Are you looking for the best drone with camera under $500? It must be a difficult task, isn’t it? Because whether you are just a hobbyist drone lover or a professional one, finding the best drone is surely a difficult task. Also, even if you get the one that you are looking for, it goes beyond your budget, most of the time. Getting a good drone with a camera and all other essential features, that too within your pre-decided budget is a herculean task to do. Plus, if you are a first-time buyer, then the problem increases more. From a huge variety of available options, you have to find the best and cheapest one. And the result? CONFUSION!!!
When it comes to buying a good drone, there are many brands. Some of them are famous, and some are not. Also, they come in a wide range of prices, starting from a few hundred dollars, and going up to a few thousands of dollars. You will not spend thousands of dollars on a camera drone as your first investment. But finding something worth within a 500-dollar limit can be a better option.
So, I bring to you the top 10 best drone with camera under $500
1. DJI Mavic Mini
Manufactured by: DJI
When it comes to drones, DJI has always been a favorite brand. And their recent launch, DJI Mavic Mini is surely the best drone with camera under $500, according to me. I have chosen this drone on my list for several features. Let’s see what are some of the main features.
It has a 4km range that you can control while flying it. Also, I was very impressed with its flight time – it goes up to a maximum limit of 30 minutes with one charge per battery. Though, it does not come with a spare battery.
The front camera of the drone is supported by 3-axis motorized gimbal, fitted with a sensor. It has 2.7K quad HD resolution that will give you the best picture quality, along with a capacity of capturing 12MP images too. The frame rate of its camera is 30 FPS, an impressive one for a cheap camera drone.
The live video streaming by this camera drone is also of good quality, and it’s a lightweight, easy-to-handle drone. It has got good stability and a return to home function which is applicable even if the drone is running low on battery.
· An easy to fly drone
· Lightweight, foldable drone that can be carried easily, anywhere, and anytime
· 12MP camera with 2.7K video quality
· Looking at the cheap price, it has got an outstanding variety of autonomous features
· Comparatively lower image quality, when compared with other drones of similar price and features range
· Comes with only one battery, and a spare battery is not included with the package
· It does not have an object tracking feature
With so many options available under $500, you may wonder why to choose this one. Well, I think, if you compare its overall performance with other similar models, this one will surpass all others. With its extraordinary features and a smooth performance, this can be the best choice under $500, especially if you are a beginner. Also, look at the brand name!
2. Holy Stone HS720
Manufactured by: Holy Stone
This upgraded version of HS100 is worth-buying, if you are looking for an affordable choice that won’t disappoint you. This is not only the best drone with camera under $500, but also the best one under $300. I think this will be a great choice for amateur video making and outdoor filming. For a drone enthusiast like me who is looking for an inexpensive choice to fulfill my hobby, this latest model by Holy stone is a cool choice.
With an average flight time of 20 minutes, it provides a control range of up to 1600 meters. I especially loved its video transmission feature, which gives a 4K UHD 5G video quality. It comes with a great action camera of 12MP clarity. The live video transmission can be experienced on the smartphone screen, or even by using an FPV monitor.
Though I found most of the features similar to that of the earlier version (HS100), it has got a better quality. And the best thing about it is the variety of options in RTH mode – a low battery RTH, signal loss RTH, and guide RTH mode.
· It’s a durable choice for hobbyists and beginners
· Provides full 4K FPV video
· Features can be handled easily
· Good camera quality that makes it a better choice for outdoor filming
· An expensive choice in comparison with other models of similar features
· Charging time is more
· It does not include spare batteries in the package
· Spare parts, especially the batteries, are expensive to buy
I came across many other options, that are providing me almost the same features, that too with a lesser price range. But again, overall performance matters. Also, looking at the good image, video quality, and flight range, these other options may cost me more to get all this. It will be a one-time investment that will last long. Thus, Holy Stone, a well-known brand that has never disappointed its users, will prove itself this time too.
3. Altair Outlaw SE
Manufactured by: Altair Aerial
The no.3 on my list is the most preferred choice of many beginners as well as professionals. It’s a good choice for the best drone with camera under $500, because of many reasons, err, many features. But above all, I will prefer it as a good option for an outstanding drone photography and outdoor video-making experience. With the variety of cool features that it provides, it will give you an incredible experience that will make you feel that the amount spent on it was worth it.
