Best Quadcopter Camera Drones Under $200

Cheap Starter Drones

drones-for-beginners

Consumer unmanned aerial vehicles—UAV for short—have become something of a phenomenon with the general public. These puppies can do more than just fly unlike the flying robots of the past. One of their main attractions is the ability to carry a payload and especially gimbals and cameras.

I review some of the best quadcopters available between $101 and $200 in this guide. Tiny toy drones start from as little as $15. Each price increase offers a bit more of everything. We’re not into the quality mid-range models yet. Even so, the beauties on this page are on the higher side of average.

NameRangeFlight TimeRatingPrice
top-pick-drone
TOPPICK

U49W Blue Heron

Not specified15 minutes
4.9


best-value-drone
BESTVALUE

Predator UDI U842 Quad

80m9 minutes
4.5


budget-drone
BUDGET

Holy Stone F181

100m9 minutes
4.7


Choose Your Budget:

Before You Buy Your Drone

A lot of you reading here—though not everyone—will have some experience with flying drones and are ready to upgrade. Some of you will know exactly what you want from your next quadcopter. Others will not. I encourage everyone to make a simple checklist of your wants and expectations. It’s a simple task but it’s one that’ll help you to make a better-informed decision before you buy anything.

If you’re a total novice then read a couple of reviews first. This is a good way to become familiar with typical drone features and capabilities. The reviews along with the tech specs and pros & cons table at the end of each write-up will help. Not everyone’s needs and expectations are ever the same.

Here are a few things to consider as you review these amazing entry-level drones:

  • Design and style including the craft’s crash-resistance ability
  • Flight modes, controller options, ease-of-use
  • Flight performance including flight time, flight distance, fancy maneuvers
  • Battery recharge time/cost of spare batteries
  • Camera quality and capability

The table below list seven of the best consumer drones around right now for less than 200 bucks.

Make & ModelCameraFlight TimePricePrice Check
U49W Blue Heron Wi-Fi FPV Drone 720P HD15 minutes< $180
DROCON U818 PLUS 2MP HD15 minutes< $150
Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter 2MP HD9 minutes< $110
Contixo F6 RC Quadcopter 720P HD12 minutes< $160
MJX Bugs 3 None18 minutes< $130
DBPOWER UDI U842 Predator720P HD 9 minutes< $130
Altair AA108 Camera Quad720P HD 10 minutes< $130
blue-heron-drone

U49W Blue Heron Quadcopter

The Pros

  • Perfect entry-level drone (kid-friendly)
  • Cool looking design
  • +5 more
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Decent flight time
  • Alarm indicators
  • Acceptable charging time
  • Extra props, extra motors, and a bonus battery

The Cons

  • Average camera quality
  • Doesn’t handle well in windy conditions

4.9

We kick off the reviews with the cool looking U49W Blue Heron Camera Drone. This is an FPV quad that comes with live video streaming and altitude hold function for improved stability in the air. We kick off the reviews with the cool looking U49W Blue Heron Camera Drone. This is an FPV quad that comes with live video streaming and altitude hold function for improved stability in the air.

  • Best feature 1: Low battery and low signal alarms
  • Best feature 2: Three speed modes
  • Plus points: Lightweight, durable, extra battery included, spare motor & props
  • Minus points: Average camera quality, not good in blustery conditionsz

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:15.6 x 14.4 x 5.2″
Weight:1315g (2.9 lbs.)
Maximum flight time: 15 minutes
Charging Time: 60 minutes (1 hr.)
Maximum Flight range:Not specified
Camera :120° wide-angle 720p HD
Controller type:Standard 2.4Ghz RC
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The makers—Force1—say the possibilities are endless with their U49W Blue Heron. That’s ambitious seeing as it’s still an entry-level UAV. Even so, it’s an exceptional flying robot when you consider its price tag. The 720P rubber-damping camera is on the better side of average too. And the flight-stabilizing technology certainly helps to enhance video and aerial photography footage still further.
You’re in for the ride of a lifetime if you’ve never experienced First Person View (FPV) before. You’ll be pleased to know that the Blue Heron has WiFi capability. That means you can use it with your iOS or Android smartphone and enjoy an amazing FPV HD experience using the free app.

