Best Drones Under $500 – Quadcopters for Experienced Users

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best drones under 500 dollars reviews

The sub 500 USD drone market is where the professional quadcopters can be found. They are the choice of expert flyers and professional filmmakers for a good reason. These flying machines are actually more of flying cameras and most of their functionality is based on superb video and photo quality performance and great movement agility while still performing smooth and stable flight at the same time. These flying vehicles come with GPS navigation as standard and can be pre-programed to fly autonomously. Let’s find out which one offers the most features at this mid-tier price range.

Top Rated Cheap Drones

dji phantom 3 standard


  • DJI PHANTOM 3 STANDARD

  • Flying time: 25 minutes

  • Charging time: 80 minutes

  • Control distance: 1000 meters
  •  
blade blh8680


  • BLADE BLH8680

  • Flying time: 25-30 minutes

  • Charging time: 60-80 minutes

  • Control distance: 1000 meters
  •  
dji phantom 2


  • DJI PHANTOM 2

  • Flying time: 25 minutes

  • Charging time: 120 minutes

  • Control distance: 1000 meters
  •  

DJI Phantom 3 Standard – Great Video Quality

One of the most used drones which are preferred by professionals all around the world come from the well know DJI company. They are the most famous drone making company in the world. There is a good reason for that since their quadcopters established a reputation of being professional tools which changed the way movie makers captured aerial footage.

dji phantom 3 standard

The DJI Phantom 3 is a quadcopter drone is commonly used in Hollywood movie making process on a regular basis. That fact says a lot about its usability.

Specs:

Drone size: 15 x 14 x 8.2 inches

Drone weight: 2.7 pounds

GPS Satellite navigation and position tracking

GPS and compass based waypoint navigation

Auto-tracking mode

Remote control via app

2.7K video quality at 30 fps

12 megapixel camera resolution

A high capacity Li-Po battery included

Operating range up to 1000 meters

Retail package:

  • DJI Phantom standard quadcopter
  • Radio remote controller
  • AC/DC Charger
  • 2V 4480mAh High capacity Li-Po Battery
  • 2 x Sets of propellers
  • 8GB Micro SD card
  • User Manual
dji phantom 3 standard retail package

This is without any doubt the best drone for anyone looking to record high-quality video and photo content. The included 2.7K HD (2704×1524 pixels) resolution camera is a professional grade video recording device and it makes some pretty amazing videos. Combined with the Phantom’s automatic flight assistant function users can focus on operating camera controls and leave the flying part to the drone’s onboard system. Onboard GPS and compass enable users to predefine the movement trajectory the quadcopter will use in order to capture stunning videos and 12 Megapixel photos. Users are only limited by the 1000-meter transmission range although we think that it is more than enough since you always need to keep the drone in your visual range.

The Phantom 3 manoeuvres great and climbs really fast as it is expected from the quadcopter in this price range. The included high voltage and capacity battery offers an amazing 25 minutes of flight time on average. The charging time is less than 80 minutes. With the quick swap system, users can quickly insert full batteries.

We would define the Phantom 3 as being a flying camera since it performs great and packs awesome features for both beginners and professionals.

Blade BLH8680 Chroma Bind-N-Fly Drone – GoPro Ready

The Blade BLH 8680 comes with a fixed GoPro mount for users which already own one of the GoPro camera models. It is also compatible with Spektrum transmitters so there is a great value in this quadcopter as users who already own these compatible components can save money and invest in spare batteries for example.

blade blh8680

Specs:

Drone size: 13.1 x 13.1 x 9.5 inches

Drone weight: 2.9 pounds

Fixed GoPro compatible mount

Uses GPS and GLONASS positioning

4 channel DSM2®/DSMX® transmitter compatible

30-minute flight time

A high capacity Li-Po battery included

Advanced SAFE® Plus technology

Smart mode for beginners

Retail package:

  • Blade Chroma BLH8680 quadcopter
  • Mast GPS antenna
  • DC Charger
  • 1V 6300mAh High capacity 3S Li-Po Battery
  • 4 x Spare propellers
  • 8GB Micro SD card
blade blh8680 retail package

We had lots of fun with this quadcopter. Granted that you already have a compatible controller pairing the drone with it is quick and easy. The features are really impressive and we had so much fun with the “follow me” mode. After we set the altitude the drone kept following us and we moved it so that we could record 360-degree tracking videos.

