Grainy and unclear images as you fly your drone at night can be frustrating. And so is losing sight of your drone when visibility is already a problem. You want clear, detailed visuals for your nocturnal photography, videography, surveillance, or even search and rescue missions. Drones equipped with control and safety measures for a smooth flight experience, and whose build can take on the challenges that the night and weather bring your way. We have compiled this guide of drones equipped with the latest night vision tech to get you just that.
The models range from commercial drones for building and infrastructure inspectors, those used by first responders, public safety, and federal agencies, all through to recreational picks for travelers and content creators. We'll show you how they perform in the low-light and pitch-dark environments, and accompanying features to make your operations a success.
Criteria for Choosing the Top Night Vision Drones
To put together this year’s list, here is what we've looked at:
- Night Visuals and Thermal Imaging Capabilities: We look for drones equipped with advanced night vision features, their ISO ratings, and thermal imaging technologies.
- Camera Quality: We prioritize drones with superior camera specs, capable of capturing crisp, clear images and videos, even in the darkest conditions. This includes evaluating sensor size, resolution, and low-light performance.
- Flight Time and Range: Drones with longer battery life and extended transmission range allow for broader and more flexible usage, especially in expansive or remote areas.
- Stability and Wind Resistance: Does the drone hold its position and flight path, even in challenging weather conditions? Good wind resistance is essential for ensuring the drone's reliability and safety during flights.
- Size and Portability: The drone's size and ease of transport are important, especially for users who need to move quickly or travel to various locations. Compact, foldable drones are ideal for portability without compromising on features.
- User-Friendliness: A drone's ease of use is crucial, from those designed for beginner, to those tailored for high-pressure situations. We consider factors like intuitive controls, easy setup, and user-friendly interfaces in our evaluation.
- Special Features: Lastly, we look at unique or special features that enhance the drone's capabilities. This can include advanced obstacle avoidance systems, customizable settings, regulatory compliance (like with the FAA), and other innovative technologies that set the drone apart.
Let's start off with a summary of the leading night drones:
And now to dig deeper into each of the drones...
In-Depth Reviews Of Top 15 Night-Friendly Drones in 2023
1. Autel EVO MAX 4N
In April 2023, the Autel Robotics lineup welcomed the EVO MAX 4N, marking a significant advancement in night vision aerial tech. This model, showcased at the Autel Robotics Global Partner Summit, differentiates itself with the innovative Starlight Camera – a feature that also distinguishes it from its sibling, the EVO Max 4T. It combines legacy strengths of the Max series with new innovations, making it stand out in this year’s night drone market.
- Starlight Camera: 2.3MP, LUX: 0.0001, ISO: 450000, 41.4mm equivalent.
- Thermal Camera: 640x512 resolution with 16x digital zoom.
- Wide Camera: 50MP, 1/1.28" CMOS sensor.
- 720° Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance: Ensures safe navigation.
- Autel Skylink 3.0 Transmission Technology: Maximum image transmission distance of 12.4 miles.
- Data Security: AES-256 encryption and password protection.
- Operating Environment: IP43 rating, operational from -4℉ to 122℉.
- Autel Enterprise App Platform: Supports multiple mission types and advanced features.
The EVO MAX 4N's camera system is a primary feature that deserves attention. It includes a Starlight Camera, Wide Camera, Thermal Camera, and Laser Rangefinder. The Starlight Camera is particularly noteworthy for its exceptional low-light performance, boasting a 2.3MP resolution, capable of functioning in extremely low light (0.0001 Lux), and with an ISO of 450,000. This makes the EVO MAX 4N highly capable for night-time operations, with the ability to lock and track targets in low light conditions
Apart from its camera, the EVO MAX 4N retains the robust design and features of the EVO MAX series. This includes 720° omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, ensuring safe flight without blind spots. The drone also boasts triple anti-jamming capabilities (EMI, RFI and GPS) and can perform semi-autonomous tasks such as auto path finding and pilot it through GPS-denied environments. Moreover, the EVO MAX 4N supports various mission types, from polygon and terrain follow missions to more complex oblique photography and vertical scans.
The long-range Autel Skylink 3.0 transmission enhance its operational safety and efficiency, and with its IP43 rating it remains reliable in diverse environmental conditions, from freezing temperatures to dust and light rain. The drone also offers enhanced data security, with data being locally accessible on the aircraft and encrypted with AES-256. Furthermore, it comes with the A-Mesh 1.0, the industry's first mesh networking, enhancing its connectivity and operational range.
Who It’s Best For
The EVO Max 4N is ideal for a variety of users, including law enforcement agencies for tasks like surveillance, wildlife conservationists for monitoring nocturnal animals, and emergency responders for search and rescue operations. Its thermal imaging and advanced tracking capabilities, coupled with environmental resilience and data security, make it a versatile tool for demanding night-time missions.
2. DJI Matrice 350 RTK
Launched in May 18, 2023, the DJI Matrice 350 RTK is an upgraded flagship in the brand’s enterprise drone lineup. It integrates a new video transmission system and control experience, a more efficient battery system, and a night-vision FPV camera. Coupled with its payload and expansion capabilities, it’s established itself as a versatile and powerful tool in aerial operations – landing it a spot in this year’s best drones for the night.
- Night-Vision Starlight FPV Camera: Enhanced low-light capabilities for night operations.
- Flight Performance: 55-minute max flight time, IP55 rating, max payload of 2.7 kg.
- Safety Features: 6-directional sensing & positioning, CSM radar for obstacle detection, multi-layered redundancy design for enhanced safety.
- Dimensions and Weight: Unfolded: 810×670×430 mm; Folded: 430×420×430 mm; Weight with batteries: Approx. 6.47 kg.
- Operating Conditions: Can operate in temperatures ranging from -20° to 50° C (-4° to 122° F) and resist wind speeds up to 12 m/s.
The Starlight FPV camera of the Matrice 350 RTK been enhanced for better navigation during night flights, capturing surroundings and obstacles in low-light conditions. This capability, combined with the drone's advanced obstacle detection system, including 6-directional sensing and CSM radar, ensures safe and efficient operation during night missions.