Kid-Friendly Entry Level Camera Drone

This is a fun quad to fly at any level but it’s particularly enjoyable for younger pilots. The kid-friendly features such as one-button lift & land, headless mode, and altitude hold, make operating it a cinch. However, the U49W Blue Heron is not the best performer in a strong breeze so take heed.

I like this camera quad and not just because it looks good and has an intuitive controller. It feels as though the makers have thought things through with the end-user firmly in mind. It’s those little touches that can make the biggest difference in the eyes of the buyer. How many consumer drones come with a bonus battery, two extra motors, and extra blades as standard? Not many.

At 15-minutes the flight time is pretty decent compared to a lot of camera drones in this price range. And you’ve got up to 30 minutes of flying fun thanks to the bonus battery. Alas, I wasn’t able to find an official control range (distance the craft can fly from the pilot) for the U49W.

The Conclusion

Force1 built the U49W Blue Heron as an exceptional entry-level quadcopter for fun flying and aerial photography. It does a great job of that as this drone checks plenty of the right boxes.

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U818-quadcopter

DROCON Traveler U818 PLUS

The Pros

  • Great value entry-level quad
  • Coreless motors
  • +7 more
  • Altitude hold (auto-hover)
  • Detachable camera for lighter payload & increased flight time
  • Reasonable flight time
  • One-button takeoff/landing
  • Flight Route Mode
  • Built-in controller alarms (low battery out-of-range)
  • FPV capability

The Cons

  • Average camera
  • Instructions could be clearer considering it’s aimed at novice pilots and kids
  • +2 more
  • No spare battery included
  • Long battery charging time

4.9

DROCON built their U818PLUS (aka the Goliath Whoop) as a quality entry-level camera quadcopter. It’s the first of the larger drones to sport ducted propellers and generous blade protectors.

  • Best feature 1: Real-time WiFi transmission (FPV) capability
  • Best feature 2: Low battery and out-of-range alarms
  • Plus points: Solid build, high altitude hold mode, detachable camera, great app
  • Minus points: Mediocre camera, instructions not overly clear, no bonus battery

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:15.2 x 14.3 x 7.5″
Weight:248g (8.7 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 15 minutes
Charging Time: 180 minutes (3 hrs.)
Maximum Flight range:60m (197 ft.)
Camera :Wide-Angle HD 2MP
Controller type:2.4Ghz
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U818-3

Anyone will enjoy flying the U818PLUS but it’s a wonderful beginner drone—as are most on this page. That doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of great features and fun flying experiences for all. It just means these are user-friendly camera drones. They’re a joy to operate and perfect crafts to sharpen piloting and aerial photography skills. This beauty has a lot going for it.

Welcome to Aerial Drone Cinematography

The camera and stills/video footage is more than okay for a machine in its class. The photos are pretty clear and video is most definitely watchable. We can’t expect cinema-like quality until the mid-to-high rage camera drones. But you can expect “decent” quality from the 120-degree wide-angle HD Camera and the DROCON Traveler delivers on that front.

DROCON also changed the shape, cover, and landing gear as part of their updates for the U818-Plus. These changes make the craft more professional and stable for shooting stills and videos. Activating 3D Virtual Reality is as simple as clicking the VR icon in split-screen mode on any compatible smartphone.

This drone will give any keen pilot lots of fun and plenty to explore. Some of the more advanced features include auto-hovering, one-key Take-off/Landing, and a Customer Flight Route Mode. There’s also low battery and out of range alarms to help prevent losing the craft.

The 15-minute maximum flight time is pretty good. The charging time is less impressive at 180+ minutes. Flight range using the transmitter will give you a distance of around 60m.

The Conclusion

This is a fun drone to fly and it has a cool demeanor about it. It’s kid-friendly (supervision for under-14s) and has a decent flight time per charge. You can even detach the camera if all you want to do is enjoy flying without filming. It’s a nice affordable gift for anyone who’s keen to fly UAVs.

