Buying your first drone – Tips and tricks so you get it right

buying your first drone

Buying your first drone could be exhilarating and the experience may fill you with awe and wonder. Modern drones are exciting and fascinating but the wrong choice could be disastrous. If you are buying a drone for the first time, read on.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes. They range from the cheap and easy to the amazing and incredible. Top drones will literally blow your mind. What you need, however, is a drone to suit your desires and your budget.

We will give you a few tips and tricks on what to look for and what to avoid. That will ensure you to make the right investment and get the best drone for your needs and your buck.

Consider your needs

No two drone enthusiasts are alike. That is part of the beauty and passion. The first step, before considering your purchase, is to decide on why you want a drone.

Some people want to go all out and race or fly extreme operations. Some just want a casual hobby. Others want to capture quality video footage or images. The reason for your drone purchase is critical and is what will direct you in your selection.

For most of us, we want an enticing experience that will excite us and, hopefully, deliver some amazing pictures and video images.

So, the first step is to be clear about your requirements. If you simply want a weekend flip, almost any drone will entertain you. If you want quality flying and decent photography then you need to look a bit more closely.

Your budget

You can pick up a fun drone for little to nothing. These are toys that will entertain you for a short while. Real drones are serious beasts that can perform an amazing range of maneuvers while taking quality images and video footage.

budget

Obviously, the more features, and quality you want the more the drone will cost. You don’t, however, want to be limited or regretful when you need more out of your drone.

Unless you intend to use your drone purely for fun it is worth investigating the better options and investing a bit more.

Getting started

If you are an absolute beginner, consider a Ready-to-fly (RTF) drone. These are, as the name suggests, ready to operate straight out of the box. Sure, you might have to tweak a few items but they are easy to set up and operate.

Flight time

Not all drones offer equal flight duration. Short flight times might be frustrating so check the stats on the models you consider.

drone flight time

This issue can be mitigated by spare batteries and fast charge times but if you want to operate for extended times then you want a drone with a bit of sustenance. Ten minutes is enough for a hobby drone but not enough for a serious flight. Look for drones that deliver close to 20 to 30 minutes of flight time.

Range

Another important aspect is the range of the drone. If you want to control your flight and operate over a longer distance then the range of the drone is critical. You will find that cheap toy drones will only allow for a range of under 100 meters. At the other end of the scale, quality drones such as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro have a range of around 5 miles (8 kilometers). The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium has a range of 1.24 miles (2 km) and the Yuneec Typhoon H is around 1 mile.

drone control range

Obviously, these quoted statistics are under ideal conditions but it gives you an idea of the potential.

Camera

One of the greatest benefits of a drone is the photography options. In order to achieve this, you need to have a drone with a quality camera. If you do not wish to do quality video and images then do not spend money on this feature. If, however, you wish to take brilliant footage then you need a drone equipped for this purpose.

drone camera

Not all cameras are created equal. You will need to measure and evaluate the options according to your needs as well as your budget. Quality cameras with high-speed video will set you back a bit more but if this is your plan then it is certainly worth the investment.

While the toy type drones have no camera the entry-level options have a low-quality camera that will give you about 720p. Quality drones have 4K 20-megapixel cameras that capture crystal clear detailed images and video footage.

Some drones give you the option of adding your own camera which can be a good thing or an issue. If you have a compatible camera that is up to the task then that could be an option. If not rather go for a quality built-in camera.

You want to ensure the camera has the resolution and quality you desire.

Gimbal and Stabilization

A good camera is pointless on a done if the image is not stable. The only way to achieve this is with a quality gimbal.  The gimbal will give support and keep the camera horizontal and stable while in motion.

gimbal and stabilization

It gives the camera stabilization for smooth video footage and clear images on the go.  A good gimbal reduces blur during movement and delivers sharper images and video.

As with cameras and other drone features, not all gimbals are created equal. The cheaper “toy” drones often don’t even have a gimbal.  Some only have EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) which is great but not perfect. Mid-range drones have a 2-axis gimbal while the better ones have a 3-axis gimbal for quality stabilization and smooth images and video footage.

Obstacle Avoidance

This feature is a great help for beginners as well as more advanced users wanting to focus on other aspects of flight. You obviously do not want to fly into obstacles as you operate your drone. Some models have better obstacle avoidance than others.

Size

Some people want or need a compact foldable drone. The good ones are great performers in a small package. This means you can take them with you wherever you go. Larger drones can be a bit more cumbersome.

Additional features

There are a number of features that are handy for beginners as well as experienced pilots.

Headless mode is great when you start as it allows you to keep the drone going in a forward direction despite the direction you are facing. It makes flying much easier when you are starting out or busy with other aspects of the drone. It is a helpful feature when you are shooting pictures or video.

Another great feature is “Follow Me”. This will, as the name suggests, follow the subject of your choice. This is the same feature professionals use to shoot top-quality features and advertisements. It allows for professional and quality footage.

The follow-me feature uses GPS to perfect movement. The GPS feature is also used to keep track of the drone and control movement while monitoring the location. Better drones allow you to create a flight path or route for your drone in advance. This will free you up to focus on the videography or photographs if that is what you want to do.

Another handy feature, especially for beginners, is auto home return. Again, it is all in the name. If the drone gets into any difficulty or gets close to coming out of range it will automatically return to the pilot.

If you want to impress your friends or simply have fun then a trick drone is a good option. If you know what you are doing you can do tricks with most drones but some are specifically designed and equipped for interesting tricks.

Consider ongoing costs

The purchase price of your drone is one thing but, with most drones, there will be additional costs. If you wish to upgrade or add to your drone you will have to pay. Obviously, if parts need replacement these will result in additional expenses. Some manufacturer’s parts cost more than others and sometimes they are hard to come by.

The important aspect to keep in mind is to buy a drone from a recognized manufacturer. That way, you know you will always be able to buy parts when necessary.

Customer care

Drones are big business and there are a number of brands. Some are better at customer care than others. If you invest good money in a drone go for accompany that will look after you if you have any issues. Aftersales service is important.

Warranty

If you crash your drone and break it then you will have to repair it. If, however, you have a manufacturing fault or other issues, you want to know it is covered, Drone manufactures with a good reputation will look after you in this event.

Final thoughts

There is no “best drone” only the best drone for you. This will be determined by your needs, desires, and budget. The great thing is there is a drone for everyone. Take the time to consider your needs and go for the drone that will best suit you.

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