Best Budget Intelligent Filmmaking Drones For Video Under 500 Dollars

Best Drones For Video Under 500

Need a lightweight filmmaking drone for a low-budget film production that won’t break the bank? If so, we have you covered.

Filmmakers are starting to understand that an excellent drone that isn’t a toy that can elevate the production value of a film regardless of the budget. With the capability to capture eye-catching establishing shots or create compelling tracking shots of a scene, drones have become useful tools for many filmmakers and the default filmmaking toolkit accessory.

Nevertheless, if you aren’t heading toward becoming a full-time drone operator and only need a drone for the occasional shot, it’s not a necessity to spend a huge amount of money on some of the best drones available.

The good news is there are some great camera drone options available that produce dynamic image and video quality for under $500 dollars.

I’ve researched and looked at hundreds of drones for video under 500 dollars to find the best and read several comments from people who have bought them. Based on their feedback, my personal experience, and the most important specifications camera and features I’ve selected the top 5 drones for video under 500 dollars.

Lets’s have a look at the best 4k drones under 500 dollars.

If you are looking for more filmmaking gear ideas, be sure to head over to our gear guide hub page for more gear of all categories. 

Here are some valuable links to bookmark in regards to flying drones in the United States. 

Best Drones For Video Under 500 Dollars - Drones For A Low Budget Filmmaker

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DJI Mavic Mini 2 - Best Drone Under 500 Dollars

PROS

  • It’s very easy to fly
  • Portable and easy to carry
  • 12MP Camera with Built-in, 4K Video
  • Performance and Specs that are Class-Leaders
  • Amazing Set of Autonomous Features
  • With a max battery life of 31 minutes, DJI mini 2 grants more than enough time to compose the perfect shot.

CONS

  • The package does not include an extra battery

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 55×32×22 in. (Folded)
  • Takeoff Weight: < 8.78 oz.
  • Photography: 1/2.3″ CMOS, 12MP, JPEG/RAW
  • Video: 4K/30 fps
  • Max. Speed: 35.79 mph
  • Max Flight Time: 31 min

To start this list of the best camera drones under 500 dollars, we have to start with the DJI MAVIC MINI 2 DRONE

Fly farther to capture stunning 4K aerial videos with the Mini 2 from DJI. Utilizing DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 2.4/5.8 GHz wireless transmission technology, the Mini 2 can be operated from up to a range of 6.2 miles away while still providing you with HD video of what the drone sees. The Mini 2 can also be flown as high as 2.5 miles and withstand 19 to 24 mph winds, all while maintaining a compact, foldable design that weighs only 8.8 oz. It’s small and light enough to take with you almost anywhere.

With so much available to photograph and record right out of the box, DJI ensured high-quality results with a 3-axis gimbal that supports up to 4K30 video resolution and 12MP camera stills captured in JPG or raw for easier editing. You also gain the luxury of flying farther back from your subjects with support for up to 4x digital zoom. 

Thanks to the DJI Fly app and intelligent recording options, such as pre-programmed QuickShot flight paths and multiple panorama options, the Mini 2 can deliver creative pro-quality shots with a tap.

When it comes to piloting the Mini 2DJI provides multiple intelligent capabilities and features to make it easier, such as automatic takeoff, precise hovering, and a smart return-to-home function that uses GPS to return the drone safely back to its takeoff point. 

DJI even has you covered before you fly with Fly Spots, a DJI Fly app ability that lets you plan out your itinerary in advance. While in the air, the Mini 2 can achieve flight speeds up to 36 mph and flight times up to 31 minutes, giving you ample time to reach, explore, and record distant locations.

Using a handful of different pre-programmed drone flight patterns, you can use the DJI Fly app to quickly take professional-level videos. You can choose from Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle, or Boomerang modes. Once captured, the DJI Fly app lets you add filters and soundtracks and share your work directly to social media platforms.

