- Under $100
- HD 720p
This drone has a range of about 100 meters and a flight time of approximately 13 minutes. It features a 5-megapixel HD camera with electronic stabilization to ensure smooth footage.
I highly recommend the Tello for beginners. It's easy to fly, incredibly stable, and equipped with sensors on the bottom for added stability. In fact, it's almost as stable as a GPS drone. Additionally, it serves as an excellent educational tool for learning programming and coding. I use it in my high school class for this purpose.
The Tello also offers a few automated flight modes like dronies, rockets, and orbits. For a price of $100, it's a fantastic starting point. However, it does have some limitations, such as the 100-meter range and brushed motors, which are not as efficient or powerful but help keep the cost under $100.
MJX Bugs 16 Pro
- Under $200
- HD 720p
The MJX Bug 16 Pro, sometimes sold as the Fly Hall FX1 or other names, is priced at around $200. What sets this drone apart is its brushless motors, making it more powerful. It's also a GPS-based drone with various flight modes. The Bug 16 Pro offers a 20-minute flight time and an impressive 600-meter range.
This drone features a 4K camera mounted on a full three-axis gimbal. While the 4K footage isn't of professional quality, it's quite good for beginners. There are bottom sensors to enhance stability, and the Bug 16 Pro includes intelligent flight modes like orbit, follow me, and return to home, which are handy features.
DJI Mini SE
- Under $300
The DJI Mini SE is, without a doubt, the best drone you can get for $300. In fact, I think it might be the best value for your money in the drone market. The Mini SE boasts an impressive 30-minute flight time and an outstanding range of 4,000 meters, which is roughly equivalent to two and a half miles.
While the camera is 2.7K, not 4K, it still provides better quality than 1080p. It's important to note that the Mini SE lacks obstacle avoidance features, so you need to be cautious when flying it. However, it does include a return-to-home function and several quick shot modes like rockets and dronies.
Overall, the DJI Mini SE is a fantastic drone considering its price point.
DJI Mini 2
- Under $500
The Mini 2 and the Mini SE are almost identical drones, with just two significant differences. First, the camera on the Mini 2 can capture 4K video, which is a step up from the 2.7K camera on the Mini SE. Secondly, the Mini 2 offers a vastly improved transmission range from the drone to your remote, with a range of 10,000 meters, equivalent to approximately 6.2 miles. That's quite impressive.
DJI Air 2
- Under $1000
The Mavic Air 2 offers an impressive range of 10,000 meters, equivalent to 6.2 miles, and a flight time of up to 34 minutes, which is quite substantial. What stands out is the camera quality, featuring baked-in HDR, 48-megapixel photos, and the ability to capture quick shots. Additionally, the Mavic Air 2 includes obstacle avoidance systems both in the front and rear, enhancing safety and enabling features like active track and follow-me modes.
DJI Mini 3
- Under $800
Now, let's talk about the DJI Mini 3. This drone falls under the sub-250-gram category, just like the Mini SC and Mini 2. This is significant because in the United States, if your drone weighs less than 250 grams (about half a pound), you don't need to register it with the FAA, saving you $5. Other countries may have similar rules and regulations for drones weighing less than 250 grams.
However, weight aside, the Mini 3 is truly impressive and represents a significant upgrade over the Mini 2. It does come with a price tag starting at around $750, but it offers some compelling features. Notably, it includes both front and rear obstacle avoidance systems, enhancing its safety and capabilities.
DJI Air 2S
- Under $1000
This drone is a strong contender and, in my opinion, an excellent choice, especially for professionals. One of its standout features is its camera, equipped with a full 1-inch sensor. This means it excels in low-light conditions and offers exceptional performance in various situations.
Moreover, the Air 2S is a larger and heavier drone, making it more stable in windy conditions compared to smaller drones like the Mini series. It also comes with obstacle avoidance technology, featuring extra sensors – two in the front, two on top, two in the back, and two on the bottom. While it's not a substitute for careful piloting, these sensors provide added safety.
Autel Evo 2
- Non DJI Drone
The Autel EVO 2 Pro is a top-tier choice, particularly for photography and videography. While the EVO Lite+ also offers a one-inch sensor, the EVO 2 Pro is the superior option in Autel's lineup.
The EVO 2 Pro comes equipped with comprehensive obstacle avoidance capabilities, featuring multiple cameras positioned around the drone – two on each side, two on the back, two on the front, and two on the bottom. This extensive camera array enhances its safety and situational awareness.
DJI Mavic 3
- Above $2000
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is undoubtedly an impressive drone, but it comes with a higher price tag starting at a little over $2,000 for the basic package. However, it offers exceptional features and capabilities, making it a worthwhile investment for professionals and semi-pros.
The standout feature of the Mavic 3 Pro is its camera system, which includes two cameras. The primary camera features a Hasselblad one-inch sensor and can shoot up to 5.1K video. Additionally, there's a smaller half-inch telephoto lens that provides up to 28x zoom capability, allowing you to capture detailed shots from a distance.
In terms of flight performance, the Mavic 3 Pro offers an impressive flight time of up to 46 minutes and a remarkable range of 15,000 meters, which is approximately 9.3 miles. The drone also features a comprehensive obstacle avoidance system, with sensors on the top, back, front, and bottom, enabling various automated flight modes like active track, follow me, quick shots, and master shots.