When we talk about the best rc camera drones under $1000 we must first check some great drones at lower prices, but you really start to get into the best of the bunch when you visit a list like this one here today. After exploring some of the least expensive drones on the market, and bumping things up to the $500 range, it’s now time to get serious about quadcopter shopping. Join us for our list of the best drones under $1000.
At this price point, we’ve moved beyond toy class drones and the majority of FPV racers, we’re now looking at the lower-end of the camera drones. These are the entry level drones for those looking to capture those epic aerial photos and video. Let’s dive in.
Best drones under $1000
- DJI Mavic Air 2
- DJI Mavic Air
- PowerVision PowerEgg X
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Phantom 4
- Yuneec Typhoon H
- Yuneec Mantis G
- Yuneec Mantis Q
- Parrot Anafi
- DJI Phantom 3 Pro
- DJI Mini 2
- DJI Mavic Mini
- UVify OOri
1. DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 drone is more than just a successor to the original Mavic Air, it’s more of a transition from its own form-factor into a true Mavic drone. The Mavic Air 2 maintains its place as a mid-tier drone in DJI’s lineup and one of the Best rc camera drones under $1000. In terms of size, price, and capability, the Mavic Air 2 sits almost perfectly in between the Mavic Mini and the Mavic 2 series drones.
In the same way that the Mavic Air stepped up the camera game for small drones, the Mavic Air 2 is an exciting update in the camera department as well. You’re looking at a new 1/2-inch sensor that shoots 12MP stills, but does so from a 48MP sensor! You can capture 48MP stills as well, but the 12MP shots are better, using pixel binning managed by Quad Bayer technology. Photos are great, but the new 4K video capture at 60fps, and a data bit rate of 120Mbps, are more exciting to many users.
Check out the DJI Mavic Air 2 for a starting price of $799 for the base package, $988 for the Fly More combo at launch in May 2020.
2. DJI MAVIC AIR
DJI found great success with the Mavic Pro, they followed that up with the far less expensive Spark. The Mavic Air bridges the gap between these two, offering all the fun features from the smaller Spark as well as all the pro flight features of the Mavic Pro. Better yet, the Mavic Air introduced a 100Mbps data rate for video capture on a DJI drone under $1500.
That sounds like a mouthful, suffice to say that the Mavic Air instantly took the crown for the best video at the lowest price of any drone on the market.
After the launch of the Mavic 2 series of drones, we had to recommend the newer Mavic line as the best camera on a compact drone, but the Mavic Air still remains our top pick if ultimate portability is your concern. The Mavic Air manages to pack down to almost fit comfortably in your pocket.
3. PowerVision PowerEgg X
The folks at PowerVision first captured attention with their Dolphin underwater drone, a submarine, of sorts. Their PowerEgg flying drone was a cool design, but the PowerVision PowerEgg X is a versatile machine that embraces some extra features we might have inadvertently used drones for from time to time. In addition to having a dedicated shell that allows the drone to fly in the rain, and floats to let it land and take off from water, the PowerEgg X breaks down into a compact form-factor, embracing its ability to operate as a camcorder.
Attach the hand strap to get a basic camcorder feel from your PowerEgg X drone. That’s a 3-axis stabilized Gimbal, 4K camera with object tracking functions to automate some of your cinematography.
4. DJI Mavic Pro
The DJI Mavic Pro is a compact, folding drone that was a pioneer for portability. This quadcopter folds down to fit easily in a backpack, or large pocket, while opening up to take 4K video to over 40mph in the sky.
The 3-axis stabilized gimbal offers very smooth footage and OcuSync enables long range and HD live video streaming. The Phantom line of drones may have established DJI as a leader in the consumer drone market, but the Mavic Pro made high-quality aerial photography fun and highly accessible.
5. DJI Phantom 4
Carrying the DJI Phantom line torch from early 2016 until late 2016, the DJI Phantom 4 offered a familiar flight experience and solid camera performance for pilots.
It may have held only a short time in the lime-light, taking over from the Phantom 3 and being replaced by the far more capable Phantom 4 Pro, but it was a well respected drone in the series.
This was the last Phantom drone to ship with a 1/2.3-inch camera sensor, all Phantom drones since are equipped with a full 1-inch sensor, but it still offered 4K video capture and 12MP photos. With a flight time of about 28 minutes and a range of about 3 miles at 45 mph, the Phantom 4 remains on par with some of the best drones on the market today.
