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Best Affordable Drones for Photography

14 mins
Drone Blog
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You’ve recently gotten into photography and are eager to expand your horizons and begin snapping images with a drone.

However, you don’t exactly have the biggest budget.

Many photography drones leave your head spinning when you see the price tag. Well, worry not. You can get your hands on a quality drone with great photography capabilities, and all for $1,000 or less.

We’ve rounded up six such drones that won’t break the bank and will still let you take high-quality images. Keep reading for specs, pros and cons, and detailed reviews of each drone!

1. DJI Mini 3 Pro #

Dimensions: 171 x 245 x 62 mm when unfoldedWeight: Under 249 gramsMax Range: 7.5 miMax Altitude: 500 mMax Speed: 35 mphMax Flying Time: 34 minsPhoto Quality: 48MPGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • For a small drone, it has a mighty camera that shoots in 48MP!
  • Lets you take vertical shoots effortlessly
  • Has photo and video editing and processing on the go
  • Ultra-lightweight

❌ Cons #

  • On the more expensive side

Although it just squeaks by under the $1,000 threshold, the Mini 3 Pro is yet another surprisingly affordable drone by DJI.

You’ll take your crispest, clearest photos yet, as the Mini 3 Pro’s camera can shoot in unparalleled 48MP quality and 1080p/120fps video.

The RAW files keep all those fine details so you can appreciate your handiwork.

The 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor with a dual native ISO also supports HDR output. The dynamic range offered with this camera is unmatched so both shadows and highlights have incredible detail.

You’ll love photographing with this drone. It has Sphere, Vertical, 180-Degree, and Wide-Angle panorama modes for capturing landscape photos like no other.

You can also use an assortment of smart drone features, including Digital Zoom, Hyperlapse, FocusTrack, and MasterShots.

We discussed Hyperlapse and FocusTrack earlier, but what are MasterShots and Digital Zoom? Digital Zoom will focus in at 4x the zoom so you don’t have to stand as close to your subjects to photograph them.

MasterShots lets you select a subject, then the Mini 3 Pro takes off and performs what DJI coins “pro maneuvers” to generate a cinematic clip.

If you’re into vertical photography, you can adjust between portrait and landscape photography modes by tapping the drone settings once.

The Mini 3 Pro’s included camera gimbal can rotate up to 90 degrees to seamlessly shoot vertically.

Insanely lightweight, this drone doesn’t even weigh 249 grams. You won’t have to register it if flying recreationally, and you don’t have to worry about as stringent drone laws in many parts of the world.

Operate this drone with the DJI RC or DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller, which can provide a max video bitrate of up to 18 Mbps with lower latency.

Speaking of video transmission, this drone uses DJI O3, an unrivaled video transmission system that can transmit 1080p/30fps live video at up to 12 kilometers.

When the time comes to edit your footage, D-Cinelike Color adds depth and life to your shots, giving them an edge like they’ve never had before!

As a newer drone, the Mini 3 Pro includes APAS 4.0, which uses real-time detecting technology to determine obstacles and other drone threats, even in “complicated environments,” says DJI.

Further, the drone has tri-directional obstacle sensing with dual-vision sensors that can pick up on hazards downward, backward, and forward. 

2. DJI Mavic Air 2 #

Dimensions: 183 x 253 x 77 mm (unfolded)Weight: 570 gramsMax Range: 7.5 miMax Altitude: 5,000 mMax Speed: 68 kph in Sport ModeMax Flying Time: 34 mins (without wind)Photo Quality: 48MPGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • Includes all the photo and video shooting features you need
  • Has a long battery life of up to 34 minutes with the standard battery
  • Allows you to edit footage on the go with the DJI Fly app
  • Has obstacle avoidance so you can focus on the photography

❌ Cons #

  • No longer in production, so you can only buy it used or refurbished

Let’s begin our list with one of several DJI drones, the Mavic Air 2. Although many DJI photography drones are outside your price range, this one isn’t too costly.

The ½-inch CMOS sensor allows you to shoot in amazing 48MP quality. SmartPhoto is a built-in feature incorporating scene recognition for richer, fuller photos. HyperLight uses HDR to improve photo quality.

Included with the Mavic Air 2 are two ND filter sets.

The 4/8/32 set lets you bring out the vivaciousness of your photos when shooting with reduced ISO values, while the 16/64/256 set allows you to shoot in extreme lighting and at various shutter speeds.

QuickShots is a photographer-friendly feature that’s easy to set up and get started. Just tap, and the Mavic Air 2 will fly in a preset route and take videos or photos.

You can even add filters, effects, and music later.

The 8K Hyperlapse is another feature that will have photographers salivating. You can select from Waypoint, Course Lock, Circle, or Free modes to take hyperlapsed footage that’s truly one of a kind.

Further track your Mavic Air 2 with Point of Interest 3.0, Spotlight 2.0, and ActiveTrack 3.0.

Point of Interest allows you to create a custom flight path for your drone, while Spotlight locks the camera onto a target while your drone flies.

ActiveTrack is an obstacle-avoiding means of following a subject, now with smarter pathfinding.

