Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
Drones are one of the fascinating devices to own today. They cut across all facets of life where we have drones for kids, recreational drones, and even professional drones.
Considering how accessible and cheaper they get each day, wouldn’t you want to buy your drone?
The first drone I ever tried was the DJI SPARK back in 2017, and man, was I scared of flying it.
The thought of crashing a $500 device within a few weeks of purchasing it gave me the chills.
I wish I would have stumbled upon a guide, such as this one, before trying to fly. But over the years, I’ve tried different types of drones, and I know a thing or two about choosing the best drones.
If you want to buy your first drone and don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the proper place.
I will take you through some history of drones, why you need a drone, and suggest some fantastic models you can purchase today.
Table of contents:
- What Is a Drone?
- Who Should Buy a Drone?
- Drone Accessories and Add-ons:
- What Is the Difference Between DIY and RTF Drones?
- Top 4 Drones to Buy as Your First Drone:
What Is a Drone?
A drone is an unpiloted aircraft. They are also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and they are designed to carry out a wide range of impressive tasks.
They can be as big as an aircraft or as small as the palm of your hand.
The concept of drones can be dated back to 1849, when they were built for military purposes.
Venice was fighting for its independence from Austria during this time, and the Austrian soldiers would attack Venice with balloons equipped with bombs.
However, the first autonomous aircraft was used in World War 1 by the U.S. Army.
Over the years, UAVs have been widely used for military purposes. But as the technology improved and as they got smaller, drones started being adopted by the police force, rescue agencies, and other industries.
This also led to the rise of drone usage among civilians.
The use of civilian drones dates back to 2006, when the FAA allowed drones in commercial airspace.
As a result, many Government agencies built drones to survey pipelines, fires and even inspect borders.
When the FAA eased the drone regulations further in 2012, hobby drones entered the market, and the drone industry has been growing since then.
DJI, the largest drone manufacturer in the world, built their first drone in 2013.
Are Drones Dangerous?
Any object flying close to an aircraft presents a hazard risk. Drones come in varying sizes and weights, and most of them are dangerous if they are close to airplanes.
Besides the risk of physically colliding with a plane, another significant danger is interfering with radiofrequency, making a pilot lose control of the aircraft.
Drones also pose a danger to people when they crash in residential areas. They could hurt them or even cause damage to property.
They also pose a privacy risk, where people can use cameras or hack into Wi-Fi connections to spy on people’s homes.
Why Should You Buy a Drone?
Other than being fun to operate, there are numerous reasons why you should buy a drone. These include:
Capturing Unique Photos:
Taking photos from the ground may be fun, but it gets too generic and limiting with time. But drones give us a new perspective since they have a “bird’s eye” view.
You can take aerial photos of nature, capture sports events from an aerial view, or even view how your home in a whole new way. You even get to fly to areas you can’t access by foot.
Taking aerial photos and videos with planes experienced one significant challenge, the plane’s turbulence. This affected the footage, rendering it unusable every so often.
And they needed expensive equipment to stabilize the footage. But drones come with gimbals and other inbuilt stabilizing systems. This explains why drones are becoming popular in Hollywood and other movie making industries.
Drones have the kind of fun that both adults and kids can relate to. From flying at top speeds to zooming in from a bird’s-eye view, there’s a lot you can do with a drone.
Better yet, some come with intelligent flight modes such as Follow-me or stunts such as flips.
You can also race with your friends, giving you a cool way to hang out indoors and outdoors.
Drone Racing is actually a sport now, where tournaments are held every year, with millions of prizes to be won.
Becoming a drone pilot is now a career path you can take. Real Estate marketers are constantly looking for pilots to help film the properties.
Sectors such as architecture, 3D modeling, filming, and photography are also areas where drone pilots can venture into.
If you’re a farmer, you can buy a drone to help you monitor your farm and obtain vital data regarding your crops. This will be important in maximizing the crop yield.
Stand Out on Social Media:
Going viral on social media is a critical branding strategy. And drones can help you take unique videos and photos that will quickly trend, grow your following, and create more opportunities for sponsorships.
Great Learning Experience:
Teachers can use drones to make learning more enjoyable. Some drones, such as the Ryze Tello, can also be programmed, making them an excellent STEM education tool.
Excellent Way to Socialize:
As mentioned earlier, drones bring together people from all facets of life.
There’s a great online community where people share about building and flying drones.
You can also bring your friends over and learn various aspects of using drones.
Who Should Buy a Drone?
To understand who should buy a drone, let’s discuss the different types. There are different ways of categorizing drones:
- Commercial and Recreational
- Multirotor ad Fixed Wing
- Based on the type of work
Commercial vs. Recreational Drones:
Commercial drones are those used by commercial drone pilots. They have a vast range of value and cost because they are suitable for different types of work.