Another standout feature is the new DJI O3 Enterprise Transmission system, which delivers triple-channel 1080p HD live feeds and a maximum transmission distance of 20 km. This system utilizes a four-antenna transceiver system for optimized anti-interference capabilities and transmission stability. The enhanced flight time of up to 55 minutes greatly widens its operational window, keeping it in the air for longer during those extensive night-time tasks.
The drone's IP rating has been upgraded from IP45 to IP55, enhancing its durability in various weather conditions. Additionally, the M350 RTK includes an arm lock detection function to prevent the risk of unlocked arm sleeves, a six-directional binocular vision system, and an infrared sensing system for comprehensive flight protection
Who It’s Best For
The DJI M350 RTK is particularly well-suited for professional applications in fields like emergency response, infrastructure inspection, and environmental monitoring. Emergency responders can utilize its night vision and extended flight time for search and rescue operations. Infrastructure inspectors benefit from its stability and payload capacity for detailed surveys. Environmental monitors can leverage its robust design and advanced sensing capabilities for wildlife observation and ecological assessments, even under challenging night-time conditions.
3. DJI Mavic 3 Classic
Launched on November 2, 2022, the Mavic 3 Classic comes with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera, which is ideal for high-quality imaging, even in low-light conditions. This camera designed and built specifically for the Mavic 3 series by the iconic Swedish brand Hasselblad, in an impressively compact form factor.
The high-end imaging plus compact, portable design saw it quickly gain popularity amongst the best drones for night time operations in 2023.
- Camera: Hasselblad 4/3 CMOS sensor, capable of 5.1K HD video recording.
- Flight Time: Up to 46 minutes of flight time, with a hovering time of 40 minutes.
- Dimensions and Weight: Folded size of 221×96.3×90.3 mm, and a takeoff weight of 895 g.
- Speed and Altitude: Max ascent speed of 8 m/s, descent speed of 6 m/s, and a takeoff altitude of 6000 m.
- Wind Resistance: Can withstand wind speeds of up to 12 m/s.
- ISO Range: Night Mode ISO range of 800-12800 for video.
- Special Features: Omnidirectional obstacle sensing, 15km HD video transmission, and advanced return-to-home (RTH) capabilities.
In night-time operations, the Mavic 3 Classic excels due to its specialized Night Shots video mode, which optimizes footage in low-light scenarios such as sunsets and sunrises, reducing noise for cleaner and clearer shots.
The high ISO range in Night Mode, coupled with the advanced imaging technology of the Hasselblad camera, allows for detailed and vivid captures even in dim lighting conditions. This is crucial for tasks requiring high-quality imaging after dusk or before dawn, such as wildlife observation or landscape photography.
The 20-megapixel Hasselblad camera can capture up to 5.1K/50 fps, 4K/60 fps, and 1080p/60fps videos. For slow-motion footage, it can record at 4K/120fps and 1080p/200fps. The camera’s adjustable aperture from f/2.8 to f/11 and 24mm equivalent focal length lens provide 12.8 stops of dynamic range. With the Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution, you get true-to-life colors, while the High Dynamic Range (HDR) system delivers footage ready for post-production without additional color tuning.
The Mavic 3 Classic has a maximum flight time of 46 minutes and utilizes the O3+ transmission system for smooth flight control and video streaming up to 15 kilometers. With DJI’s ActiveTrack 5.0 system in the drone, you can track subjects and frame images automatically, creating professional-quality videos. The Cruise Control feature is a notable addition, enabling pilots to set a constant flight speed, thereby reducing camera shake and enhancing image quality.
Regarding safety, the drone is equipped with 8 visual sensors for obstacle detection, integrated with the APAS 5.0 system for autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance. Additionally, its advanced Return To Home system and AirSense ADS-B receiver ensure enhanced operational safety by alerting pilots to nearby aircraft. The inclusion of DJI's GEO 2.0 geofencing system provides valuable information about airspace restrictions and potential flight hazards
Who It’s Best For
The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is particularly suitable for professional photographers and videographers, environmental researchers, and recreational users. Photographers and videographers can leverage its advanced camera and night mode for capturing stunning low-light scenes. Environmental researchers will find its extended flight time and stability useful for extensive fieldwork. Recreational users will appreciate its portability and user-friendly features, making it a great companion for capturing memorable adventures.
4. Autel EVO II Dual 640T V3 R
Making its debut on November 5, 2022, this Dual 640T was part of a comprehensive upgrade to the EVO II V3 series of drones, which introduced new improvements, including aerial thermal imaging and night vision capabilities. It’s a formidable player in the commercial drone market, designed for rapid deployment in critical applications like industrial inspection, search and rescue missions and firefighting. The upgrade in the camera performance, coupled with its speed and safety, sets it apart in the competitive enterprise drone segment and on our ranking of top night-vision drones. Here is a breakdown of what it brings on board:
- Dual-Camera System: High-definition 640*512 thermal imaging camera and a 50-MP visual camera with RYYB sensor.
- Enhanced Imaging in Low Light: Utilizes Moonlight Algorithm 2.0 for superior performance in limited lighting.
- Thermal Imaging Capabilities: Equipped with a 13mm focal length lens and 16x digital zoom, ideal for tasks like area surveying and hotspot locating.
- Camera Performance: Features a 0.8" RYYB CMOS sensor, offering 144%~233% more surface area compared to competitors.
- Autofocus Technology: PDAF+CDAF system for fast and accurate tracking.
- Flight Performance: Level 8 wind resistance, a maximum take-off altitude of 7,000 meters, and a maximum speed of 20m/s.
- Extended Flight Time and Range: Up to 38 minutes of battery life and a maximum flight distance of 25km.
- Image Transmission: SkyLink 2.0 Video Transmission technology with a reach of 15 kilometers.
- Advanced Safety Features: 360° obstacle avoidance and 19 sets of sensor perception.
