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Hey drone enthusiasts!
I’m the proud owner of the nation’s largest drone company. As an experienced drone pilot, I know that getting started in the drone hobby can seem daunting, especially when you’re on a budget.
But the truth is, there are tons of high-quality drones available for under $500 dollars in 2023 if you know where to look.
In this article, I’ll share my picks for the best drones under $500 dollars in 2023 based on my years of experience.
I’ll suggest the best drone under $500 with obstacle avoidance to help avoid crashes while navigating.
For aerial photography and videography, I’ll recommend the best camera drone under $500 to capture stunning footage. And for beginners, I’ll overview affordable drones that are easy to learn on.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first drone, or a pro searching for an affordable backup quadcopter, I’ve got you covered.
I’ll break down what features to look for, highlight the pros and cons of each model, and help you get the most for your money. Stick with me and you’ll be up in the air in no time!
Let’s dive in and go over some of the best budget-friendly drones under $500 dollars that will have you capturing epic aerial footage without breaking the bank. I’m excited to pass on my knowledge and help you start your own drone adventures.
DJI Mini 2SE | best Overall drone under $500
Best Drone Under $500
Full Beginner Kit Bundle For Under $500 In 2023
With its compact, foldable design, high-quality 2.7K camera, and smart flight modes, the DJI Mini 2 SE packs impressive capabilities into an affordable, beginner-friendly package.
For under $500, the Fly More Combo provides essential accessories like extra batteries and propellers that maximize your airtime. If you’re looking for a drone that delivers a fantastic flying experience on a budget, the DJI Mini 2 SE is my best drone for under $500.
The DJI Mini 2 SE is my top pick for the best drone under $500 in 2023. This compact quadcopter was once the hallmark of DJI’s mini drone lineup, and now at its reduced price point, it’s an incredible value for your money.
With the DJI Fly More Combo kit, you can get the Mini 2 SE along with essential accessories for under $500.
For under 500 dollars you get everything you need to maximize your flight time and keep your drone in the air. For recreational and beginner pilots, the full kit is a worthwhile investment.
Despite newer DJI mini models being released, the Mini 2 SE still holds up in terms of performance and features.
It delivers stable, smooth flight capabilities thanks to its 3-axis gimbal and GPS technology. The onboard 12MP camera shoots crisp, detailed 2.7K video at 30fps, which is highly impressive for the drone’s size.
You can capture stunning aerial views and landscapes with ease.
The compact and foldable design makes the Mini 2 SE ultra portable.
The lightweight body combined with up to 31 minutes of flight time on a fully charged battery gives you extended airtime in a nimble, easy-to-fly package.
Operation is intuitive with user-friendly controls and excellent hover precision. The OcuSync 2.0 transmission system provides a stable connection between drone and controller even at distances up to 10km.
Overall, it’s a very beginner-friendly drone that’s fun and simple to fly.
Despite its small size, the Mini 2 SE is nicely equipped with some advanced features like 8GB of onboard storage, 360-degree gimbal rotation for unique shots, and multiple intelligent flight modes including panoramas, hyperlapses and quickshots.
Considering its performance capabilities, camera quality, intelligent features and flight time, the DJI Mini 2 SE is an incredible value drone under $500. For recreational flying and aerial photography, it packs impressive specs into a conveniently compact size.
But for most beginner and intermediate pilots, the seamless flying experience, great camera, and portability make the Mini 2 SE a versatile drone under $500.
Given its rich feature set and reliability, the Mini 2 SE is hands down the best drone I can recommend for under $500 in 2023.
DJI has always been an industry leader in drone technology, and this little drone showcases the brand’s quality and innovation at a very appealing price point.
For any drone enthusiast or new pilot looking to get airborne without breaking the bank, the DJI Mini 2 SE is my top choice. With this capable flying camera, you can embark on your own aerial adventures and capture unique perspectives for under $500.
