Quadcopter drones have reformed amateur and professional photography and filmmaking. These devices, which are becoming more and more self-navigating, make it possible to create excellent action videos or capture an area from 400 feet in the air. However, the UAV pose a few challenges and can get tricky despite the evolving technology. You will need some practice to professionally fly the aircraft while capturing excellent videos and photos. The chosen drone will also need a balance of camera strength and flight electronics for best results.
This guide points you in the right direction as to how you go about choosing your drone. It tells you what to pay attention to, so you don’t scratch your eyes out after a pricey purchase that does not meet your needs.
So what we did is we reached out to some of the most influential experts in the industry to ask them if they could guve our readers some advice on how to pick your first drone.
It's important to think about what you'll actually be using your sUAS for. If you plan to be a hobbyist, that's great. Stick to toy drones from companies like Hubsan, UDI, or SYMA. But if you plan to be a commercial operator, you should think about the job first, THEN the system.
People tend to get crazy about things like obstacle avoidance and 3.1-mile transmission distances and the latest and greatest model. But if you're shooting real estate or surveying roofs, do you really need to pay hundreds of dollars for things like that?
Not necessarily. But would 360-degree camera rotation help? Possibly. It's a big purchase. Do you research. Reach out to people who are doing what you want to be doing, and ask them about their gear. People love to talk about what they fly. Just a handful of phone calls and you'll learn oodles about what system might be best for you and your specific situation. Blue skies and safe flying to you!
My number one piece of advice is actually to not invest in a really high-quality drone. Rather, I recommend investing in something cheap ( here are my picks ) to determine if you truly enjoy this hobby, and so if you lose it in a pool or tree, that's $30 down the drain rather than $1,000. I've also found that the cheaper the drone is, the harder it is to fly, which is a good thing! If you can master flying nose in on a drone that can't maintain its altitude, then flying a Phantom will be incredibly easy.
First for a good flight simulator or buy a solid practice drone that can take a real beating like the SYMA X1. Then practice a lot. That way once you are ready to upgrade to something more expensive, flying will just be second nature and you can then focus on capturing beautiful imagery.
Once you feel comfortable flying, I recommend you pick a drone from a manufacture that has a proven record. There are a lot of companies making knock-off drones right now and while the price may be tempting in the long run picking up a drone from a reliable brand will make flying easier and safer for you.
Start small. Get one of those mini drones that comes with a controller to get some good practice in before investing in something more pricey. Consider the primary use you want out of the drone before investing: video, selfies, racing, etc. This will inform which type of drone you want to go for.
My number one advice for newbies wanting to buy their first hobby drone/quadcopter would be to start small and cheap. As a newbie, your number one priority should be to master how to fly your craft and this will more likely than not, involve a lot of crashes.
You do not want to wreck an expensive craft. You can always go for that awesome racing quad or a full fledged photography capable quad later down the road. Sure, some of them come with auto flight capabilities, but you don't want to perpetually rely on training wheels!
A simple, cheap quad will also help you learn whether or not you actually like playing around with multirotors. Nothing is worse than letting that drone you paid $500 for, rust away in a corner!
In your search of which drone to buy, you will come across a few acronyms quite often: BNF, ARF and RTF. Let’s start with BNF which stands for “Blind-And-Fly”. These drones come assembled but generally have no controller. If you decide to go for the BNF model, you will need to use a separately acquired and compatible controller. You must make sure that your controller operates with your drone before purchasing it; try it first.
The next acronym you will come across will be the ARF, which means “Almost-ready-to-fly”. These quadcopters are more of kits. They have neither transmitter nor receiver. Moreover, they don’t come assembled. An ARF can be lacking in features such as a battery, flight controller, motors, or ESCs. These are broad drone kits. So check the description before shelling out a huge sum for something that will be more pain and less gain.
And now to the almighty RTF which stands for “Ready-To-Fly”. This quadcopter comes fully assembled. All you may need to do is install the propellers, charge the battery or attach the controller to quadcopter: this gets communication going between the two.
When you make up your mind to buy a drone, the next question is “where do I go to buy a drone?” Don’t you worry, there are many online stores where you can shop for drones in China or in the US. But a much more serious search may get you to a local store around your residence. If you are looking for a big radio control store, Hobby King will be it.
Their stock of products is huge, and some of the products are designed by them. They also manufacture products. . Like any store, they have some really good products but also some really terrible ones. Read other customer reviews to determine if it’s a good fit for you.
You can also get great parts and sometimes even completely assembled drones from RCGroups.com’s classifieds. However, you need to be careful. While it is possible to snag a great deal, you may also get ripped off. It’s kind of the craigslist of UAVs.
It is extremely important for any experienced or potential drone user to be part of a community of some kind: online or physical. There are a lot of drone forums you can join. There is no need to join every drone community you come across. Pick one or two and see how they work for you. Make sure you follow the rules of the forums so you don’t get your questions or answers deleted.
Also check out these popular forums out:
You also need to be accurate and concise so that readers can understand your questions and answer accordingly. When you join a drone community, read through a few posts to see how the members interact with each other. Communities can help you fly your drone easily; which takes us to our next point. How easy is it to fly a drone? Well, not so easy.
If you are in need of a drone, then it is important to note that any flying object is not easy to control. In fact, a standard quadcopter cannot fly. It is the integrated computer or better still flight controller in it that keeps it stable. Depending on the setup of the flight controller, every drone will fly in its own particular way.
While some controllers are more geared towards flexible flying, others are more into stability. More expensive drones seem to be easier to fly than more affordable ones. This is because of the extra functions and sensors added to the flight controllers within.
If you are in search of just a UAV in the areas of $40 to $60, then you can skip this part. However, if you want to spend a few hundred or even thousands of dollars on a drone, then you must be wise with regard to money and time. Your controller must be stellar, so try not to go for the cheap ones. The quality controllers are designed so that the transmitter is removable and can be upgraded to work with newer technologies in the near future. Who doesn’t want that?
You must also get yourself a good charger. I know spending lots of money on a charger seems crazy but think of it as an investment into the future. A good battery will last for years. More expensive chargers tend to charge almost any battery, and it is possible to charge more than one battery at a time if you get an adapter.
Do extensive research before jumping into the purchase. The more information you get, the easier it will be for you to choose something that is appropriate. This is both a time saver and a money saver for the long term.
Always take it slow in the beginning. Pick out a space with enough mobility room and concentrate on the basics. When you have mastered the side to side, up and down, and back and forth movements, you can move on to other complicated maneuvers. Intuitive control will take time and some getting used to.