Their level of sophistication depends on the tasks the drones are designed to perform.
Some carry out general jobs like aerial shoots for marketing real estate or collecting aerial data for insurance-related roof inspections.
These drones do not require fitting with special software.
However, others require niche-specific equipment. A good example is the drones that use thermal cameras to inspect where heat is escaping from in a building.
The type of task at hand determines the type of commercial drone needed.
Recreational drones are used for fun, which implies different things to different people, and they are the best for beginners.
However, not all drones used for recreational purposes are toy drones. Most toy drones are small and are suitable for flying indoors because they might not withstand the wind outdoors.
But some recreational drones can actually take high-quality videos and photos outdoors.
After flying a toy drone for a while, you might decide to buy a more sophisticated drone.
Multi rotor vs. Fixed-Wing:
Multirotor drones fly using by use of two or more rotors. When you mention a drone, the quadcopter, a drone with four rotors, is what comes to most people’s minds. However, multirotor drones come in various sizes and shapes.
As the number of rotors increases, the bigger the drone gets, and the cost increases.
Other than the quadcopter, the other common multi rotors are the hexacopter (6 rotors) and octacopter (8 rotors). These are used in industrial jobs and high-end cinematography, respectively.
Type of Work:
The drone industry has grown so much that there are drones made for specific purposes and applications.
When looking at the type of drones used for particular applications, you will realize the distinguishing factor between them is the payload, that is, the specific camera(s) or sensors that the drone has.
Industries that use customized drones include agriculture, construction, surveying, indoor inspections, and firefighting.
Drone Accessories and Add-ons:
As a beginner, it is essential to know that you, as a “pilot,” should feel prepared to protect your drone from dropping and unexpected landings before flying.
This still applies to those who have also been flying for some time. It is essential to have these accessories:
Sun hood cover:
It provides shade and covers your eyes from reflection when flying on a sunny day. It will help you keep track of your drone on your phone, irrespective of how bright the sun is.
It provides the ideal landing ground for your drone since you do not want it to crash on concrete or have it land on dust, sand, or wet grass.
You can get one that is made of glow in the dark material to help you fly easily at night. The pad is also foldable for easy storage.
When you are a beginner, accidents are likely to happen, no matter how careful you are. Heck, they still happen even with seasoned pilots. Therefore, it is advisable to have back-up propellers in case an adventure is cut short.
Most of the propellers are foldable, portable, and user-friendly to ensure you are back in the air in no time.
This is an easy way to protect the fragile blades, yourself, and bystanders. Each drone has its custom-made guards, which are reliable and easy to use.
You will not have to worry about damaging your drone or any of its accessories with a case. Besides, you are likely less to look like a beginner when carrying your drone using a case instead of an everyday unprotected backpack.
It could be a frustrating experience to be prepared to capture the perfect shot, but your memory card is either full or not working.
To avoid this, always have with you spare micro S.D. cards in your casing.
Battery Charging Hub:
You are most likely not a fan of waiting for your batteries to charge one by one. You can avoid this by buying a charging hub that is smart, quick, and reliable to charge your batteries simultaneously.
These will take your drone experience to a new and mind-blowing level. Instead of viewing the footage from the controller’s screen, you view from the drone’s “cockpit.”
They’re best used for FPV racing, but they are also useful in recreational flying. Choose those with H.D. screens, head tracking control, and intelligent flight mode support.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Drone:
Before going out to buy a drone of your choice, there are some things you need to know. This way, you will not spend money to buying a drone that will not fit your needs.
Check whether it is entirely legal to own and fly a drone in your area. While most places have an exact legal status for owning and flying a drone, a few areas might require you to have a special license or permission.
Registration of Your Drone:
Your drone needs to be registered as long as it weighs between 0.55 and 55 pounds. This is irrespective of whether you are using it only for fun or professionally.
Know the Areas to Fly:
Before you begin flying; know where you are not supposed to be. Some prohibited regions include five miles within an airport, above 400 feet, and over government facilities or national parks.
It’s also important to look for maps with the no-fly zone areas. DJI apps have them, and you can get this information from the FAA’s website.
Know what your budget is and the types of special features you can do without. Factor in the purpose of buying the drone and settle on one with the required specifications at the best cost.
Consider the weather conditions in your area. If you live where there is a strong wind, buy a drone that can handle the wind gusts.
Always check that the drone is weatherproof for it to function correctly, and keep in mind that the best time to fly is during clear skies with a minimal breeze.
You should also get apps such as the B4UFLY, which offers information about the weather in various regions.
