Quick Links for Our 4 Best Drones for Construction

We strongly recommend you read in-detail down below why we recommend these specific products. But if you just want a quick summary and a link to purchase, we’ve provided these here.

DJI’s Mavic 3 Pro has a 7x telephoto lens that can zoom in to 28x digitally and an impressive 43m flight time. The Hasselblad-equipped flagship is the end-game solution for any outdoor construction or inspection need.

About ⅓ the price (and ¼ the size) of the Mavic 3 Pro, the compact DJI Mini 4 Pro still has omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and a very capable 48MP / 4K@100fps camera, and is a reliable choice for construction drone shoots.

Though the Autel EVO II Pro V3 only has a single camera to the Mavic 3 Pro’s 3, it offers similar performance in most areas and is our recommended alternative if you don’t want the geofencing headaches that come with DJI drones.

Tiny yet built like a tank with propeller guards to bounce off obstacles, and requiring immersive FPV goggles to pilot, the single-axis gimbal DJI Avata is a fun, niche solution for indoor and space-constrained shoots.

Note on our “Fly More” links: Based on our own extensive experience with drones professionally, a single battery is inadequate for most use cases. Thus most of our recommended product variants are the “Fly More” editions (or equivalents) with discounted additional batteries bundled. However, the cheaper basic versions are typically a variant you can select as an alternative.

Affiliate Link Disclosure: Know that purchasing with our affiliate links helps support niche articles like this from us, and we appreciate your support.

Why We Wrote this Article + Why Trust Our Take on Drones for Construction

This article was a natural follow-up to our first recommendation article on real estate drones, as we have quite a few construction contractors and companies as clients and thus a great deal of relevant experience with what this industry niche typically requires for aerial photography and videography.

In contrast to real estate however, we have found that the construction industry has a much broader range of needs that extend far beyond the scope of these recommendations, such as with specialized RTK and mapping drones. We’ve thus contained these recommendations to non-specialized drones that are the best for most construction needs.

These recommendations focus on features we consider most paramount to construction, such as keeping the aircraft safe from nearby obstacles, long flight times for large sites, and having flexible shooting modes and zoom options.

So whether your construction company is looking to internalize its aerial photography needs or you’re a creative looking for the right drone and related features for construction shoots, we’ve got you covered.

DJI’s Mavic 3 Pro has a 7x telephoto lens that can zoom in to 28x digitally and an impressive 43m flight time. The Hasselblad-equipped flagship is the end-game solution for any outdoor construction or inspection need.

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is a zero-compromises camera drone for construction and inspection use. Though we think it’s the best for commercial construction use, it also happens to be DJI’s consumer flagship product, and so it sports DJI’s latest feature sets. It also has an unusual 3 separate and distinct cameras onboard, for lots of zoom and framing options for your construction sites, as well as helping out with inspections and scouting.

The Mavic 3 Pro is our agency’s drone of choice. The vast majority of our drone shoots take place with a Mavic 3 Pro. We value the flight time, the main Hasselblad camera’s quality, the telephoto lenses for creative shots, the excellent obstacle avoidance and the intelligent flight modes. This is very much an end-game drone for us as a creative agency, and unless you need something like RTK mapping or infrared, the Mavic 3 Pro leaves nothing else to be desired at the consumer or prosumer level.

The Mavic 3 Pro comes with a stellar Hasselblad 20 megapixel camera that has incredible performance out of the box. We love the natural colors and dynamic range it provides and we often find our shots need minimal editing and color correction. This is the most noticeable feature at a glance we think most people will note on-paper between the Mavic 3 series over the Mavic Air and Mini series – DJI loves to highlight the Mavic series’s Hasselblad camera.

The Mavic 3 Pro shoots video at up to 5.1k@50fps and 4K@120fps. The 5.1K video proves helpful for cropping shots while retaining 4K+ resolution during post-production. The 30fps-50fps range (typically 30fps for compatibility) is normally sufficient for smooth construction videography clips and their typical display mediums. However, you always have the option to retain buttery-smooth video with 4K@120fps.

The Mavic 3 Pro has 2 additional telephoto zoom lenses. These 2 extra cams are the main differentiating between the Mavic 3 Pro and the Mavic 3 Classic, which has just the single main Hasselblad camera. These zoom lenses allow you to compress distance between foreground and background subjects. This allows for creative and useful ways to frame large construction sites in a more digestible way visually. These zoom lenses can also help you scout a construction site while hovering safely and preserving battery, without having to move great distances just to plan the rest of your flight(s).

The Mavic 3 Pro has an excellent 43 minute battery life – one of the longest currently on the market. We find this incredibly valuable to not have to land as often to swap batteries. There are a few drones that can rival this flight time, and none can do so with the incredible feature set the Mavic 3 Pro has..

