If you’re ready to level up your drone game and invest in a mid-range drone under 500 USD, this article is for you. 

While drones under $200 are great for beginner pilots and casual hobbyists, mid-range drones offer a more professional, higher-quality flying experience. They are perfect for photographers, videographers, and content creators looking to capture more precise shots and navigate challenging environments. 

In this article, we’ll explore four of the best drones under 500 USD, weighing their intelligent flight features, performance, and overall value for money. We’ll also answer common questions about drone purchasing, including how to select the best drone, which brands offer the best options, and whether a license is necessary to fly a drone. Let’s get started!

best drones under 500

Best Drones under 500 | Expert Choice

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pilot, our top picks are sure to meet your needs and take your aerial adventures to new heights. So, without further do, let’s dive into our list of the best drones under $500

DJI Mini 2 Review

DJI Mini 2 is a great option for anyone looking for a high-quality drone that is easy to fly and offers exceptional performance. Its compact size and advanced features make it perfect for travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to take their aerial photography and videography to the next level.

Design and Build Quality

The first item on our list is the DJI Mini 2. The Mini 2’s new controller design is a significant improvement over its predecessor. The original Mini’s plastic, fold-out controller had a toy-like appearance, while the Mini 2’s controller is sturdier and feels more solid. It’s got a nice, clean design with buttons for RTH/pause, three intelligent flight modes, and two function buttons.

Like its bigger Mavic siblings, the Mini 2 has collapsible arms and can transform from a palm-sized unit to a full-blown drone with just a few simple maneuvers. It weights less than 249g, which might not be as groundbreaking as the original Mavic Mini, but still a game-changer for drone pilots who prioritize convenience. 

Battery and Flight Time

DJI claims a 31-minute battery life. But since the return-to-home function activates at 25% power, only 23 minutes of actual flight time are left per battery. That is why purchasing the Fly More Combo, which includes three batteries, is a great option for users who wish to fly longer. 

Although the charging time can be lengthy, the Mini 2’s controller packs a punch with a 5,20000mAh battery that delivers ample energy for extended flights.

The drone’s SD card slot is conveniently situated at the rear. Plus, the inclusion of a USB-C port enables expedient charging capabilities while on the go.

While the Mini 2 does not feature forward or backward obstacle avoidance sensors, it has sensors underneath the drone’s frame that allow for ground-based obstacle avoidance during landing. 

Camera Capabilities

The Mini 2’s upgraded 4K video system is its most notable feature, with a Panorama camera function that automatically stitches together images in 180 and 360 degrees or in a wide format.

The drone’s video footage is also incredibly stable, even in turbulent air conditions up to Force four, and it can easily handle robust changes of direction or sudden stops. 

It’s important to note that its tiny drone sensor may struggle in low-light conditions or on dreary, overcast days. The drone tends to underexpose, so if you’re looking for vivid colors and exceptional contrast, take advantage of optimal sunlight conditions.

See DJI Mini 2 price on Amazon

DEERC DE22 Review

Design and Build Quality 

Another best camera drone under 500 USD is the DEERC DE22. With its convenient foldable design and travel case, you can easily take it anywhere. Just unfold the drone, insert the battery, and calibrate it, and you’re good to go. And with the propeller blades staying attached when it’s folded, the process couldn’t be simpler.

Thanks to its brushless motors, the DEERC DE22 operates quietly and efficiently without the risk of overheating. The durable hull material provides ample protection to the electronic components inside in case of a crash.

And when it comes to flying in slightly windy conditions, the DEERC DE22 can handle winds up to level 7 with ease.

Battery and Flight Time

This quadcopter has two smart batteries, each with an advertised flight time of 26 to 28 minutes. While real-world performance may vary due to various factors, getting 25 minutes of flight time per battery is still pretty good.

Sure, charging the batteries can take up to five hours, but once they’re fully juiced, you won’t need to purchase an extra battery for an extended thrill ride in the sky. 

And the best part? These batteries are engineered with your safety in mind, so you won’t have to worry about them getting overcharged or causing a mishap.

Camera Capabilities

The standout feature of the DEERC DE22 drone is its HD camera. Equipped with a Sony sensor and a fixed aperture of f/2.15, the drone camera offers a 100° field of view. Thanks to the 2-axis gimbal and electronic image stabilization, any unwanted shakiness and motion blur are reduced to give you stable, crystal-clear footage.

Not only does the DEERC DE22 drone boast an impressive 8MP image resolution, but it also has the ability to capture breathtaking 4K videos at 30fps (provided you use a fast micro SD card). To experience the full glory of its FPV drone feature, it’s important to have 5G WiFi at your disposal.

See DEERC DE22 price on Amazon

Ruko F11 GIM2 Review

Design and Build Quality

Another one of the top drones in the market is the Ruko F11 GIM 2. The F11 GIM 2 is a medium-sized drone, measuring 17.71 x 15.94 x 3.15 inches. It is quite similar in design to the Ruko F11 GIM, with a 2-axis gimbal-mounted quality camera beneath the drone’s nose and a vibration-dampening system that ensures camera stability. 

