Welcome to the Best Drone Buying Guide on the Planet
For decades now, aircraft hobbyists have been collecting and flying all types of model remote controlled planes. While some consumers were simply casual pilots, others wanted the fastest aircraft money could buy. These hobbyists ran into a few problems: the planes were expensive and difficult to fly, their range was fairly limited and there were issues with durability. As a result of these difficulties, the market for people looking for unmanned aircraft was rather small and niche. Today, however, the invention of the aerial drone has changed everything and introduced a large swath of the population to unmanned aircrafts. This rise in popularity, coupled with the rapid technical evolution of drones has eliminated many of the barriers to entry that originally kept people from buying Remote Controlled Planes.
The original drones, much like the RC planes, were slow and not all that durable. But, over the past decade, drones have not only become smarter, smaller and stronger, but they have also begun to specialize. Now, with intelligent flight systems and cameras that can live-stream the first-person-view, drones have migrated from the ‘toy world’ and become utilities that service multiple industries. From aerial videography and photography, agricultural mapping and spraying, search and rescue missions, and lots more, what was once strictly a toy has evolved into a tool with a wide array of applications. Make no mistake, however, as many pilots use drones simply to optimize their recreational experience.
DJI, Dajiang Innovation Technology Company, a Chinese tech firm is the world’s foremost manufacturing leader in the civilian-drone and aerial imaging tech world. They are responsible for 85% of the world’s drone market and have become the must-have for aspirant drone videographers or photographers. They have made and released a variety of powerful drones with distinctive proficiencies and differing prices, so it may seem daunting trying to distinguish the differences. That said, below are several fantastic camera drones that should meet all of your needs.
DJI Phantom 4 ProFind Lowest Price
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro comes equipped with all the accessories required to take beautiful photos and cinematic videos. Retailing at $1,500 the Phantom 4 Pro builds off its Phantom predecessors, taking their already fantastic intelligence and video capturing abilities and improving upon them. With an improved 30-minute flight time on one charge, the intelligent flight battery notifies the pilot when it is running out of juice. In Sport Mode, the Phantom 4 pro has a max speed of 40 miles per hour and can operate optimally at heights of 4 miles above sea level. Weighing 3 pounds, thanks to its Titanium Alloy construction, the Phantom Pro balances portability and durability with power and is made with professional videographers in mind. The new 1-inch camera Megapixel sensor can shoot in 4k/60fps video with still shots up to 14 fps. It has 5-direction obstacle sensing, with autonomous tracking systems and infrared sensing systems that keep the drone safe and in the air. That combined with the dual compass module ensures unwavering flight, making it ideal for capturing beautiful images.
- Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “This is a very good drone for anyone who wants a high-quality 4k drone. The photo and video quality is superb and unmatched at this price point. It has so many smart features. The drone doesn’t drift and has rock solid shots when hovering. There is a beginner mode that helped me learn very quickly. Highly recommend!”
DJI Mavic ProFind Lowest Price
The DJI Mavic Pro, “turns the sky into your creative canvass easily and without worry, helping you make every moment an aerial moment.” Retailing at $999 the Mavic Pro is the perfect combination of portability and power. Weighing only 1.5 pounds, the Mavic’s minute size may make it look more like a racing drone than a camera drone, but its miniscule size does not affect its ability to capture magnificent shots and stay in the air. With a battery life of 27 minutes, the Mavic Pro allows you to shoot longer and farther. Equipped with 4k video sensors, the Pro is able to shoot HQ video and photos in either single shot or burst modes. Thanks to the 3-axis mechanical stabilization system, the Pro remains steady whether your are shooting cinematically or flying around in sports mode, but is also maneuverable with a max speed of 40mph and max ascent speeds of 17fps and max descent speeds of 10fps. Its new OcuSync transmission technology within the remote controller allows for HD 720p long range transmission and 1080 p short range transmission video streaming, with a max range of nearly 4.3 miles. The Pro’s Flight Autonomy, 24 high-performance computing cores, and multiple sensors allow the Mavic to detect and avoid obstacles at over 50 feet.
- Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5
- “This drone folds up so compact, it easily will slide into any backpack and most camera bags. The intelligent flight modes make it a breeze to fly even for the uncoordinated such as myself. The excellent 4k optics bring home the shot and provide the impressive results. Best yet, the safety features and obstacle avoidance capabilities do what they can to protect you from your own stupidity. It is everything I expected and then some.”
DJI SparkFind Lowest Price
The DJI Spark is a distinctive and formidable miniature drone that includes many of the features that have made DJI such a success. Retailing at only $499 and available in an assortment of colors including: Alpine White, Sky Blue, Lava Red, Meadow Green and Sunrise Yellow, this tiny drone is ideal for the causal hobbyist and is perfect for beginner camera drone operators. Coming with Faceaware and quick launch capabilities, the Spark is able to recognize your face and take off from the palm of your hands. Thanks to the intelligent flight control and two-axis gimbal, the Spark’s 12-mega pixel, half-inch camera, shoots fantastic quality. Weighing just a half-pound, the Spark is DJI’s lightest and most portable drone. With a max speed of 30 mph (in sports mode) the Spark can stay in the air filming for up to 16 minutes and its video transmission reaches almost a mile and a half. This versatile drone is nowhere near as expensive as the other DJI drones, but still delivers the same fantastic video and photo quality.
- 5 stars out of 5
- “This little drone was the perfect gift for my husband. It’s fun and user-friendly and serves our familiy’s needs as we weren’t looking to obtain professional level-imagery, just something to capture the fun times! The quality is still impeccable and far exceeds any other drone my husband has operated before.”
DJI Phantom 3Find Lowest Price
The Phantom 3 is: “Perfect for beginners or experienced drone operators, the Phantom 3 SE features the reliability, intuitive controls, excellent image quality, and powerful flight performance that make DJIs Phantom series so iconic.” Retailing at $550, the Phantom 3 comes with an improved transmission range of 2.5 miles, permitting you to have impeccable real-time camera views, in 720p HD, at even further distances. With a max flight time of 25 minutes and the intelligent flight battery, the Phantom 3 has a max speed of 35 mph in sport mode. It comes equipped with an advanced gimbal stabilizer and a 2.7k one-inch camera that allows you to take cinematic shots no matter the condition. Equipped with Automatic Flight Assistance, the Phantom 3 can return to you automatically with a simple press of the button. Weighing just 2.7 pounds, the Phantom 3 is portable and thanks to its intuitive flight system and durable frame, the Phantom 3 is also reliable.
- Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “Awesome drone for the money. Great value when you get started and all you need. Once this gets you hooked your going to want an even better, more powerful drone!”
A racing drone is a smaller, faster, quadcopter (usually) that is made for first person view racing competitions and events held all over the world. In comparison to Camera drones that fly “low and slow” and use their camera to capture high quality photos or videos, a racing quadcopter’s camera is made exclusively for the pilot to see from and use for piloting. As the sport continues to rise in popularity, so too does the amateur interest which in turn leads to more demand for racing drones. In response to the market’s clamor and enthusiasm, drone makers have continued to produce a wide variety of racing drones that are tailored to the various types of customers’ wants and price points. Whether you are a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) expert or you are simply interested in a beginner drone, be assured, there is the perfect one out there for you.
Walkera F210 Professional RacerFind Lowest Price
If you’re looking for an upper end-racing drone with no assembly required, the Walkera F210 Professional Racer is the perfect choice. Built off the success of the original Walkera 250 Runner, the Walkera manufacturers took customer feedback and incorporated those things into the new 210. Retailing at $350, the Walkera F210 FPV Racing Drone is extremely agile and responsive in the air. With a top speed of 50 miles per hour and a max range of a half-mile, the Walkera comes equipped with different flight modes ranging from beginner mode, intermediary mode (able to roll and flip), to racing mode. It comes pre-calibrated with an adjustable 120 degree Super Vision camera lens and an integrated FPV system capable of performing in bad conditions or at night thanks to the rear and front mounted LED’s which allow you to see where you are and where you want to turn. Weighing less than a pound and with a flight time spanning 5-9 minutes, depending on flight style and aggressiveness, the Walkera comes equipped with: a Devo 7 remote, props, battery, charger, a user manual and other accessories.
- Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “There’s no way I could be anymore pleased with this quad. It’s powerful and extremely well made. It’s the coolest looking quad I’ve ever seen and well worth the price. “
Arris X-Speed 250Find Lowest Price
The Arris 250 is another impressive all-inclusive racing drone that becomes even more enticing when considering its $250 price tag. With a simple structure frame installed with a tower structure, it is easy to assemble and easy to repair. That said, the price is great, but it is not intended for beginners, since it does not come pre-assembled, though you can pay extra to get it RTF (ready to fly). For more advanced UAV pilots, the Arris makes it so you can easily replace, customize or personalize your racing qaudcopter. Thanks to its durable carbon fiber/glass body, it is designed to be resilient and be put through the gauntlet, including crashes. Weighing less than a pound, it has a flight hover time of 10 minutes and a top speed of nearly 60mph. Fit with an HD camera that allows live streaming, the 40 degree adjustable camera angle makes this drone fun to fly and easy to maneuver. It should be noted that the Arris X-Speed does not come with a controller or battery, so you will need to buy a transmitter with 6 channels or more to get this bad boy flying.
- Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “Great little frame. Insane performance when tuned up. That said, it can be really tedious to put this thing together and challenging if you will be adding/removing things frequently.”
Rise Vusion 250Find Lowest Price
The Rise Vusion is the first and only injection-molded ready to fly 250 drone that comes with everything required to fly immediately. Retailing at $350, the Vusion weighs 1 pound is unique in that it comes with goggles, LCD video monitor and 5.8 GHz transmitter that allows you to watch your flight in real time with no latency. With a top speed ranging between 50-60 mph, depending on modifications, the Rise is the perfect beginner-racing drone that you can fly immediately. The high-quality LCD monitor and First Person View goggles make it an incredibly fun and immersive flight experience. Thanks to its sturdy modular airframe, this drone is durable and can survive most crashes. That said, it is very easy to repair and alter if it does get damaged. With a flight time of 4-6 minutes, the Rise Vusion 250 is the perfect drone for novices wanting to learn how to race.
- Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “Since there was no real viable option on the market for someone who wants to legitimately learn to pilot a race quad, this quad fills the duty nicely. It has 3 modes that allow you to hone your skills and is durable enough to hang with you as you improve them. Once you get better, you can advance the flight level, meaning its ability to maneuver at a greater speed.”
Arris FPV250Find Lowest Price
This Arris RC racing drone is a light weight, miniature, racing drone is a sport qaudcopter that is easy to modify and durable enough for racing. Retailing at $150, the Arris comes with a FrSky 4RSB receiver (which only works with FRSKY transmitters) and uses a high quality S2205 2300Killavolt motor which allows it to reach a top speed of 60 mph. Weighing a pound with a flight time of 8-10 minutes, the carbon/glass fiber composite frame makes it both durable and aerodynamic. Thanks to standard connectors and wiring, the Arris is easy to modify. It comes with frame, motors, props, a F3 flight controller, a 700TVL 2.8 mm camera, a power distribution board and a FPV transmitter antenna. However, it does not come with a transmitter, battery, charger or goggle.
- Rating: 3 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “Fantastic quadcopter, FAST! Comes skillfully assembled which is a big plus. All you need to make complete for line of sight flying is transmitter/receiver combo and battery.”
LHI Full Carbon Fiber 250Find Lowest Price
This FPV racing drone comes ready to fly and easy to modify. The LHI 250 comes in a nicely packaged case that includes with 250mm racing quadcopter frame, a FS-t6 Remote controller and receiver and a CC3D Flight Controller. Thanks to its MT2204 2300 Kilovolt brushless motor, the LHI 250 is fast and nimble. It supports HD camera, image transmission and other replacement components that you can change and alter to your specifications. It has a flight time of 5-7 minutes depending on how aggressively you fly the racer.
- Rating: 3 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “Great quadcopter for newbies. I wanted an FPV drone but didn’t want to break the bank before I knew it would be a hobby I’d stick to. This kit includes everything you need to get flying for a relatively cheap price. It powered right up and it flies with no adjustment to trim needed. It is ready to go when you take it out of the nice case and the only assembly needed is the 4 props and landing gear.”
If you have never flown a drone before and are wary about the high prices, these beginner drones are both powerful and inexpensive. Perfect for the drone novice, these drones allow a beginner to make mistakes, crash and play with a drone without worrying about wasting thousands of dollars on an upper end piece of equipment.