- User-Friendly Control: Smart Controller SE with a 6.4-inch OLED touchscreen and support for third-party apps.
The Autel EVO II Dual 640T V3 is particularly suited for night-time operations due to its advanced thermal imaging and enhanced visual camera. The integration of the Moonlight Algorithm 2.0 with the RYYB sensor significantly improves visibility in low-light conditions, making it ideal for surveillance, search and rescue, and wildlife monitoring. The thermal camera's ability to discern details from a distance adds a layer of efficiency and safety, especially in challenging environments.
The camera's 12-bit A-log DNG capabilities ensure vivid colors in both daylight and nighttime imaging modes. This enhanced performance marks a significant improvement over the EVO II Dual 640T V2, providing superior viewing effects. Its high-resolution cameras, combined with the 4x lossless zoom and Dynamic Track 2.0 technology, allow for detailed environmental analysis and object tracking. These features make it an invaluable tool for tasks such as industrial inspection, environmental monitoring, and crowd control.
While the level 8 wind resistance and maximum 38-minute flight time in steady environments remains consistent with the Dual 640T V2, the drone's efficiency in professional operations has been proven through experimental data and consumer feedback. A significant addition to the EVO II series is the new Autel Smart Remote Control SE. This control unit, works with all models in the EVO II v3 series, uses the Autel Explorer App and features a 6.4-inch OLED screen.
Watch it in use here:
Who Is It Best For?
The EVO II Dual 640T V3 is an excellent choice for professionals in fields such as public safety, environmental research, and industrial inspection. Its user-friendly interface and advanced safety features also make it accessible for drone hobbyists interested in advanced aerial photography and videography. For example, a rescue team could use it for locating missing persons in challenging terrains, an environmentalist could employ it for wildlife monitoring without disturbing natural habitats, and a construction manager could utilize it for site inspection and progress monitoring.
5. DJI Mini 3 Pro
The DJI Mini 3 Pro was officially released on May 10, 2022 as the brand’s flagship sub-250 gram drone, succeeding the Mini 2 and evading the need for registration with most aviation authorities. Though it’s lightweight, it comes with features that were once exclusive to its larger counterparts – and was also one of the first releases from the DJI with a camera gimbal capable of tilting upwards. The Mini 3 Pro can be flown at night when equipped with anti-collision lights, as per FAA regulations. These lights, necessary for safe flight, must be visible from a distance of 3 miles. With that cleared up, here is what the drone offers for your flights:
- Camera: 1/1.3-inch sensor with Quad Bayer technology, capable of 48MP photos.
- Aperture: Wide f/1.7 aperture, optimal for low-light conditions.
- Video Capabilities: 4K/60fps video recording with a D-Cinelike profile for 10-bit color.
- Flight Time: Up to 34 minutes with an intelligently optimized battery.
- Portability: Ultra-light and foldable design, weighing less than 249g.
- Stability: Advanced wind resistance with stable hovering capabilities.
- User Experience: Intuitive flight controls with enhanced safety features.
- Special Features: Advanced obstacle sensing, ActiveTrack 4.0, and high-grade maneuverability.
The camera is our main focus here. Wit its 1/1.3” CMOS sensor, you can shoot in 4K up to 60fps and 1080p up to 120fps. The fixed f/1.7 aperture, coupled with the large sensor, allows for effective low-light performance (since more light gets to hit the sensor), making the Mini 3 Pro highly suitable for night scenarios. D-Cinelike profile ensures that even the subtle nuances of twilight hues are captured with clarity, for high-quality imagery during the dusk hours.
Its compact size does not compromise its stability given that the drone Level 5 wind resistance, ensuring stable operation in wind speeds of 19 to 24mph. The obstacle sensing and ActiveTrack 4.0 features allow for smooth navigation around potential hazards, which is crucial for complex flights where focus is key—be it in urban landscapes or rugged terrain.
One of the most notable improvements is the extended flight time. The standard model provides about 34 minutes of flight time, while the upgraded “Plus” battery offers up to 47 minutes. However, it's important to note that using the “Plus” battery pushes the drone's weight over 250 grams, affecting certain operational freedoms like flying over people or moving vehicles.
Who It’s Best For
The miniature size and extended flight time of the DJI Mini 3 Pro make it’s a favorite for hobbyists and recreational pilots for leisurely flying and capturing high-quality media. Content creators like vloggers and photographers benefit from its advanced camera features, including 4K video and RAW photo support. Professionals working in constrained spaces will find its small footprint and obstacle detection advantageous. Beginner pilots are aided by its user-friendly features and safety systems. Its portability and battery options make it perfect for travel enthusiasts documenting their journeys.
6. DJI Inspire 3
The DJI Inspire 3, launched in April 2023, marks a significant leap in DJI's line of cinematography drones. As the most powerful offering in the series, the Inspire 3 is a dedicated tool for high-level filmmaking, boasting an array of advanced features – such as the full-frame 8K imaging system and ultra-wide night-vision FPV camera in particular getting it into the top 10 of our 2023 best night drones.
- Low-light Performance: Ultra-wide night-vision FPV camera.
- Camera Quality: Full-frame Zenmuse X9-8K Air Gimbal Camera capable of 8K/25fps CinemaDNG video and 8K/75fps Apple ProRes RAW video.
- Flight Time and Range: Optimized for extended flights with advanced battery technology.
- Stability and Wind Resistance: Robust design ensuring stable flight in various weather conditions.
- Size and Portability: Compact and easily portable, designed for on-the-go professionals.
- User-Friendliness: Intuitive controls and a beginner-friendly setup guide.
- Special Features: Dual-control powered by O3 Pro video transmission, offering unparalleled control and flexibility in flight operations.
The ultra-wide night-vision FPV camera of the DJI Inspire 3 is the key highlight here, allowing for clear and detailed footage even in the most challenging low-light conditions. This, coupled with the wide dynamic range of the Zenmuse X9-8K Air Gimbal Camera, ensures that every detail is captured with precision.
