DJI Mavic Air 2 front camera logo DR

What’s your drone budget? None of us want to spend any more than we have to, but the truth is, if you are looking for a serious camera drone experience, the $800 range is where you’ll need to start looking.

In this price bracket, you should expect one step short of the best consumer-class cameras currently found on the drone market, but the drones may have fewer advanced flight features, as an example. These are still great drones, able to capture some stunning imagery from the sky. This is our list of the best drones under $800.

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.

Best drones under $800

1. DJI Mavic Air 2: The best camera under $800

DJI Mavic Air 2: The best camera under $800

DJI Mavic Air 2 flying camera angle

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is simply the best camera drone you can buy for under $800. Make no mistake, if you do not value aerial video as much as you value the ability to scoot around a race track, there are faster and more agile drone out there for you, but this 48MP 4K camera shoots silky smooth video from the sky, it’s easy to operate, and packs most of the very best flight features that DJI has to offer.

The Air line of Mavic drones have a habit of taking the best of the larger Mavic drones, and making it smaller. Each and every Air has introduced an updated camera for the DJI line, with the Mavic Air 2 including the first modern 1/2-inch sensor, and the first 48MP shooter. Just keep in mind that this camera is made to shoot 12MP photos using pixel binning – that is, it greatly improves the image quality by combining the input of every four pixels into one pixel. You can shoot 48MP photos, but they will not be as crisp and color accurate as the 12MP shots. You might have seen this same sensor on your smartphone.

Should I buy the DJI Mavic Air 2?

If your budget is $800 and under, and you are looking for a camera drone, this is it. We very much enjoy flying the Mavic Air 2, and still use panoramic shots from it as our desktop wallpaper across ultra wide monitors. However, if you can save up just a little bit more money, there is no doubt that the newer DJI Air 2S is a superior drone, with a superior camera. These two machines are very similar, but the newer 5.4K camera is something to see for a bit extra money.

Pros

  • Great camera
  • Great flight time
  • Good range
  • Fun to fly
  • Easy to fly
Cons

  • Not as good as the newer version
  • Older drone

DJI Mavic Air 2

(9.6)
  • 34 - MIN
  • 4K - 60 FPS
  • 42.5 - MPH

2. DJI Mini 2: Best camera under $500

DJI Mini 2: Best camera under $500

DJI Mini 2 flying bottom sky

The DJI Mini 2 tops our list of the best drones under $500, which qualifies it to live on this list as well. The 4K camera is decent, flight time is average, range is average, and there are no special flight features, so why does it make these best lists? Simple, the Mini 2 is practically the only viable 4K camera drone with reliable GPS that costs less than $500. Also, it weighs less than 250g, which means it does not need to be registered with the FAA before you fly.

Should I buy the DJI Mini 2?

Despite having larger and more capable drones at our disposal, the Mini 2 is one of the top drones that we reach for for our hobby flights. It is so portable that we don’t think twice about throwing it in a bag when we’re hitting the trails, it’s affordable enough that we’re not afraid to fly it over water or take other calculated risks that we won’t take with the larger drones.

It may be easier to compare the DJI Mini 2 to the hand-held camera situation. Like us, you might have a DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera at home, but you take way more photos with your smartphone, simply because it’s more convenient and portable. The Mini 2 is basically just your phone, but with wings.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Best camera for under $500
  • Weighs under 250g
  • Easy to fly
  • Very portable
Cons

  • Not as good as the bigger drones
  • Limited obstacle avoidance sensors

DJI Mini 2

(9.4)
  • 31 - Minutes
  • 4K - 12MP
  • 36 - MPH

November 2020

Release Date

3. Parrot Anafi: Versatile camera gimbal

Parrot Anafi: Versatile camera gimbal

Parrot Anafi folding drone folded open

The Parrot Anafi has a unique feature that makes in invaluable for many users, it can point the camera upwards. Aside from that, the Anafi is a pleasantly portable drone that can keep up with average in the sky. It is a little bit older, but is the current airframe in the Parrot lineup, available in several models made for hobby pilots and commercial pilots alike. That upward facing camera is not just fun, it’s very useful for inspection services.

Should I buy the Parrot Anafi?

Honestly, there are two really good reasons to buy the Anafi: First, if you need to be able to point a camera upward, this is a good solution. Second, if you are averse to DJI products. Other than that, the Anafi is a decent value for the price, but not as good of a bang-for-the-buck as the newer drones on this list.