UDI U818A HDFind Lowest Price
UDI is known for its low-cost, high quality drones. Ready to fly as soon as you buy, this 6 axis gyro RC quadcopter comes equipped with an HD camera and yet only costs $49. With accurate controls and flight stabilization system and a weight of only .25 lbs, this drone has a flight time of 8 minutes. Its two flight modes (slow and fast) and flight range of 90 feet, make this drone nimble and easy to operate and can perform flight maneuvers such as rolls, pitches and dives, and 360 degree flips. It comes with battery and remote control and its modular design makes it easy to repair and install. Its package includes: the U818A drone frame, a 2.4GHz Transmitter, Extra Rotator Blades, two 3.7volt 500mAH LiPo Battery, 2 battery chargers and a USB card reader.
- Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “A wonderfully durable, easy to fly, reliable, and affordable product that is especially effective at allowing a beginner quad copter pilot to develop skill and also have fun while doing so. I’m no drone expert, but it is really easy to fly and control. I expected the camera quality to be bad, but it was honestly pretty great!”
Hubsan X4Find Lowest Price
The X 4 is Hubsan’s main, mini, low-scale drone, made to be both affordable and powerful. Retailing at $40, the X-4 has a flight time of 5 minutes. Its 6-axis flight control system with adjustable gyro sensitivity gives this drone nimble controls and the ability to flip 4-ways (forward, backward, left and right). Its light-weight frame is still quite durable, but not ideal in windy conditions. It comes equipped with a .3MP video recording module camera that is not adjustable and requires a micro SDHC card.
- Rating: 3 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “Built for durability this Copter can handle crash after crash and keep right on flying (provided you have the battery power, and replacement propellers). The built in, on-board camera allows you to take amazing video and is a very useful tool, as well as an awesome toy! However, flying in Expert Mode greatly decreases the quality of video recording.”
DBpower MJX X400WFind Lowest Price
The X400W sports a little more power than the other drones of this class. Retailing at $70, the X400W has a 10 minute flight time, an integrated 720p camera, VR goggles, live stream capabilities and two different flight modes: beginner and expert. It packs a punch, but is still capable of performing aerial maneuvers such as 360-degree flips and rolls. With a control range of 100 meters and autonomous features like one key return and headless mode for beginners, the X400W gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
- Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “This is a wonderful Quad. My first flight out was with a 7mph wind. I did have to fight the wind a bit but the drone was able to keep up with no problem. I want to say a few things about the manual and a few other things I noticed too to help you out.”
Syma X5C1Find Lowest Price
Built off the success of the X5C, the C1 upgraded in a big way. Retailing at $60, the C1 now has a 3.75V 5000mAh battery giving you 8 minutes of flight time. It is the perfect UAV drone for beginners, due to its easy maneuverability and stable flight systems. It comes with a 2 megapixel camera, but that and other add-ons can be ditched if you want even more speed. With a range of 95 feet, it is ideally made for indoors or the backyard. It is durable and lightweight which makes it an ideal Quad to hone your skills with.
- Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- “After doing a good bit of research on choosing my first quadcopter, I decided on the Syma X5C-1. This device is easy to fly, but gets a bit unwieldy if there’s any wind. The camera isn’t anything to write home about, but the novelty of it is nice. It is fairly stable and has a decent range. I got anywhere between 5-7 minutes of flight time with the camera on. Purchasing extra batteries is a must. Overall I got just what I expected for this price range: A decent setup that allows me to learn to fly a quadcopter and take some pictures and video without breaking the bank if I crash and burn with it.”
Holy Stone F181Find Lowest Price
At $120, the Holy Stone is the most expensive of the beginner drones, but without doubt the most powerful and capable. Equipped with the newest 720p 120-degree wide-angle HD Wifi camera, you can take high-res pictures and videos during flight. It comes with a list of features such as: headless mode, one key return, altitude lock, one key 360 degree flips and continuous roll. Flight time is up to 9 minutes, but the extra 750mAh battery provided allows you to switch out and get back in the air quicker. Its flight stabilization system and prop guards allow the F181 to give you a flying experience that is quick and smooth.