The dual native ISO and 14+ stops of dynamic range make it an ideal choice for cinematic projects even in dim environments. The 161° FOV ultra-wide FPV lens gives you more situational awareness, the omnidirectional sensing system comes through for obstacle detection, and O3 Pro transmission gives you extensive control range and dual-control mode for separate pilot and gimbal operator control.
The Inspire 3's proprietary DL mount has multiple lens compatibility, including a new 18mm F2.8 ultra-wide lens and upcoming specialized lenses for 8K aerial cinematography. The DJI Cinema Color System (DCCS) used in the camera ensures authentic color retention, crucial for professional filmmaking and matching footage with ground-based cinema cameras. Its sleek design, portable form, and transformable frame make it highly suitable for various filming environments. It offers up to 28 minutes of flight time, supported by hot-swappable TB51 intelligent dual batteries.
The drone integrates seamlessly into the DJI Pro Ecosystem, making it compatible with professional film sets and accessories. It is also compatible with the DJI RC Plus controller, which features a 7-inch high-bright display and supports battery hot-swapping for extended use. The drone’s upgraded dual control capabilities allow for independent live feeds and control relay between two remote controllers, enhancing operational flexibility
Who Is It Best For?
The DJI Inspire 3 is best suited for professional cinematographers and photographers who require top-tier aerial footage. It's perfect for filming documentaries, especially those shot in the wild where lighting can be unpredictable. Real estate professionals can also benefit from its high-quality imaging for showcasing properties in twilight settings.
7. DJI Matrice 30T
Launched in March 2022, the Matrice 30T is a significant leap from its predecessors, offering a blend of advanced features packed into a compact design. Notably, this model is a foldable drone, marking a departure from the bulkier models like the DJI M300, thus redefining portability in high-performance drones. Its integration of cutting-edge technologies and user-friendly features, combined with its robust build, earn it a post on this year’s ranking.
- Night Vision and Thermal Imaging: Equipped with high-resolution thermal imaging (640×512 resolution) and FPV camera optimized for low-light conditions.
- Camera Quality: Features a 48 MP 1/2'' CMOS Zoom Camera with 5x-16x Optical Zoom and 200x Max. Hybrid Zoom, and a wide camera with a 12 MP 1/2'' CMOS Sensor, supporting 4K/30fps video resolution.
- Flight Time and Range: Offers a maximum flight time of 41 minutes, a max horizontal speed of 23 m/s, and can operate at a max service ceiling of 7000 m.
- Stability and Wind Resistance: Withstands winds up to 12 m/s and has advanced hovering accuracy, ensuring stability in varying conditions.
- Size and Portability: Compact and foldable design, making it easy to transport and deploy.
- User-Friendliness: Features the 7-inch widescreen DJI RC Plus with dual control mode, tailored for enterprise users.
- Special Features: Includes a laser rangefinder (range: 3 m - 1200 m), dual-vision and ToF sensors on all sides, and supports OcuSync 3 Enterprise for triple-channel 1080p video transmission.
The Matrice 30T excels in night-time operations with its thermal imaging and smart low-light photo capabilities, allowing users to identify heat signatures and capture clear images respectively. Its FPV camera ensures safe and confident flying even at night.
This drone's versatility is evident in its wide range of features. Improving upon the M300, the M30T has an IP55 rating, allowing it to operate in harsh weather conditions like rain, snow, or ice, making it ideal for rescue operations. Add this to the dual-vision and ToF sensors for enhanced safety, the Matrice 30T is built to operate reliably in challenging environments. The internal and external battery configuration supports extended operations with up to 6 hours of battery life, and the OcuSync 3 Enterprise system guarantees stable video transmission.Additionally, its lighter take-off weight significantly boosts portability.
The M30T comes with the new RC Plus controller, featuring six quick-action buttons, a seven-inch display, and an internal plus a removable battery. It offers six hours of battery life and an IP54 rating, along with various connectivity ports including microSD, USB, HDMI, USB-C, and 4G. This controller is compatible with other DJI products, ensuring seamless integration into DJI's ecosystem.
Watch it in use in during wildfire in Cleburne, Texas here:
Who Is It Best For?
Its resilience in harsh weather and advanced imaging make the DJI Matrice 30T a reliable ally for emergency services in search and rescue missions. For professional inspection teams, the drone's high-resolution cameras and prolonged flight time are invaluable for detailed inspections in sectors like infrastructure and energy. Law enforcement and security agencies benefit from its enhanced surveillance features, like thermal imaging and long-range zoom. Additionally, it's an effective tool for environmental monitoring and protection, thanks to its capability to capture detailed images in varied weather conditions.
8. Parrot Anafi USA
Parrot, the Paris-based firm - shifted its focus away from consumer drones to concentrate on their enterprise product line. Although launched on June 30, 2020, the Anafi USA remains a top choice for thermal imaging, and comes packed with functional and security features – which has got it to our ranking of top drones for night operations.
- Night Vision and Thermal Imaging: Includes a FLIR BOSON sensor for thermal imaging, with a temperature range of -40°C to +150°C and digital zoom up to 32x.
- Size and Portability: Compact with a folded size of 252 x 104 x 84 mm and a weight of just 500 g, making it highly portable.
- Flight Time and Range: Offers a maximum flight time of 32 minutes and can resist winds up to 14.7 m/s.
- Camera Quality: 21 MP wide visual camera, providing 4K video and high-resolution photo capabilities.
- User-Friendliness: Features such as user-defined geofencing and no take-off temperature limitations enhance its ease of use.
- Special Features: IP53 certification for dust and rain resistance, suitable for varied environmental conditions.
The FLIR BOSON sensor and digital zoom make the Parrot Anafi USA ideal for detailed thermal analysis, even in complete darkness. The dual optical 4K camera system comes with a 3-axis hybrid stabilization, ensuring stable footage, and offers a continuous zoom range from 1x to 32x, allowing for detailed observation and surveillance. This system can read a license plate from 130 meters away!
