Drone under 250 grams: The best drones without mandatory badges
Since the new regulations for model flying and the specification, drones with a take-off weight of more than 250 grams have had to carry a fire-resistant sticker. In addition, the cost of insurance and registration in many countries increases. No wonder that many (prospective) pilots are interested in which drones under 250 grams are available on the market.
In this comparison I show possible copters and give a tip for the best drone under 250 grams. Important topics such as camera quality, GPS positioning and insurance are also covered.
Which drone under 250 grams take-off weight are there?
To be honest, there are a lot of copters that stay under half the pound take-off weight: A whole host of nano and mini drones usually weigh less than 50 grams. Unfortunately, these copters don’t have a (good) camera on board and are more toys than flying eyes.
For this reason the question must be reworded to the effect which comrade drones under 250 grams are on offer. The minimum resolution of the camera should be Full HD, UHD or 4K would be fantastic.
The best camera drones under 250 grams
DJI Mavic Mini 9.1
DEERC DE25 8.6
Holy Stone HS120D 8.2
Holy Stone HS165 8.2
What these drones have
Full HD (1920 x 1080p)
300+ meters range
automatic take-off, landing & altitude control
FPV & Selfie-Shots
The best drone under 250 grams in 2019 is the DEERC DE25. The Quadrocopter can’t compete with top models like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, but offers for beginners everything their heart desires: vertically swivelling Full HD camera, GPS, elevation and FPV.
GPS drones under 250 grams
GPS positioning is an important feature for many pilots. This ensures that the Copter keeps its position satellite-supported. GPS manoeuvres such as RTH (Return To Home), Tap Fly and numerous selfie shots are also possible and safer.
All drones listed above are equipped with GPS and offer the mentioned features.
Less than 250 grams = no compulsory insurance?
A misbelief that persists is that a drone weighing less than 250 grams does not require insurance. Yes, a liability insurance for drones means additional effort and costs, but no matter how heavy or light a multicopter is, (consequential) damage is possible in any weight class and insurance is therefore absolutely advisable. Irrespective of the legal situation, pilots should therefore take out such insurance!
On the positive side, however, it should be noted that the costs of most drone insurances are based on the take-off weight. A drone that weighs less therefore costs less.
No 4K drone under 250g – Why is it so heavy?
If you check the best list, you will notice that there is no 4K drone under it. This is because 250 grams is a damn low limit.
Even folding drones like the DJI Mavic Air (430 grams), the Parrot Anafi (320 grams) or the Mantis Q (480 grams) weigh far more than the permitted 250 grams. The DJI Mavic 2 is also much too heavy with over 900 grams.
The main weight of the Copter is not due to the chassis: It is always made of plastic and therefore light. Rather, it is the battery that drives the take-off weight upwards and often accounts for more than 50% of the total weight (+Cf.). Since 4K drones are developed for the purpose of video and photography, they need long ranges, as well as many processors and sensors. These power guzzlers must be supplied with energy, which is why the battery has the largest possible capacity (and thus weight). Staying below 250 grams is not a priority for 4K drones.
DJI Spark 2: Rumours about the saviour
Since the last 1-2 years, the number of those who want to buy a good drone under 250 grams has steadily increased. High end models of big brands are not yet available.
DJI could enter this challenging (but also interesting) market gap with the Spark 2. As one of the few segments of the hobby and prosumer segment, the 250g segment is still largely unoccupied, so that DJI could also demonstrate its market leadership here.
The DJI Spark would also be excellently suited for the second generation: While the Inspire and Phantom series are produced for professionals thanks to 4K/60fps and the Mavic series is attractive for travelers and advanced pilots, the Spark only remains the “field of uncomplicated use”. It would only be logical for DJI to develop the Spark 2 in such a way that the USP would lie on a simple and comfortable flight – with the usual DJI quality, mind you. So here you go with 20+ minutes flight time, miles range, 4K camera and a good image stabilization. But in the latter I see my assumption confirmed that the DJI Spark 2 will be marketed under 250 grams: With the Actioncam DJI Osmo Action, DJI has impressively demonstrated how well a purely electronic image stabilisation works. No gimbal means less weight and for the target group of the DJI Spark 2 a 3-axis gimbal should not be necessary either.
As soon as the DJI Spark 2 is launched, a drone comparison test will be published.
What does everything count as 250 grams?
Last but not least, an answer to a popular xquestion of all weight chasers:
In order not to need a plaque, the copter must remain under 250 grams. This maximum limit refers to the final take-off weight of the drone. This means that all add-ons such as battery, landing gear or protective frame are included. Actioncams are also fully included, which is especially important for GoPro drones.
If you fly hard at the border, you can file the attachments a little and save one or two grams. In this case, it may not be necessary to affix a label – and the insurance can also become cheaper. This is often calculated on the basis of the maximum take-off weight.
Conclusion & recommendations
If you want to buy a drone under 250 grams in 2019, you don’t have a big choice. Of course, there is also the ZeroTech Dobby, but for me this is not a real alternative when it comes to the long flight for aerial photography.
The current best drone for me is the DEERC DE25, which also scores with a fair price. Hopes rest on the DJI Spark 2, which could be a game changer in this weight class. Whether the Copter goes into the second round at all – and then weighs less than 250 grams, is pure speculation.