/The 5 Best Drone Cameras Under $200

The 5 Best Drone Cameras Under $200

 

Drones have become incredibly popular in recent years for folks that are interested in flight without climbing into the cockpit of an actual plane. The prices on these drones range from less than $100 bucks up to thousands of dollars for the high-end models. If you are a beginner to this exciting hobby, finding one for under $200 will give you a great place to begin learning about this exciting hobby.

If you have children, including teenagers, then you might be making the purchase for them to enjoy. Alternatively, novice adults should begin with one of these affordable models. Although you might be tempted to invest in a top of the line model, it could turn into an expensive beginner lesson. More expensive drones often have great features for those who know how to use them. However, you need to master the basics before you accidentally crash your spendy new tech into the nearest wall.

Buying a cheaper drone gives you the opportunity to learn how to navigate a drone and understand how the various features operate. It is often easy to find replacement parts online at an affordable price should you make a mistake. Once you are comfortable with using one of the drones listed here, you can then make a more informed decision as to whether or not you want to invest in a big ticket item, as well as the features you want for your luxury drone.

Even while searching for a drone under $200, you need to understand some of the terminology used exclusively for these technological devices. All drones will be listed as either RTF or BNF. “Ready to Fly” drones can be taken out of the box and used immediately. On the other hand, “Bind and Fly” drones don’t come with a controller. You will need to purchase a dedicated controller and have the skills to bind it to your drone. If that sounds confusing or overwhelming, stick with the RTF models.

First person view drones are labeled as FPV and allow you to watch the live feed from the drone. This can be through a display on the controller itself, special goggles made for this purpose or an app for your smartphone or tablet device. You can experience greater control over the images you collect because you are able to make adjustments in real time. On the other hand, non-FPV drones don’t have that capability.

Not all drones have cameras included, so you should check before you purchase one to find out. However, many of them have a mounting system so you can add your own action camera in order to record the views you want. You might discover that you can combine the two purchases and remain within your budget, having your own customized drone camera setup!

DronesResolutionMegapixelWeight 
Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter
(Editor's Choice)
1080p2MP1.7 poundsCheck Price
Holy Stone HS3001080p5MP1.4 PoundsCheck Price
DBPOWER U818A720p-1.4 poundsCheck Price
U45 Blue Jay720p 2MP0.26poundsCheck Price
Hubsan H107D720p-0.06 poundsCheck Price

1. Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter – Great for beginners

 

Holy Stone is one of the best-reputed manufacturers of drones thanks to the high quality of their products. This particular model is restricted to use by folks over the age of 14, so you shouldn’t buy it for the youngest members of your household to learn about drones firsthand. Of course, they can still watch and gather information about the amazing hobby. This drone is larger than many other models, but it is surprisingly lightweight.

The lithium polymer (LiPO) batteries require more than an hour to charge, which is why you should always have extra ones on hand. You will need to batteries to get the drone off the ground and you will get a total flight time of 7-9 minutes in most cases. This is one of the few drones in this price range that has the altitude hold function. For novices and intermediate users alike, this will allow you to take better pictures and videos from the start.

Camera resolution is 1280 X 720 and the videos capture 30fps. Users can flip the direction in four different ways to get the best images possible. Additionally, it has four modes that can be increased as your skill with the drone grows. Amateurs can begin with 25 percent, advancing to 50 and 75 before setting it at 100 percent. Because the throttle on this model is sensitive, this is important to practice with.

The battery life is short and you have to let the drone cool down between flights to prevent overheating.

Pros
  • Can be flown both indoors and outdoors
  • Includes a 2.4G remote transmitter
  • Comes with two batteries for longer flight time
  • Allows for continuous roll which ensures great performance
Cons
  • The batteries drain quickly especially when recording video

2. Holy Stone HS300 – Best value for money

 

Another great drone manufactured by the company is the HS300. Though considered bulkier than the previous model, this one has some great hardware and a camera that will amaze you. The wide angle lens is perfect for aerial panoramic shots and can record 1080p videos at 30 frames per second. This model includes altitude control like the Holy Stone F181. The one key return and emergency stop controls will provide you with greater confidence when navigating this affordable drone.