Do you want to edit images and video footage on the go?

Download the DJI Fly app for your smartphone. The app includes the DJI Mimo editing suite with templates, advanced editing options, and manual settings.

DJI reworked the controller included with the Mavic Air 2, making its design more comfortable and ergonomic. The result is a remote with a much more comfortable grip.

Since this DJI drone can fly for upwards of 240 minutes with some battery setups, you’ll want a controller you can hold onto for a while!

The Advanced Pilot Assistance System, aka APAS, has been upgraded. APAS 3.0 includes automatic flight planning, obstacle avoidance, and mapping technology all in one.

Speaking of obstacle avoidance, the Mavic Air 2 has it in spades with its multi-directional sensors. The sensors help the drone understand its environment downward, backward, and forward.

Additionally, DJI included an auxiliary light to improve visibility when flying your drone.

Offering support for dual-frequency communication on the 2.4/5.8 GHz frequency channels, the Mavic Air 2 will automatically adjust to whichever channel has less interference.

You can rely on your drone to have a clearer, stronger signal when you need it most.

You’ll quite like OcuSync 2.0 if you shoot videos in addition to taking photos. With OcuSync, you can stream videos in 1080p FHD resolution and transmit footage at a rate of 10 kilometers.

» MORE: Best Drones for Architectural Photography

3. DJI Mini 2 #

Dimensions: 138 x 81 x 58 mmWeight: 242 gramsMax Range: 10 kmMax Altitude: 4,000 mMax Speed: 36 mphMax Flying Time: 31 minsPhoto Quality: 12MPGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • Light enough that you might not have to register it
  • Could benefit from relaxed drone laws
  • Folds so it’s even more convenient for traveling from shooting location to shooting location
  • Has an awesome camera and great photography tools and functions

❌ Cons #

  • An older drone that doesn’t have the best DJI has to offer in the Mini series

How about a tinier, lighter drone from DJI for doing all your photography? The DJI Mini 2, an older model in the Mini series, is plenty affordable these days for photographers looking to get into drones.

The Mini 2 weighs under 250 grams.

If you live in the United States, the FAA’s weight threshold for drone registration is 250 grams. This means you can skip registration unless you’re using your drone commercially.

You can also usually benefit from lighter drone laws that allow you to fly closer to buildings and crowds so you can get that perfect shot.

How will you get that perfect shot? Well, with the included 4K camera, of course.

The three-axis motorized gimbal stabilizes the camera, which can shoot in 12MP image quality and 4K/30fps video.

Becoming an aerial photography pro is easy with this drone, as you can use automated flight modes such as Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle, and Boomerang.

You can also shoot in Sphere, 180-Degree, and Wide-Angle panoramas to show off more of your world.

When you’re done, the DJI Fly app will optimize your photos automatically, reducing your time in post.

The app is also helpful for utilizing templates, trimming your videos, and using QuickTransfer. This feature automatically connects to your smartphone and synchronizes videos and photos at 20 MB per second.

The foldable, portable Mini 2 promises 31 minutes of flight time, which is quite a lot! When you consider this is an older drone, its flight time is even more impressive, we think.

The durable frame of this DJI drone can stand up to some basic wear and tear. You still don’t want to crash your drone, but its durable outer shell is built for adventure.

On that note, this drone also has excellent wind resistance.

If flying at 4,000 meters in altitude, the Mini 2 can handle winds between 29 and 38 kph.

The drone will maintain stable footage so none of your photos come out blurry and shaky. You can proudly add them to your portfolio!

OcuSync 2.0 is DJI’s video transmission system. You can transmit HD video up to 10 kilometers. The anti-interference technology built into OcuSync 2.0 makes it safer and more efficient to transfer footage.

4. PowerVision PowerEgg X #

Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 4 inWeight: 1.2 lbsMax Range: 3.7 miMax Altitude: 4,000 kmMax Speed: 40 mphMax Flying Time: 30 minsPhoto Quality: 12 MP+GPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • Egg-shaped and portable; you can even use it as a handheld camera!
  • Remembers subjects and tracks them
  • Takes photos according to your hand gestures for hands-free photography
  • Has a strong, anti-shake gimbal

❌ Cons #

  • Very heavy

The PowerEgg X is not your average photography drone. It’s made by PowerVision, which specializes in underwater AI drones. Yes, you heard us right – underwater AI drones!

The 4K/60fps UHD camera with a triaxial mechanical gimbal is truly awesome stuff. The gimbal features mechanical stability augmentation to reduce vibrations and prevent shakiness from ruining your photos.

If you feel like taking photos the more traditional way, the PowerEgg X can operate in handheld mode.

You can hold it like a traditional camcorder as it acts as your own personal autonomous AI camera. This is a way unique feature you don’t see in your average drone!

Sending photos is easy with this drone. It can transmit HD-quality images in 1080p up to 3.7 miles.

Do you want to take photos hands-free? This drone recognizes your gestures as part of a database.

The PowerEgg can take group photos, track subjects, shoot videos, or take images depending on how you gesticulate.

