It’s no exaggeration to say that drones have changed the way we view the world. They’ve taken once difficult and expensive moviemaking techniques and made them accessible to anyone. Videos that once required a camera crew, expensive cranes, and hours of filming can now be done in minutes by the best drones with the tap of a single Auto Takeoff button.
Drones aren’t just flying cameras, though; they’re also the modern version of remote-controlled vehicles. Again, they’ve made flying easier and more accessible, thanks to intelligent collision sensors that protect your investment from mishaps. There is a dizzying array of drones available, but there is a basic division to be aware of — cheaper drones, while fun, will never fly as well or deliver the kind of video and photo results possible with more expensive models. You get what you pay for. That said, if you’re not worried about wowing YouTube with your sweeping panoramic masterpiece, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good, fun drone. Here are the best drones I’ve tested for every budget.
Updated May 2022: We’ve added the Skydio 2+ and the Autel Evo Lite +, removed a Parrot drone and the aging Phantom 4, and updated pricing and links throughout.