Best Hobbyist Drones for 2021: Our Tops Picks

Over the past couple of years, drones have been getting cheaper and cheaper. Moreover, it seems hard not to want one, especially after seeing what kind of video shots it can take. Since you are a hobbyist drone pilot, you probably have limited experience and expectations of the drones you fly. After all, there is no point in getting a 3900$ drone, if all you will do is cruise around the local neighborhood and take aerial footage of some random homes. 

That being said, after new rules and regulations regarding drone piloting have been announced by the Federal Aviation Administration, hobbyist drone pilots were left wondering whether they are allowed to fly their drones and if so, if they have to register and get a license for it.

UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Best Choice
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Title
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Price
Price not available
$79.99
$564.95
$349.98
Price not available
Prime Status
-
-
-
Rating
-
-
-
-
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
Title
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
Buy Now
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Title
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Price
$79.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now
Best Choice
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
Title
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
Price
$564.95
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
Buy Now
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
Title
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
Price
$349.98
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Title
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Rating
Buy Now

FAA Drone Regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration has stated guidelines and laws to ensure the safety of people and official aircraft. These regulations are strict and not following them can lead to imprisonment or a huge fine. The laws were put in place in order to make sure that drone pilots fly their drones in a safe and respectful manner. Not complying with the regulations, can cost human lives or prevent the officials from doing their jobs which makes them a necessary evil, like most laws. Hopefully, the rules and regulations are enough to make drone flying safe, so no more restrictions will be implemented. 

Here is a link to the official Federal Aviation Administration website, where they give a brief and quick summary of the rules.

If you don’t want to read them, watch a YouTube video explaining the FAA’s new drone regulations.

however, even after watching the entire video, we highly recommend you to read the full list of regulations to ensure your own safety and the safety of others. 

A Few Tips and Tricks for Flying Your Drone Better

It’s safe to say that regardless of whether you are a hobbyist or a professional drone cinematographer, there is always room for improvement. This is why this particular section is meant to show you the tips on How to fly your drone betterHow to become a better drone pilot in six steps. 

#1  Pick an open space to get to know the movements of your drone. 

 Being a drone pilot is not an easy task: flying it around in a way that gets you amazing shots and keeps the drone safe and sound isn’t simple. So, the first tip is to take your drone to an open field or park void of people or obstacles to get a feel of the drone, how it pitches, yaws, and accelerates. Being in open space will allow you to get the hang of your drone and take your piloting from the newbie level to at least a basic one. 

#2 Dive into the settings of your drone to fine-tune them to your liking

Every drone including the smallest one has a variety of settings you can either access through the controller or via an app that can be downloaded on your phone. It will allow you to turn on the functions like obstacle avoidance, auto acceleration, and stabilization to do more advanced flying maneuvers. 

#3 Practice following a moving object 

This is one of the most basic movements everyone should master – following a steady moving object or flying around it. It makes for a great establishing shot whereas excelling at this kind of shot is practically mandatory for most of your adventures. It’s also something that’s useful for getting control over your drone, so practice following a moving object steadily to take your drone flying skills to a new level.

#4 Practice flying low to the ground 

Flying the drone close to the ground is harder than flying it up high due to the chance of hitting an obstacle and colliding. Additionally, the lack of wind between the drone and the ground will cause the drone to sink or rise abruptly. Practicing this aspect of flying is necessary to improve your overall skill. Once mastered the perspective, you will be astonished by the shots from this angle. It looks like you are flying over the ground as the ground slides under your feet, making this skill worth learning.  

#5 Practice taking horizon shots

Being one of the most common types of shots, flying over a building or an object to reveal the horizon is one of the coolest drone shots you can take. They are not hard to take, what makes them tricky is getting the framing right. So, hop onto the FPV (first person view) of your drone and practice revealing the sceneries using cinematic methods. These shots make the best intros to videos and leave a great first impression.  

