Owning an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or a drone has a lot of perks. Whether you are aspiring to be an aerial photographer or videographer, a land surveyor, or a plain drone or RC vehicle enthusiast, there’s nothing more exciting than having your very own drone.
The price of drones have declined over the past couple of years which made them more accessible to casual hobbyists. Today, you can get a drone for as little as $50, although you really can’t expect much from a drone at that price point.
To help you on your quest to getting that first drone, here are some pointers on what to know before buying.
Types of drones
There are a wide variety of drones in the market today with various features suited for their specific purposes. Here’s a general overview of the types of drones you can get according to their features and price points.
Entry level drones
Entry level drones, those priced around $50 – $200, are very small and light. They are designed for casual drone flyers, so you can’t expect them to fly for very long or to withstand a windy day. For first-time flyers, this type of drone is perfect because they allow you to get used to controlling a UAV without having to spend too much.
If you want to get started on aerial digital photography or videography, it’s best to upgrade to intermediate drones. These drones are typically priced at $200 – $1,000 and they are sturdy enough to be flown outside. Some intermediate drones are also equipped with a good quality action camera, so they are good enough to take a couple of high definition photos.
For serious drone enthusiasts, advanced drones with 4 or more sturdy rotors allow them to fly higher, longer, and better. Advanced drones may cost upwards of $1,000 but they definitely fare better against tough outdoor conditions, and they last longer as well. You also get better control of your drone plus advanced features like GPS and programmable software.
Tips on buying your first drone
When comparing drones, there are three basic factors that you need to consider. First, you have to check the drone’s flight time. Flight times can range from around 5 minutes to about 30 minutes on a single charge. The ones that fly the longest are usually the most expensive, so consider your options carefully.
Next, consider your skill level and buy a drone that matches it. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on an advanced drone if you can’t even fly it properly. Buy an entry level one first and work your way up.
Finally, check out the controller. You want to have a controller that works in perfect sync with your drone, and it helps if it shows real-time information about your UAV as well. Get a feel of the different controls to make sure that you’re comfortable with them
You might also want to check for bonus features like GPS sensors. They’re usually for more expensive drones, but they’re helpful for when you want to just plug in some coordinates and have your drone get there automatically. If the drone is equipped with a camera, check the camera’s specs too.
Consider looking into drone accessories such as action camera and other video recording equipment, gimbals, remote controllers, batteries, propellers, and storage cases to improve your flying experience and take better care of your drone.
Lastly, make sure that you fly responsibly. Join a few clubs of drone enthusiasts to learn about the ethics of flying. If you own a larger drone, you might be required to get it registered as well.