The Ruko F11 GIM 2 also has a powerful brushless motor that can handle strong winds with ease, thanks to its level 6 wind resistance.

It’s important to note that the drone weighs over 250 grams, so you must register it with the FAA. But once you’ve got the registration sorted, expect nothing short of this impressive drone.

Battery and Flight Time

The Ruko F11 GIM 2 has a decent 2500mAh Li-ion battery that gives users around 27 minutes of flight time. It’s not the 28-minute flight time advertised but hey, close enough.

Another downside is that the battery takes around 4.5 hours to charge fully. So if you prefer longer flight time, it’s worth getting an extra battery. With three batteries, you can fly for up to 54 minutes!

Camera Capabilities

The Ruko F11 GIM 2 has a 4K camera that operates on a 5GHz frequency, and it can take pretty good shots and record videos in ultra-clear 1080p. The only issue is that the gimbal moves slowly up and down during flight.

The wide-angle lens can capture full details in your shot with its 120-degree field of view, and you can take photos and videos from different angles using the 80-degree adjustable camera lens. But what sets it apart is the vibration-damping system that provides stability for overhead shots. 

See Ruko F11 GIM2 price on Amazon

Potensic Dreamer Pro Review

Design and Build Quality

Last but not least is the Potensic Dreamer Pro. The Dreamer Pro has a design that might not immediately catch your eye with its slightly outdated look. It features a large, robust frame, tall landing struts, and a camera hanging under the drone’s center. 

The drone’s sturdy frame and bulky size may make it less appealing to casual pilots. But it does come with a durable, hard carrying case to keep it and all its accessories safe and secure. The drone’s larger size also contributes to its stability during flights, as its heavier weight of 820 grams makes it less likely to be affected by wind.

The drone also has reliable brushless motors, each designed to fit only the correct propellers. The raised height of the propellers also gives it a bit of clearance when taking off or landing in the grass.

Battery and Flight Time

The Potensic Dreamer 4K Drone comes with a 3000mAh battery brick that can be fully charged in just 2 hours.

And the best part? You get a whopping 31 minutes of playtime on a full charge. That’s pretty impressive, considering some pricier drones don’t offer much battery life.

Camera Capabilities

The highlight of the Potensic Dreamer Pro is its camera system. While the 16MP, 4K sensor doesn’t take the most breathtaking photos or videos, the drone’s angles, and gimbal stabilization makes for some impressive results.

The gimbal not only keeps the camera steady but also allows you to adjust the tilt using a remote control.

The app doesn’t let you view the content you’ve captured and stored on the drone. You’ll have to bring another device that can read the microSD card to check if you’ve got the shot you wanted while you’re out in the field. While this may be a minor issue for some users, it can be a hassle for others who prefer a more streamlined flying experience.

See Potensic Dreamer Pro price on Amazon

How to select the best drone for you?

When selecting a drone, the first thing to consider is your intended use. Drones are optimized for different purposes, such as drone photography, racing, or surveying.

If you are interested in aerial photography, for instance, you will want a drone with a high-quality camera and gimbal system. On the other hand, if you’re in search of a racing drone, look for one that is fast and durable with precise flight maneuvers and more advanced drone technology. 

The second thing to consider is your budget. Drones can range in price from a few hundred dollars (toy drones) to several thousand dollars. Make sure to decide how much you’re willing to spend before starting your search.

Keep in mind that higher-end, more expensive drone models generally come with more advanced features and better performance, but may not be necessary for everyone. 

By considering both your intended use and budget, you can narrow down the options and find the drone best suited for your needs.

Which brands have the best drones under 500?

Several reputable drone brands offer great drone models under $500. DJI drone is a top choice among drone enthusiasts, thanks to its Mavic Mini and Mini 2 models that deliver high-quality cameras and reliable flight performance. 

Holy Stone is also worth considering, with its HS720 and HS100D drones boasting good cameras and extended flight times. Potensic has a range of affordable drones with features such as altitude hold, GPS, and follow-me mode. In the end, the best drone under $500 is the one that meets your specific requirements and preferences.

Is a license necessary to fly camera drones?

In most countries, a license or certification is required to fly camera drones for commercial or recreational purposes. This is to ensure that pilots have a basic understanding of aviation regulations, airspace rules, and safe flying practices.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with any drone regulations or guidelines for drone use in your area to ensure safe and responsible flying. Check out this article to learn more. 

Which is better: a 4K or 1080p camera drone?

A 4K camera drone offers higher resolution and better image quality than a 1080p camera drone. But, there are situations where a 1080p camera might be more suitable. For example, if the camera operator needs to capture faster frame rates or has limited storage capacity, a 1080p camera could be a better choice.

You’ve made it to the end! All the drones we’ve covered are packed with features and offer different capabilities to suit a wide range of needs. We hope that our guide has provided you with valuable insights and helped you make an informed decision on which is the perfect drone for you.

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