Drone photography has taken off in a big way over the past couple of years, with many of the world’s biggest photography competitions even adding specific categories for aerial shots.
No longer do you have to rent a helicopter to get that awesome aerial view - Instead you can just whip the increasingly pocket-sized drone out of your bag and take to the skies! After all, who doesn’t want to capture stunning images like the one below. It’s something that was incredibly difficult, time consuming, and expensive to do just a few years ago, but now it can be done at a fraction of the time and cost!
This technology does come at a price though, and it can be a hefty one. Admittedly the cost of drones has dropped enormously over the past year or so, but a top quality camera drone will still set you back around $1,000.
A grand is a lot of money to shell out when you’re not even sure it’ll get used often. Not to mention the very real possibility of an expensive crash landing from an inexperienced pilot.
This is why I recommend testing the waters with one of the more budget friendly drones. Will you get all the features of the high-spec DJI drones? No. Will the camera quality be as good? Doubtful. Will it hurt an awful lot less if you spiral it down into a lake? Definitely.
So here it is - Our collection of the finest drones for under $200 today.
You Might Like… DSLR or Mirrorless - Which System Works for You?
The Best Drones for Under $200
OKPOW 2MP Wide Angle Selfie Drone
The cheapest drone on our list, and one we’d recommend for simply getting to grips with how the technology works. Considering this costs under half our budget it does come with a surprisingly good set of features.
The flying time of 10 minutes isn’t an industry low by any means, and the 2MP wide angle camera can capture some good looking images in the right conditions. It’s very easy to fly and pretty stable in the air, and it’s all controlled via your smartphone attached to the included controller.
It’s not the best drone on this list, but it is the cheapest and it’s a great entry point to find out whether drone photography is something you’d like to pursue.
Altair Aerial Blackhawk w/ GoPro Mount
Okay, so the Altair Aerial Blackhawk doesn’t actually come with a camera, but if you already have a trusty GoPro Hero 3 or 4 then this is the perfect budget drone for you!
First of all, it boasts a very respectable 17 minute flight time before needing to return home and recharge it’s batteries. This allows you to take it to it’s full 500 meter range too, and probably a few times considering how fast this thing can go.
A point of caution, and one of the reasons we think this is perfect for those with GoPros - It’s got a fairly steep learning curve, so you’re best off getting to grips with the handling of it without your camera attached at first. After a few flights you’ll be ready to capture some incredible aerial shots though, because the GoPro Hero’s are no slouches when it comes to image quality.
Considering this is one of the better cameras in our list, the GoolRC X8HG is a surprisingly cheap option. It has a decent quality 8 megapixel camera with full HD capabilities, and while it’s not exactly up to the standards of the Nikon D850 it does yield respectable and usable images.
The enhanced picture quality comes at a cost though. The battery life is half that of the Altair Aerial BlackHawk above, with a meagre 70 meter range to boot. It does have an in-built barometer though, and if all you’re planning on using this for is some extra altitude for certain shots then it’s definitely worthwhile.
Yuneec have come along and filled the gap between the cheap and cheerful toy drones and the professional and expensive DJI series, offering the budget conscious photographer an affordable way into the aerial photography game.
The Yuneec Breeze is their answer to the DJI Mavic. It’s very easy to pick up and fly and is all controlled via an app on your smartphone. It’s pretty compact as well, and can easily be tucked into your bag along with all your other photography gear.
While a few of the drones on this list do sacrifice camera quality, the Yuneec Breeze brings a 4k Ultra-HD camera to the mix to yield very impressive image quality. It might not be up to the same spec as the trust DJI drones, but for the price is incredibly good quality.
If you’re looking for great image quality but know that it won’t get enough use to justify shelling out a grand, then this could well be the drone for you.
This is up there challenging for the title of our favourite drone under $200 along with the Yuneec Breeze.
The ZEROTECH Dobby offers the same 13MP, 4K camera as the Breeze, and somehow they manage to make it even smaller. Honestly, this thing is tiny. It’s just 135mm long and 67mm wide with the propellers tucked in - That’s about the same as a slide of bread with the crusts cut off (it was the closest thing to me to measure, don’t judge me!). It weighs 199 grams, which is about 4 slices of bread, continuing with our dough-oriented comparison system.
It also brings functions such as follow-me and orbital mode for those of you who are looking to capture video footage, making it a perfect companion for a vlogger.
So, what is the best drone for under $200? As always, it largely depends on what you’re looking for.
For example, if you’re just looking for an entry point into the drone world. A cheap and cheerful way to test the waters before potentially going for a higher-spec option, then the OKPOW could be a good fit for you.
Alternatively, if you’re already got a GoPro then the Altar Aerial Blackhawk is a fantastic little drone packed full of features, so learning the ropes with that before attaching your GoPro is a great way to go.
The GoolRC X8HG is a great mid-level option with a passable camera, although it might struggle with any serious work with difficult lighting.
And then there’s the excellent quality Yuneec Breeze and ZEROTECH Dobby. These are both phenomenal value for money, and are perfect options for those who want to do a bit of drone photography but can’t justify the price tag of the professional level drones. The 13MP cameras do a good job and both drones come with a respectable set of features.
Gun to my head, I’d choose the ZEROTECH Dobby, so I’ll say that is our overall winner!