The Mavic 3 Pro is stellar in windy conditions. With its large size (958g) and powerful propulsion, the Mavic series has much stronger wind resistance than many smaller drones, the DJI Mini series in particular. The large Mavic 3 Pro won’t jostle around as much in the wind to maintain its position, and it is much less likely to have issues returning to home when the wind kicks up unexpectedly. For vertically-heavy construction sites or this in crowded urban areas, this also helps avoid the drone getting blown into obstructions such as cranes or buildings.

About ⅓ the price (and ¼ the size) of the Mavic 3 Pro, the compact DJI Mini 4 Pro still has omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and a very capable 48MP / 4K@100fps camera, and is a reliable choice for construction drone shoots.

We recommend the DJI Mini 4 Pro as a budget alternative to our main pick, the Mavic 3 Pro. Although the Mini 4 Pro is also the most expensive Mini series drone to-date, it still represents an incredible value for its feature sets, and is still a very capable drone for construction and inspections. If you want the cheapest drone we can recommend for any use, at the notable cost of photo/video quality and all obstacle avoidance, the DJI Mini 2 SE Fly More combo can still be had for under $500 out-the-door.

The Mini 4 Pro is exceptionally light and portable. Like all DJI Mini drones, its default configuration brings it in under 250g. This makes the Mini line about 3X lighter on-average compared to larger flagship drone models like the Mavic and Air series. The Mini 4 Pro’s small nature also means stowing it and carrying it around to various locations and construction sites is much easier, due to it being so small and lightweight.

The Mini 4 Pro has the fewest compromises of any Mini drone yet. In truth, other than its size and smaller (but still excellent) single camera, there is little to differentiate the Mini 4 Pro from its more expensive Air and Mavic siblings in most feature areas. It has all of DJI’s intelligent flight functions for smooth, professional-looking video clips as well as omnidirectional obstacle avoidance.

The Mini 4 Pro’s camera takes excellent stills for construction and inspection. Yes, the Mavic 3 Pros cameras will be superior, while providing more zoom flexibility and more detail in shaded areas and low light. But the “next step up” mid-tier Mavic Air 3 line does not provide much of a still photography difference whatsoever compared to the Mini 4 Pro.

The Mini 4 Pro shoots 4K video at up to 100fps. Although video is the main area we’d recommend a drone with more cameras and with more capable sensors like the Mavic 3 Pro, the quality of the video footage produced with the Mini 4 Pro is still excellent. As long as lighting conditions aren’t suboptimal and you generally stick to well-planned daylight hours, your footage will turn out looking professional and more than satisfactory for most construction and inspection purposes. Plus, you have access to DJI’s QuickShots and MasterShots for professional, automated video clips of your construction sites.

The Mini 4 Pro has a very good 34 minutes of max flight time on its standard battery, and the option for an extended 45 minutes total on the larger “Plus” battery variant. We strongly recommend the Plus Fly More combo, as the larger batteries actually provide about 50% more usable flight time once you factor in low battery margins – especially if your construction sites are particularly large. The main thing to note if you opt for the larger “Plus” batteries is they will put the drone over 250g/0.55lb and thus be required to be registered with the FAA – though that’s not something we think you should be averse to doing.

The Mini 4 Pro is the first DJI Mini with true omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. This has long been the bane of the DJI Mini line, due to weight considerations to keep the Minis under 250g. But as tech has progressed and DJI has gotten more capable of cramming additional tech into that same weight profile, they have finally managed to fit a full omnidirectional set of sensors into the Mini 4 Pro. This means you can feel confident as you relocate for stills or take advanced video footage, knowing your drone won’t easily let you smack it into that construction crane you didn’t realize it was on a collision course with.

The Mini 4 Pro is small and prone to gusty conditions. The Mini 4 Pro is a very solid all-around camera drone for construction use. However, its small size has this one large detraction when in the air, and it has become the most significant reason to avoid the Mini 4 Pro. Larger and more powerful drones resist windy conditions and gusts better, keeping photos clear, videos still, and your drone from being blown into an obstruction (or worse, completely away!). But if you live somewhere with reasonable wind averages and/or can plan around any adverse weather forecasts, then this concern can be mitigated. We just recommend increased vigilance when flying a small drone like the Mini 4 Pro in active construction sites for this reason.

Though the Autel EVO II Pro V3 only has a single camera to the Mavic 3 Pro’s 3, it offers similar performance in most areas and is our recommended alternative if you don’t want the geofencing headaches that come with DJI drones.

The Autel EVO II Pro V3 trades blows with our main pick, the Mavic 3 Pro. The drone that’s best for you completely depends on which specific features you value and their current price differential. They’re otherwise well-matched in just about every area, with the biggest defining feature remaining the additional cameras found on the Mavic 3 Pro. But if you want flagship drone performance for construction use while avoiding the headache of airspace complications—something DJI is notorious for—then the EVO II Pro V3 is likely the drone for you.

