The best drones under $500 are already going to be closer to a professional level experience than the categories we've seen before.
If we're looking at my top drones ranked by price, this is where the sweet spot of camera drones actually is. With a budget like this, you're already going to take super smooth stabilized footage with resolutions up to 4k, and definitely a good GPS system. There are also drones under $1000 that have even more advantages, but the benefits are decreasing.
If you're in a hurry you'll be able to see the table below with links to each of the top drones, including the cheapest price I could find for my overall winner of this price range.
Below 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.
In a hurry? Just pick my best recommended drone in this price category and you can't really go wrong!
This table is not necessarily 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.
This is a more in depth view on each of the drones we looked at before and my personal experience with them. Have a look at all of them, as each is great in it's own way.
Specs alone aren't enough to tell a story, testing a drone and seeing how it actually shoots video is what's more important.
3 axis gimbal
No image stabilization
The DJI Mini 2 is a drone released at the end of 2020 that exceeded all our expectations for what a drone under 250g can do(check my full review of the DJI Mini 2).
Because this way you can fly without registering it (in US and many other countries)
It comes with incredible specs and with this second version, it can withstand wind just as well as the Mavic Air 2.
3 axis gimbal
Since it's predecesor, the Hubsan Zino made it as my top drone on my list with the top drones under $300, it was expected this one would do pretty well here too.
It's not a perfect drone for sure, but if you want a sturdy, reliable drone with great specs for this price… I would recommend you this.
There's only one place on the internet I could find this under $500, the rest are $700 or more, lol.
With the Hubsan zino 2 we're talking about 4k 60 fps recording a 3 axis gimbal, great GPS stability, 8km range and 32 minute battery life. It records at 100Mbps and guess what it supports ND filters that are easily detachable, perfect for professionals.
Another interesting feature the Hubsan Zino 2 features is the detachable gimbal. This modular system means you can update it in the future with another camera release maybe.
3 axis stabilization
No image stabilization
It takes some great photos so I'd consider it a good choice for that.
The drone and controller are both very well made, typical for Xiaomi and the app is also pretty good too.
15 min battery
2 axis gimbal
This price category is very well suited even for professionals or people who are starting to find clients and make money with their drone.
So I suggest you take your time and learn a few of the basics in this regard.
For drones under $500 battery life should definitely be over 15 minutes per flight. Drones at this price range will probably come with smart discharge batteries also.
Another thing you should consider is the drone’s range, as it depends on what you plan to do with the drone.
I have also compiled my ultimate list with long range drones, if you want to focus more on this specific trait.
The range of a drone can greatly vary depending on the wifi interference, whether you bought it from Europe (CE mode has lower range usually) or USA(typically the best range).
When it comes to cameras, resolution isn't all that matters, you should look for dynamic range, frames per second and compare the samples.
The return to home feature usually comes with any GPS drone (which all on this list are).
It's helpful in many situations, however, the most prevalent ones are:
I also made a list with my favorite Return To Home Drones, and they are sorted by price, so you can pick the best one for your budget.
Proper image stabilization in a camera drone is probably the most important factor you should look for, if you want to take great photos and videos that are not shaky.
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.
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