Looking for the best obstacle avoidance drone under $500? With aerial photography, the canvas is vast, which is why DJI gives you multiple options of capturing it all with panorama modes. For lens choices, you can choose from Wide-Angle, 180°, or Sphere panoramas. The Mini 2 automatically does the rest.

The DJI Fly app can intelligently optimize your images immediately after downloading a photo from the Mini 2, providing you with shots that exhibit more vivid colors and contrast.

Downloading your images can be as easy as walking near your drone. Once your smartphone is close enough to the Mini 2, the DJI Fly app can automatically connect to the drone and synchronize selected photos and videos at speeds up to 20 MB/s.

Cut out video segments to edit and download with Trimmed Download Create and share footage quickly with editing templates in the DJI Fly app.

I had read reviews on the DJI Mini 2 model and with the incredible camera and features specifications, I decided to give it a try. All I can say is WOW! This little drone flies just like a larger drone but better. I’m very, very happy with the quality of the footage and the fly time is amazing. I purchased the Fly More package, and it’s nice to have the extra batteries and charging unit. I’ve always loved DJI but now my respect is even deeper. I have to add, that this drone flies really well in wind and in cold conditions which surprised me for its size. 

Mavic Mini 2 Drones have some other amazing features, including a 10km maximum control range. This is an increase from 4km. The drone’s small size makes it quite impressive for its flight time. The Mini’s max flight time per battery is 31 minutes.

For less than half the price of a Mavic 2 Pro, you get a lot of bang for your buck. One of the best drones for video under 500 dollars.

Holy Stone HS720E GPS Drone - Best Beginner Drone

PROS

  • Casings that are travel-friendly
  • Simple controls
  • Return home mode
  • 4K camera for under $300
  • Max Flight time is 26 minutes

CONS

  • Long charging time

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 13.3 × 9.5 X2.3 IN (Unfolding)
  • Takeoff Weight: 17.46 OZ
  • Photography: 4K(3840 × 2160) Stored in TF Card / 1080P (1920 × 1080P) Stored on Mobile Phone
  • Video: 4K@30fps/1080p@60fps (with TF Card Stored)
  • Max. range: 1640 Feet
  • Max Flight Time: 23 min

Holy Stone is one of the most interesting competitors to DJI. Their products are starting to stand out from the crowd of drones under 500 dollars, as the company proves to itself and its customers that they deserve a piece of the drone market. The recently updated Holy Stone HS720E drone is one of their best.

It was amazing to me, and it feels like I am flying a high-end drone. It’s very responsive and maneuverable. Holy Stone can even fly in windy conditions. The HS720 is a great option for anyone who loves aerial photography or videography but is on a limited budget. It is well worth the price, with a price range of around 350 dollars.

With the EIS (Electric Image Stabilization) technology, it reduces video blurring. The Sony Sensor is equipped with advanced image-capture technologies for superior image quality than many other drones under 500 dollars today. 

The 4k(3840 × 2160) camera catches much more details, and videos can be recorded with 1080p@60fps or 4K@30fps. The remote-controlled 90°adjustable angle broadens your view. Along with 5GHz FPV transmission guarantees longer (1640 Feet) and smooth image transmission.

With an air optical flow & air pressure altitude control system, the drone can hover stably both indoor and outdoor. GPS location and Auto Return to Home free of losing the drone.

Holy Stone is one of the best drones under 500 dollars. Holy Stone offers many features at a very low price range. The HS720 has great features that are expected from a drone in this price range. GPS with Follow Me ModeCustom Flight Path is undoubtedly the highlight. Draw a route on your App screen, and the HS720 will follow you in the desired direction or circle. It will also send you a real-time landscape.

Brushless motors are more powerful and produce less noise than brushed motors. This can allow for stable, fast drone flight. They also have a longer life span and require less maintenance.

Each intelligent battery supports 23 minutes of flight; 2 batteries included prolong your sky trip to 46 minutes. Less charging, more flying. The Carrying Bag included makes it easy to take the drone out and keep it when you don’t need it.

