Are you interested in purchasing a drone but unsure of how much you can expect to pay? Drone prices can vary greatly depending on the type of drone and its capabilities.
As an emerging technology, drones are becoming more affordable and accessible to the mainstream public. Whether you’re a hobbyist looking for an entry-level model to learn the basics of flying or a professional in need of an advanced drone for commercial use, there are options to suit every budget.
This guide will explore the costs of the most popular drones on the market, from basic quadcopters you can buy for under $50 to high-end drones with professional 4K camera systems and advanced flight modes that retail for $10,000 or more. Whatever your needs or budget, we’ll help you find a drone that’s right for you.
Introduction to Drones and Their Costs
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), come in a wide range of prices depending on their capabilities and intended uses. Recreational drones typically start around $50 to $500, while professional drones used for filming, photography, and other commercial applications usually cost between $1,000 to $50,000 or more.
The most affordable drones, like the Ryze Tello or DJI Tello, cost under $100. These mini drones are best for learning how to fly and capture basic photos or video. For under $500, you can get a compact drone with an onboard camera like the DJI Mini 2 or a kid-friendly drone like the Snaptain SP650. These are good for recreational flying and capturing casual aerial footage.
Intermediate drones in the $500 to $1,500 range, such as the DJI Mavic Air 2, offer improved cameras for crisp 4K video and stills, increased flight times up to 30 minutes, and additional features like obstacle avoidance. These highly-capable drones are suitable for aerial photography and videography.
High-End Professional Drones
For commercial work, drones like the DJI Inspire 2 or Matrice 200 series cost between $3,000 to $50,000. They provide advanced imaging capabilities, including interchangeable cameras, zoom lenses, and multi-angle filming.
These drones also offer enhanced safety mechanisms and can fly for up to 30 minutes while carrying heavier payloads.Military drones are also falls in the category of expensive drones. Military’s Switchblade 600 drone costs around $1,299. High-end drones produce stunning footage and are built to handle demanding operations, but require a significant investment.
In summary, you can get a basic drone for recreational enjoyment for under $500. Intermediate drones around $1,000 are good for casual filming and photography.
And professional drones $3,000 and up are designed for commercial use with advanced imaging capabilities and flight performance. The drone you need depends on your intended application and budget.
Best Budget Drones Under $50
Best drones under $50 are low specs drones that are considered as toys. These drones are ideal if you’re new to flying and want an affordable model to learn on before investing in a more advanced drone. They offer basic functionality without the hefty price tag of higher-end models.
Hubsan X4 (H107L)
A popular starter quadcopter, the Hubsan X4 offers a simple, durable design for around $30. It has a flight time of about 7 minutes and a control range of 100 feet. The Hubsan is small but speedy, reaching up to 8 miles per hour. It’s equipped with propeller protectors and LED lights for night flying. The Hubsan is a great first drone for learning how to fly.
Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3
With a built-in Wi-Fi camera, the Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3 lets you capture aerial photos and video for under $50. It has a flight range of about 100 feet and a battery life of 7-9 minutes. The Syma X5SW-V3 comes with extra propellers and batteries so you can keep flying. It’s easy to control and a solid starter drone for basic photography and videography.
DBPOWER MJX X400W
For $35-$45, the DBPOWER MJX X400W offers a quality build and useful features like headless mode, one key return, and 360° flips. It has a control range of 100 meters and a flight time of 8-10 minutes.
The MJX X400W is very stable, even in windier conditions. It comes with spare parts and an extra battery to extend your flying time. The MJX X400W is a great budget model for beginners looking to capture aerial footage.
These are a few highly-rated starter drones with cameras for under $50. At this price point, you can get a well-built, easy-to-fly quadcopter to help you learn the basics of drone piloting and possibly take your first aerial photos and videos. For casual flying and beginner aerial photography, budget drones offer a lot of value without a big investment.
Mid-Range Drones From $50-$500
Mid-range drones typically cost between $50 to $500. At this price point, you can find high-quality drones for recreational use as well as more specialized drones for applications like photography or racing.
Recreational drones in this range are great for beginners and hobbyists. Models like the Ryze Tello, DJI Tello Ryze, and Snaptain SP650 offer basic features for learning how to fly and capture photos or video. These drones typically have 720p HD cameras, 5 to 13 minutes of flight time per charge, and ranges up to 100 meters. Prices start around $80.