The wide-angle camera provides a 110° diagonal field of view and up to 5x zoom in 1080p resolution, while the telephoto camera extends this to 32x zoom. The telephoto lens gives you an angular resolution of 0.004°/pixel, (pick out details as small as 10 cm from 1,500 meters away). Lossless zoom capabilities are impressive, with 5x in 4K-UHD, 10x in Full HD, and 15x in HD, giving you DVD quality even at 27x zoom.
Clocking in at 500 grams, the Anafi USA is lightweight and has a compact, foldable design. This makes it ultra-portable, able to fit in a backpack or case, ideal for on-the-go operations. It can be unfolded in just 3 seconds, so less setup time on your part. Notably, it can go from case to flight in just 55 seconds.
This drone is part of the Blue sUAS program, adheres to NDAA & TAA compliance – meaning that it adhereres to high security and quality standards, and also features aspects like SD-Card AES-XTS encryption and zero data sharing by default. The integrity of its software is guaranteed through digital signatures, ensuring each update is authentic and unmodified. Network connections are secured with WPA2 protection and AES CCMP encryption, providing a secure link between the drone and its controller
Who Is It Best For?
The ANAFI USA is best suited for professionals in fields like search and rescue, first responders, and utility inspection. It's invaluable for SAR missions in the dark, monitoring large events by public safety personnel, or analyzing hard-to-reach infrastructure elements, like the case for wind turbines.
Note: There is a separate ANAFI USA GOV Edition that was unveiled in August 19, 2020. This model was developed in Massachusetts through a collaboration between the U.S. military and the Parrot, and is suited for the security teams, federal, and government agencies.Top of Form
9. Teledyne FLIR SIRAS
Released on September 6, 2022, the SIRAS includes a dual radiometric thermal and visible camera payload, making it a solid choice for night vision tasks. SIRAS, which stands for Secure Infrared Aerial System, embodies Teledyne FLIR's commitment to security and infrared legacy. The drone's development was driven by a demand for an easy-to-fly, reliable, and cost-effective solution. The 640x512 radiometric thermal/16MP RGB camera with zoom capability makes it suitable for range of applications, from industrial inspections to public safety missions.
- Dual Camera System: Includes a high-resolution radiometric thermal (FLIR Boson) and a high-resolution visible camera, optimized for diverse professional applications.
- Thermal Imaging Capabilities: Equipped with the FLIR Boson camera for exceptional night vision and low-light performance.
- Flight Time and Range: Offers a substantial 31-minute flight time with hot-swappable batteries, ensuring extended operations.
- Stability and Wind Resistance: Robust design with radar-based front collision avoidance, maintaining stability in various conditions.
- Portability: Compact and backpack-friendly, designed for ease of transport and deployment.
- User Interface: Simplified controls and no restrictive geofencing, making it accessible for a wide range of users.
- Special Features: IP54-rated for resistance to dust and water, enhancing durability for industrial and emergency scenarios.
The inclusion of the FLIR Boson camera allows for clear thermal imaging with the Teledyne FLIR SIRAS even in low-light conditions. For instance, operators can detect heat signatures in complete darkness or through smoke, which is essential for search and rescue or firefighting.
The inclusion of MSX technology, exclusive to SIRAS, overlays visible camera details on thermal images, offering critical information in real-time.
Its 31-minute flight time and hot-swappable batteries are essential for prolonged missions. The drone's stability is enhanced by its radar-based front collision avoidance system, ensuring safe operation even in challenging environments. The simplified controls, coupled with its lack of restrictive geofencing, make it accessible to a wide range of users, from professionals to beginners. The IP54 rating ensures durability in challenging environments, a crucial feature for industrial inspections or emergency response scenarios. Moreover, its compact design and backpack portability mean it can be easily transported and deployed where needed.
Who Is It Best For?
The Teledyne FLIR SIRAS is particularly suited for professionals in industrial inspection, public safety, firefighting, and search and rescue operations. For instance, it's a valuable tool for utility inspectors who need to survey large areas efficiently, even in adverse weather conditions. Law enforcement agencies can leverage its thermal imaging for surveillance and situational awareness during night operations. In search and rescue missions, its ability to provide clear thermal images can be life-saving, especially in scenarios where visibility is low. Firefighters can use it to assess hotspots and fire progression, ensuring better planning and response.
10. DJI Air 3
Released in July 2023, the DJI Air 3 boasts enhanced camera capabilities, ideal for capturing stunning visuals even in low-light conditions. Its dual-camera system was a first for the Air series. The Air 3's ability to take 48MP photos, record 4K HDR videos, and its enhanced flight time up to 46 minutes carve a niche for itself in the drone market. Night mode, introduced at the end of 2022 for the Mavic 3, has been incorporated into the new Air 3, making it a natural fit for this list of top night vision drones.
- Dual-Primary-Camera System: Wide-Angle and 3x Medium Telephoto cameras, both with 1/1.3-inch CMOS 48MP sensors.
- Flight Time: Up to 46 minutes on a single charge, a 48% improvement over the previous generation.
- Obstacle Sensing: Omnidirectional obstacle sensing for enhanced safety during flight.
- Video Transmission: O4 HD video transmission system with up to 20 km range and 1080p/60fps live feed.
- Camera Specs: Wide-Angle Camera (24mm, f/1.7) and Medium Tele Camera (70mm, f/2.8), with dual-native ISO and 10-bit color modes for video.
- Max Video Specification: 4K at 100fps and HDR video up to 4K/60fps.
- Wind Resistance: Can withstand wind speeds up to 12 m/s.
- Size and Portability: Folded dimensions of 207×100.5×91.1 mm and a takeoff weight of 720g.
The 48MP sensors of the DJI Air 3 excel in low-light conditions, extending the drone's usability beyond the daylight hours. The high ISO range, particularly in night mode, allows for clearer images in dim environments. Moreover, the wide-angle lens with its large f/1.7 aperture captures expansive scenes, while the medium telephoto lens, with its 3x optical zoom, brings distant subjects into sharp focus, both crucial for creative night-time photography.
