If you have been living under a rock in the last year or so, then you might have missed the news about the most popular tech trend that’s shaking the world. I am, of course, talking about drones which are becoming huge parts of our everyday lives. When they first appeared on the market they had expensive price tags on them and to be honest, they were primarily designed for experienced pilots.
There were only a few beginner-friendly drones back at that time. Back then, they weren’t equipped with technologies such as stability systems, GPS for drones and autonomous flights, all of which greatly help beginner pilots.
With this being said, if you have just started doing your research on modern-day drones and would really like to buy one, but you ended up with a huge surplus of information and you’re no way near the end result… Don’t worry, this list has got you covered.
You’ll soon find out what are the best drones for beginners. It features some of the best drones that are suitable for beginners in all aspects. Most of the drones on this list do have a camera, so we won’t create a separate section featuring the best beginner drone with a camera. Without further adue, let us start with the list!
Table of contents :
Drones for beginners: Under $200
|5. DBPower X400W||7min||80m||See price now|
|4. Snaptain S5C||7min||80m||See price now|
|3. Hobbytiger H301S||8min||150m|
|2. HStone HS120D||17min||300m||See price now|
|1. HStone HS700D||20min||800m||See price now|
5. DBPOWER X400W
DBPOWER is an old player in the drone game, having been there from the very beginnings. Their X400W drone is one of the most reviewed drones on Amazon, establishing itself as one of the go-to starters’ drones for beginners. It’s affordable, looks good, and flies great. What more could you wish for?
Camera and Features
Even though we’re talking about a rather affordable drone here, it still manages to pack a camera in the bundle. It’s not a very good camera, though, as it offers SD shaky mess. Still, it’s fairly good for FPV purposes on shorter distances. And, of course, considering the price, every added extra is welcome. Headless mode, FPV, 3D flips, and one key return (that works pretty well) are the only real features X400W has in store, which is, once again, fine considering the price tag. Lastly, DBPOWER X400W also sports propeller guards, ensuring a safe experience for beginners and first-time flyers.
This drone comes with a single battery that provides around 6 to 8 minutes of flight time, depending on how much you push it. It has brushed motors that are cheap and easy to replace, but they are known to overheat, especially if you use it frequently and with more batteries. Flight range goes up to around 80 meters even though it’s being marketed for 100 meters. FPV range, however, goes much shorter than that, so keep that in mind and don’t fly too far away in FPV.
4. Snaptain S5C
First things first – Snaptain S5C is an awesome-looking drone. If you’re buying a drone for your little ones, then I warmly advise you to consider this one. Not just because of the drop-dead cool looks, but because of the overall hardware quality too. Snaptain hit the jackpot with their S5C model, as it’s one of the most popular drones on Amazon with roughly 2,500 positive reviews. Only a handful of other beginner-friendly drones can boast with such great numbers.
Camera and Features
Snaptain S5C sports a dedicated camera module located underneath the bottom side of the chassis. It’s a solid 720p camera, but don’t expect smooth aerial footage because of the obvious lack of stabilization. Still, it’s decent enough for beginners who want to test their FPV skills. Yep, Snaptain S5C sports FPV. It’s WiFi-based, but the lag doesn’t spoil the fun too much.
The best thing about this sucker is the bundle, providing two batteries that’ll significantly increase your overall flying sessions. Features-wise, S5C has some of the beginners’ favorites like altitude hold, one key takeoff/landing, and even support VR headsets. Unfortunately, this bundle does not come with a VR headset, although you can get one on Amazon for pretty cheap.
Even though its arms look like they’re holding brushless motors, that’s just there for aesthetics. S5C features small but relatively powerful brushed motors that allow it to do all sorts of high-speed aerial maneuvers. This bugger can fly around for roughly 7 minutes and reach as far as 80 meters. WiFi-based FPV, however, goes only up to 50 meters, but that’s still good considering its price.
3. Hobbytiger H301S
Here we have Hobbytiger H301S, an interesting little bugger that won’t set you back for a ton of money yet is still able to produce a fine flying experience. It’s basically the same drone as Potensic T18, with slightly different decals and a cheaper price tag. So, if you’re a beginner and you are looking for a drone that won’t make too big of a dent in your budget, Hobbytiger H301S ought to be a stellar choice.
