The 5 Best Drones For Beginners: Reviewed and Ranked

Drones make for a thrilling and unique way to capture photos and videos from the air. But with so many models on the market, it can be tricky picking out the right beginner drone that balances ease of use with performance and features.

In this buyer‘s guide, we’ll review the top beginner drones to help you find the perfect match for starting your aerial photography journey.

How We Chose the Best Drones for Beginners

We evaluated drones specifically designed for first-time pilots based on the following criteria:

  • Beginner-friendly controls: Intuitive controls like dedicated takeoff/landing buttons, multiple speed modes, and altitude holds simplify piloting, especially for total newbies.

  • Flight time: Longer max flight times of 20-30 minutes mean you get more time in the air before needing to land and recharge batteries.

  • Camera quality: Higher resolution cameras (1080p/2.7K/4K) allow capturing better detail, while features like gimbals provide stabilization for smooth footage.

  • Range: Beginners shouldn’t stray too far from their drone, but having 100-200 meters of control range provides flexibility.

  • Durability: Features like propeller guards as well as modular, foldable designs make drones more crash and travel-friendly.

  • Budget: We chose drones specifically priced under $500, ideal for those not yet ready to commit to a more expensive, professional-grade model.

Using these factors, we picked drones perfect for anyone just learning the basics of UAV (uncrewed aerial vehicle) operation.

The 5 Best Drones For Beginners

1. DJI Mini SE


  • Foldable, ultraportable 249g body
  • 30 minutes of flight time
  • Easy-to-use mobile app with Beginner Mode
  • 2.7K camera footage smooth thanks to 3-axis gimbal

DJI is the undisputed leader when it comes to consumer drone technology. The Mini SE packs impressive specs and features into a super compact body that slides into any bag.

Weighing just a bit over half a pound, the Mini SE doesn’t require FAA registration in the U.S. Beginners will appreciate the simple mobile app controls, auto takeoff/landing, multiple speed modes and 30 minutes of flight time per charge.

The onboard camera captures great-looking 2.7K footage stabilized by the integrated 3-axis gimbal. It even offers creative shooting modes like panoramas, hyperlapses and time-lapses for capturing pro-style aerial content.

For an affordable drone that takes fantastic aerial shots, delivers an easy piloting experience and barely takes up any room when stored, the DJI Mini SE is easily our top pick for beginners in 2023.

Buy the DJI Mini SE on Amazon

2. Potensic Dreamer Pro


  • 1080p camera with 120° FOV lens
  • Optical flow positioning for indoor hovering
  • One-button takeoffs/landings
  • Intelligent flight modes

While DJI dominates the higher-end drone market, other brands offer formidable competitors in the budget sphere. Case in point is the Dreamer Pro from Potensic.

Despite having a very friendly price tag, you still get a surprising amount of performance for the money. The onboard 1080p camera livestreams to your smartphone for composing shots in the Potensic app and recording video.

Smart features include trajectory flight modes and an optical flow positioning system that keeps the drone steady when hovering indoors without GPS. Plus the battery provides over 20 minutes of flying time.

For novice pilots that want to experiment with aerial photography and videography, without making a huge upfront investment, the Dreamer Pro is a versatile way to learn the basics and grow your skills over time.

Buy the Potensic Dreamer Pro on Amazon

3. Hubsan Zino Mini Pro


  • 60 fps 4K camera sits on 3-axis gimbal
  • Intelligent flight modes like Follow Me
  • 33 minute max flight time
  • Advanced safety features: auto return home, GPS

Hubsan crafts high-quality drones with professional features at very wallet-friendly prices. Case in point: the Zino Mini Pro packs a stellar 4K camera and 33 minutes of air time into a drone under $500.

The onboard camera records silky smooth, cinema-level footage thanks to the integrated 3-axis gimbal and 60 fps frame rate. Plus the drone itself boasts impressive specs like a 2.5 mile control range and self-automated flight modes.

Safety features give beginners serious peace of mind: GPS allows tracking the drone’s position in real time while auto return home kicks in whenever batteries run low or connection is lost. The Zino Mini Pro delivers incredible aerial photography abilities way beyond other drones in this price tier.

Buy the Hubsan Zino Mini Pro on Amazon

4. Snaptain SP500


  • 60+ minutes of air time
  • 1080P camera with wide 120° FOV
  • Voice control functionality
  • Foldable, ultra-portable body

The Snaptain SP500 folds down even smaller than the DJI Mini SE, meaning it practically disappears into bags and backpacks. But once in the air, it flies circles around other models.

The modular design gives rookie pilots plenty of room for mistake. As long as you enable headless mode (so controls don’t get mixed up), it can handle minor crashes into walls and furniture with the guards protecting each propeller.

While capturing solid 1080p, 30 fps footage, the camera utilizes a wide field of view lens to capture more of the landscape in each shot. Intelligent flight modes like orbiting and waypoint mapping unlock pro techniques step-by-step.

For travel-friendly aerial photography with over an hour of air time, all packed inside an ultra-compact shell, the Snaptain SP500 is an amazing value under $200.

Buy the Snaptain SP500 on Amazon

5. Ryze Tello


  • DJI flight controller
  • 13 minute flight time
  • Programmable using Scratch coding
  • Throw & go launch plus bounce mode hijinks

The tiny Tello looks almost like a toy, but that belies the smart internals provided by tech titan DJI. The flight controller allows smooth, responsive steering aided by the 7-blade propellor design.

While aimed firmly for beginner pilots learning their way around drones, the Ryze Tello still includes 5 megapixel photos and video recording to encourage aerial creativity right from the start.