The camera will always maintain a view of 170 degrees, and the PowerEgg is such a smart drone that it remembers subjects and can track them if they move beyond the 170-degree frame.

Download the accompanying app to take your PowerEgg further.

You can share photos and videos and edit video footage on the go, adding a professional appeal to your footage that could help you land more drone jobs.

Another truly incredible feature of the PowerEgg X is SyncVoice. This smart technology allows the drone to synchronize your phone’s microphone and add audio to images!

The PowerEgg can also handle wind speeds up to 38 kph without making your images look blurry and out of focus.

The drone can fly for 31 minutes, so it rivals many DJI drones in that department.

The PowerEgg X also includes Precision landing and Automatic Obstacle Avoidance, two features driven by bottom and front binocular depth measurements.

You shouldn’t take off or land a drone on the water in most cases, nor should you fly in the rain, but the PowerEgg can handle both.

That said, check the drone laws in your country, as it’s often illegal to use a drone in inclement weather!

How does the PowerEgg X do all this incredible stuff? That’s simple.

It includes a 13-core AI multiprocessor with a five-core CPU, a four-core DSP, a single-core GPU, a single-core MCU, and a dual-core neural network engine booster.

5. Holy Stone HS100 #

Dimensions: 487 x 487 x 167 mmWeight: 750 gramsMax Range: 600 mMax Altitude: N/AMax Speed: 600 mMax Flying Time: 18 minsPhoto Quality: 2KGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • Great camera for the price
  • Automated modes for easy flights even without a lot of drone experience
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Very inexpensive

❌ Cons #

  • Doesn’t fly for very long before it needs a recharge
  • Doesn’t have the best camera

If you’re looking for an especially budget-friendly drone for photography, you’ve found it in the Holy Stone HS100. This drone costs under $200.

The included 2K camera isn’t quite up to par compared to the other drones we’ve looked at. We’ll admit that much!

However, when you consider how much cheaper this drone is, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

The camera isn’t too shabby though, don’t get us wrong. It’s an optimized Wi-Fi FOV FPV camera with an adjustable 90-degree angle.

The included remote lets you see through your drone camera with Real-Time Viewing.

The drone transmits footage at a rate of 5 GHz when you’re connected to Wi-Fi so you can continue sharing clips and photos with your friends or posting on social media even when you’re on the go.

The Holy Stone app makes it possible to transmit footage, but that’s not all. You can also toggle between Beginner Mode and other modes, set the parameters for Intelligent Geofence, and more.

You’ll appreciate the HS100’s altitude lock feature if you’re new to drones. This function locks your drone height in one place so you can’t surpass legal limits or lose your drone because it flew too far from you.

You can also use GPS-driven features like follow-me and auto-return. The latter activates when your drone’s battery is about to deplete.

Both functions are awesome for preventing drone crashes from a loss of battery or signal.

The hardy engine included in the HS100 is moderately wind-resistant, and setting up this drone for a flight couldn’t be easier. Just unfold the propellers, turn the drone on, and you’re ready to go!

6. Ruko F11 Pro #

Dimensions: 17.51 x 15.94 x 3.15 inWeight: 520 gramsMax Range: 4,000 ftMax Altitude: 120 mMax Speed:  26.8 mphMax Flying Time: 60 minsPhoto Quality: 4KGPS: Yes

✅ Pros #

  • Great price, especially for a first drone
  • Incredible flight durations of up to an hour!
  • Decent camera for the cost

❌ Cons #

  • Surprisingly heavy

The last drone we recommend is also exceptionally budget-friendly, the Ruko F11 Pro. We’ve discussed the differences between this version and the OG F11 here.

The 4K UHD camera shoots in HD image quality and 2.9K video. You’ll enjoy brighter colors, higher contrast, and better clarity when you take photos with this drone camera.

The camera also features a 120-degree FOV lens. It can adjust 90 degrees to capture the shot.

The F11 Pro is set to Beginner Mode by default, which includes geofencing so you can safely operate your drone. You can turn off Beginner Mode at any point, which will mean disabling the geofencing.

A GPS-led auto-RTH allows the drone to return to its original location when its battery runs low or it loses signal. You won’t have to stress about losing your drone if it’s the F11 Pro!

Included level-six wind resistance thanks to the brushless motor will keep your shots nice and smooth. The aluminum alloy casing lends this drone durability and adds to its looks.

The selection of functions the drone comes with makes it a great value for the money.

You can use hand gestures to take hands-free selfies and photos, try Point of Interest to set a custom drone route that follows one point, or use follow-me.

One of the best features of the F11 Pro by far is its extensive battery life, which lasts for 60 minutes! That’s achievable due to the dual 11.1-volt 2500 mAh intelligent batteries.

However, the inclusion of the batteries does make this drone heavy.

There you have it, six fantastic drones for photography that won’t cost you thousands of dollars.

You can have a reasonable budget of under a grand and still get a DJI drone, or you can use an AI-driven underwater drone like the PowerEgg X.

No matter which drone on this list you select, you can’t go wrong!


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