Camera and Features
At slightly over $100, you’re getting a GPS-enabled drone, meaning much smoother and more precise flying experience. And while we do recommend first-time flyers to practice with drones that don’t possess GPS, H301S is priced so aggressively that we are willing to make an exception.
Thanks to GPS, Hobbytiger H301S also sports safety features such as assisted flight, return to home, and altitude hold. The latter can’t really be considered as a safety feature, more like ease of use, but it doesn’t make it any less important. Additionally, H301S also features headless mode, follow me, and prop guards as an added safety measure. WiFi-based FPV is here too, and you can expect pretty good quality (720p wide-angle camera) and distance.
Specs-wise, Hobbytiger H301S can reach approximately 150 to 180 meters and its 1000mAh battery yields up to 8 minutes of flight time. Overall, H301S is one of the cheapest GPS-enabled drones on Amazon, and as such, it’s definitely among the best drones for beginners out there!
2. Holy Stone HS120D
The HS120D is the first Holy Stone drone on this list. It’s quite the package, this one, featuring a carrying case and an extra battery, nicely rounding off an already brilliant drone. It’s just shy of the $200-mark, making it among the pricier drones here. Still, wait till you see what this little bugger is capable of doing!
Camera and Features
Let’s start off with the camera. As the image above suggests, HS120D has some sort of an anti-vibration mechanism that does a fairly good job coping with shakiness and jello effect. However, the 120-degree field of view on its 1080p camera doesn’t do itself justice, creating an awful fisheye effect that plagues all aerial footage. Still images, however, look absolutely amazing!
The most important feature HS120D comes with is GPS, just like some of the above-featured drones. Alongside GPS, HS120D also sports FPV, with minimum lag and solid distance. Additionally, you can rely on stuff like altitude hold, return to home, failsafe and follow me as your go-to features. They’re pretty good and you can expect them to be much more precise than those featured on non-GPS models.
As for the flight time, HS120D boasts with roughly 17 to 18 minutes of flight time, meaning more than half an hour of flying with both provided batteries. The range isn’t the greatest, though, as the signal starts cutting off at around 300 meters.
1. Holy Stone HS700D – Best drone for beginners?
If you want even better overall performance than the HS120D, then HS700D is the next step up! Yes, I’m aware this drone goes for slightly over $200, but it’s frequently on sale for like $219 which isn’t that far away from our top point here. But, wait till you hear what this little sucker can do and you’ll understand why it’s one of the best starter drones.
Camera and Features
Just like what was the case with HS120D, this one also has an anti-vibration system put into place. An even better one, resembling those featured on older DJI Phantom models. This anti-vibration system does a great job with eliminating jello and shakiness, enabling the 2K camera (not 2.7K, just 2K, slightly better than 1080p) to do its job pretty well.
As far as features are concerned, HS700D sports the usual follow me, return to home, failsafe, headless mode and FPV. Of course, GPS is here as well, and it does a great job of improving flight stabilization and eliminating wind-caused drift.
The hardware this thing comes packed with brings forth a lot of firepower. For instance, not only does the HS700D feature potent brushless motors but also a hefty 2800mAh battery which provides around 20 to 22 minutes of flight time. Combine that with cca 700-800 meters of range (FPV range too) and you got yourself a solid drone for slightly over the $200 mark.
Drones for beginners: $200 to $500
|5. Potensic D85||20min||500m||See price now|
|4. HStone HS720||25min||800m||See price now|
|3. Potensic D88||17min||1.5km||See price now|
|2. DJI Mavic Mini||30min||4km||See price now|
|1. Hubsan Zino||22min||4km||See price now|
5. Potensic D85
Potensic D85 is the first drone in our $200 to $500 drones list. We’re talking about a brushless model here, one that comes with an extra battery, a hard case, and a handful of features that justify for its price tag! So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look and see what to expect from Potensic D85!