Pros

  • Looks up
  • Portable
  • Fun to fly
Cons

  • Older drone
  • Average flight features

Parrot Anafi

(8.9)
  • 25 - MIN
  • 4K - 30 FPS
  • 32 - MPH (50 km/h)

4. PowerVision PowerEgg X: Waterproof camcorder

PowerVision PowerEgg X: Waterproof camcorder

The PowerVision PowerEgg X is one of the more capable AI-driven drones around. Primarily, the object tracking is great, you can watch that gimbal bounce around as it effectively follows an object. That tracking is effective as you fly the drone normally, when you install the waterproof shell, or when you remove the propeller arms and turn the drone into a hand-held camcorder. A versatile machine.

Should I buy the PowerVision PowerEgg X?

We really enjoy the ways in which you can use this camera system, and the waterproof shell really adds to where you can fly this machine. That said, our opinion of this drone as a drone is average. It flies well, but not spectacularly, it has decent flight modes, and the camera quality is a little above average, but it is a little cumbersome to transport with all the tidbits, and we’d experienced intermittent connection issues.

Pros

  • Very versatile
  • Fun to use
  • Great object tracking
  • Can be used as a camcorder
  • Optional waterproof shell
Cons

  • Average camera output
  • Doesn’t travel very well

PowerVision PowerEgg X

(8.5)
  • 30 - MIN
  • 4K - 60 FPS
  • 40 - MPH

5. DJI Mavic Mini: As good as some $800 drones, but half the price

DJI Mavic Mini: As good as some $800 drones, but half the price

The DJI Mavic Mini introduced us to DJI’s first take on a fully GPS-enabled camera drone that weighs less than 250g. Equipped with a 2.7K camera, the Mavic Mini is the smallest and least expensive drone we would consider for our aerial photography desires. The compact size and light weight make it ideal for transport, and it’s easy enough to fly we’re comfortable using it to train new pilots. The 2.7K camera is silky smooth, but is obviously not as great as the 4K cameras out there.

Should I buy the DJI Mavic Mini?

The DJI Mavic Mini is superb little drone, but, we recommend saving up a little extra cash to buy the newer Mini 2. Make no mistake, you’ll be happy with the Mavic Mini, we still fly ours, but the Mini 2 is faster, stronger, has a better camera, longer connectivity range, and is only a tad more expensive.

Pros

  • Superb portability
  • Solid 2.7K camera
  • Easy to fly
  • Fun to fly
  • Weighs under 250g
Cons

  • Flexible front controller arms
  • Only 2.7K camera
  • Limited flight range
  • Inferior to Mini 2

DJI Mavic Mini

(9.0)
  • 30 - Minutes
  • 2.7K - 12MP
  • 29 - MPH
What to look for

What to look for

Shopping for drones is any price bracket comes down to your needs. For example, the best camera drones focus on the smoothest video capture possible, even if that means slowing to a crawl. Racing drones capture amazingly fun action from the sky, but the video really is, technically speaking, low quality. As the market shifts towards prioritizing autonomy and aerial photography over the flight experience itself, we find more and more camera drones than racing drones on the market these days.

No matter what drone you fly, please follow the rules of the sky

That’s all we have today, we’re always eager to test new drones and add more to our database of flying machines. You’ll see those adventures played out in future updates to posts like these, but do hit the comments if there are drones you hope to see sooner rather than later.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the real difference between an $800 drone and a $1500 drone?

Depending on the drone, when you look at a spec list, there are surprisingly few differences between drones in the $800 and $1500 price ranges. Despite that list being short, the result can be significant. Generally speaking the more expensive drones will have a higher payload capacity, more safety features, fly a bit more accurately, and offer a better camera. While it is a short list, for the camera drone enthusiasts at least, that upgraded camera can make or break the experience. If you are doing more than just flying for fun, the upgrade is almost always worth it.

Can I do professional and commercial drone work with a $800 drone?

Within reason, yes. Most photography tasks and basic inspections can be done with near any drone, however there are no production units available in this price range that have infrared cameras or RTK-level GPS accuracy to meet stringent inspection standards. Further, most $800 drones are not equipped with top of the line safety features, and would struggle in GPS-denied environments. Otherwise, capturing a wedding from the sky, or some reference maps for a cartographer, as well as simple scouting tasks, are all easy work for most $800 drones.

What’s the real difference between an $800 drone and a $500 drone?

Similar to our previous price range comparison, the more expensive drones are likely to have better cameras and flight features, but at these prices, you’ll start to find the lesser expensive drones to be outright missing key features, or are built for different purposes. For example, most of the best racing drones are priced around $300 – $500. You would not use a racing drone for photography work, as an example. For the camera drones, you are less likely to find obstacle avoidance sensors on a $500 drone.