure which shots to include in your plan or are brainstorming for more, below are some examples.
- Tracking shots – This is the shot I mentioned earlier where you follow a moving vehicle from the side, top, front, or back. For instance, when following from the front, be careful of your surroundings to avoid hitting something. As much as these drones have obstacle avoidance, these sensors may not always work. Try to move at the same speed as the car to add movement to the frame while maintaining safety.
- Vertical parallax – This is where you reveal the car and its dynamic background. To do this, hover the drone a few meters from the car, then descend the drone as you tilt the gimbal up. You can also ascend as you tilt the gimbal down. If you’re using a drone with a zoom feature, you can add the zooming effect to the parallax to produce a more appealing shot.
- Circle or orbit – This is where you circle the drone. You can do it manually by pushing the joysticks inward or outward or using the automated flight modes in some drones. This shot works well when you have an epic landscape and want to show how your vehicle interacts with it. You can also zoom in if your drone can do that so that the background appears to be moving faster than your subject.
- Tripod – Sometimes, you don’t have to move the drone. You can take off and hover at an angle that shows the epic landscape, then have the car fly through the scene. There are many variations to do this, so experiment with various angles, including top-down shots, and show how your vehicle interacts with the landscape.
- Top-down shots – Top-down shots are also excellent ways to film a car. Besides being stationary, you can follow the vehicle as it moves. You can turn as it turns, giving the viewer a feeling that they are closer to the action. You can also fly slowly and have the vehicle move fast so it’s in and out of the frame. This is another shot that allows you to experiment with various variations.
- Reveal shot – These shots work great for intros. It’s where you start by focusing on something, either a part of the car or part of the scene, then gradually reveal the car as it goes through the scene.
- Dolly zoom – This is where you add a zooming effect to the frame when moving toward or away from the car. You could do this when filming with drones like the Mavic 3, but adding it with editing software is best.
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