With no telephoto lenses, the Autel EVO II Pro V3 is closer to the Mavic 3 Classic than the 3-camera Mavic 3 Pro. However, we also feel the EVO II V3 (our preferred shorthand name) is the closest “off brand” (non-DJI) drone you can get to the Mavic 3 Pro. Just understand it has no additional cameras / zoom lenses – but it does make up for that a bit, as we’ll explain later.

The EVO II Pro V3 is more affordable than the Mavic 3 Pro by as much as 50%. The Mavic 3 Pro Fly More Combo has consistently been around $3,000, with the EVO II V3’s equivalent about $2000. The EVO II V3 is even a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Mavic 3 Classic Fly More Combo. For pretty similar performance in most areas, this makes the Autel option pretty attractive when it comes to price.

As with all Autel drones, the Autel EVO II Pro V3 will not refuse to fly in controlled airspace. Autel leaves this legal responsibility up to you, the pilot. The drone will warn you about being in controlled airspace, but it will not impede flight. This is irrefutably the top reason to consider an Autel drone over a DJI drone, in our opinion, as they’re quite similar in most other areas (other than perhaps price).

DJI’s drones can require extra steps to operate at all in controlled airspace. They will slam to a halt as if hitting an invisible wall or even refuse takeoff when they encounter controlled airspace if you don’t have approval to fly in it. And we’re not talking approval from the FAA and local ATC. Annoyingly, you also need separate approval from DJI at times, and the airspace they require authorization for often differs from FAA airspace maps, providing extra frustration and confusion. 

Autel drones like the Autel EVO II Pro V3 will happily avoid all of this annoyance for you. Our agency always sends a backup Autel drone out on shoots alongside our main DJI drone due to potential airspace complications, especially on large construction sites where DJI’s proprietary airspace boundaries may begin or end halfway across it.

The Sony 20 megapixel 1” CMOS sensor rivals that of the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, our main pick. They both produce great quality photos that are consistently excellent, and you can’t go wrong with either. But in many cases we find the EVO actually edges out the DJI Mavic 3 Pro for overall detail, though we find the color on the Mavic 3 Pro to be more natural.

The Autel EVO II Pro V3 shoots video at up to 6K@30fps and 4K@60fps, and has notably more sharpness and detail in the raw footage than the Mavic 3 Pro. Resolution/detail is an area where Autel drones shine, as the company has consumer drones that can even shoot in native 8K. The EVO II V3 is no exception, although that 6K resolution will likely be wasted on almost all playback devices and is mostly just useful for cropping in post-production, in our opinion. It’s worth noting though that the Mavic 3 Pro can shoot 4K@120fps, whereas the EVO II V3 has to drop down to 2.7K to manage 120fps. We also again prefer the more natural feeling colors of the Mavic 3 Pro, whereas the EVO II V3’s colors often seem too blue/purple, as if attempting to make most footage “pop” more.

The battery life on the Autel EVO II Pro V3  is superb for a drone its size, at 40 minutes. What is more impressive to us is that it meets or exceeds that battery life claim consistently. It is almost identical to the Mavic 3 Pro here, and both offer exceptionally long flight times, which is great for large construction sites and lengthy shots.

Although it has some intelligent flight modes, Autel has fewer equivalents to DJI’s QuickShots that are useful for construction and inspections. We recommend factoring this in if you plan to rely heavily on those for smooth shots of your construction sites. 

That being said, it still has an orbit mode that allows for altitude adjustment. The EVO II V3’s object tracking is good enough that you can manually create dynamic shots that are somewhat equivalent to the automated DJI QuickShot variants like Helix and Boomerang, which we regularly make use of for our construction photography and videography.

Autel drones can stay up a longer before wanting to RTH (return to home) due to low battery as well. This can be considered a good or bad thing depending on your point-of-view, but Autel allows for their low and critical battery levels to be adjusted reasonably. This allows Autel drones to stay in the air longer and avoid annoyingly early forced RTHs. 

DJI does not allow their drones’ battery warnings to be adjusted, they’re auto-calculated. We thus find our DJI drones want to return to home with 15-20% or more battery life, which feels a bit wasteful, and we haven’t found a way to override this to utilize more of the battery. We understand it’s intended for our own good, but we’re professionals and sometimes want the full flight time we paid for. 

In contrast, we find we can squeeze a few more shots out of Autel drone flights this way, without them being interrupted by unnecessarily early RTH threats—and it’s never been an issue returning to home with 10% battery left.

Tiny yet built like a tank with propeller guards to bounce off obstacles, and requiring immersive FPV goggles to pilot, the single-axis gimbal DJI Avata is a fun, niche solution for indoor and space-constrained shoots.