When it comes to a DJI Drone alternative, this is an Amazon reviewer’s customer choice. The foldable HS720E steps up the game with all the features of a GPS drone, great picture, and video quality, and most of all electronic image stabilization… Very nice for beginners and experienced pilots… highly recommend it as the best drone under $400.

Altair Aerial Dagger Drone with 4K UHD - Best Drone 300 Dollars

Pros

  • Foldable drone
  • Can fly as far as 300 m (985ft)
  • Good for beginners and experienced users
  • Comes with a 4K camera
  • Good flight stabilization
  • Good flight time up to 15min

Cons

  • SD Card up to 32 GB
  • Flight and video quality is average

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 9.45 × 9.25 × 2.17 (folded) 
  • Takeoff Weight: 8.78 oz
  • Photography: Still Image Size 3840×2160
  • Video: 4K@16FPS, 2.5K@25FPS
  • Max. range: 300 meters
  • Max Flight Time: 15-Minutes of Flight Time

The Altair Aerial Dagger is a well-designed drone by Altair Aerial and is tough to compete for the best drone with camera under $300. The Altair Aerial Dagger not only offers a 4K video quality but also gives you a 90-degree tilt gimbal for more creative shots. The Aerial Dagger comes with powerful brushless motors, and thanks to its light materials you can fly without registering with the FAA.

With its aerodynamic shape and its good quality propellers and motors, the Altair Aerial Dagger is a pretty fast drone as well, perfect for those who are looking for a fast drone and its other good qualities. The Altair Aerial Dagger also does a great job of flying steady from calm skies to a bit of windy weather.

Altair Aerial’s controller is also pretty good, and it’s comfortable and easy to use with its dual handles, above the controller you can put your smartphone of all sizes when it runs out of battery you just need to charge it with its charging cable.

The Altair Aerial Dagger drone uses a built-in underneath the drone 4K camera to get nice stable videos with your action camera. The Altair Aerial Dagger can go as far as 300 m with a transmitter range. It also has powerful 1500 mAh batteries.

This fun drone also comes with rechargeable 1500 mAh batteries. The Altair Aerial Dagger drone allows you to fly up to 15 minutes when they’re charged and takes about 120 minutes to charge.

The camera on the drone is able to take pictures at 3840×2160 pixels and 3840×2160p video thanks to its 1/2.7 inch CMOS sensor. It uses a 120° FOV lens with an f/2.5 aperture, and a focal length of 3.6 mm. The video bit rate can go up to 20Mbit and a transmission bit rate of 2Mbit.

The Altair Aerial Dagger supports up to 32 GB SD cards, it supports Class 10 FAT32 SD cards. For the photo format, it uses a JPEG format, as for the video format, it uses MP4 format, and compressed format H.264.

The Altair Aerial Dagger drone is a great quality-budget drone, I definitely recommend getting it if it offers what you are looking for. The Altair Aerial Dagger has all the basic drone features and more, as well as good flight, battery, and features.

The Altair Aerial Dagger is pretty easy to learn and will get you all those great aerial shots you would want in a drone with the 4K camera even in mildly windy conditions, it also carries a 1500 mAh battery which will give you plenty of time to record an amazing flight distance.

This drone has many positive reviews from many people on Amazon today, and if you are looking for a low cost and durable quadcopter with an HD camera, the Altair Aerial Dagger is the clear choice for drones under 500 dollars.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Good Positioning Systems
  • Obstacle Avoidance
  • Multiple Control Options
  • Intelligent Flight Modes
  • Obstacle Detection Systems
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Dated Camera
  • Short Flight Time
  • Low Wind Resistance

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 9.8 × 3 × 8.2 inches
  • Takeoff Weight: 10.58oz / 300g
  • Photography: 1/2.3″ Sensor, 12MP
  • Video: FHD 1080p
  • Max. range: 300 meters
  • Max Flight Time: 16min

The DJI Spark was designed to be a fun beginner-friendly drone, but at the same time still has the features and qualities that every DJI drone is known for.