The two sensors of the camera system outperform the Air 2S, and it also supports 2.7K vertical video shooting (9:16), making it the first in the Air Series to cater to social media platforms like Instagram Reels and TikTok. The drone also offers a variety of smart shooting modes, including FocusTrack, MasterShots, Night mode, Hyperlapse, and Slow Motion, enhancing the videography experience.
The battery life of the DJI Air 3 has seen a significant improvement of 48%, now offering up to 46 minutes of flight time. Additionally, the drone features an innovative charging hub with a power accumulation function, which allows for transferring power between batteries, a convenient feature for extended operations. Adding this to the wind resistance, the drone gets to stay airborne longer to complete tasks without the need for frequent landings.
The DJI Air 3 is also the first in its series to include omnidirectional obstacle sensing. This feature is facilitated by fisheye lenses and a 3D TOF sensor, providing comprehensive environmental awareness. The drone also incorporates APAS 5.0 technology for active obstacle avoidance and an Advanced RTH (return to home) feature for added safety. Coupled with advanced Return-to-Home (RTH) capabilities, ensures safety during complex maneuvers in dark environments.
Bringing the O4 Video Transmission system to the DJI Air 3 marks a significant upgrade in transmission capabilities. This system offers a transmission distance of up to 20 km and supports 1080p/60fps live feeds, ensuring stable and high-quality live video transmission – and this could land it in future rankings of long range drones.
Who Is It Best For?
Its portability and advanced features make the DJI Air 3 ideal for outdoor adventurers and sports enthusiasts who require dynamic capture of their activities. For professional photographers, particularly those covering events like weddings or marketing tourist destinations or real estate properties, the dual-camera system facilitates seamless switching between wide and zoom shots, ensuring a mix of landscape and detailed imagery. Additionally, the drone is a compelling choice for hobbyists seeking a balance between price and performance, offering advanced functionalities like extended battery life and intelligent technology, without the hefty price tag of top-tier models.
11. Skydio X2E
Availed to customers in May 2021 as part of the versatile Skydio X2 series, the X2E is designed for enterprise use. This is different from its sibling, the X2D, which targets applications like military reconnaissance. The X2E is tailored for first responders and civil agencies, facilitating safe and efficient inspection of large-scale infrastructures like bridges and high-rise buildings. It integrates autonomy software and a dual sensor payload, featuring a 12 MP color camera and a FLIR 320x256 thermal sensor. Additionally, the drone is equipped with Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation and Skydio 3D Scan software, enhancing its operational capabilities in various environments, including GPS-denied spaces.
- Camera System: Equipped with a 4K60P HDR color camera and a FLIR Boson 320x256 thermal camera, providing dual imaging capabilities.
- Autonomy and Obstacle Avoidance: Features 360° obstacle avoidance for safe navigation.
- Night Operations: GPS flight capability and strobe lighting suitable for night missions.
- Flight Time and Range: Offers a 35-minute flight time and a wireless range of up to 10km (1.8GHz).
- Portability: Ruggedized and portable airframe design.
The Skydio X2E’s performance night time operations is aided by its strobing lights that can be toggled between visible and infrared wavelength, ensuring visibility and compliance with aviation regulations during low-light flights. The integration of a FLIR® thermal camera allows for critical missions in total darkness, making it an asset for search and rescue or emergency response, where heat signatures are more significant than visual cues. The precision GPS, combined with the drone's 360° obstacle avoidance system, enables the X2E to operate safely and efficiently in complex, low-visibility environments.
The drone's AI-powered by the NVIDIA TX2, provides more situational awareness with 360° obstacle avoidance. Coupled with the precision GPS, you get to ensure safe navigation even in complex, low-visibility environments. Its rugged design enables the X2E to withstand the rigors of industrial environments while its portability makes it handy for quick deployment.
Who Is It Best For?
The Skydio X2E is the ideal choice for a wide range of professionals including first responders, infrastructure inspectors, and security teams.
Who Is It Best For?
The Skydio X2E is the ideal choice for a wide range of professionals including first responders, infrastructure inspectors, and security teams. For first responders, the thermal imaging and quick deployment can be lifesaving, particularly in challenging lighting conditions. For infrastructure inspectors, the high-resolution cameras and 3D scanning capabilities enable detailed examination of structures. Security teams can rely on its extended flight time and night operation capabilities to maintain vigilance.
12. EVO Lite+
Autel Robotics introduced the EVO Lite+ on September 28, 2021, as a key addition to their mid-range EVO Lite series. This series fills a niche between the lighter EVO Nano and the well-known EVO II models. It hit the shelves early in 2022, and since then has steadily risen in popularity. Its unique moonlight algorithm and high ISO performance make it a formidable tool for nighttime operations. It also brings a user-friendly experience that’s been lauded by hobbyists and professionals alike.
- Night Visuals: Intelligent moonlight algorithm, high ISO performance suitable for nighttime photography.
- Camera Quality: 20MP RGGB camera with 6K recording cappabilities, 1" CMOS sensor.
- Flight Time and Range: Up to 40 minutes of flight time and a range of 7.4 miles.
- Size and Portability: Compact design that balances power and portability.
- User-Friendliness: Intuitive AutelSky app for easy operation.
- Special Features: 1.3x lossless zoom capability, 4K at 60fps, 120fps at 1080p video recording.
The EVO Lite+ stands out with its 1-inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing stunning 20MP stills and 6K/30FPS video. The adjustable aperture (f/2.8-f/11) is a notable feature, allowing users to manipulate exposure and depth of field, enhancing creative control. This is particularly beneficial in low light conditions, where the drone's intelligent moonlight algorithm and HDR capability ensure low noise and high-quality images. The drone has an ISO range for video and photos from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. In Night Scene mode, the ISO can be extended up to 64000. The EVO Lite+ also features a unique fog penetration function, automatically adjusting camera settings to cut through haze and deliver crisp footage.
For safety and performance features, the drone has ultra-wide-angle obstacle avoidance cameras, providing a 150-degree field of view and significantly reducing blind spots. This advanced system contributes to a safer and more confident flying experience. Moreover, its industry-leading 40-minute flight time offers 30% more airtime than its competitors, allowing for extended shooting sessions without frequent landings for battery swaps. Note that the Lite+ has a 3-axis mechanical stabilization gimbal, as opposed to the 4-axis gimbal design of the Evo Lite.
