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. And again, they’ve made flying easier and more accessible, thanks to intelligent collision sensors that protect your investment from mishaps. There are 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. With drones, 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 January 2021: We’ve added the DJI Mini 2 and a section on drones to avoid.