For aerial photography, consider drones such as the DJI Mavic Mini, Ryze Tello EDU, or Snaptain SP510. These are equipped with 2K to 4K cameras that can capture high-resolution photos and video footage. Flight times of 15 to 30 minutes and operating ranges up to 4 km allow you to get the shots you need. Expect to pay $300 to $500 for a solid photography drone.
FPV Racing Drones
FPV or first-person view racing drones provide an immersive flying experience for drone racing and stunt flying. Models such as the Walkera F210 3D Edition and the DRL Racer X offer high speeds up to 70 kph, durable frames and advanced controls for pulls, dives and turns. FPV drones start around $200 but can go up to $500 or more for premium models with longer flight times and operating ranges.
In summary, mid-range drones cater to beginners and professionals alike with options for recreation, photography, and high-performance applications. Prices in this range mean you can get a highly capable drone without breaking the bank. Compare the features and specs of different models to choose a drone that fits how you want to use it.
High-End Drones $500-$2,000
If you have a sizable budget for a drone, there are many high-performance options to consider in the $500 to $2,000 range. These more advanced drones offer premium features for aerial photography and videography, as well as more responsive controls and longer flight times.
Camera drones in this price range will have high-quality cameras capable of shooting 4K video and 12+ megapixel still photos. Popular options like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Autel EVO II have large image sensors, 3-axis gimbals for stability, and zoom lenses. These drones are ideal for professional aerial photography and cinematography.
For drone racing and high-speed flying, look at models like the DJI FPV Combo or the EMAX Tinyhawk II Freestyle. They can reach speeds of up to 87 miles per hour and have first-person view camera systems for an immersive flying experience. These drones require practice to master but provide an exciting thrill for hobbyists.
Enterprise drones are designed for commercial and industrial use. They have specialized cameras and sensors for tasks like 3D modeling, surveying land, inspecting infrastructure, and monitoring wildlife or environmental conditions. Top enterprise drone companies include senseFly, Wingtra, and PrecisionHawk. Their drone solutions can cost between $10,000 to $50,000.
While the initial investment may be high for a drone in this category, the advanced capabilities and performance are worthwhile for serious hobbyists, professionals, and commercial operators. With additional components like accessories, software, training, and insurance, the total cost of ownership for a high-end drone should also be considered. But for stunning aerial footage, improved speed and handling, or commercial use, these drones are an excellent choice if your budget allows.
Commercial Drones $2,000+
Commercial drones typically range from $2,000 to $25,000 or more, depending on their capabilities and features. As with any technology purchase, you’ll want to determine what you need the drone for before investing a sizable amount.
Prosumer Drones ($2,000-$5,000)
For under $5,000, you can get a high-quality “prosumer” drone with an HD camera and basic autonomous flight modes for photography and videography. Models like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Autel EVO II are good for real estate photography, events, and amateur filmmaking. They offer foldable, portable designs with high-resolution cameras on a 3-axis gimbal for smooth footage. Flight times average 20-30 minutes per battery.
Industrial Drones ($5,000-$15,000)
Mid-range drones in the $5,000 to $15,000 range are suitable for agricultural surveying, inspection, and mapping. They have more advanced sensors and software for autonomous flight planning over large areas. Popular models include the DJI Phantom 4 RTK and senseFly eBee X with RTK technology for survey-grade mapping accuracy down to 1 inch. Flight endurance may reach up to 50 minutes with additional payload capacity for specialized sensors.
Enterprise Drones (Over $15,000)
High-end drones exceeding $15,000 are designed for industrial applications like power line/pipeline inspection, search & rescue, firefighting, and cargo delivery. They incorporate military-grade components for maximum reliability and durability in challenging conditions. Top models such as the DJI Matrice 200 series and senseFly Albris can integrate thermal/multispectral cameras and lift heavy payloads. Prices for turnkey enterprise systems with custom sensors can surpass $25,000.
For any commercial drone purchase, also budget for additional costs like extra batteries, insurance, training, and licensing fees required for commercial operation. Carefully evaluate your needs and options to choose a drone that will enable your business goals without overspending. The latest drone technology may be tempting, but more basic models can work just as well for many commercial purposes at a lower cost.
As you’ve seen, drones come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price points to suit any need or budget. Whether you’re a hobbyist looking to get started in aerial photography, a farmer monitoring crops, or a professional cinematographer capturing breathtaking footage, there’s a drone for you.
The technology behind drones continues to become more advanced, affordable, and accessible each year. With prices dropping and capabilities increasing, now is the perfect time to take flight and see the world from a new perspective. The sky is no longer the limit.