Holiday Gift Guides

These are the best budget drones for aerial photography

You don’t need to drop thousands of dollars to get that epic shot.

Buying your first drone for aerial photography can be a little intimidating.

Sure, you’ve got that perfect shot in mind, but it’s easy to get paralyzed when you start combing through all the technical considerations. Thankfully, several companies have added beginner-friendly drones to their lineup that are intuitive, easy-to-use out of the box and forgiving on your wallet.

If you’re just stepping into the world of aerial photography, chances are you’re not trying to spend a couple thousand dollars on your first drone anyways. If a hefty price tag is your barrier to entry, we’ve rounded up several sub-$1000 options that are ideal for learning the basics of drone photography. These drones are relatively easy to learn and offer high-quality images and video through an effective gimbal to ensure steady captures.

Before you take flight with your new drone, be sure to check out the local laws by you (or those abroad if you’re travelling) regarding drones. Airspace is usually heavily regulated in many countries, but most of the drones recommended in our list are less than 250 grams, making them exempt from having to register with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Input may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. We only include products that have been independently selected by Input's editorial team.

Holystone HS720E

The market may be dominated by DJI, but Holy Stone is offering up their more affordable beginner drones like the HS720E. Holy Stone’s HS720E is often recommended by the subreddit r/drones as a sub-$500 option that’s much cheaper than DJI’s lineup. This drone comes in at 495 grams and offers similar programmable flying modes to DJI, but uses electronic image stabilization rather than a physical gimbal.

Hubsan Zino Mini Pro
Hubsan US

Hubsan recently released its sub-250 gram drone, the Zino Mini Pro, that touts three-direction obstacle avoidance. The Zino Mini Pro is often compared to DJI’s Mini 2 by drone YouTubers, but has a larger camera sensor offering more megapixels, longer max flight time, and internal storage up to 128 GB. Hubsan’s drone may offer some features that the Mini 2 doesn’t, but lacks the video stability that DJI drones are known for.