Tello really sets itself apart with the ability to program routes, automated responses and other behaviors through simple coding interfaces like Scratch. Budding software developers can have fun while picking up valuable STEM skills.

For a pocket-sized drone built to Handles crashes while opening up paths towards advanced UAV experimentation, the Ryze Tello is a superb option under $150.

Buy the Ryze Tello on Amazon

What To Consider When Buying a Beginner Drone

Beyond the performance specs, there are a few key considerations drone first-timers should weigh when choosing their starter model:


Crashes and bumps are virtually unavoidable as you learn to line up shots and stick landings. Durable frames with protective hulls, propeller guards and easily replaceable parts make great beginner options.

Camera Type

Fixed cameras offer stability and weather resistance, while camera drones allow tilting, pointing and detaching the lens for shooting creativity. Most beginner models feature 1080p resolution with options for 4K, zoom lenses and higher megapixel still photos.

Battery Life

Flight times averaging 10-30 minutes give you the flexibility to stay airborne for capturing better views and footage before the battery drains and drone returns home. Spare backup batteries extend your flying and shooting time on a single outing.

Automated Flight Modes

Beginner-friendly drones integrate programmed behaviors that execute professional aerial filming techniques automatically:

  • Auto Takeoff/Landing: Take hands off the controls for easy launching and smooth touchdowns.

  • Altitude Hold: Locks the drone’s height during hovering for stable shooting.

  • Return to Home: Brings the drone back to the launch point when signal is lost or battery runs low.

As your piloting improves, manual mode puts you fully in control.

Getting Started With Your First Drone

Here’s a quick 5 step overview for taking a drone from box to airborne on your inaugural flight:

1. Read the Instructions

Yes, instructions. Cover to cover. Understanding how your specific model works is vital for avoiding rookie mistakes.

2. Charge Batteries

Most drones rely on rechargeable LiPo (lithium polymer) batteries. Never fly without fully juiced up cells to maximize air time and prevent uncontrolled landings.

3. Download Companion App

If included, install the drone maker’s flight control and monitoring app on your mobile device for gaining real-time telemetry readouts and accessing automated behaviors.

4. Find Wide Open Space

Clear backyards work, but areas like parks and soccer fields give beginners the flat, hazard-free practice zones perfect to get comfortable flying.

5. Take Off!

Follow launch procedures, keep movements gentle, don’t stray too far too fast. Congrats, you’re officially an RC drone pilot!

Key Beginner Drone Safety Tips

While learning the ropes, keep these key safety guidelines in mind:

  • Maintain a direct line of sight to your drone at all times
  • Stay well clear of crowds, animals, trees, power lines and buildings
  • Mind wind conditions which can impact stability and range
  • Know your takeoff weight; heavier camera gear affects flight time
  • Keep an eye on battery level and have a backup on hand
  • Respect privacy of folks on the ground
  • Brush up on local ordinances related to where/when you can fly

As UAV technology continues advancing, drones put incredible aerial photography abilities right into our hands. By selecting an easy-to-fly model packed with beginner bonuses tailored specifically for rookies, you can launch a thrilling new hobby capturing stunning views the world has never seen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Beginner Drones

Are drones easy to fly for beginners?

Modern camera drones aimed at first-timers integrate tons of helpful features making them quite easy to pick up and fly right from the start:

Simple 2-stick transmitters mimic what you see in video games with dedicated buttons for auto takeoff/landing. Multiple speed modes let you dial in responsiveness to your skill level.

Smartphone apps provide real-time views from the air plus telemetry like altitude and battery stats so you always know what’s going on.

Automated behaviors like altitude holds, GPS positioning and failsafe return-to-home in case you lose connection handle much of the complexity involved in piloting.

So while flying any aircraft does involve learning basic principles, beginner drones couldn’t be more user friendly!

Can I fly a drone as a total beginner?

Absolutely! Drones explicitly designed for first-timers like the models we covered include multiple facets providing a gentle, safe introduction:

  • Durable frames withstand minor bumps and scrapes

  • Propeller guards prevent damage from nicks and cuts

  • Low maximum velocities keep you from getting into trouble

Between smart high-tech sensors and physical protections surrounding key components, many drones practically fly themselves. Complete novices can feel confident taking the sticks.

Just be sure to find a wide open area free from people, animals and buildings where you can safely practice fundamental flight skills stress free. And of course, follow all manufacturer usage guidelines.

What activities are drones good for?

Some top uses for beginner camera drones:

Aerial Photography: Unique top-down perspectives of landscapes and architecture

Filming: Getting dynamic panning shots from creative angles during events and sports

Real Estate: Provide house buyers better context of properties and surrounding lots

Inspections: Safely survey storm damage, construction projects and other dangerous areas

And while drones serve very functional purposes across many industries, they’re also ideal just for kicking back and having an absolute blast!

Can I build my own drone?

Building a fully custom drone from individual parts is definitely an option but involves quite an investment in parts, tools and learning advanced electronics… so it‘s not usually the recommended path for total beginners.

However many consumer drones let you modify and accessorize components over time like swapping camera modules, upgrading antennas for extended range or adding LED lights. This allows customizing as your experience level goes up.

Take Your Photo + Video Skills to New Heights!

We hope this guide has given rookie pilots a headstart on discovering the thrill of aerial photography with an easy-to-fly beginner drone perfectly suited for developing your skills in no time.

Just remember key tips we covered like giving yourself plenty of open practice space away from crowds, keeping batteries fully charged and enabled smart safety features.

Before long, you’ll feel right at home sending your nimble eye-in-the-sky soaring into the air for capturing jaw dropping photos and cinema-quality video that gets the angles no ground-based shots could ever achieve.

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