Best drones with altitude hold [FULL GUIDE]

Drone technology is becoming more and more advanced, and altitude hold is a technology that has enabled a whole generation of drone flyers to fly safely and quickly. One of the first things that I realized about my drone was that all I had to do was let go of the controls if I was in trouble. My drone would hover in place.

The best drones with altitude hold include the Mavic mini 2, the Mavic 3, the Mavic air 2S, Ruko F11 Pro (if you are looking for a drone under $500), and the Autel EVO Nano+ is a new small drone on the market with amazing battery life.

Altitude hold has saved my drone from certain death several times.

My drone also has a variety of advanced software features enabled by the fact that it can hover at a given altitude on its own. At the push of a button, I can easily track, follow, and orbit a subject.

What’s altitude hold on a drone?

Altitude hold is one of the must-have features of a drone. A complex interplay between software and hardware keeps your drone hovering or flying at a certain altitude.

Many drones can hold their altitude to a few centimetres using a GPS, barometer, and visual compass system.

There can be a little bit of confusion about what technology is keeping the drone at a fixed altitude.

Barometer vs GPS

The main component responsible for drone altitude hold is the barometer.

A barometer works by continuously measuring the air pressure value at the drone’s current altitude. The drone has a small electronic sensor that is sensitive to air pressure.

The air pressure decreases as the altitude increases and, therefore, can be used to ensure the drone stays at a fixed altitude while flying.

  • If the air pressure decreases, the motors will reduce power output returning the drone to a lower altitude.
  • If the air pressure increases, the motors will spool up and increase the drone’s altitude to maintain its current height.

When the drone initially takes off, it will record the barometer reading and set that to “ground level”. This reason is why if you fly over a cliff, you can see a negative attitude as you fly lower than your takeoff spot.

To measure the true altitude of your drone, you would need to take off at sea level. On the beach, for example.

 It’s not GPS!

You may hear that some people call the altitude a GPS altitude hold. The GPS fixes the drone at given coordinates rather than measuring the altitude the drone is flying.

A WORD OF WARNING: Some cheaper drones say they have altitude hold but do not contain the hardware (digital barometer) required for accurate altitude positioning. They often use visual positioning systems and other accelerometers rather than true altitude hold.

A barometer and GPS are powerful combinations for ensuring your drone is kept in a stable hovering position. It will not drift side to side, and it will not spool up or run down its motors to change the altitude.

Here are the best drones on the market with altitude hold.

DroneBest forLink to purchase
Mavic Mini 2Best for beginnersLink
Mavic 3Best for serious photographersLink
Air 2SBest all-rounderLink
Parrot AnafiBest inexpensive DJI alternativeLink
Ruko F11 ProBest Under $500Link
Autel EVO Nano+Best Small DroneLink

Review of best altitude hold drones

Here is a rundown of the best altitude hold drones currently on the market. I have collected a range from inexpensive drones (under US$500) to professional level drones for serious photographers. I am certain that you will find the best altitude hold drones on this list.

Mavic Mini 2 – best for beginners

The DJI mini 2 weighs less than 249 g, making it ideal for travel and allowing you to avoid some of the red tape required in some countries. In some areas, drones weighing less than 250 grammes can be flown without a licence.

Despite its tiny size, the DJI mini 2 is packed with various powerful flight functions and software. It has intelligent flight capabilities like a smart return to home, automatic takeoff, precise hovering, and the popular flight modes that DJI drones are known for.

This drone sits in my mind between a hobby and midrange drone and is perfect for someone looking to buy their first serious drone

Among the features are:

  • Drone weighing 249 grammes
  • 10 km video transmission range
  • level 5 wind resistance
  • ultra-clear 4K video
  • a large range of intelligent modes and quick shots
  • 31 minutes maximum flight time

Mavic 3

The drone is equipped with two cameras. The first is a Hasselblad 4/3 CMOS camera, while the second is a zoom camera. The hybrid zoom of the zoom camera is 28x (that means optical and digital zoom).

