You may think of drones as expensive, complicated machines used only for spying and targeted assassinations. James Bond stuff. And they were – but the world has changed. Drones have gone mainstream.
There is a wide variety of unmanned aerial vehicles out there, and some cost as little as $100.
Our buyer’s guide on the best drones for beginners outlines a list of quality drones that are both cheap and easy-to-use.
Whether you are looking for a bird’s-eye view of breathtaking landscapes or a great snap for Instagram, buying a drone is the cheapest way to take to the skies. The only challenge is figuring out which one to get.
- Automatically returns when the battery is low
- Has the best camera on our list
- Long flight time
- Hand gesture commands and obstacle avoidance
- Comes with an additional battery
- Automatic safe landing
- Headless mode
Holy Stone HS100 Navigator
We commence our reviews of the best affordable drones for beginners with one of the pricier drones on our list. The HS100 Navigator is manufactured by Holy Stone, a reputable Chinese drone company. Holy Stone was founded in 2014 and has since made quite a name for itself in the drone world. While the company focuses on more affordable drones, this particular model has a heftier price tag.
The bulky drone weighs 700 grams and costs $189.99. This is one of the best durable drones for beginners because of its ability to withstand a certain degree of damage. The dimensions of the drone are 50cm x 50cm x 18cm, making it significantly larger than its competitors. It boasts a 2500mAH battery, which allows up to 15 minutes of flight time – an impressive number for drones in this range. The battery takes between 3 and 6 hours to charge, depending on the charger.
Its flight range goes up to 500 meters. In case you get lost, the Return Home option is a life-saver, placing this drone on our best drones with cameras for beginners list. This drone has a feature called Headless mode which automatically corrects controls to help with direction and navigation. This feature along with automatic altitude hold is extremely helpful to new flyers.
However, the HS100 has one significant downside – the camera. It is regrettable that a drone in this price range has a 720p camera. Nevertheless, we can wholeheartedly recommend this model as being the easiest drone to fly.
One of the best drones for beginners under $100 was developed by Ryze Tech in partnership with DJI, one of the biggest names in the drone industry. The drone is sold on DJI’s website. Ryze Tech is a less-known Chinese startup that was in charge of the development and production of the Tello drone, relying on DJI technology. The final product surpassed all expectations.
The Ryze Tello falls in the category of toy drones. It weighs approximately 80 grams and is relatively small in size. As such, it is categorized as one of the best drones for kids and beginners. For a drone this size, it has an impressive flight time of 13 minutes. Furthermore, Tello takes only 90 minutes to fully charge and has a flight range of 100 meters. The drone is controlled with your smartphone via a Wifi connection.
Ryze Tello features several fail-safes and helpful flying features, making it a perfect choice when looking for the best mini drones for beginners and children. The drone has an Auto Takeoff/Landing function, and the low maximum flight height allows for comfortable indoor use. Tello also comes with automated flight modes that allow users to perform tricks like flips and 360° videos with just a push of a button. Lastly, Tello is programmable through Scratch. This coding system is designed for kids and introduces them to the basics of block-based visual programming.
Ryze Tello has two key downsides – low flight range and a low-quality camera. Although this is common among inexpensive drones, having a mere 100 meters of flight range is somewhat limiting. The camera is a 720p/5MP which can result in blurry pictures and videos.
However, with a price tag of only $89, it offers the highest number of functionalities for learning the basics of drone flying. With its small size and weight, it’s perfect for indoor use, and all the fail-safe features make it ideal for children.
Parrot Mambo FPV
The name Parrot is certain to come up when researching best buy drones. This is a globally known drone manufacturer based in France. They’ve been in the game since 1994, and their products are well-known for quality and reliability. Their beginner-friendly product on our list is Parrot Mambo FPV.
The Parrot Mambo FPV is part of a broader Mambo line of products. This small plastic drone features a 720p camera. When it was first unveiled, it was relatively costly. However, today it costs less than $100 and is still one of the best racing drones for beginners.
Mambo FPV is a great racing drone for a number of reasons. One of those is the inclusion of the Parrot Cockpitglasses that come with the UAV. The glasses allow for direct FPV flying, providing a great first-person experience and greatly boosting your racing capabilities. Mambo FPV also comes with blade protectors, and since the whole drone is made out of plastic, it is easy to repair. The drone is really small, making it highly maneuverable and ideal for racing. Mambo FVP comes with a remote controller, which is a common addition to most best drones for beginners that are designed for racing. The controller is similar to video game console controllers and is easy to use.