- Compact and portable design
- Smooth, stable flight performance
- Easy to fly for beginners
- Good quality 2.7K camera and video
- Up to 31 minutes of flight time
- Under 250g so no FAA registration required
- No 4K video capabilities
- Limited WiFi transmission range
- Not many advanced features for pros
- Battery life less than some higher-end drones
- Lacks advanced obstacle avoidance sensors
- Still on the pricier end for a budget drone
SJRC F7 PRO | best Drone With 4k Camera Under $500
Best Camera Drone under $500
Superior 4k Camera Over The Mini 2’s 2.7k Camera
- Shoots crisp, detailed 4K videos at 30fps
- Built-in 3-axis gimbal stabilizes footage
- 12MP still photos with creative shooting modes
- Live 720p view on remote for composition
- Good value under $500 for 4K drone
The SJRC F7 PRO stands out as a top 4K camera drone that delivers professional-grade video on a budget. For pilots seeking ultra high-definition aerial footage for under $500, the SJRC F7 PRO is a leading option worth considering in 2023.
Equipped with a 1/3” CMOS sensor, the SJRC F7 PRO can record stunning 4K videos up to 3840x2160p at 30 fps. This enables you to capture finely detailed, super sharp footage from the air. The onboard 3-axis gimbal provides further video stability for smooth, professional-looking results.
While the camera resolution is not adjustable, the ability to shoot high-quality 4K video is highly impressive for an under $500 drone.
The SJRC F7 PRO brings 4K shooting to entry-level drone pilots on a budget.
Fitted with a 94 degree field-of-view lens, the F7 PRO’s camera also performs well for still photography needs. 12MP photos and extensive shooting modes like burst mode, time lapse, and panoramas give you creative flexibility.
The remote controller has a built-in 720p live view screen, providing a crystal clear real-time display as you capture footage. This helps frame your shots and preview the excellent 4K video quality as you fly.
Power comes from a 2800mAh LiPo battery which delivers around 20-25 minutes of flight time per charge. While not exceptional, this is decent battery life for periodic 4K shooting sessions. Carrying backup batteries allows for extended air time.
For a 4K camera drone under $500, the SJRC F7 PRO gives pilots the ability to selfie thanks to palm launch and gesture control features. It also offers auto return home for peace of mind. The foldable design further boosts portability.
Overall, the SJRC F7 PRO packs impressive 4K video capabilities and shooting modes into a reasonably priced package. For budget-minded pilots focused on high-resolution aerial videography, it’s one of the top performing camera drones under $500 available today.
It may not stand up to professional use or compete with high-end drone features and specs.
However, if your main priority is getting professional 4K footage from a sub-$500 drone, the SJRC F7 PRO is undoubtedly worth considering. For the price, it delivers outstanding UHD video quality that outperforms most competitors.
- Shoots 4K video at 30fps
- Built-in 3-axis gimbal for stable footage
- 12MP camera takes high quality photos
- Live 720p view on controller screen
- Under $500 price point
- Decent 20-25 minute flight time
- Foldable, portable design
- Smart features like Follow Me
- 4K camera not adjustable
- Flight performance could be better
- Transmission range somewhat limited
- No adjustable aperture or advanced camera settings
- Lacks sensors and obstacle avoidance
- Battery life not as long as premium drones
- May not stand up to pro use
Tucok 011RTS | best Drone With Obstacle Avoidance Under $500
Best Drone Under $500 with
Forward, Back, Up & Down Obstacle Avoidance
- 360° sensors detect obstacles 66ft away
- Automatically brake and hover if objects sensed
- Avoid crashes into trees, buildings, people
- Works with Follow Me and Waypoint modes
- Obstacle Avoidance Drone For Under $500
The Tucok 011RTS quickly became my go-to recommendation for anyone looking for the best obstacle avoidance drone under $500 in 2023. After flying it myself, I’m thoroughly impressed with its integrated 360° obstacle detection system that takes crash protection to the next level.
With its laser-based sensors facing forward, backward, upward and downward, I’ve found the 011RTS provides a true safety net in the air.
This gives me huge peace of mind.