Camera and Features
Once again, you’re looking at a potent drone featuring a dedicated anti-vibration mechanism. It isn’t exactly a motorized gimbal, but it does the job alright. Right beneath it, there’s a solid 2K FPV camera, similar to that of HS700D. Unfortunately, it also suffers from a slight fish eye effect that might be a real problem for some eyes.
Features-wise, Potensic D85 has a lot of stuff going on, including GPS, failsafe (GPS-based, of course), return to home, follow me, and more. Overall, you’re getting a ton of stuff for a reasonable price tag.
As stated earlier, Potensic D85 comes with an extra battery that allows around 40 minutes of flight time in total. That’s 20 minutes per battery, a solid amount coming from a hefty 7.4V 2800mAh piece. However, that flight duration only works if you aren’t pushing the drone to its limits in terms of speed, which goes up to 50km/h. And lastly, the control range goes up to 500 meters while the 5GHz cuts of at around 300m.
4. Holy Stone HS720
Here’s yet another Holy Stone drone. It might seem like we are favoriting Holy Stone drones, but that’s not really the case here. It’s just that the folks over at HS do a splendid job with creating an entry to mid-level models. Their HS720 drone is the perfect example, coming with an awesome package well and truly justifying its price tag. Let’s check it out, shall we!?
Camera and Features
For $300, you’re getting a whole lot of drone here. Not only does HS720 feature a solid 2K camera but also GPS with a ton of supporting features. And we are not just talking about safety here. There’s a ton of camera-based options too, such as follow me, orbit, point of interest and so on. Overall, HS720 is a rather smart drone that can go head to head with some of DJI’s mid-end models… at just a fraction of their price.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the aforementioned 2K camera that’s quite unimpressive with its jello and shakiness. It’s good for basic aerial stuff, but don’t expect professional-grade footage that’s available on DJI’s models.
Roughly 25 minutes of flight time is what you can expect from this fella. That’s the best you can expect if you don’t push it too hard and mostly record videos/images from a static point. That number will be much lower if you push it to its maximum range which goes around 700 to 800 meters. Quite impressive, if I may add.
3. Potensic D88
Next up, we have the D88, the high-end Potensic drone that aims to make a name for itself on the market. And, thus far, it’s doing so just fine with roughly 200 positive reviews on Amazon, a fairly good number considering the price tag.
Camera and Features
We’re talking about a foldable drone here, one that can shoot 2K footage (once again, not to be mistaken with 2.7K which is miles ahead) and obtain fairly good results. There will be a bit of jitter every now and then, but for the price you’ll pay for it, it’s more than solid.
Features are standard – altitude hold, return to home, failsafe options, points of interest, orbiting, etc. They are all GPS-based, which means increased accuracy and reliability. Potensic D88 also features FPV and it can reach roughly 200 to 300 meters before cutting off.
Talking about distances, Potensic D88 has an impressive control range that goes well over a kilometer. Yep, that’s right you’ll be getting up to 1.5 kilometers with this little bugger, but I would advise against flying so far. Not only is it illegal but it’s also quite dangerous since you won’t be able to see it at such a massive distance. Last but not least, you’ll be getting around 17 minutes of flight time, not half bad for a miniature foldable drone packing a 2K cam!
2. DJI Mavic Mini
Here comes the first DJI drone on this list. Nope, it’s not the Spark. It’s DJI Mavic Mini, the newest DJI drone that aims to make an avalanche in the mid-tier section. And it might just do so, with its spectacular array of features and powerful hardware. Heck, it’s even better (in some departments) than DJI Mavic Air, and that fact alone speaks a ton of good about the Mavic Mini.
Camera and Features
Even though this fella’s camera can’t shoot 4K footage, it’s still miles above all other similarly priced drones on Amazon. The maximum resolution we’re talking about here is 2.7K. It’s still good, and let’s be realistic, most people won’t even notice the difference. The crucial factor here is the integrated 3-axis gimbal that ensures smooth flying no matter the weather conditions.
What makes DJI Mavic Mini one of the best drones for beginners out there, you may ask. Well, that would be its brilliant set of features that include everything from GPS and smart camera modes to autonomous flight options and extra layers of safety. All these features make DJI Mavic Mini a breeze to fly, and if you’re worried you’ll end up buying a complex-to-control drone, then DJI Mavic Mini is the answer to all your prayers.
