Best Drones under $500 – My top affordable camera quadcopters in 2019

Best Drones Under $500 in 2019

The best drones under $500 are already going to be closer to a professional level experience than the categories we've seen before.

With this budget, you're already going to take super smooth stabilized footage with resolutions up to 4k, and definitely a good GPS system.

Bellow you'll have presented the top drones for each possible use and flight need, including GoPro cameras, foldable design or low weight and size.

We're also going through the main benefits of each and what you should look for in a drone for this budget.

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What to look for in a camera drone under $500?

There are many individual details that can separate the quality of drones in this price range, especially considering different people will have different needs.

I only included stabilized camera drones in this list, not racing drones or toy quadcopters. The price range will be somewhere between $300 and $500. For drones that are made for action cameras, the total price(including the GoPro) might vary.

Transmitter

The transmitter quality and functionality is something that you might want to take a close look at.

Transmitter battery life, how the sticks feel and the overall position of the phone/tablet are important.

Battery life

Battery life in this price category should definitely be over 15 minutes per flight. Drones at this price range will probably come with smart discharge batteries also.

Range

If you want to get the job done and film almost any point of interest, a range of 500m-1km is enough.

Most drones on the list will be more than that.

Camera quality

Resolution is one thing, but camera quality depends on things like Bitrate, what sensor was used and simply seeing the footage for yourself to be able to judge.

Being able to records in 60p in your desired resolution is also 

GPS stability and flight modes

It's obvious why you'd want your drone to fly very stable. Some drones on this list come with GPS + optical flow stabilization and some don't. 

The ones with optical flow tend to fly more stable when close to the ground and landing.

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MY TOP 7 Drones under $500

This table is not necesarily ordered by what's the best one, as I tried to put a variety of different quadcopters that can appeal to a wider audience. Therefore make sure you choose what you like best, as they're all pretty much in the same range of quality.

ProductBatteryRange
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
Dji Spark Review – the perfect camera drone under $500?
15 min
3000 m
1080p
$549.00 Buy It Now
2 Parrot Anafi Drone review
Parrot Anafi Drone review
25 min
4000 m
4k
$699.00 $699.99 Buy It Now
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Parrot anafi - the cheaper mavic competitor

Battery Life

25min

Range

50m

Camera

4k with lossless zoom 

Image stabilization

3 axis gimbal

The parrot is in my opinion the best drone you can get for actually under $500 because of it's very high quality build, awesome zoom features and overall very capable camera.

Considering Parrot is one of the main competitors for DJI and has a strong history of high product quality and drone manufacturing, it's safe to say the quality level of the product is something that becomes a big advantage.

This quadcopter is nothing short of being a fully fledged professional drone, able to take 16 or 21 mp photos in RAW format while also capable of shooting 4k super stable video.

Another reason why this drone is in the number one spot is that the camera can turn 90 degrees above to take absolutely original shots that no other drone is curently capable of.

It may not have optical sensors in front to avoid obstacles, but it still comes with the optical stabilization at bottom that helps it land better and fly more stable close to the ground.

Here are the box contents for the standard package:

  • quadcopter
  • drone case
  • controller
  • propellers (spare)
  • USB C Cable
  • Battery
  • 16 gb micro SD card

 

  • zoom camera
  • great quality build
  • camera can turn 90 degrees up
Average Score 9.5
Flight stability
8.5
Build quality
9
Flight functions
9
PROS:
  • Really Quiet
  • big battery life
  • 4k camera
  • can film 90 degrees up
  • lossless zoom
  • 21mp photos
  • a lot of flight modes
CONS:
  • card slot must be handled carefully
  • only 2 axis stabilization+EIS
$699.00 $699.99 Buy It Now
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DJI Spark - Low budget capable camera drone

Battery Life

15min

Range

3000m

Camera

1080p

Image stabilization

2 axis + Eis

The DJI Spark is still one of the most recommended drones by my, simply by the fact that it's very portable and does a great job stabilizing the video and simply staying in the air.

The spark is also a very feature packed drone, with tons of flight modes and quickshots.

It's also very impressive as you can control it by hand and set it take photos and videos by simple gestures.

The video is very well stabilized, although the 2 axis gimbal might be an issue when it comes to turning side to side.

The image quality is extremely good for a 1080p camera (especially considering it has a 4k sensor).

So if you plan to limit yourself to 1080p anyway, it might be a good thing for you to try this.

When it comes to pictures, the Spark excels, taking very crisp 4k photos, on par with what the Mavic drones can.

 

  • Great controller sticks/quality
  • obstacle avoidance sensors
  • can launch from hand
  • various flight modes
Average Score 9.5
Camera quality
9
Stability
9.5
Camera Quality
9.5
PROS:
  • great range
  • good battery life
  • small
  • very stable camera
  • many proximity sensors
  • a ton of flight modes
  • great transmitter
  • many online accessories
CONS:
  • maybe if it were foldable
$549.00 Buy It Now
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Xiaomi fimi x8

Battery Life

30min

Range

5000m

Camera

4k (2.7k in 60p)

Stabilization

3 axis gimbal

As you can see above, I underlined the fact that this drone is unique though the fact that it shoots 2.7k in 60p. Which is something I wanted for a long time considering I usually shoot in 2.7k anyway.

The drone and controller are both very well made, typical for Xiaomi and the app is also pretty good too.