We recommend the DJI Avata for filming indoors or in any construction environment where traditional obstacle avoidance might constrict or prohibit filming. The DJI Avata is tiny in comparison to full-size camera drones at just over 7in (180mm) square, and has no obstacle avoidance – intentionally. It’s meant to simply bounce off obstacles, with its propellers well-protected. This makes it perfect for unfinished construction sites with lots of obstacles that might cause a traditional camera drone like the Mavic 3 Pro to come to a halt with obstacle avoidance on, or risk crashing with it off.

The DJI Avata is incredibly durable, as it’s meant to bump around and crash. It even has a feature called “Turtle Mode” that allows you to flip the drone upright if it crashes and lands upside down, so you can simply take off again and continue filming. You’ll be hard-pressed to truly damage the drone to a point requiring repair in most construction use cases.

The DJI Avata is an FPV drone and requires VR-style Goggles to use. This requirement/feature can be fun and engaging, but also cumbersome and annoying for many. You have to strap one of a few pairs of compatible goggles on to pilot it. The DJI goggles are compatible with select other camera drones, depending on the model of both, making for a novel way to experience your other “boring” DJI drone(s) of similar generation (O3, usually). 

For the DJI Avata, we recommend the Goggles Integra over the Goggles 2 (not V2). Although the Goggles 2 are more expensive and more capable with additional features in a few areas, the Integras are still excellent. Most notably though, the newer Integras have GPS/Remote ID built-in, eliminating the need for your phone to be plugged in at all times since the legislation took effect. It also has the battery built into the headband, eliminating the need for another separate cable, making the Integra truly wireless (on your head) vs 2 wires to a battery and phone (likely in a pocket) for the Goggles 2.

The DJI Avata requires unique controllers. The joystick-like Motion Controller is the default control method, and has a few benefits when utilizing over a traditional controller we won’t get too heavily into. We however prefer to use the more traditional Remote Controller 2, as we have thousands of hours of flying with this style of controller, and thus are more proficient with it. Both controllers are unique to DJI’s FPV drones such as the Avata, and not cross-compatible with any same-generation DJI camera drones, unfortunately.

The DJI Avata has a longer-than-normal learning curve and requires lots of practice. Due to its FPV nature, and depending on which controller you choose to use, we have found the Avata (and FPV drones in general) much harder to master than traditional camera drones. This is partly due to the additional unique requirements such as the goggles and controller variants, but also due to the fast-paced nature of the type of footage captured on this type of drone. FPVs are used in close proximity to obstacles, buildings and people where a normal camera drone can’t operate safely, and so it requires a practiced level of skill and precision to pull off these kinds of shots.

The DJI Avata’s camera can shoot 12 megapixel stills. Similar to other DJI drones that have a 48MP camera sensor, it supersamples them down to just 12MP. 12 megapixels is still 4000px by 3000px – plenty big for most use cases, though if you need hyper-detail, this is not the best drone/camera for that application.

The DJI Avata shoots video at up to 4K@60fps. A drone like this is primarily used for video, and although it can’t match the cinematic refinement of a drone like the Mavic 3 Pro, it still produces excellent footage in an extremely wide-aspect format, and in a surreal, close-quarters proximity that is novel and engaging. The Avata also has a few advanced features to stabilize video (RockSteady and HorizonSteady) to help with shaking from wind and rapid movement transitions.

The Avata’s battery life is pretty poor at just 18 minutes max. This can be far worse though if you’re really flying quickly around with it. This is due to the lightweight and power-hungry design of this agile drone, where the battery needs to be small for weight savings and also needs to output a great deal of power in certain situations and maneuvers. More than any other drone, we recommend additional batteries for the Avata.

The DJI Avata is obnoxiously high-pitched and loud. Due to how small its propellers are and the general nature of the cinewhoop design, the Avata’s props have to spin much faster relative to those of the larger drones like the Mavic or EVO series. You should definitely let people nearby know ahead of time what is going on, as it’s going to startle and annoy them – especially if shoots are happening indoors and enclosed spaces where the whine is amplified.

The Avata does quite poorly in windy conditions. This can be mitigated somewhat by its stabilization settings, but cinewhoop-style drones like this create a lot of drag in heavy winds, so it’s best used on calm days, and of course close up to its target and/or indoors.

The Avata is very fun, but a very niche use-case drone. Although the style of footage captured on an FPV drone like the Avata is really engaging and it is an absolute blast to pilot, its application is niche. For its price, for general use you’d be better off with something like the Mini 4 Pro as a primary drone, unless your main shooting locales are indoors and in cramped construction sites. Otherwise we recommend the Avata as a fun 2nd or 3rd drone to own. Also, the flight hours required to master it also make it necessary as a passion/hobby as well.

About the Author: David Raines

COO and co-founder @ Jack & Bean, heads up content marketing. Colloquially known to clients as "Bean", still prefers just "David".