3 Affordable Aerial Photography Drones from RCMoment

Although prices of aerial photography drones have gradually tumbled over the past few years, models such as DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro are still expensive to own and don’t hold their value well after a year or two. Fortunately, there is an increasing range of affordable alternatives for the aerial photographer on a shoestring budget.

This article explores 3 affordable aerial photography drones from RCMoment that cost less than $400. That is less than half of what you’d be paying for a Phantom 4 Pro or Mavic Pro and over $100 less than the new DJI Spark which is significantly smaller (and less stable in the air due to its lower inertia). If you’re a budding aerial photographer just starting out with drones and need one that has GPS and capable of producing semi-pro aerial footage and stills, these drones are worth looking at.

They may not have advanced flight features such as DJI’s ActiveTrack and GPS waypoint navigation but they have almost all the staple features aerial photographers as well as site or building inspectors would find useful. Best of all, they don’t lose much of their value after two or three years — an important point you’ll want to consider if you’re running a business.

JYU Hornet 2 (FPV Edition)

The JYU Hornet 2 first debuted as the Hornet S and is a great option if you’re looking for a drone that does a bit of both aerial photography and freestyle flying. Due to its fixed gimbal, the Hornet 2 FPV Edition isn’t exactly a full-fledged aerial photography drone — lacking 3 or 2 axis stabilization for smooth aerial videos. For serious aerial photography, it is available in the more expensive “Gimbal Edition” which features a 3-axis camera gimbal system. The camera on the Gimbal Edition is available in 4K and 2.7K versions.

Despite lacking a proper stabilized camera, the FPV Edition is still capable of taking some decent 8MP aerial photos with its HD 1080P camera though videos won’t be stabilized. The camera’s pitch can also be adjusted between 38 degrees and -80 degrees with a wide 150 degree field of view.

  • Diagonal motor distance: 280mm
  • Take-off weight: 1.8kg
  • Flight time: 28 mins
  • Control range: 800m (unobstructed)
  • Flight features:
    • Altitude hold
    • One-key take-off/landing
  • GPS features:
    • One Key Return (Return to Home)
    • Low Battery Failsafe (Auto Return to Home)
    • Hover
  • HD 1080P@30fps camera (with 8MP stills)
  • Video resolution:
    •  1080P / 30FPS
    • 720P / 60FPS
  • Built-in 5.8G FPV transmitter
  • FPV monitor included
  • FPV transmission with OSD (On Screen Display)
  • 38 to -80 degrees adjustable camera pitch angle

The Hornet 2 FPV Edition also excels in freestyle FPV flying, as its name suggests. The camera’s built-in 5.8G FPV transmitter means you can enjoy immersive flying with the Hornet 2 using the supplied 5″ FPV monitor or an FPV headset if you have one. It may not be as fast as a real FPV racer but it sure is capable of providing you with plenty of FPV fun thanks to its brushless motors and GPS positioning.

According to early users of the Hornet S, the drone was plagued with many issues. As a result, JYU had pledged to address these issues with the release of the updated Hornet 2 so hopefully this newer edition is a lot more reliable than its predecessor.

The JYU Hornet 2 FPV Edition is available for $350 shipped.

SIMTOO Dragonfly Pro

The Dragonfly Pro is the most advanced model of the 3 drones featured in this article. It is also the most expensive — at $363 for the basic kit that includes the drone, GPS watch controller and 3-axis camera gimbal system. With that said, you get plenty of value with the Dragonfly Pro considering that it is capable of 4K aerial footage and 16MP stills from the included camera.

The camera gimbal system can also be removed and attached to a handle and used as a handheld camera stabilizer on the ground. This dual-purpose camera gimbal system is a feature once available only on more advanced drones such as the Yuneec Q500 4K and DJI Inspire 2 which cost significantly more.

Not only that, the Dragonfly Pro also has a diagonal size of 400mm. To put that in perspective, the Phantom 4 Pro has a smaller size. When it comes to a drone’s stability in the air — the bigger, the better. Bigger drones are generally a lot more stable when facing wind currents. Since the Dragonfly Pro is slightly larger than your average consumer drone, SIMTOO gave it foldable carbon fiber arms to make it easier to store and transport.

  • Diagonal motor distance: 400mm (with foldable arms)
  • Take-off weight: 1.2kg
  • Flight time: 25 mins
  • Control range: 500m (unobstructed)
  • Carbon fiber arms
  • GPS watch/controller included
  • Flight features:
    • Altitude hold
    • One-key take-off/landing
  • GPS features:
    • One Key Return (Return to Home)
    • Hover
    • Follow Me
    • Orbit
    • Panoramic Shot
  • HD 4K camera (16MP stills) with 3-axis gimbal
  • Video resolution:
    • 4K / 25FPS
    • 2.7K / 15FPS
    • 1440P / 30FPS
    • 1080P / 60FPS
    • 720P / 120FPS
  • Built-in WiFi FPV transmitter (requires Simtoo app for viewing)

To make the deal even sweeter, the Dragonfly Pro comes with its own GPS watch controller. This watch, which is worn on your wrist, has its own built-in GPS and also allows you to control the drone. For example, you can order the drone to land and take off. It can also be used to control the camera gimbal. Thanks to its built-in GPS, the watch can be used as a target GPS point for the drone to accurately execute flight features such as Orbit and Follow Me.

Considering that you get all these features for less than $400 is just plain crazy. The Dragonfly Pro is definitely the top choice here if you’re looking for a competent aerial photography platform for less than $400.

It is currently available in black or red for $363 at RCMoment.

Tovsto V2 Aegean

Like the Dragonfly Pro, the V2 Aegean is also capable of some decent aerial photography with its 2-axis camera gimbal system. It may not have the extra third axis that the Dragonfly Pro has but the Aegean also has a 4K camera and is a lot cheaper — at $300.

With its highly attractive price, the Aegean is the drone of choice for aerial photographers with a tight budget.

  • Diagonal motor distance: 350mm
  • Take-off weight: 855g
  • Flight time: 13 mins
  • Control range: 600m (unobstructed)
  • Flight features:
    • Altitude hold
    • One-key take-off/landing
  • GPS features:
    • One Key Return (Return to Home)
    • Hover
    • Signal Loss Failsafe (auto Return to Home)
  • HD 4K camera

The Aegean features GPS positioning but unlike the Dragonfly Pro, GPS features are basic at best. GPS features include Return to Home and Hover. There is also a failsafe feature that causes the drone to return to home when signal loss is detected.

Overall, the Aegean is a decent aerial photography drone with GPS for the inexpensive price of $300. It’s great for anyone who wants to record 4K aerial footage on a shoestring budget. The Tovsto V2 Aegean is now available at RCMoment for $300 shipped.

Adrin Sham

Adrin Sham is a designer and photographer turned drone enthusiast. Since buying a drone for aerial photography some years ago, he has since developed a passion for UAVs and all things related.

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