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F181-drone

Holy Stone F181 RC Camera

The Pros

  • Great value entry-level quadLooks cool, great first drone for serious beginner
  • Handy flight modes
  • +6 more
  • Headless mode
  • Awesome flip feature
  • Flies well indoors and out
  • Bright LEDs and headlight for night flying
  • Bonus battery
  • Exceptional customer service

The Cons

  • Swapping batteries fiddly
  • Instructions could be clearer
  • +1 more
  • Controller takes a bit of getting used to for newbies

4.7

Holy Stone has triumphed again. This time it’s with their popular F181. The camera quad soon gained global recognition and become a popular choice for drone enthusiasts at various skill levels.

  • Best feature 1: Special curvature design on top to improve aerodynamics
  • Best feature 2: Modified LCD controller resembles familiar PlayStation pad
  • Plus points: Performs smart stunts, reliable brand, stable flyer, 4-angle rotation speeds
  • Minus points: Performs smart stunts, reliable brand, stable flyer, 4-angle rotation speeds

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:12.2 x 3.5 x 12.2″
Weight:400g (14.1 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 9 minutes
Charging Time: 80 minutes (1:20 min)
Maximum Flight range:100m (328 ft.)
Camera :HD 2MP
Controller type:2.4GHz RC
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F181-2
F181-3

The design of this quad has a unique specially curved top. It may sound like a cosmetic attraction but it’s more than that. It actually enhances flight performance by cutting through the air more gracefully. There’s also a bright flashlight at the front for night flying. The F181 is a durable little quad but it’s not totally indestructible. It stands up to mild crashes pretty well thanks in part to the blade protectors.

The Holy Stone F181 is ready-to-fly (RTF). All you do is charge the battery, turn on the transmitter, and away you go. To launch the drone you can use one-key takeoff/landing. The F181’s 2MP camera does a good job at snapping aerial photos and recording video. The quality is more than acceptable for a product in this price range. The camera’s footage saves to an SD card.

Flying the Holy Stone F181 Drone

This quad is a nice stable flyer with plenty of opportunities to perform fancy moves. There are the 360-degree rotations, airborne spins, and various other stunts to impress. The maximum flight control range is around 100 meters and the flight time 9-minutes per charge. The 80-minute battery recharge time is on the high side of average so it’s always a good idea to invest in a couple of spares.

The Conclusion

Compared to costlier drones the F181 has its limitations. But compared to others in its class it’s a highly-competitive product and a great gift. Buyer decisions are down pretty much to user preferences and expectations. It’s at the lower end of this price range which makes it a great choice for those on a tighter budget.

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contixo-quadcopter

Contixo F6 RC Camera Drone

The Pros

  • Fast, stable and fun to fly
  • Performs fancy flips and rolls
  • +6 more
  • Prominent LEDs for night flights
  • Two bonus batteries
  • Decent flight time
  • Long control distance with RC
  • One-key takeoff & landing
  • One key return function

The Cons

  • Controller needs 6 AA batteries
  • Phone mount not compatible with larger smartphones
  • +1 more
  • Average video and photos
  • Not the best choice for the total novice

4.6

This is not a complete novice’s drone as the Contixo F6 is fast and takes a bit of getting used to. Drone pilots with a little flying experience are going to love this speedy quad. Let’s look at why:

  • Best feature 1: Rotating 720p HD camera
  • Best feature 2: Intelligence set height function
  • Plus points: Live Feed/FPV/VR, mobile app control, full pilot control
  • Minus points: Mediocre footage, can need a little calibration before flights

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:16 x 20 x 7″
Weight:1633g (3.6 Lbs.)
Maximum flight time: 12 minutes
Charging Time: 90+ minutes (1.5+ hrs.)
Maximum Flight range:366m (1200 ft.)
Camera :720P HD rotating
Controller type:2.4Ghz RC
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Anyone—aside from first-time flyers—enjoys flying fast drones and this is a speedy little quad. It’s especially impressive as drones with altitude hold function usually lack in the amount of speed they can gather. Not this little puppy. It’s a great racing quad if you want to compete with others in its class. The Contixo F6 can slow down quickly if you need to capture video or take aerial snaps at any point.