Autel's SkyLink video transmission system further enhances the EVO Lite Plus's appeal. It boasts a 7.4-mile transmission range with a quality of 2.7K/30FPS, ensuring stable and clear HD video feeds even at long distances. This system supports three frequencies (2.4/5.8/5.2GHz) to mitigate interference, a critical feature for professional drone pilots operating in varied environments.
To further enhance user experience, the drone supports a range of automatic shooting modes like flick, fade away, rocket and orbit, making it easier to capture dramatic, professional-level shots.
The integration with the Autel Sky app allows for additional soundtracks and effects, catering to both novice and experienced drone operators.
Who Is It Best For?
Hobbyists will find it easy to capture quality footage with the Autel EVO Lite+, even for those without much experience. Professional photographers and videographers will appreciate the drone's advanced imaging and low-light capabilities, essential for diverse shooting conditions.
Additionally, travel and adventure enthusiasts will benefit from its long battery life, extensive range, and robust obstacle avoidance system, making it a reliable companion for those outdoor adventures.
13. DJI Mavic 3T
The DJI Mavic 3T, released in September 2022, quickly rose to prominence due to its integrated thermal camera. Resembling its counterparts, the Mavic 3E and the consumer-grade Mavic 3, the Mavic 3T offers a similar flight experience and accessories – but things change when it their imaging capabilities.
For instance, the Mavic 3E features a 4/3 CMOS sensor with 20 MP effective pixels, while the 3T is equipped with a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor offering 48 MP effective pixels. This difference in sensor size and pixel count influences the image quality and detail captured by each drone. The Mavic 3T also boasts a wider ISO range of 100-25600 compared to the 3E's 100-6400 range, allowing for greater sensitivity in different light conditions – including providing night visuals, which is why the drone is on this list.
- Camera: 1/2-inch CMOS sensor with 48 MP effective pixels; 84° FOV; f/2.8 aperture.
- Image and Video Quality: Maximum image size of 8000×6000; 4K video resolution at 30fps and Full HD at 30fps.
- ISO Range: Wide ISO range up to 25600 for enhanced low-light performance.
Weight and Dimensions: 920 g; (Folded: 221×96.3×90.3 mm, Unfolded: 347.5×283×107.7 mm).
- Flight Performance: Max ascent speed of 8 m/s, descent speed of 6 m/s, and max flight speed of 21 m/s in Sport Mode; Wind resistance up to 12 m/s.
- Flight Time and Range: Maximum flight time of 45 minutes and a maximum flight distance of 32 km.
The DJI Mavic 3T performance in night-time operations is thanks to its high ISO range and powerful camera, capturing detailed images and videos even in low-light conditions. It shares the tele camera of the Mavic 3E but adds a thermal camera with a 61° Display Field of View and 640 × 512 px resolution. This thermal camera, an uncooled VOx Microbolometer which the 3E lacks, is invaluable in detecting hot spots and facilitating quick decision-making. It supports various functions like point and area temperature measurement, high temperature alerts, and isotherms.
The Mavic 3T's ability to provide a simultaneous split-screen zoom with its thermal and zoom cameras enhances its utility in complex operational scenarios. Its agility and speed, coupled with strong wind resistance up to 12 m/s make it adept at navigating challenging environments during night missions.
The drone's extended flight time and considerable range are crucial for prolonged operations. Its compact and lightweight design ensures easy portability, making it a suitable choice for rapid deployment, crucial for field missions. The swift ascent speed and sport mode capabilities enhance its operational efficiency.
The series features DJI O3 Enterprise Transmission, allowing a maximum control range of 15 km. This ensures stable signal transmission and gives pilots peace of mind during extended flights. Safety is further bolstered by the improved obstacle sensing and navigation systems. It also includes DJI AirSense, which warns pilots of other air traffic, and the DJI APAS system 5.0 for obstacle sensing with zero blind spots. The drone also comes with an emergency stop button, low battery protection, and an automatic return-to-home feature.
Who Is It Best For?
The Mavic 3T has been engineered for critical aerial operations like firefighting, search and rescue, inspections, and night missions. The thermal camera identifies hot spots and fire sources, aiding in quick assessment and real-time monitoring, even in low-visibility conditions. For SAR missions, the drone's ability to detect heat signatures of people in challenging environments like dense foliage or at night significantly enhances the efficiency and success rate of operations. With inspections, particularly in industrial or construction settings the imagery facilitates detailed examinations of structures and equipment, identifying issues invisible to the naked eye. The low-light thermal imaging, makes it invaluable for tasks like wildlife monitoring and security surveillance, providing visuals even in total darkness.
14. Autel EVO Nano+
The Autel EVO Nano Plus came to the scene in September 2021, and is still favorite in the world of ultra-light drones, 2 years on. With a hefty 50 MP camera ensconced in its diminutive frame, the EVO Nano Plus showcases a large 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor combined with a RYYB color filter array, designed to enhance low-light performance. Launched as an ultra-lightweight option in the drone market, it weighs as little as a smartphone at just 249 grams – and you won’t have to fuss with FAA registration requirements. Its f/1.9 aperture is notably large for a drone of its size, promising superior imagery as dusk falls or in the dim pre-dawn light, making it an ideal companion for adventures that extend into the twilight hours.
- Camera Specifications: 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor with 50MP resolution, f/1.9 aperture, and an ISO range of 100-6400 for photos and videos.
- Portability: Weighs 249g and easily folds down for transport.
- Flight Performance: Maximum flight time of 28 minutes and a range of up to 16.8km.
- Wind Resistance: Can withstand wind speeds of up to Level 5 Class.
- Obstacle Avoidance: Equipped with a binocular vision perception system for three-way obstacle avoidance.
- Flight Modes: In smooth mode, the maximum flight speed is 5m/s, in standard mode it's 10m/s, and in ludicrous mode, it can reach up to 15m/s.