A thing about this drone, although it may look like it has optical flow sensors in front, it in fact doesn't.

But the Fimi does come with optical flow sensors underneath to better hold its position in the air.

The only downside of this drone is that the gimbal doesn't have any ground clearance and you have to launch it from a plane surface.

Otherwise, it's flight modes are all working great, and the gimbal does an extremely good job overall.

  • super stable flight
  • great gimbal 3 axis
  • precise return to home
Average Score 9
Camera quality
9.5
Camera Stabilization
9.5
Flight Experience
9
Features
8.5
PROS:
  • 4k camera
  • 2k recording at 60fps
  • 100mbps bitrate
  • long flight time
  • great range
  • fast
  • good GPS stability
  • foldable design
  • 3 axis gimbal
CONS:
  • gimbal clearence quite low
  • no obstacle avoidance
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Hubsan Zino

Battery Life

23min

Range

1000m

Camera

4k

Image stabilization

3 axis gimbal

The hubsan zino is the absolute 4k budget drone.

It may not have the same high quality build as the others on the list, but it's pretty close.

The image stabilization is absolutely great and it flies quite amazing.

It doesn't have any obstacle avoidance or optical flow underneath, so it does tend to move slightly from the point of hovering, compared to the DJI Spark for example.

But even so it comes with GPS and it's quite precise and comes home at a maximum distance of 2m from the initial point.

The controller isn't amazing when it comes to quality, but it does its job.

However, to get such a drone for the price it's quite impressive. Long battery life, good range and an impecable 4k camera drone… what more could you ask for at this price?

Average Score 9.5
camera quality
9
Image Stabilization
9.5
Features
8
PROS:
  • 3 axis gimbal
  • 4k camera
  • flight functions like follow me and waypoints
  • foldable design
  • return to home
  • super smooth gimbal
  • lots of spare parts available
CONS:
  • no obstacle avoidance or position hold sensors
  • No low battery warning on the controller

How do you make money with your drone, though?

Okay, so you got your new and fancy drone, but how do you stand out from any dad out there who has the same drone and watched some tutorials online?

I did exactly that and barely had any success. 

But now I’m charging 5x as much as before and even have to refuse clients from time to time.

I even bought about 7 online courses… and I didn’t make much progress.

So how did I finally make it to this level?

If you want the short answer, I learned everything from this guy Alex, who’s making $200 per hour with his drone. And he’s even teaching exactly how to do that.

This is pretty much what you need to know:

how-to-make-money-with-drones

1. Make sure you have a proper drone.

If you have any of the latest DJI Drones, like the Mavic Air 2, for example, you’re ready to start making money.

No need to overthink this, but if it’s any help, check this comparison of the best camera drones compared in 2020.

types of drones

2.Learn how to create the best content to stand out

You won’t stand out from the next dad who bought a DJI drone for Cristmass in the eyes of your clients if you don’t do this.

It’s WAY more important to know what you’re doing than the gear you have.

You’ll need to learn and master the following:

  1.  
  • Flying your drone(to stand out from people with basic drone shots)
  • Preparing for the flight and weather in advance
  • Learn the best drone settings (you need a proper setup template)
  • Create the Video Script (it's way easier if you know what to shoot)
  • Have a set of great cinematic shots you know how to do
  • Know how to edit the video so it stands out
  • Learn how to color grade

This is why you HAVE to invest in a proper way to learn things (instead of watching tutorials here and there).

3.Find clients that pay 5x more than regular

But not so fast.

You won’t make a penny if you don’t know how to find your clients.

I have struggled finding clients even when my videos were getting pretty good.

Until I learned a few tricks and how to find and approach them so they won’t be able to say no.

And what’s best, I learned how to get the price I asked for.

How can you do the same?

I have tested quite a few courses online and watched tons of videos on youtube, but frankly, I have learned more from one single course than from everything else… and all that in like a weekend.

Made back the money from this investment in myself in a single week and then much more.

 

How do I learn all of this? From youtube?

You could simply go online and learn everything in terms of video from youtube, forums, facebook groups etc.

However, let me tell you, it’s the worst way to learn all of this(and the slowest).

You won’t have a Complete Step By step guide on how to do everything.

I found myself frustrated, even after I learned how to do most of the video stuff that I still lacked some knowledge and I didn’t know why my shots weren’t standing out.

I got some general promotion ideas from some articles online, but again… I didn’t have much success and was charging too little for my time.

This is exactly where I learned how to make $200 per hour with my drone (From A to Z)

This course is hold by Alex Harris, who’s an international video creator, director, and drone operator with tons of experience.

And I had a great time stealing his know-how(and greatly profited from it, lol).

I recommend you watch his video presentation bellow and check out the course sales page. It’s quite cheap, considering you’re getting 320+ minutes of everything you need to know, step by step and 80+ minutes on how to actually find the ideal clients for you.

I'm a big drone enthusiast, the owner of DronesGator.com and I also make weekly videos on my drone YouTube channel.

3 Comments
  1. This is a great and informative list. Thank you. Now that the Hubsan Zino 2/pro is out and if you added it to this list, which 2 drones would you pick as your top 2?

  2. How much payload can carry ? I need a drone that can take a payload of 250gr -300gr.

  3. How much payload can carry? I need a drone to send my fish bait out in the sea. Like 200m from shore.

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