With intelligent flight control options, a mechanical gimbal, and a camera with incredible image quality, DJISpark empowers you to push your creative boundaries. Quick Launch With Face Aware, DJI Spark lifts off from your hand by recognizing your face. It takes off and hovers in place within seconds of powering on. 

Even though the DJI Spark is a small drone, the drone has quite a lot of power, which powers it for up to 15 minutes while you fly. Create with Ease Intelligent Flight Modes and intuitive controls help you create cinematic aerial videos with just a few taps. 

Simple Control Take amazing aerial photos using just hand gestures, without a remote controller or mobile device. The intelligent flight control makes the Spark perfect for beginner drone pilots, almost being like a co-pilot avoiding obstacles for the pilot. 

The DJI Spark has a 12 MP camera capable of recording 1080p 30fps video.

The drone also has a mechanical 2-axis gimbal, which assists in stabilizing all your video footage.

Edit and Share The DJI GO 4 app features automatic editing templates and an array of filters. Quickly edit videos and share them straight to social media.

The DJI Spark will cost you around $350, so if you are looking for a cheap, but high-quality drone with obstacle avoidance to avoid a crash in mid-air, and land safe, then this is the drone for you.

Ruko F11 Pro 4K UHD Camera Drone Under $400 Dollars

Pros

  • Comes with 2 Batteries. Battery life is over 25 minutes (depends on wind speeds and your speed settings)
  • Remote is rechargeable
  • Camera Quality is really good 
  • GPS, return home, low battery warning, launch/land feature
  • WiFi distance and controller distance
  • Build quality
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Batteries take around 4 hours to fully charge
  • Hard to tell front from the back while in the air

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 3.15 IN
  • Takeoff Weight: 18.34 oz
  • Photography: 4k photo
  • Video: 2.9k video
  • Max. range: 500 meters
  • Max Flight Time: 30 Mins

Experience splendid 4k Ultra HD picture quality and 2.9k video for stunning clarity, high contrast, vivid colors. Bring amazing view sight. The camera with a 𝟏𝟐𝟎°FOV lens and 𝟗𝟎°adjustable camera give a broad view of your memorable moment.

Equipped with an upgraded 2500mAh intelligent battery provides up to 30 minutes of flight time. The package together with 1 extra battery, extends your flight time to 60 mins, this gives you more fun! (5V/3A adapter). Do not use a charger over 5V/3A and fast charging is prohibited.

It comes with beginner settings to let you get used to then you can use other functions further, easy to fly for all levels. Intelligent flight features like Follow Me Mode, Tap Fly, Point of Interest, Hand Gesture Shots make you fly like an expert to explore the fun of the aerial film, just One-click, It will fly itself and film your creative video.

Plus, the drone will auto-returning to the takeoff location when it’s lost signal, or low power, don’t have to worry about losing your drone, just enjoy the fun of flying.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quadcopter under $300 and you’re a beginner, Ruko F11 is a favorite choice. It’s right there at the edge of our price point, has an excellent 4K camera, great specs, and most importantly – GPS!

BEFORE YOU BUY: THREE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING A DRONE UNDER $500

drone Drones have made a huge impact in the past decade in the film industry because filmmakers can achieve dramatic aerial photos and video without blowing the film budget.

GPS VS. NON-GPS DRONES

In the past, most new drones for video under 500 dollars didn’t offer proper GPS guidance that was reliable enough for flight and landing, but today the majority of popular drones below $500 come equipped with sophisticated GPS modules.

On top of advanced GPS modules, these drones come equipped with additional features, that greatly affect the overall flight performance. Features like return to home and follow me feed off GPS data and drastically improve drones’ feature sets.