Because the drone has omnidirectional obstacle detecting, a collision-free flight is practically guaranteed every time you fly it.

Even if there are barriers in the road, an advanced return to home implies it will return home and calculate the optical route back to its home spot.

The features of this drone include:

  • 46 minutes of flight time
  • 15 km video transmission range
  • extreme precision positioning technology
  • 4/3 CMOS Camera
  • 5.1 K Pro Res
  • Two cameras

Air 2S

With a 1-inch sensor, the camera is ideal for capturing breathtaking photos and movies. It was created to be the ultimate drone for makers on the go, and DJI has once again delivered. It’s small and light, weighing less than 600 grammes.

The camera can shoot in 5.4K at 30 frames per second and 4K at 60 frames per second, ideal for those cinematic slow-motion landscape images.

Its features include:

  • 1-inch sensor
  • 12 km high definition transmission
  • Four direction obstacle sensing
  • 5 point 4K video
  • Master shots – automated shots
  • hyper lapse footage – very trendy

If you are serious about photography and want to ensure your drone can capture the best footage possible, this is the drone for you. It can shoot a raw format that is perfect for when you want to manipulate the images later.

Parrot Anafi

With a weight of about 320 grammes, this drone is exceptionally compact and portable. The Anafi is simple to set up, and the camera is stabilised on five axes, guaranteeing that the optical sensor catches the best image possible at all times.

The camera has a 180-degree tilt, which allows you to look entirely above and below the drone. These extra camera motions make it perfect for inspecting roof overhangs, something other drones in this article cannot do.

It boasts a battery life of 25 minutes and a variety of assisted flight modes that allow even the most inexperienced drone operators to fly with confidence.

Ruko F11 Pro

It has a 4K camera with a stabilised gimbal and a 3 kilometre HD video transmission.

It has a flight time of up to 28 minutes and a wind resistance of level VII. You may acquire sophisticated features like an auto return home, GPS follow me, point of interest, waypoint flight, and much more for a comparatively inexpensive price.

A superb drone with many of the capabilities seen in much more costly drones. At a fraction of the cost, you really can’t go wrong.

Autel EVO Nano+

This drone comes in a nano+ and regular nano version.

The nano + has a very serious 0.8 inch CMOS sensor capable of 50-megapixel photos. The nano has ½ inch CMOS sensor with a 48-megapixel camera. Both versions of this drone have a three-axis gimbal for ultra-smooth photos and videos.

It has a 28 minute flight time.

With all of the same features as the Evo Lite, this is a drone that will enable you to travel easily whilst also capturing some incredible footage.

Benefits of altitude hold

There are many benefits of choosing a drone with altitude hold. These include safety, steady photography, the ability to set maximum altitude is, and many more.

If you are looking for a drone to do a specific task, altitude hold will likely provide an extra layer of security and functionality to your drone.

Safety

Flying a drone can sometimes be a little bit precarious. We all make mistakes, and flying a drone with altitude hold means letting go of the drone controls can ensure that the drone will not move anymore until the low battery warning tells it to return home.

When I first bought my second-hand drone from the original owner, he showed me how stable the drone could fly should I let go of the controls.

The drone was able to hover in the presence of strong wind or other environmental conditions gave me a lot more confidence when flying my drone.

Since the purchase of my first drone, I have flown in a variety of strong wind conditions, and the drone has always been able to counteract any updraughts and buffeting from windy conditions.

I would not fly my drone safely in these conditions without altitude hold.

Steady aerial photography

Using a drone for photography often means switching your focus between being a pilot and a photographer.

Altitude hold enables you to turn your focus to the camera settings on the drone to capture the best shot.

If you had to manually fly the drone and maintain the altitude against the environmental conditions, you would not have the capacity to frame or change settings for drone photography.

Altitude hold has enabled a generation of photographers to capture aerial photos safely and easily.