#6  Practice, practice, practice

Similar to any other skill, practicing is the most important part of the learning curve. The best way to get better at flying your drone and capturing moments is to fly it a lot and try different things, without neglecting safety measures. There is no substitute for practice, so just watch drone videos, see the shots they take, and replicate them in your own videos to your best abilities. At some point, slowly but surely you will get better and better at getting the shots you want.

Top 5 Hobbyist Drones You Can Buy in 2021

Are you looking for a drone that will not break the bank yet provide you with a great flying experienceas well as some amazing shots? We have prepared a list of the top 5 drones that will deliver the above without burning a huge hole in your pocket.

Top pick DJI Mavic Mini

dji mavic mini
Best Choice
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
DJI Mavic Mini Portable Drone Quadcopter Ultimate Bundle (Renewed)
Best Price
DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo – Ultralight Foldable Drone, 3-Axis Gimbal with 4K Camera, 12MP Photos, 31 Mins Flight Time, OcuSync 2.0 10km HD Video Transmission, QuickShots, Gray
Title
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
DJI Mavic Mini Portable Drone Quadcopter Ultimate Bundle (Renewed)
DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo – Ultralight Foldable Drone, 3-Axis Gimbal with 4K Camera, 12MP Photos, 31 Mins Flight Time, OcuSync 2.0 10km HD Video Transmission, QuickShots, Gray
Price
$564.95
$549.00
$586.89
Prime Status
-
-
Rating
-
-
-
Best Choice
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
Title
DJI Mavic Mini Starter Bundle - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, Less Than 0.55lbs, Gray
Price
$564.95
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
Buy Now
DJI Mavic Mini Portable Drone Quadcopter Ultimate Bundle (Renewed)
Title
DJI Mavic Mini Portable Drone Quadcopter Ultimate Bundle (Renewed)
Price
$549.00
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
Buy Now
Best Price
DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo – Ultralight Foldable Drone, 3-Axis Gimbal with 4K Camera, 12MP Photos, 31 Mins Flight Time, OcuSync 2.0 10km HD Video Transmission, QuickShots, Gray
Title
DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo – Ultralight Foldable Drone, 3-Axis Gimbal with 4K Camera, 12MP Photos, 31 Mins Flight Time, OcuSync 2.0 10km HD Video Transmission, QuickShots, Gray
Price
$586.89
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now

If you know anything about drones, you must have heard the name DJI. Being the lead makers and producers of drones, they manufacture the best high-end drones currently available on the market. Their drones are known for their good quality, great performance, and fair price. This drone is expensive by a cheap drone’s standard but considering the quality it guarantees, it’s unbelievable how many features this gadget packs for the price.

One unusual feature of the drone is its weight: it weighs under 250 grams meaning it doesn’t have to be registered or given a license number to be flown. You simply make a purchase and fly it around right out of the box, as long as you follow the other rules by the FAA. 

It is highly difficult to compare it to other drones on the list since The DJI Mavic Mini is just in a league of its own. It would be like comparing a modern smartphone to the Nokia 3310. 

Pros

  • Sleek Design
  • Excellent range and movement capabilities 
  • Excellent camera quality
  • Under the weight limit set by the FAA, does not require registration to operate
  • Made by the best in the business.

Cons

  • Steep price tag compared to other cheap drones.

UDI 818A

Best Choice
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
UDI U818A-HD 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Headless RC Quadcopter w/ HD Camera, Extra Battery
Best Price
UDI RC 818A HD Drone Quadcopter with 720p HD Camera Headless Mode, Return to Home Function and Batteries - White
Title
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
UDI U818A-HD 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Headless RC Quadcopter w/ HD Camera, Extra Battery
UDI RC 818A HD Drone Quadcopter with 720p HD Camera Headless Mode, Return to Home Function and Batteries - White
Price
Price not available
$42.99
$37.99
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
-
-
Best Choice
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
Title
UDI U818A HD 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Gyro Headless Mode RC Quadcopter Drone w/ HD 2MP Camera, Extra Battery and Return Home Function Black
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
Buy Now
UDI U818A-HD 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Headless RC Quadcopter w/ HD Camera, Extra Battery
Title
UDI U818A-HD 2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Headless RC Quadcopter w/ HD Camera, Extra Battery
Price
$42.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now
Best Price
UDI RC 818A HD Drone Quadcopter with 720p HD Camera Headless Mode, Return to Home Function and Batteries - White
Title
UDI RC 818A HD Drone Quadcopter with 720p HD Camera Headless Mode, Return to Home Function and Batteries - White
Price
$37.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now