The obstacle avoidance even works flawlessly with the intelligent flight modes in my experience. If I’m using Follow Me or Waypoint Flying and the 011RTS senses an obstacle ahead, it pauses the automated flight to avoid a collision, then continues on once the path is clear.
Despite packing advanced safety tech, the Tucok 011RTS maintains a conveniently compact and portable design thanks to its foldable arms. The included carrying case makes it easy for me to take this safety-focused quadcopter anywhere.
I appreciate how the 011RTS also provides confidence for new pilots with its altitude hold, auto return-to-home and 9850 foot control range from the intuitive remote. The helpful in-app flight tutorials further simplify learning to fly it.
After flying many drones over the years, I can say the Tucok 011RTS is an outstanding value for under $500 based on its robust obstacle avoidance capabilities alone. For any pilot who wants to avoid crashes on a budget, it’s an excellent choice.
While it understandably lacks the agility of racing quads, the 011RTS provides the peace of mind all recreational flyers want by preventing collisions with obstacles using its array of onboard sensors. I can confidently recommend it for safe, worry-free flying.
- 360° obstacle avoidance sensors prevent crashes
- Detects obstacles up to 66 feet away
- Automatically brakes when objects detected
- Works with Follow Me and Waypoint modes
- Foldable portable design with case
- Easy to fly for beginners
- Altitude hold and auto return-to-home
- 9850 foot remote control range
- Lacks speed and agility of racing drones
- Lower resolution camera compared to rivals
- Battery life around 28 mins per charge
- No adjustable camera gimbal
- Some reports of faulty batteries
- Not suitable for professional use
- Can’t disable obstacle avoidance
Hubsan Zino Mini Pro | best Camera drone For Under $500
Best Camera Drone Under $500
4K video and 12MP photos
- Stunning 4K video and 12MP photos
- 33 minutes of flight time
- Intelligent flight modes
- GPS for stability
- Agile flying performance
I can confidently say the Hubsan Zino Mini Pro is the best camera drone under $500 for 2023. With its compact size, 4K camera, and smart flight features, it’s an excellent choice for beginners and enthusiasts alike.
At drone survey services LTD, we were amazed by the Zino Mini Pro’s 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor that captures stunning 4K video and 12MP photos. The 3-axis gimbal and onboard Electronic Image Stabilization deliver incredibly smooth, stable footage even in windy conditions.
You’ll be blown away by the camera quality from such a small drone.
The removable and rechargeable 5800mAh battery is super convenient with USB-C charging.
The Zino Mini Pro comes loaded with intelligent flight modes that are perfect for beginners. These include orbit, waypoint, follow me, and optical flow positioning for steady indoor hovering. The GPS enables precise outdoor navigation and automatic return-to-home.
Operating the drone is super easy thanks to the dedicated controller with built-in screen. It provides real-time flight data and a live view from the drone’s camera. The controls are intuitive and responsive. The foldable design makes the Zino Mini Pro extremely portable.
As a pro, I appreciate the advanced features like 4K/30fps video, 120Mbps bitrate, and H.265 video encoding that offer plenty of room to grow your aerial videography skills.
You can even live stream footage directly from the drone to social media.
Despite having pro-sumers features, the Zino Mini Pro remains easy to fly thanks to the GPS stabilization and optical flow positioning. It’s versatile enough to capture gorgeous aerial footage, yet forgiving enough for total beginners.
For the price, you won’t find a better combination of video quality, flight time, and intelligent flying modes. The Hubsan Zino Mini Pro leaves other sub $500 camera drones in its price range in the dust.
In summary, if you want a premium drone experience without the premium price tag, the Hubsan Zino Mini Pro is my top choice for under $500. It’s the perfect drone to elevate your aerial photography and videography.
For awesome 4K aerial footage, long flight times, and smart flying modes in an ultraportable form factor, the Hubsan Zino Mini Pro is hands down the best camera drones under $500 for 2023. It nails that sweet spot between features, performance, and price.