Check out the DJI Phantom 4 for about $999, but keep in mind that the drone has been discontinued, prices may fluctuate with availability of remaining stock.
6. Yuneec Typhoon H
The Yuneec Typhoon H is a folding hexacopter with 4K camera and effective flight features. The design has become iconic of Yuneec drones, offering the safety and stability of six propellers and the versatility of a center-hanging camera. The remote control of the Typhoon H is an Android powered device with built-in 7-inch display and all the controls needed to navigate the aircraft and operate the camera.
GPS connectivity and multiple smart flight modes ensure a successful flight for most pilots and operations. Basic obstacle avoidance sensors help keep things safe, with the option of the Typhoon H Pro with equipped Intel RealSense collision avoidance sensors.
The attached CGO3+ camera offers 4K video resoplution at 30 fps and still images at 12MP. As a discontinued drone, you can still find the Yuneec Typhoon H for about $950.
7. DJI Mavic Mini 2
The original DJI Mavic Mini was a very important machine for the consumer hobby drone market. The DJI Mini 2 is the next generation of super-compact camera drone, it’s a solid improvement over the original Mini, especially in terms of the camera and flight capabilities. You still get a sub-250 gram drone, but now get a 4K camera, vastly improved connectivity, a more durable design, and more power.
The newer 1/2.3-inch sensor produces 12MP stills, and 4K video at 30 fps and 100Mbps data rate. For some, the most exciting update is lossless zoom. With up to 4X zoom, you can safely fly at distance from your subject, perfect for those pet photos or to capture shots of a waterfall in the distance.
DJI continues their accessory package trend, you can get the DJI Mini 2 for $449, or grab the DJI Mini 2 Fly More combo for $599.
8. DJI Mavic Mini
With a long list of drones that start with the name Mavic, DJI has launched yet another consumer machine, perhaps their most consumer friendly yet, the new, very compact, folding DJI Mavic Mini.
As the name implies, the DJI Mavic Mini is a very small machine, and in true DJI fashion, it has few compromises to make it all work. The first thing to note is that the Mavic Mini weighs less than 0.55 lbs, which means you do not need to register it with the FAA before flight. Registration is quick and easy, but not requiring it at all is a bonus.
Don’t let the small size fool you, this drone packs a 12MP camera, shoot 2.7K video from a 3-axis stabilized Gimbal and has all of the flight features you’d expect from a Mavic drone today.
9. Yuneec Mantis G
The Yuneec Mantis G is everything we had hoped for in the original Mantis Q. We can’t see the difference between these drones, save for the new stabilized camera Gimbal. Superb flight time, easy controls, voice activated features, a compact design that folds small for transport and a 4K camera all sound good to us.
Yuneec understands they have stiff competition in this portion of the drone market. They build mostly for the commercial space, but fun drones like the Mantis line and larger Typhoon hexacopters have a tough battle. The Mantis G is a leap forward for the company. We had a hard time recommending the Mantis Q to users that cared about shooting video, now we can put the DJI Mavic 2 drones and this new Mantis G in the same sentence.
Based on price and camera sensor size, the Yuneec Mantis G best competes with the DJI Mavic Air, which is to say it is a viable option for hobby pilots looking for a reliable drone to fly.
The Yuneec Mantis G is $699 today.
10. Yuneec Mantis Q
The Yuneec Mantis Q is an easy drone to get excited about, it packs a slim, folding form-factor, it flies for longer than most drones on the market, it has DJI Mavic Air level specifications and it has a cool trick, voice commands. We must admit, the long list of flight features and modes exceeded our needs of a drone, but the things we asked it to do, it did very well. 33 minutes of flight time allows for a lot of action in the air, the voice control features make for a good time as well.
We understand that this is a first generation of the product, we really like it, but the camera is not stabilized. It’s obvious that this drone was made for pilots, not for photographers. That about sums up our opinion of the machine: if you are looking for a fun drone to fly, the Mantis Q is fantastic, if you are looking for a flying camera, this isn’t the drone you’re looking for.
Check out the Yuneec Mantis Q for about $450 on Amazon, down from its original $499 price at launch.
