You can pair the Tello with a third-party gamepad controller, but it’s easy enough to fly using the simple, intuitive Tello app. Thanks to its link with DJI (the Tello’s flight controller is made by the drone manufacturer), it’s a great ‘first drone’ for kids or adults looking for a learner model to practice on before moving to a bigger quadcopter like the the DJI Mavic Air.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t come with a controller, which means you’re forced to pilot Tello via virtual joysticks on a smartphone app: a control method that’s notoriously mushy and imprecise. The good news, though, is that Ryze built the drone with third-party peripherals in mind, so if you prefer to fly with physical sticks under your thumbs, you can pick up a GameSir T1d controller and link it to your bird. We think it’s well worth the extra $30 bucks!
While DJI may be the first name you think of when it comes to drones, it isn't the only game in town. You can also look at models from Autel Robotics, Parrot, PowerVision, and Yuneec. Others have dabbled in the consumer drone space and exited quickly—GoPro pulled its Karma after a rocky launch and poor sales, and 3D Robotics tried to get in with the Solo, but also gave up the fight to focus on the industrial and enterprise spaces.
And the best part? You can fly it with your smartphone, or pick up Yuneec’s dedicated controller system if you want tighter, more responsive controls. In other words, if you start with this drone, you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of piloting a quadcopter — but more importantly, you’ll also be able to upgrade your setup as your skills progress and your needs change.
Most still cameras are 5 megapixels or higher. Therefore, do not be fooled by the claims of HD for a camera when the manufacturer is relying on the resolution for still photos. It is true what they are saying but not the complete story. Having HD resolution for still images does not explain the possibility of also having a lower quality for video-image capture.
One of the cheaper options for an autopilot drone is the Hubsan H501S. It doesn’t have as many camera features as some of the more professional drones, but it is still equipped with some great auto features. It comes with a 1080p HD camera and has automatic return, altitude mode, and follow-me capabilities. It’s small, compact size makes it good for traveling and you get an average of 20 minutes of flying which is great for the price you’re paying. While more professional drone features are missing, you’re still getting a nice drone for less than $300.
With an altitude hold mode, which keeps the drone at a specified altitude, the Yanni Syma can hover, ascend, and descend at the push of a button, making this one of the easier drones to manipulate in the air once you get the hang of it. At the same time, the Yanni does have similar downsides in terms of charging time, flight distance, and flight time. It takes over two hours to charge, can travel to fifty meters away, and its battery can last for up to ten minutes of flying time. Even with all of these faults in mind, it would be hard to do worse, considering all that you get with it. Best recommended for the more serious beginner interested in FPV drone racing.
To gauge flight performance, we put the drone through a number of tests to see how the manufacturer’s claims hold up. First we take it to a local football field and see how fast it can clear 100 yards, then do some calculations to get an objective reading on speed in miles per hour. After that, we do a similar test to assess ascent and descent speeds, and all the while, we’re also taking notes on how responsive the controls are, how stable the craft is, how far it can go before it’s out of range, and what the overall piloting experience is like compared to other drones.
Overall, professional drones with cameras are of high quality. These drones have some of the best cameras that money can buy onboard and ensure perfect stability for aerial photography and videography purposes through the gimbal and gyro axis. Some of these drones may even feature autopilot and GPS features that make professional drone photography better than ever.
We test two main things when reviewing drones – their flying performance, and the camera’s video and stills quality. To test flight, we take the drone out to an approved Flying Field like the one in Richmond Park and check its responsiveness, speed, stabilisation, obstacle avoidance and the accuracy of safety features like return-to-home. We also assess the stability and quality of its video feed from its maximum distance and its battery life claims, based on real world use.
The Hubsan X4 makes the number four spot on our list. On the other end of the spectrum of affordable drones, the Husban X4 offers what few others in its category can. The first thing you'll notice is its size, as the Husban X4 is hardly bigger than a standard smart phone. Due to its smaller frame and lighter weight, this tiny drone is best when used indoors, or outside on a calm day with no wind, as it could get carried away by any particularly large gusts.
Many manufacturers mount cameras inside the body of the drone. This is acceptable for casual photography, but if you want more professional results, consider adding an external camera mount, or gimbal. Gimbals allow you to place your video or still camera in front of the drone body, away from the vibrating motor and rotors. Gimbals can swivel and pivot, providing you with additional control over your imagery.