Top 3 Best Drones under $500 in 2021 (table comparison)

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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.

Table of Contents

My winner:DJI mini 2

dji-mini-2-photo.jpg

In a hurry? Just pick my best recommended drone in this price category and you can't really go wrong!

  1. Under 250g (no need for registration)
  2. 4k 30p camera
  3. 10km range
  4. 31 min battery
  5. great image quality
  6. Level 5 wind resistance
  7. great transmitter

My top camera drones under $500 (table comparison)

drone comparison table and graphic

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.

Hubsan Zino 2DJI mini 2Xiaomi Fimi X8DJI Spark
drone-image-icon.pngHubsan-Zino-2-Test.jpgmavic-mini-folded-down.jpgxiaomi-fimi-x8.pngdji-spark-transparent.png
camera-icon.png4k4k4k1080p
battery-drone-icon.png33min31min30min15min
range-wifi-icon.png8km10km5km2km
gimbal-stability-drone-icon.png3 axis3 axis3 axis2 axis
drone-price-dollar-icon.png Check Price Check price Check price Check price

My video with details about these drones

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My final drone ranking (in detail)

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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.

 This list is in order of what I consider to be better overall AND what value for money that drone has. 

All these quadcopters are super high quality and you can’t really go wrong. It’s up to you to decide!

1.DJI MIni 2 (Best Drone under $500)

camera icon small

4k

small battery life icon

31min

distance icon smal

10km

1km

drone gimbal small icon

3 axis gimbal

No image stabilization

mavic mini transparent in hand drone versus

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).

Why 250g?

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.

Here's my video on it

Advantages

  1. 31 min battery life
  2. Under 250 g
  3. 10km range
  4. Can edit videos in the app
  5. Smaller than a phone
  6. Multi-charger for multiple batteries
  7. Level 5 wind resistance

DISAdvantages

  1. No obstacle avoidance

2.Hubsan Zino 2 ( Best 4k camera drone under $500)

camera icon small

4k 60p

small battery life icon

33 min

distance icon smal

8km

drone gimbal small icon

3 axis gimbal

Hubsan Zino 2 Test

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.

Advantages

  1. 4k 60p camera
  2. 8km range
  3. 33 min battery
  4. Great image quality
  5. Option to put ND filters easily
  6. Modular gimbal+camera
  7. Great transmitter

DISAdvantages

  1. Hard to find under $500

3.Xiaomi Fimi X8( best photography drone under$500)

camera icon small

4k

small battery life icon

30min

distance icon smal

5km

1km

drone gimbal small icon

3 axis stabilization

No image stabilization

xiaomi fimi x8 black package
The Xiaomi FImi X8 is a really capable drone with a 4k camera 5km range 30minute battery life and 3 axis gimbal 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.

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.
 
It's better than the smaller drones on this list by the fact that it's sturdy and powerful in wind and you can do many complex movements simultaneously with it.
It's cheaper brother, The Xiaomi Fimi A3 made it on my top list with drones under $300.

Advantages

  1. 4k camera
  2. Great GPS stability
  3. 2k at 60 fps
  4. Great range
  5. Long flight time
  6. Foldable design
  7. 100mpbs bitrate

DISAdvantages

  1. Gimbal clearance quite low
  2. No obstacle avoidance

4.DJI Spark ( A bit old, but very durable)

camera icon small

1080p

small battery life icon

15 min battery

distance icon smal

400m

drone gimbal small icon

2 axis gimbal

spark transparent
Although it made my top of the list drones just one year ago, the DJI spark isn't the definite winner for the under $500 category anymore. DJI has stopped selling it on their site but you can still find it to buy in the description.
 
For those of you who don't know about it, the DJI Spark is  a really compact drone with a 15 minute battery life, a 1080p camera and a 2 axis stabilization gimbal, It's a really sold quadcopter and it comes with a ton of flight modes that are really well made, from circle around to follow me and even obstacle avoidance. It has this sensor in front that helps it with detecting obstacles.
 
The camera also has some electronic image stabilization so the footage is surprisingly smooth. This drone is absolutely perfect for photos too, as it can take amazing 4k photos that can be edited later in post processing and made to look quite professionally. 

Advantages

  1. Great GPS stability
  2. Cheaper than ever (from amazon)
  3. Small yet durable
  4. A ton of flight modes
  5. Many accessories

DISAdvantages

  1. 2 axis gimbal
  2. Low battery autonomy

What to look for in a drone under $500 (and FAQ)

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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.

Battery life and Range

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).

5-things-to-know-about-drone-lipo-batteries-image.jpg
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Drone Return to home (and GPS)

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:

  • return to home on loss of signal
  • return to home on low battery power

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.

Image Stabilization

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.

5 things to know about drone gimbal stabilization image
Paul Posea
Paul Posea

Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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