To begin with its features, it has got a flight range working well up to 600m. and the battery life can last up to 20 minutes altogether, with a GPS integration that provides an easy flying experience. Also, I was able to get some good skills along with a clear video recording, because of its easy-to-stabilize feature.
It’s easy to push button allows the drone to safely return to home. And it provides a picture and video quality of 1080p HD, along with a stream back feature. Apart from these, I found several interesting features that should be mentioned here – headless mode, a GPS supported RTH mode, waypoint flight, and a one-button take-off and landing.
· A short-range with a good quality access
· System is enabled with GPS feature, that makes it easy to fly
· Brand is well-known for providing a good customer service
· A 20-minutes battery life that is sufficient for a beginner
· Flight range is quite short for a drone camera under the $500 limit
· Package provides only one battery, and the spare parts are expensive
I would prefer Altair Aerial products over any other brands when it comes to providing good customer service. And this is true in the case of this product as well. I was able to find several online guidelines and videos that helped me whenever there was any problem regarding the functioning of the drone. So, for its cool features and ready-to-help services, it’s a worthy choice to go for.
4. Husban Zino 4K Drone
Manufactured by: Husban
Husban is a well-known brand, which is famous among its customers for staying up to date with their products. And their latest product, Husban Zino 4K drone has replaced all the older versions with some of the most interesting features that you can ever find in a drone. With a price less than $400, it provides such a good-quality experience that I would have regretted if I had excluded it from the list of best drone with camera under $500.
So, what makes it so cool? Why is it able to outperform almost a majority of its competitors? Let’s consider its flight time. At normal conditions, the average flight time provided by this drone will be 23 to 25 minutes, which is fairly enough for a beginner’s experience. Also, its 5G enabled camera can provide you with some best stills, and a streaming of full HD videos with 30 fps and an FPV option.
I would prefer this drone over any other model, for an ideal experience of aerial photography. It has a 3-axis gimbal stabilizer, that allows producing clearer images by the drone camera. It also comes with a number of intelligent flight modes and safety features.
· A durable drone with many safety features
· Return to home mod available
· Flight range of 2.5 km
· 5G transmission available with 1km FPV live stream
· The transmitter quality is comparatively low
· obstacle avoidance sensors are absent
· low battery status is not notified
· Sometimes, the flight time lasts up to only 20 minutes
According to me, if you want to enjoy the best aerial photography experience, along with good quality images and live streaming, this drone would be the best and the most affordable option. And you can avoid its shortcomings, or some features that are lacking, as suggestions for future updates. Because as said above, Husban always considers the demands of their customers, and provide them with all the necessary features that they want, with their updated models. Let’s see if it happens in this case too.
5. UPair One 4K Drone
Manufactured by: UPair
UPair One 4K quadcopter is surely the best drone with camera under $500, looking at the features and the quality of service that it provides. It’s an economical alternative to all those expensive camera drones that we may see, while looking for the best one within our budget. With its incredible features like steady hovering and GPS-assisted flight, it gave me the feels of flying a high-end drone.
With the battery life of 5400 mAh, this drone provides a flight time of 15 to 20 minutes. I was able to get a maximum control range up to 1km, and the live video image transmission went as good as up to 600 meters.
When it comes to aerial photography, this drone has a 4K camera, and it can be adjusted to different angles to get the best possible view. The live video is transmitted to a 7” monitor which is placed on its remote controller itself.
One thing that I liked the most about this camera drone was its full GPS lock. Apart from that, there are several features worthy of mentioning here – Micro SD support that works up to 32 GB, position hold, and an automatic RTH mode.
· Very easy to handle drone for beginners
· Good quality live video transmission
· The complete package, along with a 7” FPV screen, is truly worth it
· Flight plan feature is not there
· The battery life, and eventually the flight time is quite less
I was impressed with its complete package that comes with an FPV LCD screen, and a good quality, easy-to-handle model. Also, the drone is providing a good camera quality within the $500 budget range. You may need to spend more on other models while looking for all these features together. If you are a beginner and want to learn the basics of drone photography, then this drone can be a good choice.
6. Traxxas Aton Plus – The Complete Racing Kit
Manufactured by: Traxxas
This may not be a popular one, but Traxxas Aton Plus is a very interesting model and the best drone with camera under $500. It can be the best choice if you are looking for a semi-professional drone that can also be used well for academic photography and video recording. Also, it’s an easy-to-use camera drone that does not have any complicated features to confuse the beginners. But I think it will be a better choice for those who already have an experience of flying a drone.
