For most modern drone enthusiasts, the appeal is the ability to put a camera into the sky. While the absolute best camera drones are larger machines, maybe you’re looking for something a little smaller, something a little more portable and discrete.

DJI Mini 2 flying bottom sky

There is plenty of fun to be had with a mini drone with camera, but which one is the best? Let’s take a look at some options.

Jonathan Feist, Drone PilotJonathan Feist

Why trust Drone Rush?

I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.

 

Best mini camera drones

DJI Mini 2: Best 4K drone under $500

DJI Mini 2 front camera angle
Drone Rush Recommends

The DJI Mini 2 is the best GPS camera drone for under $500, for most pilots, that means that the Mini 2 is the very best drone under $500 entirely. It has a decent 4K camera that is fully stabilized for silky smooth capture, it has a very stable auto-hover, and it has solid connectivity range. The higher-end Mavic drones are better in almost every way, but they all cost much more, and only the Mini line from DJI weighs under 250g.

The Mini 2 becomes our top pick as it is the best camera of all of the mini drones on this list. It’s also the most capable airframe, with the longest flight range, good battery life, and still matches the original Mavic Mini for compact size and portability.

Why we fly the DJI Mini 2

The DJI Mini 2 is a drone that I happily reach for when I want to fly for fun. The original Mavic Mini remains a fun machine to fly, but the improvements in the Mini 2, particularly the bump in camera quality, make the Mini 2 my top choice for a simple drone to toss in a backpack and hit the trail. If you do not need a higher-end camera, the Mini 2 is well worth your consideration.

What we like


  • Small and easy to pack
  • Weighs under 250g
  • Easy to fly
  • Good battery life
  • 4K camera

What we don’t like


  • Too small for a decent payload
  • Limited range and camera compared to bigger drones

DJI Mini 2
DJI Mini 2
  • 4K camera
  • Very portable
  • Easy to fly
  • 249 grams
Best drone under $500

The DJI Mini 2 is a superb update from the Mavic Mini, now offering a 4K camera, Ocusync 2.0 and more power.


DJI Mavic Mini: Capable 2.7K drone

DJI Mavic Mini review folded with remote

The DJI Mavic Mini opened up a whole new world for DJI drones, proving that a capable GPS-enabled aircraft with a decent camera was possible for both under $500 and under 250 grams. The 2.7K shooter on the Mavic Mini is by no means a superb camera, but it is at least as good as your smartphone, and far better stabilized. The drone itself has decent flight time, decent range and decent flight capabilities. Totally worth the asking price.

Why we fly the DJI Mavic Mini

Simply put, we really like the DJI Mavic Mini, but we like the Mini 2 better. If the pricing makes the difference, rest assured that you will be pleased with the original Mini, but if you can afford the newer machine, we recommend it instead.

What we like


  • Affordable
  • Good 2.7K camera
  • Easy to fly
  • Under 250g

What we don’t like


  • Limited range
  • Not as good as V2.0

DJI Mavic Mini
DJI Mavic Mini
  • 249 grams
  • Great 2.7K camera
  • Very portable
The smallest Mavic drone

The DJI Mavic Mini is the best drone to hit the market in 2019. It's no Mavic 2 series drone, but we've seen nothing this good under $500 before.

$ 349 at Amazon
Save $50.00

Hover Passport: Super-simple flying camera

Hover Camera Passport

The Hover Passport was a fun little drone in its time. It is now hard to find and there are drones that produce better results, but we’ll credit it with inspiring a drone type that is very portable, and uniquely equipped to serve one main purpose, it’s a flying selfie camera.

Why we fly the Hover Passport

Truth is, we don’t fly this drone, and we no longer recommend buying the Hover Passport. If you can find it for under $100, it’s a fun craft to try out, but it is no longer worth the original MSRP.

What we like


  • Easy to use
  • Fun

What we don’t like


  • Very limited capabilities
  • Poor flight time
  • Expensive
  • Very old

Hover Passport
Hover Passport
Toss and go

The Hover Passport is an extremely easy to use drone, it all but flies itself, you just stand in front of it and make hand gestures to take your photo.


Ryze Tello: Fun educational drone

Ryze Tello Iron Man Edition

The Ryze Tello is a fun little drone with some educational aspects to it. It’s easy to operate, has some fun flight features, if simple, and is a solid drone for indoor flight. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a contender as a great camera drone, but it does have a little camera to capture some shots from the sky.

Why we fly the Ryze Tello

The Ryze Tello remains one of the best drones for beginners. We like it most because you can learn to code some navigation tasks for it, which is fun and rewarding to see a drone do what you’ve coded it to do.

What we like


  • Fun
  • Affordable
  • Educational
  • Easy to fly
  • Fly by smartphone

What we don’t like


  • Controller is an optional add on
  • Limited flight time
  • Not great for outdoor flight

DJI Robomaster TT Tello Talent
DJI Robomaster TT Tello Talent
Educational drone

Built for the classroom, the DJI Robomaster TT Tello Talent is an accessible platform to learn how to code drone navigational techniques and more. A welcome educational drone.

Ryze Tello
Ryze Tello
  • Educational drone
  • Safe for indoor flight
  • Fun to fly
Educational drone

The Ryze Tello is one of the most capable and versatile mini drones around, enjoy different designs, code your own flight features, or just fly in your living room for fun.


Yuneec Mantis G: Voice activated controls

Yuneec Mantis G 4k drone

The Yuneec Mantis G is getting to be a large drone for a mini drone list. It is a compact, folding design that is easy to transport, but is too large to safely fly indoors for the average living room. The stabilized 4K camera offers decent video from the sky, performing better with still images. The cool part is the ability to control the drone by voice. Speak into the controller and it the drone will follow your commands.

Why we fly the Yuneec Mantis G

We really like the fun trick of controlling the Mantis G by voice, but, if you are looking for a camera drone to capture video from the sky, the Mantis G is not our first choice, nor is it our top choice at its price point. Not to mention that we’re having a hard time finding the Mantis G for sale. Yuneec brought it to Europe, but we haven’t seen it much in the United States.

What we like


  • Easy to fly
  • Voice commands are really fun

What we don’t like


  • Not a great camera
  • Hard to find to purchase

Yuneec Mantis G
Yuneec Mantis G
  • Retired
  • Compact camera drone
  • Voice controls
Voice controlled drone

The Yuneec Mantis G adds a stabilized camera Gimbal to the Mantis Q – exactly the missing piece from the original folding drone. Now you can shoot smooth 4K video. Launching in October 2019.


Remember, no matter what size your drone is, you have to follow the drone laws in the sky.


Frequently Asked Questions

If a drone is small enough I don’t have to register it, do I get to skip the other drone laws?

For authorities like the FAA in the United States, they do not care what machine you are putting into the sky, as long as you are up there, you need to be following the rules to ensure the safety of others. Bypassing registration with a drone that weighs less than 0.55 pounds, 250 grams, absolves you of no other drone laws.

Are mini drones good?

If you are looking for a serious camera drone, these mini drones may fail to produce award winning photos and video from the sky. Some of them do have the same 1/2.3-inch camera sensor as is found in many smartphones, so you should expect some solid results, but the quality bump when you get to a larger camera sensor is very noticeable.

Do I need a camera on my drone?

A camera on a drone can serve multiple important purposes. They not only capture photos and video from the sky, but also provide a live video feed that you can see on your remote control. In addition, some drones will use the camera as an object detection tool, to avoid collisions or provide follow-me modes. You don’t need a camera, as long as you keep the drone in visual range and fly safe, a camera is just a quality of life improvement.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our most passionate readers to get instant access to tech reviews as they arrive!