Purchasing your first Drone? Here's what to consider.
What are your intentions? Is this a hobby or just for recreation? Are you starting your own traveling blog? Or are you ready to take that leap into a new career and start trying to earn money?
If you are looking for something that you can throw up in the sky and fly around the backyard when you are bored, there are tons of options out there. I personally started this as a hobby and purchased a Hubsan X4 way back in 2015. It took 720p video, was hard to fly, but it got the job done, and I still own it today! Today, the new Hubsan X4 shoots in 1080p and comes with GPS.
What is your price range?
Drones can range anywhere from $30, all the way up to the price of a car! The previously mentioned Hubsan, cost me about $100, which back then seemed pretty reasonable, but they have came a long way and you get a lot more for your money nowadays. You will have to decide what your intentions are, and go from there. "Toy" drones that serve no other purpose other than to tool around in the backyard, can still get pretty pricey.
What features do you need?
When it comes to features, there will be a lot to take into consideration. Below is a small list of the features I find very useful.
Battery Life - Depending on your needs, I find ~30 minute battery life to be perfect. If you are doing this as a hobby, you can probably get away with 15 minutes or less and be completely satisfied.
Camera - I would guess 99% of the drones available today will have a camera. Very few come without them. If they do not come with a camera, that means its either a toy or very high end where you can add on the DSLR of your choice. Depending on your price range, you will be able to choose something that fits your needs, whether it be 4mp-20+mp and/or 720p/8k video.
Gimbal - This helps keep your shots steady. Whether its windy or not, your drone will always be moving, and a gimbal will help keep your photos and video crystal clear.
Integrated GPS - This is very important. If you plan on doing any flying at a distance, which most people do, then the ability to get your drone home safe if you lose sight is a huge benefit. GPS will also help locate your drone if an unfortunate crash happens.
Obstacle Avoidance - If you are flying and taking photos for real estate, or just taking landscape photos for your own personal use, it can be very easy to get lost in the screen and forget to look up and see where it is actually flying. Obstacle avoidance can help you avoid collisions. It is not always perfect, but it is nice for added insurance. (Always have a Spotter)
Follow Mode - This is great for bloggers! If you want that selfie of you riding a bike, running down the beach, and don't want to be hassled with holding the controller or your phone, this mode is for you!
Range - The big one. The most asked question I get, is "How far can it go?"
1. Hubsan X4 H501SS ($150)
This is the perfect beginner drone. It has GPS, records in 1080p and will return to home if battery is dying or it loses connection with the remote. Battery life is ~20 minutes and it won't break the bank!
2. DJI Mavic Mini 2 ($400)
If you are a beginner, and want to spend a little more, then this is the best all-around drone you can get. It has all the safety options of the higher-end drones, without the size. It weighs under 0.55lbs. (no need to register with the FAA), shoots in 2.7k video, and has a 12mp camera with a 3-axis gimbal.
3. DJI Air2S ($999)
This is a great beginner-higher end model. It will shoot in 4k, take 20mp photos, includes obstacle avoidance, GPS, and tons of other features. This is perfect for the person looking to jump into landscape photography, or that real estate photographer that is looking for a little more to offer.
4. DJI Inspire 2 ($3200)
If you are looking for just a little more, this is it. Although a bit pricey, it contains a 360 degree gimbal, has the ability to add on a DSLR, and flight times around ~30 minutes. For those looking to shoot cinema style videos, this is the one.
At the end of the day, it will all come down to what your budget is and what features you are looking for. There are plenty of other options out there, but these are the ones I find you get the best bang for your buck! Be sure to check out the FAA website before making any purchases. There are many rules and regulations that must be followed in order to operate a drone that a UAV pilot must know and understand.