The Traxxas Aton Plus drone has an impressive flight time, lasting up to 20 minutes in normal conditions. Though the drone does not come with its camera, it has a 2-axis gimbal mount. And it supports GoPro 3 and 4 camera series that you can use with it. Along with it, the drone is also able to support some other mounts and different cameras.
Another interesting feature of this drone is its three flight modes – the sport mode, film mode, and the expert mode. I was able to capture some of the best aerial photos and videos using the film mode, a feature that is recommendable to beginners.
Some other important features are – status bar, RTH mode, Traxxas flight link, and dual-mode GPS.
· Despite not having its camera, it supports various cameras and their functions
· 2-axis gimbal mount, useful for GoPro
· Quite a lot of features within such an inexpensive price
· A drone that can be used by both beginners as well as professionals
· NO CAMERA included!
· Battery life is not satisfactory
I get mixed feelings while giving my final verdict on this camera drone. I have included it in my list of best drone with camera under $500, mainly because of its affordability and amazing features. And despite not having an own camera, it can be used for a good photography experience. So, you can give it a try.
7. Yuneec Breeze
Manufactured by: Yuneec
This highly portable camera drone is the best choice for shooting fantastic quality pictures and videos. Also, it fits well in your backpack so that you can carry it wherever you go, making it an ideal choice for outdoor shooting. Within a price limit of $400, it comes with some of the most unique features that will not disappoint you for whatever you will be spending on it. So, let’s discuss its main features, for which I have included it in my list of best drone with camera under $500.
Let’s begin with its size. I said that you can carry it anywhere you go because it is comparatively very lighter, and smaller in size. When I looked for some other alternatives, I just couldn’t find a one that will be so easy and light to carry, and will have so many features as well. it’s like a cheaper version of the Typhoon line, which is one of the most popular models by the Yuneec brand.
Yuneec Breeze has a 4K camera, and it can give you 13MP stills along with a real-time live streaming and backstreaming. I was able to try it on my smartphone as well. Some of the other unique features include GPS tracking, indoor tracking, 15 minutes of flight time, and a good compatibility with android and iOS.
· A very compact and portable design
· Several autonomous flight modes are available
· A goof quality 4K camera with 13MP quality images
· Very reasonable price for such a durable drone
· The controls seem to be mushy and imprecise
· The drone speed and flight range is limited
· Lack of gimbal feature and flight time is not worth it
Looking at its limited flight time and flight range, one may hesitate to spend $400 bucks for this drone. Even I wasn’t fully satisfied with the number of features that it provides. But looking at the overall performance, features, and durability, I think it will not disappoint its buyers. Especially if you are a beginner, then buying an affordably durable drone is the best thing that you should go for.
8. DJI Spark
Manufactured by: DJI
I must say that if you want to get your basics cleared well, and have an amazing experience right from the first time of learning how to fly a drone, then the DJI Spark is the coolest choice. it has featured in this list of best drone with camera under $500, by slightly avoiding the crossing of $500 mark. And for those looking for some crazy drone-flying adventure with a breath-taking drone photography, this is the best choice.
DJI is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to buying a good quadcopter. And they have kept their standards high in this model as well. the DJI spark has some of the best unique flight modes – rocket mode, drone mod, circle mode, and helix mode. Also, it has a good obstacle avoidance system that will prevent your drone from frequent bangs and crashes if you are not a pro.
It has a 12MP camera and 1080p resolution which is sufficient enough to get some good quality images with a drone camera. And I was delighted with its gesture recognition system that allowed me to control it just with my hands. It comes with a 2-axis gimbal feature, and a 15 minutes battery life in normal conditions.
· Some of the most intelligent flight modes
· A good obstacle avoidance sensor system
· Very good flight performance
· Camera is not a 4K one
· The obstacle avoidance sensors are placed only at the front, and not at the back
· The flight time hardly goes up to 15 minutes, otherwise it’s working mostly up to 12 to 13 minutes
Avoiding the flight time and the absence of a 4k camera, I would prefer this drone above any other for all other features that it provides. At this point, DJI is the top brand in the world when it comes to drone manufacturing, and this model of theirs is a great choice for beginners.