We also appreciate the included smart mode which creates an invisible barrier which removes the possibility of the quadcopter getting near the user and it also enables easier directional flying control too. The flight performance is very smooth and movement speed is impressive.Professional video makers will appreciate the precise and smooth motion of the drone even with the higher speed wind gusts. Recorded video footage is also smooth and stable and the gimbal works as advertised. We found the return home function to be unpredictable and it failed on us a couple of times.

The included battery performs great and we were able to get a 25-minute flight time with our GoPro Hero 4 Black. Without the camera, we enjoyed 30 minutes of smooth flying which is really great. Recharging the battery back to full capacity takes less than two hours.

The Chroma drone can be a good alternative to users who already own a compatible GoPro camera and want to use it for some video content recording. Note that buying the separate compatible controller does increase the overall price.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter – With an Integrated FPV Camcorder

This is the second model from DJI on our test and this time it’s the Phantom 2 Vision with an onboard FPV system. It is the most expensive out of the three models we tested so let us see how it justifies its asking price.

dji phantom 2

Specs:

Drone size: 14.6 x 8.3 x 13.2 inches

Drone weight: 2.2 pounds

FPV transmission system

GPS navigation system

Remote telemetry data via app

Full HD 1080p video quality at 30 fps

14 Megapixel camera resolution

A high capacity Li-Po battery included

Operating range up to 1000 meters

Retail package:

  • Phantom 2 Vision
  • Remote Controller
  • 4 x Propeller Pairs
  • Micro-SD Card
  • Lens Cap
  • Gimbal Clamp
  • Prop Wrench
  • DJI Smart Flight Battery
  • Charger
  • 2 x Power Cables
  • 2 x Plug Adapters
  • Micro-USB Cable
  • Disclaimer (Manual)
  • Phantom Pilot Training Guide (Manual)
  • Phantom 2 Vision+ Quick Start Guide
  • User Manual
  • 2 x Stickers (Pink, Blue)
  • 4 x Vibration Absorber
  • 2 x Anti-Drop Kit
  • 11 x Spare screws
  • 4 x Landing Pad
dji phantom 2 retail package

The drone kit comes stocked with plenty of accessories and spares and we really appreciate all the included documents which help with learning on how to use the quadcopter to its full capacity. The flight performance is excellent as we are used to seeing on all quadcopters made by DJI.

The Phantom 2 keeps a stable position even in stronger winds and the video footage remains stable and smooth no matter the flying conditions. The one-axis camera gimbal motor performs great and it is very responsive to position changes.

The video quality is nice and photos also come out sharp and detailed. The live FPV video stream enables operators to easily position the drone in order to get the best possible shots of the scene. The live feed of telemetry data is displayed on the mobile device screen and it proves to be a valuable source of information regarding Phantom’s performance during flight.

With our testing, we achieved and an average of 25 minutes of flight time which is the same as DJI specifies. The included 5200 mAh battery charges fast and will be back to full capacity in just over an hour.

Even though this is an older model we can say it performed admirably and it will be great for users who only need Full HD video with all the included quality you’d expect from a DJI made quadcopter.

Quick Comparison

IMAGENAMEWEIGHTBATTERYCAMERARATING 
dji phantom 3 standardDJI PHANTOM 3 STANDARD2.7lb2V 4480mAh Li-PoYes Check on Amazon
blade blh8680BLADE BLH86802.9lb1V 6300mAh Li-PoNo Check on Amazon
dji phantom 2DJI PHANTOM 22.2lb11.1V 5200mAh Li-PoYes Check on Amazon

Conclusion

We have to say that the only non-DJI made quadcopter drone on our test – the Blade Chroma offers a decent value to experienced users who already own a GoPro camera and a Spektrum – compatible remote controller. Otherwise, it is not such a good value since both the DJI models on our test come better equipped and at a lower price too. The thing is, that the Phantom 2 Vision is actually more expensive and also not such a good value package when compared to the Phantom 3 model, which is a bit cheaper.

The no-brainer purchase on our test, the DJI Phantom 3 drone is the best performer out of the three sub 500 US dollar models we tested and we can safely recommend it to both beginners and as well as to the professional users. Its camera video quality is superb and as we mentioned already it is a go-to tool for plenty of creative filmmakers out there. An absolute best buy at this price range.

Summary
Best Drones Under $500 - Quadcopters for Experienced Users
Article Name
Best Drones Under $500 - Quadcopters for Experienced Users
Description
The sub 500 USD drone market is where the professional quadcopters can be found. They are the choice of expert flyers and professional filmmakers for a good reason. These flying machines are actually more of flying cameras and most of their functionality is based on superb video and photo quality performance and great movement agility while still performing smooth and stable flight at the same time.
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