Serious drone pilots end up sinking hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into their rigs, building their own from parts or just picking up a ready-to-fly drone. We may look at building a custom rig one day ourselves, but for now, we’ll focus on off-the-shelf devices, the kind that keep the budget fairly low while you get the hang of things.

  • DJI Mavic Mini

    (9.0)
    $399.00 $359.00 BUY
    • 30 - Minutes
    • 2.7K - 12MP
    • 29 - MPH
    • 2.5 - Miles
    The DJI Mavic Mini is the smallest Mavic drone released to date. Offering 2.7K video and great flight features in a package small enough to...
  • Mini 2
    More Info

    DJI Mini 2

    (9.4)
    $449.00+ BUY
    • 31 - Minutes
    • 4K - 12MP
    • 36 - MPH
    • 6.2 - Miles
    The DJI Mini 2 is an updated Mavic Mini, now with a 4K camera, Ocusync 2.0, and updated flight features in a package still small...
  • Hubsan
    More Info

    Hubsan Zino Pro

    (7.6)
    $399.00+ BUY
    • 23 - Minutes
    • 4K - 30 FPS
    • 22 - MPH
    • 2.5 - MILES
    The Hubsan Zino Pro is a compact, folding drone with 4K camera, decent flight time and a solid set of flight features. Is this proof...
  • Tello
    More Info

    Ryze Tello

    (8.4)
    $99.00+ BUY
    • 13 - Minutes
    • 720p - 30FPS
    • 18 - MPH
    • 100 - Meters
    The Ryze Tello is one of the most capable and versatile mini drones around, enjoy different designs, code your own flight features, or just fly...

We have smaller budget lists as well, but let’s bump it up to half a grand today: This is our list of the best drones under $500.

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Jonathan Feist, Drone PilotJonathan Feist

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.

 

Drone Laws – That’s right, no matter what you fly, you have to follow the rules of the sky.

1. DJI Mini 2

DJI Mini 2: Best camera drone under $500

4K video

DJI Mini 2

November 2020

Release Date

The original DJI Mavic Mini was a very important machine for the consumer hobby drone market. The DJI Mini 2 is the next generation of super-compact camera drone, it's a solid improvement over the original Mini, especially in terms of the camera and flight capabilities. You still get a sub-250 gram drone, but now get a 4K camera, vastly improved connectivity, a more durable design, and more power.

The newer 1/2.3-inch sensor produces 12MP stills, and 4K video at 30 fps and 100Mbps data rate. For some, the most exciting update is lossless zoom. With up to 4X zoom, you can safely fly at distance from your subject, perfect for those pet photos or to capture shots of a waterfall in the distance.

DJI continues their accessory package trend, you can get the DJI Mini 2 for $449, or grab the DJI Mini 2 Fly More combo for $599.

2. DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini: Value GPS drone

2.7K video

DJI Mavic Mini

November 2019

Release Date

With a long list of drones that start with the name Mavic, DJI has launched yet another consumer machine, perhaps their most consumer friendly yet, the new, very compact, folding DJI Mavic Mini.

As the name implies, the DJI Mavic Mini is a very small machine, and in true DJI fashion, it has few compromises to make it all work. The first thing to note is that the Mavic Mini weighs less than 0.55 lbs, which means you do not need to register it with the FAA before flight. Registration is quick and easy, but not requiring it at all is a bonus.

Related reading: DJI Mavic Mini review

Don't let the small size fool you, this drone packs a 12MP camera, shoot 2.7K video  from a 3-axis stabilized Gimbal and has all of the flight features you'd expect from a Mavic drone today.

Starting price for the DJI Mavic Mini is $399, grab the Fly More combo for $499.

3. Hubsan Zino Pro

Hubsan Zino Pro: When a toy-maker goes pro

Zino

Hubsan Zino Pro

September 2019

Release Date

The Hubsan Zino Pro is a historic drone for the company. Until this point, Hubsan built mostly toy drones, that is, drones that may have offered some basic GPS functionality, rarely hosting anything more than a 720p camera, and nothing that had potential to stand up to a DJI Mavic series drone. The initial Zino may not have nailed it, but the Hubsan Zino Pro has a spec sheet that ticks a lot of the right boxes.

The Hubsan Zino Pro offers a 4K camera on a 3-axis stabilized, rotating gimbal, flight time similar to the DJI Mavic Air, a bunch of flight modes that most of us have come to expect of a drone, and 4KM connectivity. One of the best features is the ability to remove the camera lens and install new lenses with ND filters built in.

The Hubsan Zino Pro is $399 on Amazon today, but expect a normal price of around $439.