This article is part of a series of articles about choosing the best drone based on price point. If you're thinking about a different price point, try checking out our Best Drones for Beginners / Advanced / Pros Here. This article is going to be very similar to the Best Drone Under $100, since the prices are so close.
This price range is what I consider to be an entry point into the camera drone world. While there are plenty of fun toy drones, FPV drones and custom RC, I’ll be focusing on drones that have cameras - or drones that are good for learning the fundamentals of flight. These drones are great to learn to fly and get a feel for what it’s like to fly, but think about photography/videography and framing your shots.
I’d recommend the $200 drone price point to beginner drone users, ‘learning’ on a $200 drone might sound expensive, but if you’re intending to fly drones with better cameras and more features, you’ll be looking at drones that cost much more. While the more expensive drones have sensors that help you fly and position the drone automatically, sometimes the sensors are obstructed or experience interference and you’ll have to know how to fly the drone manually. It’s extremely important to know how to proficiently fly your drone with all sensors turned off! Can't stress this enough.
Drones in this price point typically don’t have any obstacle avoidance sensors, but as these are the best drones for beginners, we’ll be looking at a few different price ranges and … durability. Just know that learning to fly manually is tough, but absolutely critical in my opinion. I’ll go into detail about who the drones in this article are for, as well as my recommendation as the next drone to upgrade to - appropriate for this price range.
For this price range, you won’t be able to go out and do client work with aerial imaging - but you will be able to learn the fundamentals of drone flight! Which is why I love this price range so much. There are a lot of options, and the best drone for beginners depends on their skills and what they want to accomplish.
While these drones and helicopters may seem out of place on a camera drones list, these are a great way to learn to fly. Building confidence and understanding of flying a drone is important, and these are great, inexpensive ways to learn.
My first recommendation for a great drone to learn to fly, is a toy helicopter. This is also one of the hardest to fly on this list, but it’s really durable and can be rebuilt if needed. I’ve rebuilt a few of these helicopters, and they are inexpensive to repair. These helicopters are made for indoor use, but some are strong enough to fly outdoors. As a person who has flown outdoors in sport mode with these helicopters, they are hard to keep track of since they are so small and wind really tosses them around in the air. While you definitely can fly them outdoors in a fast mode - sticking to indoors and slower movements it definitely going to help you develop that muscle memory of flying using sticks.
Cheap drones to learn to fly are also a good resource, but these tend to be slower in overall operation. Which can be a good thing if your an absolute beginner! The RC Helicopters are really difficult to use, so if you’re starting with 0 flight experience - a cheap toy drone is a good option to start to understand how flying works. Controlling something going forward and backwards is one thing, but being able to fly up, down, sideways, forwards and backwards takes some getting used to! These are great drones to get your feet wet, and if you break them - you can buy another and learn from your mistakes at a much cheaper price tag than an expensive camera drone. These toy drones work best when flown indoors.
The Tello is one of my favorite drones to refer people to when they are first starting out. It’s durable, can replace parts if you crash, has extra batteries available and it has a camera! While the quality of the camera isn’t crystal clear - for this price point it’s definitely enough for you to catch the drone fever. Learning to fly is important, just looking at the drone to understand how to maneuver. It’s also important to fly using a screen and being able to see whats directly in front of the drone and compose a shot.
One downside of the Ryze tello is that you need to use the on screen controls and the touch screen on your phone to fly right out of the box. I’d recommend getting a bluetooth controller and pairing it with your smart phone to fly the Tello to get more of a feel for flying with a controller. It’s not really a bad thing, especially if you have a bluetooth controller already, but it’s an extra expense to keep in mind. Most any controller that can connect to your smart phone will work, I use the Steel Series Nimbus (it works great, and I can play games on my phone/iPad with it).
Just a heads up, the DJI Spark is the next ‘upgrade’ above the price range of this article. It is an entry level camera drone, that can shoot 1080p video and decent still shots. This is the first drone on the list that can fly outdoors confidently. The Spark has some features that help you fly steadily and you don’t need to even use a remote to fly this drone if you don’t want to (I heavily recommend using the remote, to learn how to fly).
It’s a very small drone that can fit into a case that you can take along with you. Great for snapping quick aerial photos or videos to post to Facebook or Instagram. You won’t be able to push the image very far with color correction or grading, but if you have the right light - you can get some great images! If you’ve got some experience with flying, or this is your first drone - I’d recommend the DJI Spark as a great jumping off point. The Spark allows you to fly with a clear picture to your phone and get experience flying further away outdoors, while keeping an eye on your drone and still be able to see the live camera feed sent to your phone.
This is a very exciting price point because that means you’re a beginner looking to get into the world of drones and aerial photography/videography. As a photographer/videographer in my free time and a little at work, drones were always interesting to me but I didn’t know where to start. At one point I was intimidated because I never flew anything, but wanted to get aerial shots. So I picked up an RC Hero H911 helicopter and learned how to fly around chairs and under my coffee table. I may have crashed into the walls of my house and broken the heli… a few times.. but I rebuilt it by snapping a new propeller on, and I was good to go again! Now, years later, I can confidently fly my drones to get shots while moving on a boat, flying my drone sideways and moving the gimbal all at the same time. It just takes practice! The best part is, learning to fly is super fun - and it will only make you an exponentially better drone pilot!
Be sure to check out our other articles in Finding Which Drone is Best For You!