- Battery and Flight Time: Equipped with a 3900mAh battery, offering a flight time of up to 30 minutes.
- Transmission System: Autel SkyLink system with a maximum transmission distance of 10km (FCC) or 5km (CE).
In night time operations, the Autel EVO Nano Plus's strengths are in its 50 MP sensor with a RYYB color filter array and a large f/1.9 aperture excels in low-light conditions, delivering quality images where other drones might falter.
In night time operations, the Autel EVO Nano Plus's strengths are in its 50 MP sensor with a RYYB color filter array and a large f/1.9 aperture excels in low-light conditions, delivering quality images where other drones might falter. The high-resolution sensor allows for superior noise reduction, ensuring that even in minimal light, the details are crisp and clear. The drone's HDR capability further enhances image quality by balancing the contrast in mixed lighting situations, a feature that is particularly beneficial during sunrise and sunset flights.
The drone's operational capabilities are equally impressive. It offers a maximum flight time of 28 minutes, which is quite substantial for a drone of its size. Moreover, the Nano Plus maximum takeoff altitude is 13,000 ft and level 5 wind resistance, which equates to 19-24 mph. This makes it suitable for a range of environments and weather conditions. It is also equipped with binocular vision sensors providing three-way obstacle avoidance, enhancing its safety and reliability during flight. However, it's important to note that the Nano Plus is not waterproof, which may limit its use in certain environments.
Drones in the EVO Nano series supports RAW format photos, which is a boon for professional photographers who prefer to have more control over their image processing. The Nano+ also offers a digital zoom of up to 16x, allowing users to capture details from a distance without compromising too much on the image quality.
Who Is It Best For?
The Autel EVO Nano Plus is best suited for content creators, adventure enthusiasts, and professionals who require a lightweight, yet powerful drone. Content creators - photographers and videographers - will appreciate its high-quality camera for low-light photography and videography. Adventure enthusiasts can benefit from its compact size, making it the perfect travel drone for capturing stunning visuals of their journeys. Professionals, such as real estate agents or inspectors, will find its capabilities beneficial for light commercial use.
15. DJI Air 2S
Closing off our list of top drones for night photography is the Air 2S, a veteran in the industry which has been around since April 15, 2021. It succeeded the Mavic Air 2, and comes with a blend of advanced features, lightweight design (weighing less than 600 grams), all through to the CMOS sensor, enhancing its capabilities in various lighting conditions. Its range of automated functions also contribute to its continued demand by novice and professional drone users. Its versatility and user-friendliness, coupled with high-quality imaging, make it a significant player in the drone market.
- Camera: 1-inch CMOS Sensor, 20 MP photo resolution, 5.4K/30fps and 4K/60fps video capabilities.
- Night Vision and Low Light Performance: Enhanced low-light performance with a high dynamic range and 12.6 stops of dynamic range in RAW format, ideal for capturing detailed images in challenging light conditions.
- Flight Time and Range: Maximum flight time of 31 minutes with a maximum flight distance of 18.5 km.
- Stability and Wind Resistance: Stable flight with a maximum wind speed resistance of 10.7 m/s.
- Size and Portability: Compact dimensions (folded: 180×97×77 mm; unfolded: 183×253×77 mm) and a takeoff weight of 595 g.
- User-Friendliness: Intelligent features like automatic video modes, collision avoidance, and manual flight controls cater to all levels of flying experience.
- Special Features: Includes features like SmartPhoto mode, which utilizes deep learning and scene analysis for optimal shot selection, and various camera modes such as Single Shot, Timed Photo, AEB, and Panoramas.
The DJI Air 2S excels in night operations with its 1-inch CMOS sensor and 2.4μm pixels, significantly enhancing low-light photography and videography. The sensor's ability to capture 5.4K video at 30 fps and 4K at 60 fps makes it adept at recording crisp, clear footage even in challenging light conditions. Its low-light capabilities are further bolstered by the 12.6 stops of dynamic range when shooting in RAW, allowing for detailed images. The SmartPhoto optimizes image capture, offering modes like HDR, Hyperlight, and Scene Recognition. These features ensure vibrant and detailed images, even in challenging lighting.
The drone's compact size and weight make it highly portable, yet it doesn't compromise on power, with a robust flight time of up to 31 minutes and impressive wind resistance. The four-way directional sensors enhance safety, allowing the Air 2S to navigate autonomously around obstacles. This feature, along with the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 4.0, reduces worried when flying. The O3 transmission technology ensures a stable and reliable connection, which you need when you want to capture high-quality footage.
Who Is It Best For?
Photographers and videographers can benefit from the DJI Air 2S, with its high-quality imaging system and night vision capabilities providing plenty of opportunities for capture their desired visuals. Hobbyists will appreciate the drone's ease of use and the multitude of creative shooting modes. Meanwhile, professionals can leverage its advanced flight features and stability for complex operations, with applications like wildlife observation, event coverage, and artistic aerial photography.
The Night Watch: Our Final Thoughts
That marks the end of our analysis the top 15 night vision drones of 2023. Whether you're a professional in public safety, involved in industrial inspections, or a photography enthusiast, these drones are designed to meet your specific needs, even in the most challenging night-time conditions. Remember, at DroneFly, we've got you covered with a range of drones, parts, and accessories tailored to fit every requirement. Plus, we're sweetening the deal with free shipping on orders over $250!
As the year draws to a close, we can help but feel excited for what 2024 will bring for nocturnal flights. Will this year's top picks still reign, or will new innovations take dethrone them? Whatever the future holds, we'll be here for it, keeping track of the advancements and are committed to bringing you the latest and greatest drone technology.
For those seeking specialized UAV training, especially in professional fields like agriculture, mapping, or surveying, don't hesitate to reach out. Our team is ready to guide you through the best use cases for these drones. Have any questions or need more information? Contact us at 1(805) 480-4033 from 7am-5pm Monday-Friday (PST), or drop an email at sales@DroneFly.com or support@DroneFly.com.