Top 3 Best Drones under $500 in 2020 (table comparison)

best-drones-under-$500

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.

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:Hubsan Zino 2

hubsan zino 2

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

  1. 4k 60p camera
  2. 8km range
  3. 32 min battery
  4. great image quality
  5. option to put ND filters
  6. modular gimbal+camera
  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 2Mavic MiniXiaomi Fimi X8DJI Spark
drone-image-iconhubsan zino 2mavic-mini-folded-downxiaomi-fimi-x8dji-spark-transparent
camera-icon4k2.7k4k1080p
battery-drone-icon33min30min30min15min
range-wifi-icon8km4km5km2km
gimbal-stability-drone-icon3 axis3 axis3 axis2 axis
drone-price-dollar-icon Check Price Check price Check price Check price

My video with details about these drones

FREE: Perfect pre-flight drone checklist 

Use this checklist to get in the habit of always being prepared with everything you need when going to film with a drone (especially if you're doing it for clients).

My final drone ranking (in detail)

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

camera-icon-small

4k 60p

small battery-life-icon

33 min

drone distance icon

8km

3 axis gimbal

hubsan zino 2

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

2.DJI Mavic MIni (Best small drone under $500)

camera-icon-small

1080p

small battery-life-icon

25min

drone distance icon

500m

1km

2 axis gimbal

No image stabilization

The ZLRC SG906 Pro made a huge leap from the original, just because it added a better camera and a good 2 axis gimbal.

Just like the original, it comes with a great build quality, brushless motors and great battery life.

You can use this drone for exploration, as it comes with a 50x in app zoom (you do lose quality though).

I rank it second to the Eachine because the image stablization is clearly inferior.

It flies super stable also thanks to its optical flow sensors underneath and GPS+GLONASS system.

The standard controlling range is 1km, but 500m is what you should expect from the visual range(FPV).

Advantages

  1. 30 min battery life
  2. Under 250 g
  3. Can edit videos in the app
  4. Smaller than a phone
  5. Multi-charger for multiple batteries

DISAdvantages

  1. A bit too small for extreme winds
  2. No obstacle sensors

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

camera-icon-small

4k

small battery-life-icon

30min

drone distance icon

5km

1km

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 ( Best Camera drone under $400)

camera-icon-small

1080p

small battery-life-icon

15 min battery

drone distance icon

400m

2 axis gimbal

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)

faq-what-should-you-look-for-in-a-drone

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).

drone lipo batteries explained
drone return to home explained

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.

things to know about drone gimbal stabilization