While some think the weight, 1.4 pounds, is too much, this makes it a perfect option for those operating in windy weather. It has excellent landing gear and propeller guards to protect your investment and the body feels similar to more expensive drones on the market.

With one key landing and an 8-10 minute flight time, you can get a lot of use out of this camera drone. The range is around 150 meters and it has both red and green lights for increased visibility at night.

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • High-definition camera
  • Responsive remote control
  • Compatible with iOS and Android
Cons
  • Mounting the camera may be quirky and time-consuming

3. DBPOWER U818A – Very responsive control

This affordable drone is great for kids thanks to the large prop guards and durable construction. It utilizes WiFi signals, which can easily be disrupted in populated areas. The short battery life is the biggest complaint that most users report however the FPV camera is well liked.

Another benefit to this child-friendly drone is that you can join their online community for amazing round the clock support. You can find excellent tutorials explaining in detail how to use it. The information will teach you how to increase the range and/or flight time. Plus, it is always great to meet other enthusiasts of your new hobby!

Whether you are purchasing a drone for yourself or as a gift, these models are great affordable choices. In addition to the ages of the intended users, you will want to weight the various features when determining the best drone for your investment. Some will be more important to you than others, so choose accordingly.

For instance, the camera quality might not be as relevant to someone more interested in learning how to navigate the exciting tech. The average flight times and distances are also factors to consider. Though they come with batteries, you might want to purchase compatible ones to extend your fun and prevent long waits while the included one charges.

Pros
  •  Durable and powerful
  • Fast recharge and decent flight times
  • Includes an extra battery
Cons
  • Hovering mechanism could be better
  • Mediocre propeller guards

4. U45 Blue Jay – Great customer service

This ready to fly quadcopter has rave reviews from novices and experts alike. It comes with a second battery, so you have double the flight time right out of the box. The HD camera takes pictures with 2MP resolution and can record 1280 X 720 videos at 30 frames per second.

A couple of the features that make this model stand out are the headless mode and altitude hold. The former feature allows you to direct the drone to the correct location without worrying about the direction the drone is facing. The latter gives you the opportunity to have the drone hover right where you want it to be. If you want to take aerial pictures and videos, this feature will stabilize the camera to help you get the perfect images you want.

In addition to the controller and 2 500mAh batteries, the boxed set has an SD card reader, a 4GB SanDisk Mirco SD card and a USB battery charger for quick and easy charging power. In addition to the thorough User Manual, you will also receive four spare propellers in case you accidentally crash it. There is even a screwdriver included so you don’t have to worry about buying one or breaking up your set in the garage.

Pros
  • Auto-landing
  • Altitude Hold Feature
  • FPV – First Person View Capable
Cons
  • No return to home function
  •  Low battery life

5. Hubsan H107D – Small and lightweight

This tiny lightweight drone manufactured by Hubsan provides FPV, first person view, for the first time ever in such a small drone. While not suitable for children under 14, it is great for older kids and adults. The controller is considered amazingly intuitive and has an incredible 4.3-inch display for monitoring the action. With a lithium polymer battery, the model can reach around 80 meters, which is impressive for the small size. However, around 50 meters you might experience some interference.

This model can fly for around 8-10 minutes though it does not have a return key like some of the others listed here. It takes less than an hour to charge the battery, though you want to be certain that the battery doesn’t overheat. Stay below 45 degrees Celsius for safety.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Great for indoor flying
  •  Includes LED lights for directional help
  • Very affordable
Cons
  • Unstable in Strong Winds
  • Slower than other drones

 

Conclusion

Drone enthusiasts have groups online and in many local communities where you can engage with others who are interested in this exciting new hobby. These folks can also provide valuable feedback and support on your journey. All of these models under $200 are excellent choices for novices to get their feet wet! Enjoy your foray into the world of drones!

Gary Nguyen is a 24-year-old photographer and writer from Romania. Some of his works have been published in The Guardian, New York Times, Telegraph, and many others. Learn more