Parrot Mambo FPV features three flying modes with varying degrees of assistance from the drone to help you maintain control. The third flying mode is Racing and grants you full control over the drone without any help. These features push the Parrot FPV to the top of our list of best remote control drones for beginners. One of its downsides is the battery. Its maximum flight time is around 10 minutes. But this isn’t too much of a problem for racing drones because races are usually shorter, and it only takes 30 minutes to recharge the battery. The camera won’t turn any heads either. It has a video resolution of 720p and 30 frames per second.
But Mambo FPV is still a great racing drone. Its affordability makes it one of the best beginner drone gifts for people of all ages.
Hubsan H122D X4 Storm
Hubsan is another Chinese manufacturer on our list. It produces top-quality racing and toy drones, and the Hubsan H122D X4 Storm is no exception. While the X4 Storm is designated primarily as a racing drone, it also has other capabilities and is considered a step up from many cheap drones with cameras.
Its small frame, designed with racing in mind, is only 9.4cm x 9.4 cm. The frame is pretty compact, which reduces the risk of damage in case of crashes or collisions.
X4 also features flight tricks like flips and rolls that you can perform at the press of a button. Yet another feature that puts this UAV among the best and cheapest drones is the Return Home feature. It activates automatically once the battery is low, meaning you can never lose your drone. The X4 also comes with an Xbox-like controller and FPV goggles, which is a big plus.
While you wouldn’t expect a good camera on a racing drone, the X4 Storm is full of surprises. The HD 720p camera is capable of capturing videos of breath-taking quality. The camera has a pretty big view angle and is rotatable.
Although the battery only allows for 6 minutes of flight time and the flight range is a mere 100 meters, the X4 Storm is still a good cheap drone. Its combined features make more than just a racing drone. So, if you’re looking for a multi-role UAV, this is the one for you.
Every list of cheap camera drones includes DJI products. This Chinese manufacturer is a trend-setter in the drone market. The company’s drones stand out in terms of design, programming and capabilities. We chose to review the DJI Spark. While the Spark boasts great capabilities across the board, it’s usually categorized as a selfie drone or a dronie.
The most noticeable thing about the DJI Spark is its tiny size. This drone’s dimensions are only 143mm x 143mm x 55mm. This makes it easy to carry and one of the best drones for adult beginners. Spark’s takeoff weight is 300 grams. Although this is slightly higher than the average weight of other drones on our list, it isn’t all that significant when considering all the available features.
DJI Spark’s camera is impressive. The video resolution is 1080p, and the sensor resolution is 12MP, guaranteeing crystal clear photos and videos. Furthermore, this is a drone that follows you. It is programmed to recognize a variety of hand gesture commands. It can be ordered to follow, track your movements, move side-to-side and take selfies.
Its battery life is nothing impressive, and it only runs for up to 16 minutes. Moreover, its size makes it vulnerable to being pushed around by the wind, which can further drain the battery. If you’re using the smartphone app to control the drone, the flight range is up to 100 meters. But some users claim the connection tends to be choppy. In case you decide to buy the controller, which costs an additional $100, the flight range extends to 2,000m.
Overall, this selfie drone is one of the best serious drones for beginners. Its impressive camera, small size and the option to give hand gesture commands, leave little room for complaints. The only handicap might be the price. This drone will set you back $464 or $589 with a controller.
DJI Mavic Air
Another DJI product on our list of the best camera drones for beginners is the Mavic Air. This model comes with an impressive camera, small size, long flight time and the option of giving hand gesture commands.
Like its cheaper sibling the Spark, this drone is also incredibly small. This makes it easier to carry around and helps with maneuverability.
Among the drones for sale, Mavic Air has one of the best cameras in this price range. Mavic Air’s camera is capable of shooting ultra HD videos and 12-megapixel stills. The drone comes with a few preset video and photo modes, like Orbit Mode, which makes it extremely easy to create visually attractive material. Its ability to recognize hand gesture commands ensures easy drone movement and quality selfies.
Mavic Air comes with a collapsible joystick controller that uses your smartphone as a screen, streamlining flying and allowing video transmission at a greater range. The best mini drone with a camera must excel in obstacle avoidance, and in this department the Mavic Air stands above the rest. The DJI Spark only has frontal sensors for dodging obstacles. But the Mavic Air also has back sensors. Furthermore, this drone doesn’t just detect obstacles, it dodges them on its own.