There are also prominent LED lights for night flights if that’s your thing. Flying the F6 with the controller is easy because everything is clearly marked. Not every RC is! Fast speeds aside this craft performs well in the sky on many levels.

The Rotating 720P HD Camera and FPV Live Feed give the user lots of control. Video and aerial stills results are perfectly acceptable for a drone costing less than $150 (at the time of writing). One-key take-off and landing and one-key return features add further to the appeal of the Contixo F6. So does the 12 minute flight time. Contixo boasts 18-minutes but that’s overly ambitious.

The best part is that a new Contixo F6 RC Camera Drone comes with two bonus batteries. You won’t find many others that do that. The 90-minute recharge time per battery is not too bad when compared to some others. The maximum flight range is crazy at 366m. I doubt anyone will want to venture that far from the controller. There are many things to like about this drone as it checks a lot of boxes.

The Conclusion

I wouldn’t recommend the Contixo F6 RC Camera Drone as a raw beginner craft. There are more user-friendly options in this guide for that. But anyone who loves fancy flying, high speeds, and total pilot control should add it to their short list of options.

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mjx-drone

MJX RC Bugs 3 Brushless

The Pros

  • Fast, responsive, smooth flier
  • Study build – crash resistant
  • +6 more
  • Decent flight time
  • Long control range
  • Great control range
  • Brushless motors
  • 8 spare blades
  • Comes with carry bag

The Cons

  • Ultra-long charging time
  • No camera included
  • +2 more
  • No safety features like return home button or GPS
  • Too fast/powerful for novice

4.6

This is not a complete novice’s drone as the Contixo F6 is fast and takes a bit of getting used to. Drone pilots with a little flying experience are going to love this speedy quad. Let’s look at why:

  • Best feature 1: Beginner and Advanced flight modes
  • Best feature 2: Powerful brushless motors
  • Plus points: Stands up well to crashes, responsive, flips, rolls, fast flyer, carry bag included
  • Minus points: No altitude hold function, doesn’t include a camera, basic spec sheet

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:16.3 x 14 x 6.5″
Weight:1814g (4 lbs.)
Maximum flight time: 18 minutes
Charging Time: 240 minutes (4 hrs.)
Maximum Flight range:300m (984 ft.)
Camera :Camera mount (no camera)
Controller type:Two-way 2.4GHZ RC
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This is another fast drone and therefore not ideal for the complete beginner. It’s also a camera drone or a drone with camera carrying capability. This means you have to provide your own camera at an extra cost. The good part about that is you get to choose a quality camera. You usually have to make do with the average inbuilt cameras with most drones in this price range.

The powerful brushless motors are more reliable for lifting expensive action cameras like GoPro. The Bug-3 comes equipped with a fixed gimbal from where you attach compatible cameras. These things are major advantages over other drones. However, not everyone wants to tinker, race, and get too serious about aerial filmmaking at this stage. That’s why there’s a variety of drones in this guide.

Flight Time, Flight Range, and Battery Life

The maximum flight time (minus camera) is around 18-minutes. That’s the longest of all these picks. The biggest letdown is the battery charging time. At 240 minutes it’s the worst on this page. Be sure to invest in some spares. Flight range is an impressive 300 meters from the controller.

The Conclusion

The MJX Bug (so-called because it looks like a giant bug) isn’t for everyone. It a wise choice for pilots who want to dabble in drone racing or experience aerial filming at a higher level on a budget. Follow the Amazon price check link under the table to get a full rundown of this quads specs and capabilities.

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u842-drone

Predator UDI U842 Quad

The Pros

  • Nice stable flier, fairly wind resistant
  • One key take-off/landing and other novice-friendly features
  • +8 more
  • Takes a beating (crash resistant)
  • Long control range
  • High average flight time
  • Head and headless modes
  • 2 bonus batteries
  • Spare set of rotors
  • RC has LCD screen
  • Low battery alert

The Cons

  • Long recharge time
  • Mediocre camera/video
  • +1 more
  • A few users report choppy FPV transmission on occasions

4.5

The Predator UDI U842 is another of my quad picks that features FPV transmission streamed directly to a smartphone. It has a lot of other fun features too so let get exploring.

