We have a theory about the current state of the drone market: There are some fun and capable machines for under $500, but you really start to get into the best consumer drones if you spend more than that. Our list of the best drones under $1,000 truly represents our top recommendations if you are buying a hobby drone today.
At this price point, we’ve moved beyond toy class drones and the majority of FPV racers, we’re now looking at the lower-end of the camera drones. These are the entry level drones for those looking to capture those epic aerial photos and video. Let’s dive in.
Why trust Drone Rush?
I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
Did you know — there are drone laws to know before you fly?
The best drones under $1,000
DJI Air 2S: Best camera for the price
The DJI Air 2S is not the best camera drone on the market, but if your budget is $1,000 or less, then this is the drone for you! The 20MP 5.4K camera is unmatched at this price point, and the drone is no slouch either. Enjoy solid flight times, class-leading connectivity range, and the newest versions of several of DJI’s flight systems.
Should I buy the DJI Air 2S?
The DJI Air 2S is our favorite camera drone right now. If you have a bigger budget, you can get a better camera drone, but if you’re spending $1,000 or less, we know of no better machine on the market today.
- 5.4K video
- 7.5 mile connectivity
- Easy to fly
- Small and portable
- Fast and smooth
- Fun to fly
- No display in controller
DJI Mini 2: Best bang for the buck
The DJI Mini 2 has the potential to be the most popular drone on the market. It’s small enough to not require registration, easily packs away for transport, and still rocks a quality 4K camera. Enjoy all the best features of a GPS-enabled camera drone, in a package that is easy to manage, and has a very reasonable price tag.
Should I buy the DJI Mini 2?
Simply put, if you cannot afford the DJI Air 2S, and you want a camera drone, the Mini 2 is the machine for you. We really enjoy flying the Mini 2, but more than that, it’s our first choice if we are carefully considering the weight in our backpack. The camera is about as good as the average smartphone, which is good enough for a hobby flight.
- 4K camera for under $500
- Easy to fly
- Weighs less than 250g
- Good, but not magnificent camera
- No display in remote
DJI Mavic Air 2: Best balance of features and price
The DJI Mavic Air 2 fills an important gap in the DJI lineup of Mavic drones. In almost every way it is a middle-ground between the Air 2S and the Mini 2. Top notch battery life lets you enjoy the 4K, 48MP camera, though we recommend shooting 12MP binned images.
Should I buy the Mavic Air 2?
We very much enjoyed flying the Mavic Air 2, it uses a popular high-end smartphone camera, so the images and video from the sky are good, but have predictable limitations. The battery life makes this drone one of the most fun to fly, a few extra minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it’s worth it. Thing is, the Air 2S is far superior, and the Mini 2 is close enough for far less money, we want to recommend you buy the Mavic Air 2, but if you can save up for the Air 2S, you’ll be better off.
- Great flight time
- Solid 4K camera
- Easy to fly
- Great value for the price
- Older drone
- Full 48MP photos are not great
Parrot Anafi: Versatile camera gimbal
The Parrot Anafi is a fairly average drone in its segment, but it has one very useful trick, it can point the camera directly upward. This is not wildly useful for shooting nature shots, or when tracking an object on the ground, which are typical uses of most drone camera operations, but can be very useful for situational awareness, fun new perspectives, and particularly helpful for inspection tasks. That’s the key, this consumer drone is equipped to handle commercial operations.
Should I buy the Parrot Anafi?
As one of the best alternatives to a Mavic drone in the consumer camera drone market, we are comfortable recommending the Parrot Anafi. We think the price is a little high for the camera quality, but the ability to point upwards is invaluable fore some situations.
- Good flight time
- Camera points up
- Easy to transport
- Older drone
- Past reliability concerns
DJI Mavic Mini: Best bang-for-the-buck
The DJI Mavic Mini was DJI’s first GPS-enabled viable camera drone that weighed less than 250g. The compact size is ideal for portability, and does not need to be registered before you fly. The Mavic mini slings a 2.7K camera, which is superb for simple hobby tasks, but obviously does not stand up to the mor