The average cost of a drone, the type you see making amazing videos on YouTube, is roughly $280. However, that cost can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors — including the type of camera the drone has, its range, and the contents of whatever package you buy. For example, you can buy drones separately and control them via a cell phone or buy one with a receiver. These things can greatly affect the price you should expect, and will have other implications as well. This article breaks down the cost of drones and what you, the reader, should know before you buy.
Cost of Drones: Beginner, Hobbyist & Enthusiast
Right off the bat, you should understand that there are hundreds of different types of drones you can buy. Broadly speaking, we can organize them into different categories by their target audience. Beginner drones, the ones you may buy if you have no idea what to expect, will typically be the cheapest of the bunch. Hobbyists and drone enthusiasts typically are looking for something more – whether it’s more range, more power or specific lenses types. The drones these individuals will pay for are typically 2x or even 5x more expensive than what will come in a starter kit.
The table below breaks down drone cost for a few typical models. We outline whether the drones listed fit a beginner or enthusiast in each case.
|Type of Drone
|View on Amazon
|$100 to $400
|View on Amazon
|View on Amazon
The cost of drones is falling, especially at the entry-level. Time Money reported that “the below-$500 segment has grown 134% in the past year, while above $500 has grown 82%.” Increased supply in the market, as more manufacturers entered the field, has driven prices down. While this will likely level-out soon, waiting even 12 months might mean you’ll pay half as much for a drone in 2020.
Best Drone for Its Price
Knowing how much a drone typically costs is just half the battle. Most consumers want to know what a good drone is for a given price. This way of shopping makes sense, since most consumers will have a budget in mind, and it doesn’t make much financial sense to fall outside of that.
Here are a few drones that we think are worth their cost (based on reviews from experts).
Cost of Drone Photography Services
Some people just need a drone for a special occasion — be it an engagement, wedding or some other special moment. The costs here will be a lot more variable depending on where you live. Here are a few typical cost of drones we’ve come across for different types of photography scenarios.
- Aerial shot added to bigger wedding photo package: $200 to start
- Wedding video packages: $600 – $3,000
- 60- to 90-second video clip: $400 – $450, including video editing (typically for real estate sales)
- 30-minute video at 4K resolution: $5,000 – $7,000, including editing.
Why are these more expensive than just buying a drone? Keep in mind that the cost here also include the photography service and, in most cases, editing.
How to Buy a Drone
These days you can buy a drone at your local Best Buy. However, most drone experts recommend purchasing from one of the following sites:
- dji.com: Probably the most popular option for most drone enthusiasts.
- Amazon.com: Tons of options, especially for beginners.
- amainhobbies.com: General site for RC hobbyists.
When you go to purchase your first drone, you’ll come across a lot of different acronyms. Here are the ones you need to know:
RTF: Ready-To-Fly. These are the most beginner-friendly. All you have to do, usually, is snap on the blades, put in the batteries, and connect the controller to the drone. These drones are as “ready to go out of the box” as you get.
BNF. Bind-And-Fly. These models are also pre-assembled. However, you will need to bind these copters with your own controller. You need to do your own proper research to find out whether a particular controller is compatible with a particular drone.
ARF. Almost-ready-to-fly. These usually don’t come with a transmitter or receiver and might require partial assembly. Some of these kits may also not contain any motors, ESCs, or even a flight controller and battery. When you see the “ARF” tag, make sure to read the description carefully to find out exactly what you will be paying for.