There are two things you no longer need in order to capture excellent aerial camera footage: a helicopter or a $2,000 drone. There are plenty of drones for beginners that sport the capabilities to capture clear and steady camera footage at an affordable price. And if you’re too nervous to spend even $100 on a drone you feel you’ll crash, there are plenty of beginner drones with easy flight controls and self-landing features. No more throwing money away simply because you’re an inexperienced pilot.
Whether you want a drone to capture amazing footage, or you’re just looking for a fun, new hobby, there’s a drone out there for you. As you gain more experience, or if you are looking for something with a bit more professional capability, we have options below that fit that mold, too. It’s time to take flight and get a drone that’s right for you, regardless of skill level and price point.
1. Snaptian S5c10 WiFi Drone
BEST OVERALL FOR BEGINNERS
The Snaptian S5c10 has a ton of features, a foldable design and an affordable price tag that makes it a great drone for beginners. Once you’ve taken flight, you can use smart GPS positioning to select points of interest that you want to film, or use the “follow me” feature to free your hands while filming your target. For complete newbies, three different flying speeds, headless mode and auto hover help control the drone without any accidents. When the battery gets low, the drone will automatically return to you — a feature not often found in this price range. It’s a beginner drone, but its capabilities and features suggest otherwise.
2. Tello Quadcopter
EASY PHONE CONTROL
If you’re brand new to drones, you’re probably not willing to drop a few hundred on one that you might crash into oblivion soon after it takes flight. This beginner drone is inexpensive, and easy to handle. All you’ll need is your phone to control the Tello Quadcopter. The accurate controls help novice users keep full and precise command over the drone. With 8D flips, you can easily get your drone to perform aerials, while the bounce mode gets the drone to bounce up and down from your hand. And with VR compatibility, you can feel like you’re sitting in the pilot seat while you fly. It’s a fun option for someone looking to start flying right out of the gate.
3. Potensic A20 Mini Drone
BEST FOR KIDS
The Potensic Mini Drone is easy to fly and can take a bit of punishment, which makes it great for kids earning their pilot wings. The remote looks like a simplified Xbox One controller with two thumb sticks, a take off and land button and a power switch. To help kids get oriented, they can use the “headless” flight mode that makes the spot where the pilot is standing the “head” of the drone, so kids won’t have to worry about which direction the drone is facing. It’s a fun, easy and inexpensive option to get kids off the launch pad quickly.
4. Hubsan H501S X4 Standard Edition
Affordable and with features often only found in more professional models, the Hubsan H501S X4 is a great drone for beginners. The drone features a 1080p camera for starters, which isn’t the best, but welcome for drones in this price range. Once you’re in the air, it features “headless” mode to make it easier to fly for first-timers, as well as the oh-so important auto-return-home feature, which returns the drone back to you without any assistance from the pilot. The controller has a 4.3-inch screen built-in to see the drones viewpoint, which is fun for first-time flyers. The features and the price make this a great option for beginning pilots.
5. Altair AA108 Camera Drone
GREAT FOR LEARNING
The Altair AA108 can adjust flight settings for brand new pilots and then switch to more advanced flying options for experienced users, providing a bit more versatility than the average drone for beginners. Once you’re in the air, you have 100 meter range to play with. If your battery is going dead, the Altair AA108 can land itself during these “emergency situations.” The 720p camera isn’t as great as the Hubsan’s 1080p, but it’s more in line with what you can expect in this price range. That said, the customizable flight controls make it a great option as you learn and get better at flying drones.
6. Altair 818 Hornet
Like the AA108, you can adjust flight settings, making it simple for novice users, or you can provide more control for users with more experience. The 150 meter range is a bit better than the AA108, and improved stability provides clearer and steadier camera shots compared to the AA108. Other than that, all the basics are about the same. For more range and better stability, it’s going to cost an extra $40 or so, which might be worth it for some beginning drone users.
7. DJI Mavic Mini
GREAT MIDRANGE DRONE
When you find yourself wanting more professional drone features and capabilities, but you’re not quite ready to pay professional prices, the DJI Mavic Mini is a great transition from beginner to pro. When you’re mid-flight, the gimbal stabilization keeps the 2.7K video steady and clear. It also captures 12MP photos while in flight. And you’ll be able to fly longer than entry level drones with battery life that lasts up to 25 minutes. When you’re ready to take the next step in your drone piloting career, the DJI Mavic Mini is a solid choice.
8. DJI Mavic Air
The DJI Mavic Air has a tiny footprint, is completely foldable, and fits into a small carrying case that’s just a tiny bit larger than the drone itself. When fully stowed away, you can easily carry it with one hand. When you take flight, the drone features GPS and GLONASS satellite positioning to locate your drone and keep you from flying where you shouldn’t be. The Air has obstacle detection that works well, so you don’t inadvertently crash your drone into something you can’t see. While you’re flying, the 4K camera takes sharp video and stills. It even has a spherical mode that captures up to 25 photos for a 360-degree effect. It’s a great portable option, but is on the upper tier of pricing.
9. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
If money is no object and you feel confident in your drone piloting skills, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a great professional option. The Mavic 2 Pro captures professional quality footage with 20MP still imaging and crystal clear 4K video footage. The gimbal stabilization keeps the camera steady as you fly, creating fantastic footage regardless of the conditions. While you’re in the air, you won’t have to worry about crashing into incoming objects with obstacle avoidance sensors. And you’ll be able to fly a long time with the lengthy 30+ minute battery life. There is a steep price tag, but it’s hard to beat the flight and footage quality provided by the Mavic 2 Pro.