Drones can cost anything between $30 for tiny toy drones to $1000 for professional quadcopters for aerial photography. As with any other product, the sky is the limit for the prices – some professional quadcopter kits can go up to $8000.
In order to get the best bang for your buck it’s a great idea to steer clear of the very low priced items – quad copters have to pack a great deal of electronics, so everything under $30 should be a suspicious, even if it’s just a tiny toy drone.
Just as you should avoid under priced items you should avoid overpriced ones too. Above a certain point you will not get more value for more money – there’s just so much a quad can do, even if it’s a professional video drone.
Quadcopters are advancing very fast so what is $2000 today will probably cost less than $1000 next year anyway.
To get the price right think through why do you want a quad.
Quads come in many different categories and they are priced accordingly. The most popular quadrotor categories are
- Toy quads for simply flying around for fun. Some of these include a camera too so you can snap photos or make a video.
- Home built quads for more aggressive flying – these usually cost more than the toy quadcopters,but fly a lot better too. Adding a Gopro is possible with these too.
- FPV racing quads for immersive, real-time video are home built quads with real time video hardware. These flying machines are a lot of fun, but cost more than simple home built drones due to the extra components.
- Professional video drones for aerial photography and video: for professionals to create high quality videos and photos. These quads usually have a gimbal to attach the equipment, and some come with their own camera too.
Toy quadcopters usually cost between $30 and $100.
These quads are great for having a bit of fun, but they are not high performance racing quads, neither professional solutions for aerial photography. A few toy quads you may want to consider for a bit of flying around:
The Eachine E10C
is a tiny, 6cm x 6cm drone weighing only 15grams. It’s great to have a bit of fun inside, but flies well outsides on calm days too. With the integrated camera you can even take photos or shoot a video of the flight. The flight time is 5-6 minutes. For more details check our review of the Eachine E10C or head over to Amazon to check the price.
The Hubsan H107L
is a bit larger than the E10C, so it flies better outdoors. The 13cm x 13cm size improves the visibility too. Flight time is 9 minutes and the battery is easily removable so you can fly longer between the charges. More details are available in our review of theH107L, price and shipping information is available on Amazon.
The Syma X5C
is an even larger quad, with a 31.5×31.5 cm size and size 102 gram weight it really shines outdoor, the 6 to 9 minute flight time is very respectable too. For more details on the quad and it’s integrated camera check our review, or head over to Amazon to check the price.
There are many more great quadcopters in the toy category, if you’d like to learn about them check out our review section. These quads usually do not require FAA registration, as they fall bellow the250 gram limit.
Home buildable quads for even more fun: $100 to $400.
The Walkera Runner
is a well-rounded and fast quad, great for having fun out in open spaces. Depending on exactly which version you build or buy this quadcopter could have a 10 to 15 minutes flight time and a kilometer of range – however this can vary wildly.Click here to check the price of a prebuilt Walker a runner, complete with transmitter, battery and charger (you can expect a 12 to 14 minute flight time and a 75+ meter range with this kit).
The LHI 250 size kit
is a great way to start building quads on your own. This is the kit we used in our How to build a quadcopter?article – a bare-bones set ideal if you already have a transmitter and battery, or you want to select your own. Click to check the price.
FPV quads for immersive flying: $500 to $800.
These quadcopters are basically the same as the home built category,however adding an FPV camera and buying an FPV goggle will raise the price considerably. Still, the experience you get is extreme: just as if you flew your own airplane at high speeds, enjoying the turns and banks while your feet stay safely planted on the ground.
The ARRIS X-Speed 250B FPV
Adding the complete Fatshark FPV gear
is another way to get an FPV quad. The FPV gear is not tied to the quadrotor or the transmitter, so you can mix and match these as you want to. The Fatshark Dominator is one of the best FPV gears you can get. You can check the price of the goggles + receiver and the camera + transmitter online.
Quadrotors for professional video: between $300 and $1000.
These quads are for professional use, and feature long flight times, a stabilized gimbal, and a high performance camera too. If you’d like a ready-made solution which shoots great videos, these are the ones you should check. These quads usually include a GPS, so GPS based flying becomes possible too.
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard
is an overall great quad for aerial photography. It has a 12 megapixel stabilized camera, so the photos and videos it takes are really smooth. The Phantom 3 has a 25 minute flight time and a 500 meter range – both are huge compared to the toy quad’s usual performance. The Verge has a detailed review of the Phantom 3, while Amazon has the up-to-date prices of various Phantom 3 versions.
The DJI Phantom 4
is the advanced version of the Phantom 3 -ideal if you’d like to get the best of the best. The main extras are 4Kvideo shooting at 30 FPS, Glonass navigation support, and an upgraded, 3kilometer range. How much more do these goodies cost? Check it on Amazon!
The DJI Mavic Pro
is yet another professional quad from DJI.Compared to the Phantom 4 it supports autonomous behavior and has an even longer range clocking in at 7 kilometers. The downside is that it’s camera(a high quality unit much like the one on the Phantom 4) can’t be replaced by a different model. Cinema5D has a review of the DJI Mavic Pro, while Amazon has the current price.
These professional quadcopters tend to be large, so double check the weight and register if the weight is more than 250 grams.