This quadcopter gets all the points for its unique design. UDI 818A is built to allow beginners to fly freely without worrying about the health of their drones. The reason this drone is on the list isn’t because of its insane capabilities or insane performance but for the set of skills that are expected of a drone at a cheap price and with a unique yet really safe and robust design for beginners.

Its camera quality isn’t the greatest and leaves a lot to be desired, on the other hand, it is perfect for newbies who just got their first drone and want to learn how to fly it. 

Pros

  • Easy to fly and great to learn basics with
  • Responsive pitch, yaw, and turning capabilities
  • Very affordable
  • Easily repairable
  • Looks like a serious drone even though it’s not
  • Comes with pre-installed guards that will save the propellers in case of a crash

Cons

  • Cheap construction
  • Short battery life
  • The camera quality of an old phone from 2005
  • It is not light enough to be considered as a noncommercial Drone by the FAA

SYMA X5C

Syma X5C Drone
Syma X5C Drone
Best Choice
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Syma X5C 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Explorers Quad Copter w/ Camera
Best Price
Syma Toys X5C-1 Explorers 4 CH Remote Control Quadcopter, 2015 Version
Title
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Syma X5C 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Explorers Quad Copter w/ Camera
Syma Toys X5C-1 Explorers 4 CH Remote Control Quadcopter, 2015 Version
Price
Price not available
$55.99
Price not available
Color
White
White
White
Prime Status
-
-
-
Star Rating
Best Choice
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Title
SYMA X5C-1 RC Quadcopter with Extra 2 720mAh Li-Po Batteries,4 Rotating Blade, 4-in-1 Battery Charger, 4G Micro SD Card
Price
Price not available
Color
White
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
Buy Now
Syma X5C 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Explorers Quad Copter w/ Camera
Title
Syma X5C 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Explorers Quad Copter w/ Camera
Price
$55.99
Color
White
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
Buy Now
Best Price
Syma Toys X5C-1 Explorers 4 CH Remote Control Quadcopter, 2015 Version
Title
Syma Toys X5C-1 Explorers 4 CH Remote Control Quadcopter, 2015 Version
Price
Price not available
Color
White
Prime Status
-
Star Rating
Buy Now

Compared to the DJI Mini, the SYMA X5C drone is the exact opposite whereby it operates at every level that the DJI drone does but far worse and at 10 times less cost. This drone is aimed at beginners who just need to get a drone to learn the basics and get the hang of flying and taking aerial shots. 

Here are some of the pros and cons of this drone.

Pros

  • Great control distance of 200 meters
  • 2 MP camera and 2GB memory card. 
  • Can perform flips with one click of a button
  • Small and sturdy enough to be flown both indoors and outdoors
  • 6-axis stabilization makes it easy to control
  • Cost just 40$
  • If you break it while learning or messing around it’s not that hard to replace the whole thing