Let’s say a thing or two about DJI Mavic Mini’s specifications before moving onto the next beginners’ drone entry. Due to its lightweight design and power-efficient hardware, Mavic Mini manages to pull out roughly half an hour of battery life. Let’s just say that’s unheard of at this price point. The same story goes for its range, which maxes out at around 4 kilometers, miles ahead (quite literally) of all other drones in this price range… except for Hubsan Zino which is the next drone on our list!
1. Hubsan Zino – Best drone for beginners?
Yep, Hubsan Zino can go toe to toe with DJI Mavic Mini as far as the operating range goes. However, there are certain aspects in which Zino does better than DJI’s newest specimen. Let’s talk about that!
Camera and Features
For starters, Zino’s camera features a higher resolution. Yep, Zino comes with a 4K camera that sports a 3-axis gimbal, bringing forth ultimate aerial stability. This thing is buttery smooth, just like all DJI aerial photography drones. Features are pretty good too.
Needless to say, Hubsan Zino has GPS+GLONASS that allows precise flight and smooth in-air movement. Furthermore, these positioning systems also allow other handy features such as loss control/ low power failsafe, return to home, altitude hold and more. All in all, if you’re looking for a drone below $500 that can pose as a potent 4K aerial camera, look no further than Hubsan Zino.
As stated earlier, Hubsan Zino and DJI Mavic Air go toe to toe in terms of operating range. In other words, both of these buggers go for around 4 kilometers. Battery-wise, Zino can reach up to 22 minutes, which is shorter than that of DJI Mavic Mini, but it still pretty good considering everything else this drone has up its sleeves.
Drones for beginners: $500+
|5. DJI Mavic Air||20min||4km||See price now|
|4. UpAir Two||22min||1km|
|3. Parrot Anafi||24min||4km||See price now|
|2. Autel EVO||30min||7km||See price now|
|1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro||30min||8km||See price now|
5. DJI Mavic Air
Now let’s talk a bit about DJI Mavic Air, a relatively old DJI model that aged quite well considering all circumstances. Its biggest virtues are as follows – great flight range, solid flight time, and above all, an excellent 4K camera that would put to shame even some of the high-end models out there. That said, let’s dive deeper and see what this little bugger brings to the table.
Camera and Features
Let’s talk about the camera first. As stated above, DJI Mavic Air sports a powerful 4K camera. A 3-axis gimbal is here too, and it’s one of the best models in business, ensuring buttery smooth footage each and every time. It can also shoot HDR images, which is a huge plus for content creators looking to up their cinematic games.
DJI Mavic Air sports the usual DJI features such as GPS+GLONASS, TapFly, ActiveTrack and so on. It also has back and forth obstacle sensors. There aren’t any on the sides, so make sure you keep that in mind if you’re using some of its vast autonomous flight modes.
Specs-wise, we’re looking at a solid all-arounder. With approximately 4 kilometers of flight range and 20 minutes of flight time, DJI Mavic Air passes the tests with solid grades. However, the thing is, if you want all 4 kilometers, you’ll have to buy the Fly More Combo.
If you do, you’ll be getting two extra batteries as well, pushing the total flight time from 20 minutes to an hour. Yep, an entire hour. If you’re a beginner, DJI Mavic Air will provide you with plenty of practicing time without having to wait a few hours for it to charge up.
4. Upair Two
Let’s face it – it was only a matter of time before drones “steal” the multiple camera trends from the smartphone industry. Upair Two, the successor of the highly popular Upair One model, does exactly that, featuring three sensors that promise professional-quality aerial footage at a highly affordable price.
Camera and Features
Let’s address the elephant in the room first! Upair Two features three cameras that, together, present 4K+3D capabilities and shoot impressive 16MP stills. The stabilization is great too, meaning you won’t get that nasty jello effect on your aerial footage. Upair Two comes with a handful of useful features too. Stuff like one key takeoff/landing, optical flow positioning, and GPS-enabled features like failsafe and smooth flight are all here and work perfectly.
