Which Drone is Best for You?
The world of aerial photography/videography is more complex than ever before. Whereas even just a few years ago, you had the choice between an $800 drone…and a $4,000 drone, now the spectrum has dipped all the way down to the point where even just a $50 bill will get you something totally flyable, fun, and packed full of features. If you are new to drones, then this list is for you. We will go over features, use, cost, and ease of flying to suit everyone’s needs.
Table of content:
Best drone for under $100
Best drone for under $500
Best drone for $2,000
Best Drone for Under $100
Don’t let the snobby drone enthusiasts bring you down. Much like wine, cigars, and cars, there will always be someone with infinitely more disposable income to one-up you, all the while looking down their nose. Just how you can find a good wine for under $10, a good cigar for under $20, and a good car for under $5k, you can find a good drone for under $100. But much like a $5k car, chances are it won’t have all the features of a fully loaded Mercedes. While most drones under $100 will be able to fly, hold altitude, take photos (and maybe video), and transmit their signal to a smartphone, anything outside of that is extras that you’ll have to pick and choose depending on exactly what you need.
Eachine EX2 Mini
- Best known for their DJI ‘knockoffs’, Eachine sometimes cranks out something generally unique. The EX2 Mini is an excellent starting drone, as it comes with the option to include FPV goggles for only a few dollars more. For a starter drone, the chance of crashes are pretty high, so getting a drone that is a bit less complicated, and a bit more resilient is the key to success. In this case the EX2 Mini fits the bill perfectly. While it doesn’t have proximity sensors to protect it, you’ll often find it bouncing off of obstacles without a scratch.
- We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the DJI mini drone for under $100. DJI, partnered with Ryze has created something more than just a drone. If you have interest in later making your own drone from parts, the Tello is a great start, as it teaches you how to code in regards to areal machines. While buying extra options and gadgets can push you past the $100 mark, the base model with its solid camera, great battery life, and fun flight modes can be an inexpensive start to peak your interest in drones.
- Finishing our under $100 list, the Parrot Mambo is another key figure in the starter drone category. Parrot has taken a bite out of DJI’s market, and with good reason. Their drones are solid, and come packed full of features. The Mambo is especially good for its stability features. Coming with an auto shutoff, light tracking features for selfies and social media, and with a racing mode that is surprisingly responsive, it covers ground in all aspects. Its camera isn’t going to win any pulitzer prize awards, but if you’re unsure of what aspect of drone flying you want to get into, this is where to start.
Best Drone for Under $500
$500 can buy you a lot of things. Maybe a month of rent if you live somewhere cheap, a big repair on your car, even a whole new computer. Or you could buy a totally awesome drone. I think the choice is clear here. For $500 these drones are the first line in full fledged devices to impress the neighbors and get the shot never before possible.
- You absolutely read that right, a 4k capable camera for less than $500, strapped to a drone that is just as steady and capable as the big boys. It’s amazing how they do it, but Yuneec has taken some serious advancements in cramming a wonderful camera into something so small. Packed with all the bells and whistles you’d find on any higher end DJI drone, the Yuneec Typhoon 4K is ready to go straight from the box into the sky.
- DJI has made a solid, light flyer drone for everyone with the Spark. Front and rear facing sensors make sure you don’t bump into something on accident. Fun flying features that allow for creative shots from their DJI GO app, and a range that will have you blown away makes this one of the top drones for enthusiasts to continue dipping their feet into a well rounded piece of equipment. The Spark also features DJI’s famous stabilization so that all your footage, even without post processing comes out crisp, clear, and smooth. The only issue we have with this drone that we’d like to see is the ability to shoot RAW image files for further post processing, instead of the locked in JPG.