Based on the reason you buy a drone, it is essential to know how the drone will hover. If it is for photography, you want a drone that is steady and for this purpose.
Most drones have gyroscopic sensors and other types of sensors. But for professional photography, buy one that has a gimbal or has the ability to support one.
Whether you’re looking for a drone for recreational photography or professional photography, the quality matters.
8K is the highest resolution you can find in a drone, but most drones either have a 4K or 2K resolution. In terms of pixels, it ranges from 720 to 1080 p.
Range of the Drone:
This is the furthest distance a drone can fly and still maintain a connection to the controller.
The controller and the drones are often connected by Wi-Fi or radio signals. The ranges can vary from a few meters to more than 5 miles in high-end drones. If you’re looking for a toy drone, a shorter range will be fine.
What Is the Difference Between DIY and RTF Drones?
There are several drones in the market. However, you might find that the drones do not fit your individual needs.
Fortunately, you can build your drone from scratch and customize it and tailor it to your requirements.
The drone you have constructed yourself is referred to as a DIY drone.
The tools you will need will depend on the type of drone you want to construct. However, there are vital components that all drones require:
- A mounting pad
- Micro SD card
- A drone frame
- R.C. receiver
- Flight controller
You require knowledge in tech to be able to assemble a drone. Remember, if any technical issue arises, it will be up to you to fix it.
Unless you’re well-experienced in that, it’s not advisable to go down that road. The only people who can’t escape building drones are those into drone racing.
While there are racing drones for sale, sometimes you may have to customize it to stand out from the rest.
RTF is an abbreviation for ready to fly. These drones do not require any set-up or assembly.
You are only required to do undemanding things such as charging the battery, installing propellers, and connecting the controller.
RTF drones are better than DIY ones because they do not require any advanced technical knowledge.
They also meet the quality standards and requirements set by the government. Also, you will not spend any time assembling them since they are ready to fly.
I also prefer them because they are cheaper. While DIY drones seem cheaper, some components are quite expensive when bought alone. And you will not benefit from a warranty of free repairs if you build the drone yourself.
Top 4 Drones to Buy as Your First Drone:
DJI Mini 2- Best for Beginners-
If you’re looking for a beginner drone with some advanced features, I recommend the DJI Mini 2.
Featuring a 30-minute battery-life, accessible controls, intuitive flight modes, and terrific footage in a compact folding package, there’s nothing not to like about this drone.
You’ll love the revamped controller, which makes it easy to fly. The streamlined handset permits nuanced inputs that do not overwhelm the pilot.
It is fun to operate and improves the beginner’s entire flying experience. DJI updates the firmware often to improve the overall experience.
And the overall hardware comprises improved motors, stability, and wind-resistance that remit steady footage even in the breeziest conditions.
Walkera F210 3D Edition – Best for Racing-
Featuring a modern industrial finish that is ultra-durable and crash-resistant, this is the perfect drone for racing.
Walkera F210 3D drone has a flight control system that enables stable flight and precise racing maneuvers at more than 40 MPH.
And it can perform different tricks such as flips and rolls, or even stop suddenly without drifting.
Drone pilots who love customizing their devices will love that it is easy to disassemble and reassemble.
How about the real-time footage as you race? You’ll love the drone is equipped with an H.D. camera for real-time image transmission. The specs make it the best drone for serious racers.
Ryze Tech Tello- Best Budget Drone-
Ryze Tello is also called as DJI Tello and is easy to fly, this drone is also designed to help beginners learn to program.
The drone is light but solidly built, with an electronic camera that can record videos at 720p/30fps and take 5MP photos.
It has a flight time of about 7 minutes, which means you will have to invest in spare batteries.
This drone also does not come with a remote controller, so you will have to use your smartphone unless you want to spend extra money on a controller.
DJI Mavic Air 2- Best Overall-
Every beginner should strive to own this drone at one point in their life. Despite being designed with high-end features, it’s relatively easy to fly.
You get 34 minutes flight time and a range of up to 6 miles away from the pilot, for starters.
Featuring a large and sharp camera sensor that can shoot 4K videos at 60fps and capture HDR videos, this drone offers some of the best professional-grade shots.
Mavic Air 2 can capture multiple images of a single scene cleanly without being tossed around by the wind.
The drone can shoot a video or take a photo of anything moving fast. It packs modes that can decelerate footage to eight times slower.
It also has a smart photo mode- this analyzes a scene together with the surroundings and chooses the most suitable photo mode.
And that’s it. Buying a drone doesn’t need to be that hard. All you have to do is identify your needs and go for a drone that’s best suited for those needs.
The drone industry is also fast-growing. What may be a new tech today may become obsolete tomorrow? So, it’s essential to check the latest features in the industry and whether they can improve your experience.