Don’t worry, Upair Two is not a one-trick horse. This drone has decent flight characteristics too, nicely poised with a 5100mAh battery. Yep, you read that right, this sucker sports such a massive battery and people immediately expect it to have upwards of half an hour, without realizing how much power those cameras draw. That said, we’re talking roughly 22 to 24 minutes of flight time and more than one kilometer of control and FPV range. Pretty solid all-around stats for a drone that costs just slightly over our starting point within this category.
3. Parrot Anafi
Upair Two is not the only drone featuring a unique camera. Parrot Anafi is there too! This one, however, doesn’t feature more sensors but an interesting twist on the whole aerial photography concept that might amaze those of you looking for beginner-friendly aerial photography drones!
Camera and Features
Parrot Anafi comes with an f/2.4 wide-angle ASPH lens that shoots in HDR. 4K support is there too, ensuring crystal clear aerial footage at every occasion. 2.8X lossless zoom is here too, providing you with more details than any other competitor on the market.
The best thing, the unique aspect, of this camera, is its ability to vertically rotate for the whole 180 degrees, meaning Anafi can shoot straight up. If I’m not mistaken, Anafi is the only drone on the market capable of pulling that off.
Dolly zoom, visual tracking system, and SmartDronies are Anafi’s features which you’ll frequently use. The dedicated app is complex but has an intuitive UI making it ideal for beginners. What more could you want at this price point?
Anafi doesn’t fail to deliver in the specs department either. We’re looking at a very powerful foldable bugger here, capable of reaching 4 kilometers and fly upwards of 24 minutes. All that, coupled with impressive features and unique camera settings, makes Anafi a great choice for beginners and more experienced drone pilots alike.
2. Autel Robotics EVO
Autel Robotics EVO is a gorgeous drone that’ll captivate you with its sleek looks, foldable design, and an insane bundle. Plus, all that comes at a relatively affordable price tag. Well, not exactly affordable, coming it at around $1,000, but still offers great value for money. Let’s see why…
Camera and Features
Autel Robotics EVO sports a 4K camera with a 3-axis gimbal, capable of 4K at 60 frames per second. Nothing surprising there as those specs are sort of the industry standard at this price point. With that combo, Autel Robotics EVO poses as a great, beginner-friendly alternative to professional aerial photography drones. With that in mind, if you’re an aspiring aerial photographer looking for powerful beginners’ drones, Autel Robotics EVO might just be the perfect solution!
Thanks to GPS and GLONASS, EVO holds up extraordinarily well in the air, with smooth flight paths and impressive accuracy. Its feature set passes with flying marks too (pun intended), with three directional vision systems, return to home, dynamic tracking, and several smart flight options to enhance your aerial photography routine.
Autel Robotics EVO comes with a massive 4300mAh LiPo that can handle around 30 minutes of flight time. Yep, you’ve read that correctly – up to half an hour of flight time. Combine that with approximately 7 kilometers of operating range and you got yourself a real winner here. Did I mention it looks cool too?
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Best drone for beginners?
DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the bread and butter of DJI’s current high-end lineup of drones. Alongside DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, that is. The second generation of DJI’s highly successful Mavic drones is here and they mean business. Their price tags suggest that too, being among the pricier mainstream drones available on Amazon.
Camera and Features
DJI Mavic 2 Pro sports a 1-inch 4K-ready sensor. It shoots 4K videos at 60fps and can also shoot HDR footage, which is of crucial importance for content producers. Of course, thanks to its fine array of features, DJI Mavic 2 Pro is also a viable drone for beginners. It’s the most expensive drone on this list, yes, but with omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and pitch-perfect flying accuracy, it really is suitable for beginners. Beginners, not first-time flyers, mind you!
As for the features, Mavic 2 Pro sports all new and upgraded DJI feature set, meaning flying this little bugger is as easy as it gets. You won’t have problems with controlling its flight path nor will you have to worry about losing it as it sports that failsafe goodness.
Specs-wise, the folks over at DJI managed to outdo themselves yet again. The second-generation Mavic Pro can reach up to 8 kilometers and fly for roughly half an hour. Plus, there’s a handful of bundles available on Amazon, most of which give you one or two extra batteries, effectively increasing your total flight time to an hour or hour and a half.