Set Maximum Altitude

It is a requirement for every drone pilot to abide by drone laws and regulations.

Drones with the ability to hold their altitude also can set and hold a maximum altitude.

By entering the maximum allowable altitude into the drone flying software, you can be assured that you will never break the law and fly above the maximum permissible flight altitude. In many jurisdictions, this is 400 feet or 120 m.

Enables other Autonomous flight options

I love that altitude hold and the barometer that enables it also opens up the advanced software and flight features such as selfie modes and other auto-capture videos.

Many recent drones have automatic shot capture capabilities. We often avoid the automated shoot capabilities that the makers have worked hard to install in the drone. You can capture professional-level drone footage without worrying about piloting using different flying modes such as cinema graphic mode, tripod mode, and fast shots. All thanks to altitude hold!

The DJI series includes the following quick shots:

  • Rocket – your aircraft will hover at a low, wide-angle viewpoint before shooting skyward like a rocket into space while maintaining a downward-facing camera.
  • Helix – the helix effect makes a circle around the subject, keeping it in the field of view. The drone flies forth and upwards in a spiral manner as it rotates.
  • Dronie – the camera locks on to a subject and then flies backwards and upwards, keeping the subject in view. This shot makes it ideal for displaying stunning landscapes and places, and you’ve most likely seen it in drone footage.
  • Circle – The drone keeps the camera fixed on a topic and gently circles it while maintaining a consistent distance.
  • Point of interest – the camera will fix on a specific point in the image and hold that point of interest in the centre of the frame as you move the drone. This setting frees you to concentrate on flying rather than manipulating the camera and gimbal.

While some of these drone images may appear and feel tacky, they do make flying and shooting film at the same time simple, easy, and enjoyable.

Altitude hold drone buyers guide

If you are in the market for buying a drone with altitude hold, I highly recommend paying particular attention to the features below. By asking yourself some very simple questions, you will make sure that you choose the best room for you.

What is it for?

The first question you should ask yourself is, how will I use my drone?

Suppose you are going to use your drone for surveying and mapping purposes. In that case, you will need a much higher level of accuracy than if you are using your drone for photography and videography purposes.

Photography

Altitude hold means that you can focus on capturing your photo and video rather than piloting the drone.

If you take photos of landscapes, you will need a lower accuracy than taking drone photos closer to your subject. A high level of stability is required for real estate photography and other infrastructure capturing missions.

To capture amazing real estate photography photos, you will need to spend a little more to ensure the stability and quality required for impressive sales photos.

Mapping

Mapping requires the highest level of stability from your drone.

An enterprise-level drone will be more expensive but will provide you with much higher accuracy and the ability to control the drone in adverse conditions. The drone will also handle much higher wind speeds and fly for longer – making your aerial mapping much more accurate and time-effective.

Remote control or App

My preference is to control my drone using a remote control. All of the drones in this list come with an advanced remote control that offers a high level of interaction with various drone components.

Some of the drones on the list also can be controlled using  Wi-Fi through your phone and App.

The lack of remote control makes it much easier to fly quickly without having to deal with setting up the remote control and connecting your smart device.

Perfect for people who want to fly casually and do not need the distance provided by remote control.

Other advanced features that some with altitude hold

The great thing about drones having the hardware for altitude hold is that it opens up many options for automated flight features.

Each manufacturer has its version of automated flight features and automatic shots. Often these include some version of waypoint control and smart capture.

The final word

This article has been over everything you need to know about the best rooms with altitude hold.

Altitude hold is a fantastic tool that enables drone photographers to focus on capturing the shop rather than piloting the drone manually and fighting against other environmental forces.

Many drones are now capable of automatic altitude hold because of the safety it provides to the drone pilot. I love flying my drone with automatic altitude hold because I can focus on other aspects. If I find myself in a tricky situation, I remove my thumbs from the joysticks, and the drone automatically hovers. This small break gives me a chance to reassess and plan my move out of the sticky situation.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones. His favourite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!