- Rating: 5 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “I got this drone today and had it charged and flying within an hour. I really love the stability. It drifts with the wind outdoors as would be expected because it doesn’t have GPS, but other than that it is exceptionally stable. The controls are responsive and the buttons on the RC are well designed.”
If you are looking for the best that money can buy, these drones are the premier, the cream of the crop. Boasting fantastic flight systems, smart integration and amazing cameras, these drones are meant for experts and professionals.
DJI Mavic Pro PlatinumFind Lowest Price
“The Mavic Pro Platinum features a sleek design and compact body that is both powerful and alluring.” Considered the pride of the DJI fleet, the pro platinum has an extended flight time of thirty minutes and a new aerodynamic design and propellers that reduce sound significantly when compared to the Mavic Pro. True to its name, the Platinum comes with a lovely platinum coat. Retailing at $1,099, the Pro Platinum is cheaper than most expert drones, but still incredibly powerful. With a max speed of 40mph in Sports mode and a control range of 4.5 miles, you can take this drone just about anywhere. Its 3-axis gimble keeps it stable in any conditions allowing it to control pitch, yaw and roll. At 1.5lbs, the Platinum Pro is very light despite the fact that it comes with 4k vision camera that offers the ability to shoot high quality photos and videos.
- Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “What can I even say… It truly is a marvel of modern technology. I had gotten pretty good with a Syma X5C toy drone, and that was good to learn to fly on, but this is much easier to fly and also so incredibly superior in every other conceivable way that it is not even appropriate to make any further comparison. When flown conscientiously it seems as though it is almost crash proof. The stability and safety offered by the combination of GPS and optical sensors is extremely impressive. Range is dumbfounding. 20+ minute flight time with a live high quality video feed to my docked cell phone is incredible.”
DJI Phantom 4 AdvancedFind Lowest Price
Released in the wake of the success of the 4 Pro, the advanced lost some of those features and added other to improve it, but remains largely the same drone as the 4 Pro. Retailing at $1,400, the Phantom 4 Advanced has a battery life of 30 minutes, a 4k camera, shoots in 60 fps and a top speed of 40mph and a max range of almost 4 miles. It is lighter than the Pro and lacks the it’s back sensors and infrared sensors, but retains the obstacle avoidance system with front and beneath sensors. This is the perfect drone for pros looking to capture beautiful footage.
- Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “I’ve had a Phantom 4 for the past year, but just got the Advanced for the improved camera. Very nice! Easy to fly. Highly reliable. Takes great photos and videos. It can take stills while shooting video, but they will be the same resolution as the video. I mainly use 1080P HD for video because my computers have trouble displaying 4K. For strictly still shots I use full resolution and RAW file mode. However when I shot some stills while shooting continuous video I found they were all 1080 JPGs. Still getting used to the improved camera with more complex settings including.
DJI Inspire 2Find Lowest Price
Retailing at $3,000 the Inspire 2 is the zenith of UAV drone tech and is the most powerful within the DJI air fleet. It’s predecessor, the DJI Inspire 1, was the first drone of its kind, made specifically for professional videographers and photographers. It comes equipped with a HD camera that streams HD video transmission and a 360 degree rotating gimbal so you can capture any shot, no matter the angle of complexity. The Inspire 2’s new image processing combined with its Zenmuse X-3 camera system films at 5.2K/4k, and has a live view of 1080P, making it the most formidable camera drone on the market. In Sport Mode, the Inspire 2 is as fast if not faster than many racing drones, with a max speed of 67 mph, and a 27 minute flight time as a result of its self-heating dual battery system. Weighing 6.25 pounds, it is one of the heaviest drones there are, but that does not hinder its maneuverability, with max ascent speeds of 16 f/s and a max descent speed of 13f/s. It has a control range of nearly 5 miles and comes equipped with forward and downward vision and autonomous tracking systems with a sensory range of 100 feet. The improved intelligence and various flight modes make this powerful drone perfect for pros looking to take complicated and beautiful shots.
- Rating: 5 stars out of 5
- Amazon Review: “The inspire flies like its on rails, rock solid and easy to operate. I have owned the DJI Phantom 4, Mavic Pro, Phantom Pro 4 Plus, the Spark and now the Inspire 2. They are all amazing in their own right, but the Inspire 2 is in a league of its own.”