The best cheap drones in 2018

In association with Wex Photo Video

Over the past five years, few advances in technology have revolutionised image capture more than the drone. The remote airborne device has provided content creators with an affordable means of capturing sweeping aerial footage and overhead perspectives, the kind that was previously unobtainable without the use of helicopters or planes. 

Surprisingly easy to control and extremely fun to fly, drones are capable of producing footage that is increasingly demanded by clients in a wide range of industries. So, whether you're looking to add one to your kitbag for work or pleasure, check out our lowdown on eight of the market’s best options.

1. Yuneec Breeze

Yuneec’s Breeze is a great entry-point into the world of drones. Compact, lightweight and affordable, it makes the ideal travelling companion for those who enjoy exploring new places. Controlled by a compatible smartphone, stability in flight is maintained by GPS and IPS sensors, with optical flow to help first-time flyers stay on a safe and steady course, while a variety of autopilot functions such as Selfie, Orbit and Follow Me enable users to document themselves hands-free. A vertical swivel camera captures 4K UHD footage at 30fps and 13MP stills while offering reasonable stability, although flight time is limited to a fairly reserved 12 minutes from charge. Click here for more details.

2. DJI Spark

Truly pocketable at 300g and less than 15cm at its longest dimension, the Spark is DJI’s most portable drone. And yet, despite its diminutive form, it boasts some impressive features. With Quick Launch, it can safely take off directly from the user's hand, while gesture recognition allows you to control the device, capture images and record video with simple hand gestures. For the benefit of those looking to take further control, a separate remote for more advanced flying is also included as standard. A two-axis mechanical gimbal helps to keep the in-built camera steady for 12MP stills and Full HD video at 30fps, which, while not the highest resolution, is more than enough to make your friends jealous when watching your footage on social media. Despite providing slightly more flight time than the Breeze (16 minutes), you many will still want to invest in an additional battery to prolong its flight. Click here for more details

3. DJI Phantom 3 Professional

The first of the full-size drones we’ve featured in this roundup, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional may be four years old now, but it remains a highly competitive option. Shooting 4K or Full HD video at up to 30fps, and capturing 12MP stills in the DNG Raw format, the Phantom 3 benefits from a three-axis gimbal, which ensures smooth results, even when the drone is moving. Complete with a custom-built controller, both drone and camera can be controlled independently of each other. Furthermore, the 25min flight time means that this drone’s batteries will allow you to fly for far longer than any of the cheaper options in this roundup. Click here for more details

4. Yuneec Typhoon H

With retractable landing gear and a highly stable three-axis gimbal that allows full 360° camera movement, the Typhoon H provides a step-up in terms of both flight performance and image quality over cheaper modes. Capturing sharp 4K footage at 30fps and 12MP stills, it’s a highly capable device that's controlled via a dedicated ground station with an integrated 7in 720p-resolution display. While all of the other drones featured have four rotors, the Typhoon H has six and only needs five of them to fly! A respectable 25min flight time goes toe-to-toe with most rivals, while its price point is highly competitive for its features. Click here for more details

5. GoPro Karma with HERO5 Black

Sold under the strapline "More than a Drone,” the Karma package includes the drone itself, a grip and a harness – all of which can be combined with the HERO5 (a HERO6 combination is also available). The stabiliser ensures shake-free video capture during flights, so if you’re a fan of action sports or looking for an all-in-one solution for stabilised footage creation, this will be the choice for you. The Karma remains fairly portable, despite its accessories, and with the Karma controller, flight handling is extremely simple. The drone has a slightly limited battery life of 20mins, though. Click here for more details

6. DJI Mavic Pro

If there’s one drone that’s been the talk of the town over the past year, it’s the DJI Mavic Pro – and rightly so. Despite packing down into a convenient little carry case, performance has not been sacrificed. Providing an excellent 30min flight time when fully charged, 4K video shooting at 30fps, 12MP Raw still capture, and a brilliantly stabilised three-axis camera, this is an all-singing, all-dancing option. Furthermore, thanks to its Precision Hovering and FlightAutonomy technology, the latter of which sensing obstacles up to 49ft away, both flight and camera control is smooth and simple. Click here for more details

7. DJI Phantom 4

Overhauling the popular Phantom 3 with wide-reaching improvements, DJI’s Phantom 4 is designed for excellence in image quality and precise performance in flight. With new five-direction obstacle avoidance, the chance of in-flight accidents is successfully minimised. In addition, impressive visual tracking makes the smooth capture of even challenging subjects a breeze. Alongside 4K recording at 30fps this drone can also capture Full HD footage at up to 120fps for super-slow-motion playback, and 12MP DNG Raws. The advanced three-axis gimbal ensures unwanted vibration is controlled for fluid footage, even when in motion. Click here for more details    

8. PowerVision PowerEgg Drone

While its unconventional shape may raise a few eyebrows, the PowerEgg’s unique design allows its blades to be folded out or tucked away in seconds, meaning less time setting up the drone and more time flying! Sent into the air at the push of a button, the PowerEgg can be controlled via hand gestures as well as a remote, and provides a series of advanced automatic flight modes. Its three-axis stabilised camera can also be swivelled 360° for both 4K video recording and breathtaking panoramic stills. Click here for more details