Arris X Speed
- Ok, so you’ve figured out that you aren’t so interested in getting those slow, crawling photos and videos from the cinema style drones. You’ve got a need for speed, and you’re looking to satisfy your thrill without breaking the bank. Here you go. The Arris X Speed is the best all-in-one package for a racing drone out there. Sure you can build your own that may be slightly faster, but it comes with all the problems of well…building your own. Carbon fiber body, stripped to the bones, with no frills, no nonsense, and a beefy RC remote for first person flying and you’re set to break some air speed records around your neighborhood.
Best Drone for Under $2000
$2000 ain’t cheap. It’ll get you a month of rent in a nice place, or a closet in New York. It’ll buy you a halfway decent car. But for the price of a new Macbook, you can deck yourself out with today’s latest and greatest drones.
Mavic Pro 2
- Available in two different flavors, the Mavic Pro 2, or the Mavic 2 Zoom both come in around $1400. For this price, you can expect nothing but the best from DJI. The first in its line with side facing cameras, full resolution cameras, a myriad of interesting shot features, activetrack for things like cars and people, and a signal that can hold its own in deep city life, or up to 6km out in nowheresville, it packs a punch. While you won’t be racing a Mavic Pro 2 in any competitions, its sport mode allows you to chase after cars, trains, and Hussein Bolt without any fear of losing pace.
- You know once you start naming drones just by their model number, they’re bound to be crazy. The F210 is one of the fastest drones out on the market right now, and breaking the 100MPH mark is no challenge for this little bullet. You may be thinking: “I’m going to pay $800 for something no bigger than a deck of cards??”. Yes. Completely carbon fiber build, air breathing motors, 5.8Ghz FPV mode with included goggles, and a night vision camera that outrivals most GoPros nowadays, it’s closer to a heat seeking missile than it is a drone. Ready to use out of the box with a little configuring, you can zip through even the most complex obstacles with ease, and rip down the highway faster than most sport cars.
Yuneec Typhoon H
- The first in this list that doesn’t just have four motors, the Yuneec Typhoon H is the flagship in Hexacopters, that is a drone with 6 propellers instead of the usual 4. What this means is insane stability, ease of flying, and precision unlike anything else. 4K video without any ‘jellying’ during fast scenes, 20MP photos to match most mid range DSLRs, and the ability to handle even strong winds makes this the ‘luxury sedan’ of professional drones. It can even lose power to one of the rotors and still keep flying, ensuring that you get the shot you set out to get. Why the Typhoon was chosen over similar hexacopters was for one simple reason: folding arms. When packing a hexacopter for a trip, good luck getting it to fit in your carry on. The Typhoon H has collapsable arms that allow it to fold into itself like some kind of sci-fi squid for simpler handling.
Best Drone for Under $10,000
Ok, so saying ‘under $10,000 is a bit of a joke, because at this level, you’re going to be reaching the upper levels of pro level drones, and into the commercial levels. These drones are the kind of machines that even some of the pros drool with envy over, and with good reason.
DJI Inspire 2
- The flagship in DJI commercial products, the Inspire 2 is the latest and greatest in commercial real video and photo. With a configurable camera attachment hooked on its underside that allows 6k video at 30fps, as well as 4k video at 60fps, it refuses to sacrifice anything for features sake. Running off the same solid background as their other products, DJI software, hardware, and technology is set in sync with one another to make every shot, whatever that may be, possible.
- At this level, Yuneec products start to change shape, from consumer, to commercial. The H520 is no different, being made to operate under damn near any conditions. Resistant motors allow for even strong winds to disappear underneath its 6 propellers, and keep the shot insanely steady. With loads of survey features, and adaptable modifications that allow for a variety of different spectrum shooting, the H520 allows the user to create an image of a worksite, a landscape, or a building with accuracy like no other.
Freefly Alta 6
- The first drone on this list that doesn’t come with a camera attached to it, the Alta 6 is a hexacopter ‘cage’ that allows the user to put whatever camera they’d like into it. Its payload is a whopping 15 pounds, and can hold even the heaviest video cameras on the market right now. While it may not have as many features at the others on this list, it is the only so far that can lift a RED camera to heights never seen before.