9. Parrot Mambo Drone
Manufactured by: Parrot
It will not be fair to exclude the mini-drones or the toy drones while discussing the best drone with camera under $500. Because, as said earlier, there are a number of toy drones and mini drones that come with amazingly interesting features. And if you are planning to buy a drone for your younger sibling, the Parrot Mambo drone is the one that you should go for.
Parrot mambo drone has some very easy and fun features that can be enjoyed by kids, youngsters, as well as the adults. This drone is different from other mini drones because it is specially designed for the young drone hobbyists and enthusiasts. It is very stable and easy to fly one, to make it kids-friendly.
It also has an advanced autopilot feature and some best-quality motion sensors. Also, it has a built-in vertical camera as well. It helps the young drone hobbyists to capture some best and unforgettable moments from the air. Apart from that, it also has a cannon attachment and a grabber arm to pick small objects.
· Best choice for kids
· One of the best mini drone with a fairly good camera quality
· Extremely affordable choice with such a variety of features
· Easy to fly, and easy to handle mini drone
· Easily portable and durable drone
· Comes with an average flight time
· Not the best choice for adult drone hobbyists
· Too basic to be used by semi-pro or professional drone flyers
According to me, this drone (mini drone, actually) is a fair choice for those who are setting their foot for the time, in the field of drone flying and drone photography. You can control it from your smartphone as well, so there is no rocket science involved in learning how to fly a drone. And yes, it’s the best choice to select for your kids who are interested in flying objects from their very young age.
10. 3DR Solo Drone
Manufactured by: 3DR
This drone is available in many price ranges, that come with different sets of features. but the one available for $410 is the best drone with camera under $500. If you want to enjoy a good filmmaking experience combined with an exciting drone flying, you should pick this one.
Talking about its features, this drone is a professional and critic’s choice for good quality aerial photography. It comes with a 20 minutes flight time and a number of flight modes – cable cam, Orbit, selfie mode, and follow mode. And if you look at its all features, you will realize that it can be used by a beginner as well as a professional.
I was impressed with the kind of manual flight controls available in this drone, and a superb flight speed of 55mph. It’s also a very durable drone, so you will not need to worry about damages, being an inexperienced drone flyer. Also, it’s a great choice to shoot some of the best, stable, and amazing quality videos with a drone camera, if you are an aspiring drone pilot and photographer.
· Very simple and intuitive controls
· Good flight time for a camera drone
· Interesting autonomous flight modes
· Camera and software are upgradable
· An amazing top-flight speed up to 55mph
· Mobile devise is required to fly it
· Absence of sense-and-avoid feature
· Take a long time to get recharged
For those who already own a GoPro, this drone is the best choice. And it will give you an overall satisfactory performance with good durability. And if you are getting all this for a price within $500, then why to hesitate? Last but not the least, this will be a satisfactory choice to enjoy and learn both the drone flying and drone photography by using a trustworthy drone brand that will last longer.
So, these were my top 10 picks for the best drone with camera under $500. Now, before you make your final choice, here are a few things that you should keep in mind when buying a camera drone:
1. Drones, the aerial vehicles used for fun or profession, usually come in two shapes – you will either see an X shaped drone, or an H shaped drone. Their functioning depends upon the motors, and the propellers. They also have a gyroscope, which helps to measure the position of the drone. To hover or stay stable in the air, the drone automatically alters the speed of each propeller. That’s how a basic drone works.
2. Before buying the best drone with camera under $500, decide the exact drone category that you want to look for. There are some main types of drones – the beginner’s drone, the professional drones, the camera drones, and the racing drones. I have also seen a few toy drones with some cool features. They are not meant for professional use, but you can buy them as a hobbyist, as they will suit your budget.
3. The beginner’s drones have comparatively fewer features, and also a less price, in comparison with the professional ones. And also, the camera drones can be further classified as basic and advanced camera drones. The basic ones are available at low prices, and advanced ones will cost you a bit higher price.
4. The features that I look for while buying a good drone are – camera quality, flight time, battery power and battery life, the prices of battery and other spare parts, flight range, and the capacity of GPS and return to home mode. If you are buying it for the first time, then look for the basic feature and a cheap drone. An expensive investment at the very first try cannot be a sensible decision.
5. In the end, know everything about the drone that you are going to buy. Check its specifications, working, and warranty. That’s it!
So, that was about buying the best drone with camera under $500. As said before, these are my top picks, and you can even go for other best ideas of your choice. Also, spending a few more bucks can give you some more advanced features. Whatever choice you make, it should not let you down!