- Smooth, stabilized video and crisp 12MP photos
- Intelligent flight modes like Follow Me, Orbit, Waypoints work flawlessly
- GPS and vision positioning allow stable flight indoors and outdoors
- Long 33 minute flight time gives you ample time for aerial filming
- Lack of adjustable aperture to control light intake
- Slight gimbal vibration at high speeds
- Auto landing not as precise as premium drones
- No rear obstacle avoidance sensors
- Battery not removable during flight
- No dedicated carrying case included
Buying Guide: The Best Drones Under $500 in 2023
Drones have exploded in popularity in recent years as the technology has become more affordable and accessible. With so many options on the market, it can be tricky to determine which drone is right for you, especially if you’re on a budget.
This comprehensive buying guide will walk you through everything you need to know to find the best drones under $500 in 2023.
What to Consider When Buying a Drone Under $500 2023
There are several key factors to evaluate when shopping for an affordable drone:
Flight time, also known as battery life, refers to how long the drone can stay in the air on a single charge. This is one of the most important considerations, as you want to be able to enjoy flying your drone without having to land every 5-10 minutes to recharge.
For drones under $500, average flight times range from 10-30 minutes. The DJI Mavic Mini 2 gets an impressive 30 minutes of air time.
Control range determines how far you can fly your drone from the controller before losing signal. Longer control ranges allow you to explore farther and capture expansive aerial footage.
Most sub-$500 drones have a control range of ~200-400 feet, which is sufficient for recreational use.
One of the main appeals of drones is being able to shoot stunning aerial photography and videography. The camera specs like resolution, frame rate, gimbal stability, and other features determine the quality you can achieve.
While more affordable drones won’t match the image quality of high-end models, many include 1080p or 4K video, 12+MP photos, wide angle lenses, and 2/3-axis mechanical gimbals for great stability.
Fast maximum speeds allow you to capture thrilling drone footage and perform aerobatic tricks. Top speeds for hobbyist drones typically range from 30-60 mph.
Racing drones designed for high speeds often sacrifice camera quality and flight time for sheer velocity. Consider which features are most important for your needs.
Size and Weight
The size and weight of a drone impacts its portability, maneuverability, and often flight time. Bulky drones are tougher to transport, while smaller drones often have shorter battery life.
Finding the right balance for your needs is key. Mini and Nano drones under 250g like the DJI Mavic Mini are extremely portable.
Higher-end consumer drones include advanced smart features and sensors to enhance the flying experience. This includes obstacle avoidance, subject tracking, automatic flight modes like Follow Me, and GPS-assisted hover and return-to-home.
While sub-$500 drones generally don’t have the full range of intelligent flight modes, some include basic smart features for added convenience and safety.
Durability and Repairability
Crashes and collisions are common early on when learning to fly a drone. Durable drone frames and easily replaceable parts like propellers can save you money and extend your drone’s lifespan.
Cheaper drones may not be as rugged or repairable as higher-end models. But there are affordable options with modular components that are easy to fix and replace when accidents happen.
Best Drone Brands Under $500 2023
DJI – Leading Drone Brand For Under $500
- Reliable performance
- Excellent cameras
- Intelligent flight modes
- Leading brand
DJI drones are widely regarded as some of the best consumer and professional drones on the market, known for easy flying, long range, stable cameras, and smart features. The Mini, Mavic, and Phantom lines provide high quality options at different price points.
Holystone – Specialist Budget Brand
- Affordable prices
- Long flight times
- 1080p cameras
- Good for beginners
Holy Stone drones offer decent quality and features at budget-friendly prices, though they lack some of the advanced capabilities of high-end drones. The HS720 and HS175 are popular Holy Stone models.
Ready to Buy an Awesome Drone Under $500?
This guide covers everything you need – from key factors to consider when buying, top models to choose from, critical laws and safety tips, accessories, FAQs, and more.
While advanced drones cost much more, there are excellent beginner and mid-tier options under $500 for recreational use. The top picks highlighted here provide long flight times, decent cameras, smart features and excellent overall value.
Do your research, find the perfect drone for your needs and budget, register with the FAA, and have a blast capturing stunning aerial views! Just be sure to fly safely and responsibly.