Long gone are the days when drones would set you back thousands of dollars. You can now buy a drone for just under $100 on Amazon, and be capturing aerial images before the week is out. Although, can we say that these budget drones offer stellar images that can be used in some professional capacity? Eh, not likely.
However, there are drones on the market that offer great video options with prices that won’t bust your budget. In an age where memory cards can cost up to $1000, I think we can say having a drone that costs less than $1,000—with great image technology—is a steal.
Check the list below for our 2022 recommendations.
DJI Air 2S – $999
For under $1000, the Air 2S is the little brother of the Mavic 3, but can offer some fantastic drone footage like its bigger brother. It holds its own with a super-lightweight of 595g and a super clean 20 megapixel CMOS sensor.
DJI has put out a slew of different models and upgrades over the years, and the Air 2S shows how much they’ve learned and grown to make this one of the best and well-built drones for under $1000, with an impressive range of features.
- Max flight time: 46 minutes
- Max speed: 47 mph
- Video transmission: Up to 12km
- Weight: 595g
- Battery: 3600mAh / up to 31 minutes flight time
- Flight modes: Sport, cine, positioning
- Camera: 1-inch CMOS @ 20MP
- Frame rates: 5.4K up to 30fps / 4K up to 60fps / 2.7K up to 60fps / FHD up to 120fps
- Video resolution: 5.4K, 4K, 2.7K, 1080p (FHD)
Parrot Anafi – $499
The ANAFI is a solid drone in a market saturated by everything offering the same sort of thing. Yes, it came out in 2019, but that doesn’t mean it lacks performance for the price.
This 320g drone has a 180° tilt gimbal with 3-axis image stabilization, a 1/2.4″ CMOS 21MP sensor with a 23mm F/2.4 lens, HDR, up to 4K at 30fps, 100mbps bitrate, and USB-C charging.
It’s an impressive set of specs at this price, but hides some features behind in-app purchases.
I’ve chosen the extended version of the Parrot ANAFI here. The extended version offers a little more than the base with an additional battery, carrying bag, and additional propeller blades.
- Max flight time: 25 minutes
- Max speed: 33 mph
- Max range: 2.5 miles with a controller.
- Weight: 320g
- Battery: 2700mAh / Up to 25 minutes flight time.
- Flight modes: Film, sport, cinematic, and racing
- Camera: Sony 1/2.4″ CMOS 21MP
- Video: 4K DCI (17:9) 4096×2160 @ 24fps; 4K UHD 3840×2160 @ 24, 25, 30fps; FHD 1920×1080 @ 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60fps
PowerVision Poweregg X – $899
When flying close to water, I imagine there’s one element that most drone operators dread: “Will the weather wreck my drone?” or “Will it fall into the lake or the sea?” The Poweregg X will negate that worry.
It can land and take off on water, fly in super-harsh weather conditions, and has a fascinating egg-like design that stands out from the market.
One other strange but fun feature is that it can be used as a handheld gimbal camera.
Although it can record 4K footage and take some solid still photos, it falls short of the quality you’d expect for the price and the competition it’s against—such as DJI.
If you’re someone who flies across lakes, ponds, and the sea, then the Poweregg X is an excellent pickup without the worry of drowning your drone.
- Max flight time: 25 minutes
- Max speed: 40 mph
- Max range: 3.7 miles
- Weight: 862g
- Battery: 3800mAh / up to 30 minutes flight time
- Camera: 1/2.8-inch CMOS at 12MP
- Video: 4K at 60fps / 1080p at 120fps / 720p at 240fps
DJI Mavic Mini 2 – $449
The sheer size of this drone and what it can do is truly unique. DJI has smashed it with the Mini 2 with its amazing battery life, compact size, and ease of use. When the original Mini came out, it blew people away how something so small, at only 249g, could capture such amazing footage.
Version 2 now offers 4K 30fps instead of the 2.7K 30fps of the previous model, which honestly is a massive difference when compared side-by-side. This is a perfect entry-level drone for beginners who want to capture smooth and clean 4K footage with robust and simple-to-use controls via the DJI fly app.
DJI also offers the Fly More Combo at $599, which gives you two extra batteries, a two-way charging hub, three pairs of propellers, and a shoulder bag to carry it all. Personally, this is worth the additional $150, easily.
- Max flight time: 31 minutes
- Max speed: 35 mph
- Max range: 6.2 Miles with a controller
- Weight: 249g
- Battery: 2250mAh
- Flight modes: Normal, cine, sport modes
- Camera: 1/2.3 CMOS sensor at 12MP
- Lens: 24mm F2.8
- Video: 4K: 3840×2160 @ 24/25/30fps; 2.7K: 2720×1530 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps; FHD: 1920×1080 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
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Cover image via skyNext.