Best Drones under $500 in 2023 (my top 3 affordable camera drones)
Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
The best drones under $500 are already going to be closer to a professional level experience than the categories we've seen before.
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.
2.Hubsan Zino Mini Pro (Longest battery life Drone under $500)
The Hubsan Zino Mini Pro is released as a response to the DJI Mini 2, both being drones under 250 grams, but the Hubsan drone takes things at a new level in terms of specs.
I ranked it second on this list just because I think hubsan has to do some software updates to get it on the level of DJI, but if you want to see more details, check out my comparison between the DJI Mini 2 vs the Hubsan Zino Mini Pro.
One of the most important specs that makes it different from any other drone of this size it's the awesome follow me option and obstacle avoidance sensors in front, which the Mini 2 from above doesn't have.
The sensor is also considerably bigger, making for better low light footage, th1/1.3 inch sensor is getting dangerously close to being a one incher, which is incredible to achieve in this small form factor.
It's 6 times zoom can also prove to be very useful, but it's benefits shine again in the final image quality, as it can record in 200 mbps, compared to the 100 of the DJI Mini 2.
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.
4.Xiaomi Fimi X8( best photography drone under$500)
3 axis gimbal
The Xiaomi FImi X8 is a really capable drone with a 4k camera5km range30minute 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.
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.