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2016 was an amazing year in the drone world. A ton of new products flooded the market, giving us a bigger selection to choose from than we’ve ever had.
This article reviews 18 of the best drones to buy for any skill level.
Scroll down to start from the beginning, or use the tables below to get an overview of each rig.
These are some of the best camera drones on the market. They’re excellent for filming professional aerial photography and video:
DJI Phantom 4
$1,199 - Check current price
Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon
$1,149 - Check current price
DJI Phantom 3 Series
$426 — $888 - Check current prices
DJI Inspire 1 PRO
$3,399 - Check current price
Yuneec Typhoon H
$1,128 - Check current price
DJI Inspire 1 V2.0
$1,999 - Check current price
$650 - Check current price
YUNEEC Q500 4K Typhoon
$899.99 - Check current price
$568 - Check current price
Parrot Bebop 2.0
$399.99 - Check current price
Yuneec Typhoon G
$499 - Check current price
These are some of the best beginner drones to buy in 2016. They’re cheap, affordable, and make perfect starter quadcopters for having fun, Christmas gifts, and learning how to fly. They’re also good training drones for aspiring photographers and videographers (and FPV racers).
Hubsan X4 (H107C)
$39.99 - Check current price
Blade Nano QX
$109 - Check current price
$44.99 - Check current price
$15 - Check current price
$43.99 - Check current price
Syma X8G With 8MP Camera
$109 - Check current price
Eachine Racer 250 FPV
$339 - Check current price
The Phantom 4 shoots 4K video, takes 12 megapixel stills, and has a nice, long flight time of 28 minutes. It also comes with an obstacle avoidance system, which causes the drone to move out of the way (or bounce backwards) when an obstacle comes in its way.
The quadcopter offers five intelligent flight modes — Follow Me, Course Lock, Waypoints, Home Lock, and Point of Interest.
The price of this remote control drone has come down by around $200 since its release, so you can get some of the most advanced features out there for an even better price.
The Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon comes ready-to-fly out of the box as one of the top drones available.
Its camera takes high-quality 16 megapixel still photos and shoots video in 1080p. The lens is redesigned to produce less image distortion, and the quadcopter can relay an FPV (first person view) feed to the 5.5 inch screen on its controller.
This means there is no need to buy an additional monitor or goggles.
The Q500+ is a high-powered drone with a camera.
The DJI Phantom 3 gives the widest range of pilots the features they want and need, at an affordable price. From professionals to recreational photographers, this drone offers it all.
The Phantom 3 comes in four versions:
1. The Phantom 3 Standard — The Phantom 3 Standard offers less features than the other versions, but it is also the cheapest. It has a flight time of 25 minutes, shoots video in 2.7K resolution, and it takes 12 megapixel stills. This already puts the Standard ahead of most other drones in its price range.
2. The Phantom 3 Advanced — The Phantom 3 Advanced also shoots 2.7k video and takes 12 megapixel stills, but it has a farther control distance (5 km) and the drone offers live FPV streaming to your remote control.
3. The Phantom 3 Professional — The Phantom 3 Professional’s video quality takes a large jump up to 4K, making it an excellent choice for pro pilots.
4. The Phantom 3 4K — The Phantom 3 4K offers 4K video capture capability, just like the Professional, but control distance is shorter (1,200 m).
For $449 for the Standard version to $888 for the Professional one, the price-to-features ratio of the DJI Phantom 3 makes this a standout drone in the marketplace.
Its camera shoots 4k video and takes incredible 16 megapixel still photos. It also features the five intelligent flight modes DJI is famous for.
The lens is detachable. This gives you the ability to further customize your shots. And the Inspire 1 PRO’s arms move up and out of the way during flight, giving your camera a 360 degree field of view.
The Inspire 1 PRO is one of the top professional quadcopters out right now.
It’s a hexacopter (6 blades) which typically provides a more powerful lift than the 4 blades of a quadcopter. The drone comes with an obstacle avoidance system, like the Phantom 4, through a sonar system contained in the front of the rig.
The landing gears retract, giving your camera a 360 degree view. This makes it a lot easier to get shots at tough angles.
It comes with a built-in 4K camera that takes 12 megapixel stills and a powerful Zenmuse X3 gimbal stabilization system.
With version 2 of the Inspire 1, DJI added new propeller kits to make installation smoother. A more reliable locking mechanism reduces the abrasion that is common in propeller installation, prolonging the propeller’s life. DJI has also improved its motor performance, making it more powerful.
The Inspire 1 V2.0 is the number one choice for many commercial pilots.
The 3D Robotics Iris+ is a front-runner in autonomous flight.
Using their exclusive app (DroidPlanner 2), you can map out a flight path and instruct your drone to follow it. You can also set the Iris+ to focus its camera on a point of interest. This allows you to get almost any shot fully autonomously.
The Iris+ has a flight time of 16 to 22 minutes, and it comes with advanced Follow Me and GPS-stabilization technology.
This multirotor is a one-of-a-kind in autonomous flight.
The Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon is one of the best drones with cameras.
The built-in camera shoots 4K video in 1080p, and it takes 12MP still photos. The Q5004K also comes with two autonomous flight modes — Watch Me and Follow Me — standard.
The controller comes with a built-in touch screen that lets you adjust flight settings. And you can get a first person view feed from the drone camera.
Flying this quadcopter is a smart choice for aerial photography and videography.
The 3D Robotics Solo is a popular technologically advanced drone.
It’s one of the only UAVs that allows in-flight access to your GoPro. This allows you to adjust camera settings, start recording, and stop recording while flying. Solo also comes with four autonomous flight modes, which differ slightly from DJI’s — Follow Me, Orbit, Cable Cam, and Selfie.
The quadcopter’s remote control is designed like a video game controller to make it easier to handle. And it offers one-touch takeoff and landing.
This is one of the few drones that beginners and veterans alike can fly to get professional quality shots.
The Parrot Bebop 2.0 is one of the best RC drones for new aerial photography and videography pilots, because it has an excellent price-to-features ratio.
The camera takes enhanced 14 megapixel photos (the second-highest MP camera of the drones in this list) and shoots video in 1080p. And thanks to a powerful 2700 mAh battery, the Bebop 2.0 has a stunning 25 minute flight time.
And its powerful motors allow it to handle harsher flight conditions, making it a versatile camera quadcopter for less than $500.
It comes with Watch Me and Follow Me flight modes, GoPro capability (Hero 3, 3+, or 4), and its controller has a 5.5 inch screen for viewing flight telemetry data (like battery life) and changing the drone’s settings.
The Typhoon G also has a long flight time of 25 minutes. For aerial photographers and videographers, flight time like this is a god send, helping them save time and money on batteries.
The Hubsan X4 is widely regarded as one of the best starter drones. It’s small enough to fly indoors, but powerful enough to handle moderate wind outdoors. It’s also ridiculously cheap (under $50), as far as drones go.
The Hubsan X4 comes in many versions, but the H107C comes with a camera as its defining feature. It can do 360 degree flips in either direction, and the 6-axis stabilization system helps new pilots get in the air quickly and effectively.
This quadcopter is a great option for beginners, and a fun one for more experienced pilots to fly as well.
This consumer drone comes with brushed motors that provide a powerful lift that’s smooth enough for newer pilots. It also comes with propeller guards standard.
As you will most likely crash quite a few times while you get the hang of it (and possibly even afterwards) these guards will help minimize the number of spare props you need to buy.
The Blade Nano QX offers two flight modes, Stability and Agility, to switch between depending on your flight preference, and it prices in nicely at less than $100.
The Syma X5C is an excellent drone for beginners.
It’s inexpensive, so if you crash (highly likely) you aren’t risking a large investment. And it offers image capture capability with its built-in 2MP camera.
You won’t get the best quality shots, but you will be able to learn the ropes, fly indoors and outdoors, and practice the skills necessary to fly a more expensive rig.
The Cheerson CX-10 is the penultimate personal drone. It’s one of the cheapest quadcopters available and one of the most fun to fly.
It’s a mini drone (4.2cm x 4.2cm x 2cm), making it great for indoor flying, and the CX-10 can also handle outdoor flight in moderate winds due to its 3 speed levels.
It can perform 360 degree flips in either direction, and you can buy a sturdy propeller guard to protect it during crashes.
For the money, the Cheerson CX-10 makes building your initial pilot skills very affordable.
The UDI 818A is another excellent beginner drone for building your skills. It’s on the less expensive side of drones with image capture capability, and its propeller guards make it one of the more durable quadcopters in this price range.
The camera quality isn’t amazing, but it’s good enough to test your skills, track your improvement, and help you know when it’s time to upgrade. Use this drone to get comfortable flying and taking photos/videos at the same time, or as a cheap quadcopter to have some fun with.
If you’re looking for a drone to practice taking aerial photos and videos, the Syma X8G is an excellent trainer quad.
It’s one of the best camera drones for the money, in that it offers a surprising set of features. The onboard camera shoots HD 720p and 1080p videos, and it takes 8 megapixel still photos.
The Syma X8G also comes with Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC). This gives you the option of maneuvering the drone based on where the nose (front) is facing or having the forward direction have nothing to do with where the nose is facing. This lowers the learning curve, and it can make taking certain shots a lot easier.
All in all, this is an excellent UAV for aspiring pilots and aerial photographers/videographers.
If you’re looking for an FPV drone, the Eachine Racer 250 is one of the best that come ready-to-fly.
It comes with all of the bells and whistles a custom-made racing drone would have, including LED lights, a transmitter/receiver system, and a monitor to see what your camera is seeing.
And it also packs enough power to make you a threat on the field.
However, this is not necessarily a drone for new pilots. Most pilots would be advised to build their skills with other recreational or prosumer drones (and test out FPV flight in a non-racing environment) before picking up FPV racing.
Founder of Drone Business Marketer