Best Drones for Beginners FAQ :
How much does a good starter drone cost?
In terms of cost, I would be lying if I told you that you have to spend a lot of money on a good beginner’s drone. In fact, the story goes pretty much the exact opposite of the above-stated claim. Beginner-friendly drones are usually those which just have easy controls and can take quite a beating. When it comes to their pricing, you probably won’t need to spend more than $200 on your best beginner drone 2020.
After you have gotten accustomed to the controls and you wish to step up your drone game, then (and only then) I would recommend going up a notch and aiming for a mid to high-end drone. So the conclusion is, the best starter drone doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, you can go ahead and dash out close to $1000 but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a first-time flyer!
What makes a good beginner drone?
So, you have never operated a drone before and you are finally ready to make your dream come true. But, as soon as you started your “shopping” routine, you stumbled upon more than a few issues. The main one is certainly the type of drone you should look for.
It’s safe to say that modern-day drones possess a plethora of unique characteristics. If you are a beginner (and I suppose you are since you are reading this article), or you’re buying a drone for your kid, the most important one you should look for in your first drone is ease of use. Drones (especially higher-end models) can be tricky to operate properly and require a lot of training before jumping into the action. That’s why you need to make sure your best beginner drone 2017 incorporates intuitive controls without needlessly large operating manuals and all that other complicated stuff.
In addition to that, you should also make sure your first drone is not made out of cheap plastic materials. Since you’re a beginner, you will most likely end up crashing it a couple of times before you get the controlling scheme correct. In order to minimize the chances of breaking your drone during the very first crash, make sure it has prop guards and solid build quality to start with.
So, to summarize – there are just 2 main aspects that you should consider when purchasing your first drone: ease of use and build quality. Start off with those 2 and build your way up to more precise characteristics that are subjective to your needs…
Best Starter Drone cameras explained
Stands for Charged Coupling Devices. This type of camera sensor turns images from analog signals of light into digital pixels you see on your displays. They allow smooth images and capture great amounts of light making them extremely viable for professional FPV racing. But, all that comes at a price – the process of manufacturing CCD cameras is more expensive than CMOS.
Cameras running CMOS sensors have established themselves as the standard and are being used in virtually all camera-equipped gadgets. CMOS stands for Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor and these chips use transistors with each pixel for moving the charge. This leads to every pixel being treated individually allowing for much better power consumption.
When it comes to the resolutions the good old rule “the more, the better” works like a charm. With that in mind, here’s the list of all resolutions you can expect to see from drones costing mere $50 all the way to $1000: 640×480 – VGA / 1280×720 – HD / 192×1080 – Full HD / 3840×2160 – 4K
- The bigger your drone’s camera resolution is, the better (generally speaking) your aerial photos and videos will be. However, there are also other factors that come into play such as the sensor type, size, lens, aperture and more.
Stands for First Person View and basically refers to a drone’s ability to provide its users with a live feed straight from the mounted camera. A lot of drones these days come with this option and people get generally confused when they see that there are 2 main types available. The first type is WiFi FPV
With high-end drones, you will often hear the term gimbal. Most frequently, the term will be related to a 3-axis gimbal that holds the camera in place. These gimbals are basically sophisticated stabilization mechanisms that ensure the optimal stability of your aerial shots thanks to comprehensive hardware found inside. In most cases, they are powered by brushless motors (more on that below) and tend to cost a big portion of the drone’s price.
In contrast to gimbals, mounts provide the most basic method of attaching video cameras to drones. As their name implies, mounts serve as a mounting platform for cameras and don’t provide any electric parts for image stabilization. In best cases, they come with some sort of anti-vibration mechanisms (such as dampening balls) which slightly improve the overall image stability.
Basic drone terminology explained
Brushless DC motors are present in virtually all higher tier drone models. They offer superior power/weight ration and are generally considered as better options than brushed ones. That’s mostly because of their durability which is not even comparable to their brushed counterparts which have roughly 4-5 hours of working lifespan.