Apart from some minor problems with camera controls, there aren’t any real drawbacks to this drone. However, you should be prepared to dish out nearly a thousand dollars for this piece of machinery. But that’s the price if you want to have one of the best drones for beginners with a camera.
Altair AA108 Camera Drone
Altair Aerial is a Nebraska-based drone manufacturer that focuses mainly on producing cheaper models for beginners. The model we are reviewing is the Altair AA108, which falls into the category of the best budget drones. The AA108 is another small item on our list. It weighs only 85 grams, meaning you won’t have to bother with registration.
The Altair AA108 comes with two batteries – each one granting you up to 10 minutes of flight time. Additionally, you receive spare propellers. This saves you a headache because propellers on drones inevitably break.
Like any best entry-level drone, AA108 has three separate flight modes for flyers of varying skill. The different modes allow beginners to master drone flying quickly and safely. AA108 also has other safety systems in place. It comes with low-battery and out-of-range alarms, which prevent you from over-extending your drone. Headless Mode is also present, making flying and navigation even easier.
It has a 720p HD camera, which is nothing to get too excited about, but it still manages to produce decent videos. The camera can’t rotate, but it has a fairly broad FOV of 120 degrees. The AA108 also has an FPV option either through your smartphone or goggles, which aren’t included in the initial price. Its FPV range of 50 meters places it among the best indoor drones for beginners.
We wholeheartedly recommend Altair AA108 for any buyers on a tight budget. The many safety features make it ideal for children and beginners, but advanced users will also enjoy this drone.
As you’ve probably noticed by now that the budget drones market is dominated by Chinese companies. The following drone is no different. It is produced by Eachine, a company that made its name by manufacturing toy drones. Today the company is focusing on more advanced drones. Their most famous model, the E58, is designed similarly to Mavic Air. However, we’ve chosen to review the more affordable and beginner-friendly Eachine E511S.
A number of features make Eachine E511S a great drone for beginners, including options like one-button landing/take-off and low battery warnings. E511S is also one of the cheap FPV drones, allowing you to enjoy the perks of first-person views through your smartphone or VR glasses. Additionally, there’s an emergency stop button. But these should be used with caution because the drone will automatically drop to the ground.
The E511S also stands out when it comes to the camera. It boasts a 1080p, 120° FOV, adjustable camera. The field of view is broad, and the video quality is excellent. Furthermore, E511S has Follow Me and Orbit Modes that help enhance the experience. This makes it one of the best cheap drones with a camera.
The battery is perfectly satisfactory for a model in this price range. It guarantees around 15 minutes of flight time, and it doesn’t take too long to charge. The drone itself is pretty light, which is always a plus in our book.
We didn’t list any downsides for this particular product. This doesn’t mean that the drone is perfect, but it has all the features when it comes to the best prices for drones for beginners.
Potensic is another household name in the drone industry. Their signature is the production of high-quality, reliable and affordable drones with high-end features. The Potensic D85 is one of their most famous models and for good reason.
Potensic D85 has all the components found in the best drones for beginners. The 1080p HD proprietary Potensic camera truly creates captivating shots and videos. While the camera is fixed, it has a 130 degrees angle, which is more than enough to capture all those wide shots. The camera is removable and can be replaced with your GoPro if the need arises.
Unfortunately, the drone isn’t very small or light. Furthermore, it can’t be folded which makes it difficult to transport. However, the drone is very fast, reaching speeds of up to 52km/h.
The much-needed safety options are also in place – features that are crucial when looking for the best affordable drone with a camera. The D85 automatically returns to the point of departure if it loses contact with the controller or when it runs low on battery. It also has a Follow Me option for all those selfies.
Potensic D85 comes with a controller which you’ll surely need if you want to use it for racing. Additionally, the drone is FPV-ready, providing the best possible experience both for racing and exploring. The max flight time is 20 minutes – significantly longer than most of its competitors. The included controller gives you a range of up to 1,500 meters.
D85 is one of those cheap big drones that we definitely recommend.
Why Should You Consider Drones?
Aerial Photography: Shots captured by the eye-in-the-sky are some of the most spectacular images available. Whether you’re a veteran or new to photography, the best camera drones for beginners on our list are certain to meet your needs.