BUILT-IN VS. GOPRO CAMERA

best action cameras for content creators

When you are looking for a drone for video under 500 dollars, should you go for a built-in camera drone or use a GoPro camera? In the past, drones equipped with GoPro mounts were dominating the market because of the camera stability and quality of the video.

But today even the most affordable drones have excellent built-in cameras that can rival the quality of video footage that the latest Gopro offers. Plus, even the cheapest drones being able to shoot 720P video, can help you capture amazing video content for any streaming platform.

FOLDABLE VS. NON-FOLDABLE DRONES

Another feature to think about when buying a drone is foldability!

When it comes to any camera accessory for content creation, everyone is looking for something small and compact that they can easily pack with them wherever they go. While some of the commercial drones are built to be large for improved stabilization, control, and other features, they tend to not be as compact to pack as smaller drones today.

With most of the drones for video under 500 dollars that are on this list, they might not be the most powerful models out there or possess the greatest cameras, but their portability more than makes up for their shortcomings. If portability is a big concern, especially for content creators on the go or guerilla-style filmmakers, then buying a foldable drone makes perfect sense!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

dji

ARE THE BEST DRONES UNDER $500 RELIABLE?

Believe it or not, these drones are quite a reliable accessory. With most of them equipped with brushless motors, they’re much more durable than brushed ones and will and work much longer. Second, all of these drones are well-built and can take quite a beating. Don’t fly them full speed straight into concrete walls though – No drone would survive that type of abuse.

WHICH DRONE IS BEST FOR VIDEOGRAPHY UNDER $500?

Honestly, I can’t and won’t tell you any names here. When talking about drones below the $500 mark, the camera game is pretty similar all across the board. They offer a solid resolution, usually 1080p, but they all have problems with shakiness. They don’t have proper gimbals which are always problematic.

If you’re looking for the best drone under $500 4k that can shoot proper aerial footage with its camera, footage that you won’t be ashamed to show your friends and family, you’ll have to spend close to the $500 mark for something like a Hubsan Zino or DJI Mavic Mini.

WHAT ARE THE BEST OUTDOOR DRONES FOR LESS THAN $500?

Pretty much all the drone models in this article can be used outdoors. On this list, the Holy Stone HS720E drone is the best one in terms of customer reviews! It’s a lot bigger than most other models, but it features powerful brushless motors and a solid camera. If that’s what you’re looking for in your next outdoor drone, then HS720E is the ideal pick!

WHAT IS THE BEST DRONE WITH GIMBAL UNDER $500?

If you are looking for drones with video under 500 dollars that offer a proper gimbal stabilization system the Holystone HS720 4KDJI Mavic Mini, and Ruko F11 Pro 4K Drone are the best gimbal drones at this price point.

They may not be perfect by any means, but it’s still better than the cheaper competitors on the market today. There’s still shakiness going on, but the jello effect is all gone, just like the propeller vibration.

WHAT IS THE BEST FOLDABLE DRONE UNDER $500?

If portability is your number one concern, then you’ll want a foldable drone, preferably with its own dedicated carrying case. 

When it comes to awesome foldable drones under $500, Ruko F11 Pro 4K DroneAltair Aerial DaggerHoly Stone HS720and the DJI Mavic Mini are fantastic folding drones solutions. 

Conclusion

Quadcopters under $500 are extremely popular on the market today. And with more and more content creators looking to improve their footage with creative shots, the demand for drones will always be there.

Companies like DJI are taking notice of the demand for drones with video under 500 dollars and that’s why the DJI Mavic Mini is at a lower price tag for a gimbal-equipped drone, to compete in this market.

As the drone tech continues to develop, don’t be surprised to see more improvement in performance from drones entering the market monthly. Just don’t wait if you are in the market for a new drone that meets the camera and features specifications you want, because there are content creators using today’s drones for under 500 dollars that will leave you in the dust if you wait too long.

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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Best Drones For Video Under 500 Dollars - Drones For A Low Budget Filmmaker

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