  • Best feature 1: Gravity Induction mode (via app)
  • Best feature 2: FPV (First Person View) transmission, pairs easily with most smartphones
  • Plus points: Safe, fun, and super easy to fly. Crash-resistant. Low voltage alarm
  • Minus points: Average quality camera, battery takes a while to charge

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:19.1 x 19.1 x 4.8″
Weight:357g (12.6 oz.)
Maximum flight time:9 minutes
Charging Time: 80m (263 ft.)
Maximum Flight range:150 minutes (2:30 min)
Camera :720P HD
Controller type:2.4GHZ RC
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The gravity induction feature enhances flying control and flight stability. The headless mode is a great help with its intelligent orientation. And there are the bright LED navigation lights for those who enjoy flying quads in low light or after dark.

You also get a great introduction to aerial filming and picture taking with the 720p HD camera. And there’s First Person View (FPV) for those who want to take to the virtual pilot seat. Hundreds of Amazon users have given a big thumbs-up to the Predator UDI U842 and it’s easy to see why.

Flying this puppy is a lot of fun. And with a maximum 9-minutes flight time you can stay airborne for a good while. The long 150-minute battery recharge time would be a nuisance if it wasn’t for the two bonus batteries. The flight range is okay at around 80 meters using the transmitter. It’s just 30 meters for the video transmission range, though.

The Conclusion

The DBPOWER UDI U842 Predator looks mean but I say that in a positive way. It checks plenty of the right boxes and makes a wonderful gift for any budding drone pilot.

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Altair-quadcopter

Altair AA108 Camera Quad

The Pros

  • Affordable drone nice design
  • Easy to fly, great quad for newbies indoors and outside
  • +7 more
  • Durable craft
  • Three flight (skill) modes
  • Headless mode/altitude hold
  • Reasonable flight time (high-avg.)
  • Out of range, low battery alarms
  • Emergency landing function
  • Bonus battery

The Cons

  • No integrated GPS
  • Average camera/footage
  • +1 more
  • Non-functional buttons on sides of controller that could be put to good use

4.4

The last of my under-200 bucks drones is the Altair AA108 camera drone. It provides a great experience for any drone pilot but especially for kids.

  • Best feature 1: One of the most kid-friendly drones in its class
  • Best feature 2: FlyingSee app works with iOS and Android devices
  • Plus points: Easy to fly indoors and out, crash resistant, three pilot modes
  • Minus points: No GPS, average camera with average filming capability

Tech Specs

Drone dimensions:10 x 9.1 x 4.3″
Weight:771g (1.7 lbs.)
Maximum flight time:10 minutes
Charging Time: Not specified
Maximum Flight range:100m (328 ft.)
Camera :120° wide-angle 720p HD FPV
Controller type:2.4GHZ RC
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The Altair AA108 Camera drone is one of the cheaper quads in this guide but it’s worth every penny. If you’re a first time user you’ll definitely want to consider this model from Altair Aerial. Even the remote controller sports a nice ergonomic and simplistic design. It’s a sturdy little craft and will withstand plenty of mild crashes. And when the weather sucks you can fly the AA108 just as easily indoors.

The user-friendly features include Altitude Hold Function, One-touch Take-off & Landing, and Headless Mode. The three different flight skill levels (beginner/mid/advanced) let you learn at your own pace. Flights are nice and stable, and controlling the craft is easy with a smartphone or the transmitter.

Although the 120° wide-angle 720p HD FPV camera is average—like most in this price rage—it’s still acceptable. You can see and enjoy your aerial photos and videos quite well. It’s just that there’s no “wow” factor in terms of quality. You have to move up to the mid-range drones to experience that.

You can fly for around 10-minutes per charge in optimal conditions with this quad. There’s even a bonus battery to double your flying fun. There’s a good 100 meters maximum range too.

The Conclusion

The AA108 is a nice drone to fly at any level. I recommend it mostly for first-timers and supervised kids under the age of 14. Unboxing this little flying robot will put a big smile on any young pilots face.

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Closing Thoughts

Be sure to check out my best picks between $201 and $300 if you have a higher budget. These are the drones tucked up just under medium-end quality quadcopters.

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