Kids: If you want to get your kid out of that gaming chair and into the wild outdoor adventures, drones are one of the most engaging and fun activities for a new generation of pilots. Aside from being entertaining, the devices also teach children about programming, photography and electronics.
Racing: There is nothing more fun than drone racing with friends and family. This activity truly unites all generations. Our guide includes both the best drones for beginners with a camera and some of the fastest UAVs around.
A stepping stone for using more complex drones: In case you are thinking about using more sophisticated models, the cheap beginner drones are a great starting point. They mostly have all the basic functionalities of the more complex drones, allowing users to master the technology before switching to more expensive models. Check out our list of best cheap drones for beginners.
Drone Regulation in the United States
Before you decide to purchase a drone, it’s crucial that you acquaint yourself with drone regulations in the US.
As of December 2015, any UAV that weighs over 250 grams has to be registered with the US Federal Aviation Administration. The person registering their drone needs to be at least 13 years old. In case the registrant is younger, a parent or a legal guardian needs to submit the registration request. This is especially important if you plan on buying one of the reviewed best toy drones for beginners.
The registration only costs $5 for a 3-year period. It can be renewed for another 3 years at the same rate.
After registering, you receive a certificate and are expected to label your drone with your registration number. A single registration is sufficient for owning multiple UAVs for recreational use. However, failure to register may incur significant penalties and even jail time.
Most of the best drones with cameras for beginners that we reviewed here weigh less than 250 grams. But it’s important to keep the aforementioned regulations in mind in case you decide to upgrade to a heavier model.
When deciding which drone to buy, it’s important to figure out what you intend to use it for. First, if you want to focus on shooting photographs and videos, the drone needs to have a good quality HD camera. There’s no need for anything fancy like dedicated streaming webcams, but it needs to have enough fidelity for aerial photography. Second, if the drone is intended for children, then a durable battery and obstacle avoidance are essential. Let’s dive into our review methodology for best-rated drones for beginners.
Camera: This is one of the core components of any drone. The quality of the camera is paramount when determining the worthiness of a particular drone model.
Meanwhile, the quality of the images that the cameras produce are determined by the resolution. The resolutions that we examined include 720p, 1080p and 4k. We included only one 4k drone camera on our list because these products are usually found on more advanced and pricier drone models. So, what are the best drones for beginners when we are discussing cameras? The best option usually boils down to 720p and 1080p. Throughout our review, we examined the quality of the cameras in correlation with other features that each drone possesses as well as its price.
Apart from resolution quality, we examined whether the drone has camera stabilization and if it offers the option of first-person view piloting as well as the degree of control you have over the camera itself.
Battery: If the drone has a meager battery, all other features become somewhat irrelevant. Our review examined two key components of drone batteries, flight and recharge time. For our reviews on the best small drones for beginners, we gave special attention to the amount of flight time you can squeeze out of a battery and how that compares to the amount of time needed to charge the drone.
Price: No review is complete without discussing the price. During our research, we looked at the price of each model and what exactly the manufacturers are offering for that amount of money. While prices of remote controlled drones can vary, we focused mostly on cheaper models and a few pricier ones. This list includes the best RC drones for beginners, and you shouldn’t be dishing out more cash until you master drone usage.
Ease of use: In order to compile a list of beginner-friendly drones, we focused on ease of use. Our guide on the best drones to buy for beginners takes into account the simplicity of the controls, the time needed to master them as well as helpful starter options and accessories such as additional protection and navigation.
Other: We also examined a slew of other characteristics for the reviewed drone models. These include flying range, available storage, additional accessories, GPS, obstacle avoidance and return home options.
What is the best cheap drone with camera?
Although the final purchase decision should be based on the specific needs of the individual buyer, the most affordable quality drones on our list are the Eachine E511S and the Altair AA108.
How much does the cheapest drone cost?
The cheapest beginner drones are usually toy drones like the Ryze Tello, which cost upwards of $50.
What should I know before buying a drone?
The most important things to have in mind before purchasing a drone are the US drone regulations, the available budget and what you plan to use the drone for.
What is the best drone for aerial photography?
The best aerial photography drone is the DJI Mavic Air. Its high quality camera, controller and the ability to use hand gesture commands, make photography a truly enjoyable experience.
What is a good drone to buy?
The best drones for beginners on our list are some of the leading UAVs on the market. We recommend one of our top picks – DJI Mavic Air, Potensic D85, or the Parrot Mambo FVP.