Brushed DC motors have one big thing that works heavily in their favor – price. They are extremely cheap to manufacture but rely on miniature brushes that keep the spinning on. They wear out with time so, looking at the long scheme of things, brushed motors offer worse value for money when compared to their brushless counterparts.
Stands for Line of Sight and is usually mentioned in the context of FAA (and other government bodies) regulations. For example, in the USA drone operators are required (by law) to fly LOS-only.
Stands for Beyond Visible Line of Sight. This term is usually referred to in the context of FAA regulations which forbid all drone operators from BVLOS flying.
If you are living in the USA, you might hear the term no-fly zones related to UAV flights. These zones are closely related to public places of interest, government buildings, stadiums, airport and other similar infrastructures above which flying drones could pose a threat.
If your drone has headless mode, it means that you can control it in a completely different way. You see, with standard controls, the orientation of your drone plays the key role. However, when you turn on headless mode, the orientation is taken out of the equation and the controls are relative only to the movements you make on your controller.
As far as the payload is concerned, it basically represents the amount of weight the drone can carry in addition to its own body and hardware inside. First things first, drones under $500 are usually not able to carry a lot. Perhaps a small action camera and that’s about it. If you are looking for high-payload drones then I’m afraid you will have to look into the above $1000 section of drones market.
If your drone has GPS, chances are high it will also have some (if not all) of the following features: waypoints, follow me, altitude hold, orbit, cable cam etc. These supporting features are sometimes referred to as GPS features since they all require the GPS model in order to work as planned.
Waypoint mode falls in the category of GPS features. As its name implies, this feature allows you to draw a path with several waypoints which your drone will follow. Depending on the drone you have, there will be lots of settings you can change to get the Waypoint mode to suit your exact needs.
Follow Me mode takes advantage of the drone’s GPS module and allows it to follow you (or virtually any other object or person) everywhere you go. There are also several variants or subtypes of this feature. They include Dynamic Follow, Static Follow, ActiveTrack, Orbit, Panoramic Follow and plenty more… of course, depending on the model you have/will buy.
Dronie is a relatively new term that got around with the popularity growth of selfie drones. But what does it mean? Well, a dronie is basically a selfie taken with a drone. Nothing more, nothing less…
Stands for Ready To Fly. RTF drones come with everything needed to get them up and running. They include batteries, transmitters, receivers and basically everything else needed to fly the drone straight out of the box.
Stands for Almost Ready to Fly. ARF drone packages do not contain transmitters or receivers. In some cases, even the batteries have to be purchased separately. They are meant for more advanced users who know their way around drone parts.
Stands for Bind and Fly. These drones come with receivers and batteries (and everything else) but lack transmitters. BNF models are the majority in high-end FPV racing drone market where users already have top tier transmitters and only need the actual drones.
Do I need a camera on my first drone?
This is a question I hear all the time so I’d like to answer it here once and for all! Having a camera on your first drone is a nice extra touch but it is not necessary. What’s necessary for your first flying steps is learning the basics of actually flying a drone. So, no, paying extra for a camera on your first drone is a no-no.
However, if you already have some experience with flying drones (at least 1 or 2 flights) and you already know the basics of flying without crashing into nearby objects, then a camera might be a good addition. With it, you will be able to learn more advanced flight paths such as manually following objects in your camera’s focus on perhaps keeping a steady orbiting pattern around a certain object by paying attention to the FPV view.
Long story short – cameras are not an outright necessity for first-time flyers, but they can prove to be valuable in the long run, especially for people who would like to dedicate a lot of future time on getting good at aerial photography.
What is GPS and do I need it on my first drone?
GPS is always a big plus to any drone out there. If not for its ability to give your drone more stable movements in midair then surely because of all those supporting features that are implemented alongside it. However, for beginners, paying extra for a GPS-ready drone doesn’t really make sense since they’ll mostly be learning the basics which will (in most cases) result in a whole heap of crashes. That’s why I’d warmly suggest you opt for a cheap drone without GPS as it will give you a better general feeling for how controlling a drone actually works.
What is altitude hold and do I need it on my beginner drone?