11. Parrot Anafi
The Parrot Anafi is one of the best entries from Parrot for the consumer camera drone market. Recognizing the power of an articulating gimbal, the new 21MP, 4K camera is able to point all the way down and rotate to pointing all the way up. This is extremely powerful for inspection services on commercial drones, but is built into a consumer friendly folding quadcopter design.
The drone itself is a step up from Parrot’s usual mostly-foam build. Foam is great for building size without adding much weight, instead the Anafi is a much sleeker package with a plastic body.
Look for the now-common set of features in the Anafi, such as folding propeller arms, folding propellers, a compact size and a stabilized 4K camera. The remote control uses your phone as a display and you can swap batteries to expand your flight day. The Parrot Anafi sells for $699, but you can often find deals to save a few dollars.
12. DJI Phantom 3 Pro
The original DJI Phantom 3 was an iconic drone. Its design is still emulated and celebrated on many machines today. There were a few versions of the Phantom 3, with the DJI Phantom 3 Pro topping things off with a 4K camera, extended flight range and better GPS and positioning tools.
The industry has come a long, long way since the Phantom 3 Pro hit the market in 2015, but it’s still a fin drone to play with.
Check out the DJI Phantom 3 Pro for $770 on Amazon today, just keep in mind that prices and availability will fluctuate for this discontinued drone.
14. UVify OOri
UVify has a rich history in drone racing. They understand that future racers need to start somewhere, developing the UVify OOri as a fantastic beginner’s race drone. Slow and stable for practicing in your living room, this machine can open up to over 50MPH when you want to win a race. Agile, light-weight, and fast, the UVify OOri is great for beginners on a budget.
There may be less expensive beginner drones out there, but if quality is of concern to you, the UVify OOri for $295 is hard to beat in the segment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I do professional work with drones under $1000?
We live in exciting times where camera technology offers some solid results without a huge price tag. Make no mistake, the very best cameras are equipped on drones above $1000, but the drones under that price point have the same camera sensors as the best smartphones on the market today. If you think you can use your phone to shoot professional photos and videos, you’ll likely be able to use a modern drone as well.
How high can $1000 drones fly?
The short answer is: 400 ft above the ground. Most countries around the globe have legal flight limits that you need to follow. Should you be exempt of such restrictions, a drone’s physical altitude is limited by two main factors – the connectivity range of the remote control, and the capacity for the propellers to move enough air to provide lift. Most DJI drones are able to fly up to about 16,000 ft above sea level, and have at least 22,000 ft of remote connectivity range. Equip high-altitude propellers and you can see 19,000 ft above sea level.
Should I save to buy drones that cost more than $1000?
Your personal needs of a drone should dictate what budget you should apply to a drone purchase. When it comes to this price point, you will find similar flight capabilities in $1000 drones as $1500 drones, but the $1500 drone may handle larger payloads, and have a higher-end camera. It’s easy to compare drones as we compare cameras: A sub-$1000 drone is like a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera, where a $1500 and up drone is like a DSLR camera. There are pros and cons to each, but a phone camera is often quality enough to meet most people’s needs.
Should I buy a used drone?
There are risks associated with used drones, but there is no good reason to not buy one, if you do your homework. First and foremost, make sure that the drone not only operates, but does so safely. Any missing parts or accessories could mean the machine fails to operate as intended, making it unstable, or even unsafe. There is no real way to identify if a drone has been crashed and repaired other than repair receipts and a physical inspection of the craft. Crashes happen, just make sure the repairs are adequate.
Once you know that a used drone is physically in good order, check into the availability of warranty. The lack of warranty is not a bad thing, the drone may just bee tool old, but the presence of warranty is always a good sign. From there, please do your homework to make sure there is long-term viability of this craft. There are more than a few great drones kicking around that are fantastic airframes, but were only ever designed to work with early-generation GoPro cameras. These drones still fly very well, but are now useless at taking photos from the sky. Machines like this will have few parts and accessories available, and may no longer have any support. These machines may be what you are looking for, but make sure that’s the case before you hand over any cash.
Do these drones comply with the Remote ID requirement?
At this time, early January, 2021, the FAA has told us what the new Remote ID rules are, but have not yet given them a start date. From there, the FAA has not specified how the tech will work, so we do not know yet which, if any, current drones can comply without needing a hardware upgrade. As this is determined over the next few months, we will update the site with badges to show which drones are compliant. Rest assured, the FAA’s final compliance date will be in 2023, so you can buy today and still get the value out of your drone.