Cons

  • 7-minute flight time

Holy Stone F181

Best Choice
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Holy Stone F181W 1080P Wifi FPV Drone with Wide-Angle HD Camera Live Video RC Quadcopter with Altitude Hold, Gravity Sensor Function, RTF and Easy to Fly for Beginner & Kids, 2 Batteries Included
Title
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Holy Stone F181W 1080P Wifi FPV Drone with Wide-Angle HD Camera Live Video RC Quadcopter with Altitude Hold, Gravity Sensor Function, RTF and Easy to Fly for Beginner & Kids, 2 Batteries Included
Price
$79.99
$72.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
-
Best Choice
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Title
Holy Stone F181W 1080P FPV Drone with HD Camera for Adult Kid Beginner, RC Quadcopter with Carrying Case, Voice Control, Gesture Control, Wide-Angle Live Video, Altitude Hold, 2 Batteries, Easy to Fly
Price
$79.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now
Holy Stone F181W 1080P Wifi FPV Drone with Wide-Angle HD Camera Live Video RC Quadcopter with Altitude Hold, Gravity Sensor Function, RTF and Easy to Fly for Beginner & Kids, 2 Batteries Included
Title
Holy Stone F181W 1080P Wifi FPV Drone with Wide-Angle HD Camera Live Video RC Quadcopter with Altitude Hold, Gravity Sensor Function, RTF and Easy to Fly for Beginner & Kids, 2 Batteries Included
Price
$72.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now

The Holy Stone F181 is perfect for people who want a better drone than Syma X5C or UDI 818a yet don’t want to go all-in on a gadget like the DJI Mavic mini. It comes with features like headless control, that allows the drone to successfully execute a landing even if the pilot is inexperienced or does it wrong. Also includes a headless return feature that ensures that the drone returns to the pilot if flown out of the intended range. The drone does cost a lot more but compared to the high-end offerings, it has a passable camera

Pros

  • Modular camera and landing feet can be removed to optimize the speed
  • One button to return to the pilot
  • 4 channel transmitter features
  • The option to do 360° flips in all 4 directions
  • Continuously rolls
  • 200 meters range
  • Flight time of 7-9 minutes

Cons

  • Long battery charging time
  • The camera malfunctions from time to time

Holy Stone HS720E

Best Choice
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission, Auto Return Home, Follow Me& Anti-shake Cam
Best Price
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission with Spare Parts Accessories
Title
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission, Auto Return Home, Follow Me& Anti-shake Cam
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission with Spare Parts Accessories
Price
$349.98
$339.99
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
-
-
Best Choice
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
Title
Holy Stone HS720E Drone Fly More Combo with 3 Batteries
Price
$349.98
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission, Auto Return Home, Follow Me& Anti-shake Cam
Title
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission, Auto Return Home, Follow Me& Anti-shake Cam
Price
$339.99
Prime Status
Rating
-
Buy Now
Best Price
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission with Spare Parts Accessories
Title
Holy Stone HS720E 4K EIS Drone with UHD Camera for Adults, Easy GPS Quadcopter for Beginner with 46mins Flight Time, Brushless Motor, 5GHz FPV Transmission with Spare Parts Accessories
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Rating
-
Buy Now

Conclusion the list is a drone that also doesn’t want to spend too much cash on a gadget but still desires a drone with a very promising number of features yet costs under 300$.  

First of all, Holy Stone HS720E feels like a high-end professional drone and comes at a high price. It has FPV mode crucial for getting amazing cinematic shots from the sky and a flight time of around 25 to 30 minutes. Holy stone really did it with this time: they made a drone that can actually compete with the DJI drones. It was clear that DJI wasn’t going to release an all-round drone at a low price point since the DJI Mavic mini was already the lowest as they were willing to go. The only true competitor they had was Holy stone that really went all-in on their new model trying to compete against DJI and succeeded. 

Pros

  • Custom in-house camera with great quality footage.
  • GPS
  • Follow-me option
  • Auto return
  • 5 GHz Wi-Fi connection
  • 12MP camera
  • Under 300$
  • 26-minute flight time
  • Allows to use the phone for live view 
  • 4K video quality 

Cons

  • Long charging time

Hi, my name is Andrew Mcdonald and I am the editor and techincal wizard at Drones-Pro. I bought my first drone in 2012 and my passion for flying has only grown from there. I love drones and together with Josh Hayden have been an expert on Drones for over 8 years. I was raised in Iowa, but have since moved to Austin, Texas along with my wife and 2 dogs.