Altitude hold is one of the handiest features that come packaged together with a GPS module. Altitude hold allows your drone to keep flying at a constant altitude without you having to manually adjust the throttle stick. It also allows you to concentrate better on your recording/shooting and does a world of good for beginner flyers who are learning the basics.
What is Collision Avoidance System and do I need it on my drone?
Collision avoidance are these highly sophisticated systems consisting of one (or more) sensors that work together in order to keep the drone from flying into nearby obstacles. They’re a relatively new technology that has emerged onto the mainstream drone scene just recently. That leads to the biggest problem – drones with OA are really expensive. With that said, I do not think beginners should go for needlessly expensive drones to practice their flying. It’s a waste of money if something goes wrong.
What is Follow Me mode and do I need it on my drone?
Follow Me feature is another one that is brought to life by GPS. As we already mentioned above in the basic terminology, Follow Me feature allows your drone to follow you or other objects. After initializing this feature you will also be able to adjust various settings such as flying speed, camera angle, flying height, rotation and so on. All in all, if you want an autonomous flying drone that records you doing various activities, then Follow Me feature is the one you need!
What will happen when my drone goes out of range?
Seeing your brand new drone fly away into the distance without being able to do anything about it is a really heartbreaking experience. To be honest, I know all about it since I already lost one drone that way. Luckily, it was a cheap drone under $100 and not an expensive beast. But, it served as a good lesson nonetheless. However, we can divide modern-day drones into 2 sections as far as the good old “what will happen when my drone goes out of range” question is concerned:
Short story – Drones equipped with a GPS module will return back to their starting location if they happen to go out of range. Keep in mind that this is not present with all drones. Plus, on some of them, you will have to manually set this feature up if you want it to work.
Long story – To keep your drones from going away on their own after losing signal, GPS drones have specialized FailSafe options that ensure the drone’s safety. They are commonly referred to as return-home and land failsafe.
Unfortunately, cheap drones that are not equipped with GPS usually end up just like mine did. It flew away into the distance and I haven’t had much luck finding it. And I’ve looked everywhere. That’s probably because the drone remembered my last command input (which was full throttle and pitch forward) and flew further away for God knows how long.
That’s the usual thing that happens when a non-GPS drone goes out of range. Some drones remember the last input until they crash while some remember the last input just a few seconds after losing the signal. Either way, you’re up for a solid dose of searching afterward.
What will happen when my drone battery runs out in midair?
Just like the question above, this one can also be divided into 2 drone categories and be further explained. Starting off with cheap (toy-grade) drones, when they completely run out of battery, they will, unfortunately, drop down from the sky.
Starting off with cheap (toy-grade) drones, when they completely run out of battery, they will, unfortunately, drop down from the sky. However, every drone has a low-battery alarm system in place. These are quite different but generally what you’ll be looking at is flashing LEDs on the drone, buzzing sound on your controller or some sort of a visual warning message on your smartphone’s app. Either way, you will be promptly notified.
On the other hand, expensive drones usually have low battery voltage failsafe feature which allows them to safely land when their battery is near gone. This doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to your battery levels since your drone might land somewhere too far from you and you won’t be able to locate it. Luckily, expensive best beginner drones 2017 also feature alarms which will notify you if your battery is on critical levels.
What to do if I lose orientation when flying my best drone for beginners?
If you happen to fly in FPV mode and you suddenly lose the signal you will be facing a tough task. In most cases, you won’t know your drone’s orientation which can make the task of returning it back much more difficult. If you face this situation, you’ll be happy to know there are 2 ways out:
1. Stay calm and enable headless mode on your drone. Once you are in this mode, simply rotate the pitch/roll stick to yourself and hopefully you will see your drone slowly return to your location.
2. If you own a GPS drone, returning your drone after losing orientation is even easier. Simply enable the Return to Home feature on your smartphone/controller and that’s pretty much it. Keep in mind though – some models require you to manually set up your drone’s home location.
Tips for first-time drone flyers
Now that you’ve seen the list of all beginner-friendly drones sorted in a couple of price tiers, it is time to show you some tips for basic flying. They might not make you a professional pilot right away but they are sure to make a difference when starting out: