The Best Drones For Photographers That Won't Break The Bank

Drones are the next gadget to take your photography game to another level. Even with the latest and greatest in camera bodies, the best lenses money can buy, and all the lighting gizmos your heart desires, nothing beats the stunning birds-eye shots taken by a drone. Whether you're capturing commercial properties, farms, real estate, travel content, or nature shots, the images from a drone camera have the ability to transform your portfolio by capturing shots that you otherwise wouldn't be able to get (at least not without a very long hike).

This technology often comes with a hefty price tag, however. The newest and most advanced drones can run into the thousands of dollars, quite the ask for many photographers even at the professional level. Below are the best affordable drones for photographers, capped out at $1,000 (at the time of publication), that come with all the features most amateur shutterbugs need.

Parrot ANAFI

The Parrot ANAFI might look bulky compared to other drone models, but don't let that thwart you. Weighing just 0.71 pounds, you won't find many camera drones lighter than this. The ANAFI is equipped with an impressive 21-megapixel Sony camera sensor, positioned at the head of the drone on a three-axis gimbal. This drone is capable of 33-mile-per-hour speeds while in Sport mode and is remarkably quiet during flight. 

A T3 review of the Parrot ANAFI commends the drone on its low-light shooting, where it reportedly performs better than even the DJI Mavic Air. One unique feature of the ANAFI, made possible due to its bumble-inspired profile and positioning of the camera, is its ability to point the camera 90 degrees directly upwards, allowing the drone to photograph whatever is above it. The ANAFI is equipped with a number of tools handy for a photographer: There's Dolly Zoom, which zooms in on the unfocused/background parts of a shot while keeping the subject the same size within the frame. The Cameraman feature will keep the ANAFI's lens locked on a subject while the operator mans the drone's flight controls. Unfortunately, there's no obstacle avoidance function in the ANAFI, so you'll have to be extra aware while flying this one — and flying time caps out at 25 minutes. The Parrot ANAFI drone is currently available for $379.99 on Amazon

DJI Mini 3 Pro

The DJI Mini 3 Pro is a fierce competitor among the mid-tier, powerful-yet-affordable photography drones. This is a tiny drone, its compact body weighing just 0.55 pounds. There are several photography-related headlines for the third generation in the popular DJI Mini series: Its 12-megapixel camera turns 90 degrees to switch from landscape- to portrait-oriented shots, is capable of 150Mbps video, and is situated on a three-axis gimbal for peak stability. 

With the freedom to change onboard capture orientation, a Cine flight mode that maximizes smooth, slow flight for optimal video recording, and a stellar recording rate, this drone is an excellent option for anyone seeking high-quality stills and video footage for social media. The DJI Mini 3 Pro is equipped with obstacle detection sensors in three directions, too, and boasts a maximum flying time of 34 minutes. Subject lock, movement tracking, and autonomous flight around unmoving subjects are all features brought to DJI's Mini drones through the FocusTrack Suite. The DJI Mini 3 Pro can be purchased on Amazon for $909

PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard

Got speed in mind when shopping for the best drones for a photographer? PowerVision's PowerEgg X Wizard is the lean, mean racing machine that you need. While this is the priciest drone on our list, its capabilities are certainly the most all-encompassing. Whether your subject of choice is cars or galloping horses, the PowerEgg X Wizard can zip along at top speeds of 40 miles per hour. This is the photography drone for daredevils. It holds up to battering winds, sheets of rain, murky lakewater, and lapses in judgment. Inclement weather can't stop this drone; its weatherproofing allows flight through rain and snow, and the PowerEgg can be safely in the air in winds up to 22 miles per hour. Even further, the Wizard comes with a waterproof housing and strap-on flotation devices to boost your chances of recovering the device if ever lost over water.

The PowerEgg X Wizard features a 12-megapixel camera with a sizable CMOS sensor — 1/2.8 inches. It is capable of 4K video footage at 60 frames per second, dropping to 720p at 240 frames per second. It's a heftier drone, however, clocking in at about a pound and 2.5 ounces. This drone fluctuates between $999 and $1,249.00 on Amazon.

DJI Mavic Air 2

DJI is by and large the household name for amateur drone users. Shopping this brand gives you the security of a years-long brand legacy, the most matured iOS and Android drone app and controls, and the most generations removed from an imperfect debut model. The DJI Mavic Air 2 — not to be confused with the Air 2S, a significantly pricier drone — is an absolute busload of value for a cost that won't make your stomach hurt. This rig weighs just over a pound-and-a-quarter, but every ounce packs a punch. For one, the Mavic Air 2 records 4K video at 60 frames per second and introduced 8K hyper-lapse capabilities. The drone's video in HDR max resolution is capable of 30 frames per second.

The Mavic Air 2 has been adapted to perform well in low light. Using DJI's Hyperlight technology, the Mavic's camera will capture several images across a spectrum of exposure, then merge the images for the best low-light shot possible. The powerful 48-megapixel camera produces detail-rich photos, and the drone's SmartPhoto mode offers similar environment-based camera optimization settings as the Auto mode on a DSLR camera. The DJI Mavic Air 2 was for sale on Amazon as part of a drone photography bundle for $899. That's $200 off its regular listing price of $1,099.00. However, since it is an older model, the drone can be bought refurbished for between $700 and $800 on eBay

Hubsan Zino 2

It's easy to stick to the affordable side and still get a solid suite of features in a drone. That's the case with the Hubsan Zino 2, which features a 1/2.3-inch Sony sensor in its 12-megapixel camera secured by a three-axis gimbal. The Hubsan captures 4K or 2.7K video at 60 frames per second, as well as 1080p video at 120 frames per second. It's an affordable competitor to DJI, capable of an impressively competitive 33 minutes of flight time and a 4.9-mile transmission range. It's a heavier drone at just over two pounds, although it does have a sleek, sharp profile. 

More notable features of the Hubsan Zino 2 include its Ambarella image chipset, which makes for stellar nighttime photography, and its top speed of nearly 45 miles per hour. With a panorama mode and option housing for lens filters, the Hubsan Zino 2 is an attractive option for photographers on a budget. Unfortunately, this is an older model of drone, and finding the Zino 2 new may be difficult, but you are likely to find it refurbished through third-party sites like eBay for between $500 and $600. 

Autel Robotics EVO Nano Plus

The Autel Robotics EVO Nano Plus combines a powerhouse camera with a super lightweight drone body. This drone offers 28 minutes of flight time, hyper-lapse capabilities, and three-direction obstacle detection sensors — all packed into only 8.8 ounces. Unfortunately, the Nano Plus doesn't come with any internal storage, unlike other similarly-priced models that have at least some onboard memory, and the battery must be charged externally from the drone.

Those flaws aside, the EVO Nano Plus is a great drone under $1,000. Autel's EVO Nano Plus shoots 4K HDR video and uses a 1/1.28 CMOS sensor, capable of snagging 50-megapixel JPEGs or 12-megapixel RAW photos. The RYYB color profile used by Autel's drone may be preferable for photographers that only work in JPEGs, as well, although that may skew RAW editing a bit. Overall, it's not the absolute best option out there for photography drones but is a viable choice for anyone looking for a DJI alternative.  An Autel Robotics EVO Plus bundle is available on Amazon for $699.00

DJI Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S is an incredibly useful utility for photographers. It's one of the beefier drones at 1.3 pounds, but with that comes a 20-megapixel camera, a one-inch sensor, and 5.4K video capability at 30 frames per second (4K video capability at 60 frames per second and 1080p at 120 frames per second, too). The Air 2S doesn't have the best aperture on the market at f/2.8, and it's not a variable aperture at that, but the low-light performance of this drone can't be overstated. Further, you can enjoy a 31-minute flight time.

The Air 2S is loaded with the to-be-expected photography functions: a SmartPhoto mode that optimizes camera settings, HDR, hyper-lapse, and panoramas, plus single and timed shots and auto-exposure bracketing. DJI's Air 2 can also lock in on subjects and track them while flying, a crucial element for videographers and photographers. The DJI Air 2S drone runs $969.00 on Amazon


One simple entry-level drone for photographers is the SJRC F7 Pro. This drone is perfect for most beginner photographers, for those on a very tight budget, or for anyone who isn't sure yet about the value that a drone would contribute to their craft. It isn't the best in terms of performance, but at less than $300, it's a good contender for affordability with its smattering of advanced drone features including a three-axis gimbal, return-to-home function, and GPS follow-me tracking. This drone is capable of 4K video — but at 15 frames per second. The F7 Pro's flight time is modest at 25 minutes but boasts a range of 1.86 miles.

This is the cover sheet of a solid mid-tier drone — and the quality of the camera footage will suffice for casual B-roll, behind-the-scenes footage, or novice portfolio work. As a YouTube review points out, the color quality in the SJRC's footage is a tad skewed, but this could potentially be fixed in post-processing — to a degree. While the drone's mobile controls are compatible with both iOS and Android systems, it only writes image files in JPEG format, which means that some of your editing power is taken away before you've even started. 

In any case, if you're new to the world of drone photography and want to save hundreds on your first drone, the SJRC F7 4K is available for $299 from Banggood.

DJI Mini 2

The DJI Mini 2 was quite popular when first released back in 2020, and its value prevails even today with the new Mini 3 series. There are some cutting-edge features you're missing out on when buying a two-and-a-half-year-old drone model — namely GPS follow-me tracking, hyper-lapse, and obstacle avoidance — but the Mini 2 is an unbeatable option for hobbyists and budget photographers. This drone's compact profile makes it easier to travel with and better at slipping in and out of tighter spaces. 

The Mini 2 answers a very loud, yet unspoken need for amateur drone pilots in that it offers a decent camera without needing to register with the FAA. That's exactly what the Mini camera is — decent. Not swinging in the same ring as DJI's Pro Models, but the 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and 12-megapixel camera are perfectly capable of meeting the needs of many drone pilots. There's not as much color profile control in this model as some photographers and videographers may want, but there's a high probability you'll be satisfied with straight-out-of-camera footage from the Mini 2. You can currently purchase the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo for $694.95 on Amazon

Yuneec Q500 4K

The Yuneec Q500 4K is one of the oldest drone models that we recommend for photographers. Your chances of finding it brand new are very slim, but even a refurbished model in good condition should give you plenty of use. Yuneec's plastic framework is far from luxury, but this drone's 4K video (1080p at 120 frames per second) and 12-megapixel pictures hold up in a fight. Don't dispatch this drone in windy conditions — its plastic body probably would be the loser in a collision with a wall or the ground, and its light weight may lead toward a wobbly drone during gusts. However, the camera sits on a three-axis gimbal to ensure as many stable captures as possible. 

This drone captures ultra-high-definition 4K video at 30 frames per second, and the ultra-wide lens allows for breathtaking still captures. The Yuneec is also equipped with many of the most attractive drone features such as follow-me GPS tracking, and a modest 25 minutes of maximum flight time.  Unfortunately, this model is considered obsolete by technology standards, so it's no longer sold brand new.