I placed a request on Volunteermatch, where organizations connect with potential volunteers. The link for this is https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/index.jsp?k=drone&searchOpps=&v=false&categories=37&categories=37&s=1&o=distanceBand&l=Seattle%2C+WA%2C+USA&r=20&sk=&specialGroupsData.groupSize=&na=&partner=&usafc=#k=drone&v=false&categories=37&categories=37&s=1&o=distanceBand&l=Seattle%2C+WA%2C+USA&r=20&sk=&specialGroupsData.groupSize=&na=&partner=&usafc=’’ defer onload=’ defer onload=’
DJI models currently dominate our top picks, and there's a good reason for that. The company is simply a few steps ahead of its competition right now, and has a product catalog with models at various price points, which take up a good number of the slots in our top ten. It made a huge splash with its iconic Phantom series, and now makes the best small drones we've tested in the form of the Mavic series.
Go for a model which has easy-to-find spare parts even from your local store. It’s highly recommended that you should have at least an extra pair of propellers, apart from the ones already on your drone, including the appropriate tools needed to replace them when they accidentally break down. Furthermore, there should be sufficient protectors available for your quadcopter, so as to prevent damage both to the device and injury to people or property damage in case of any clumsy flights or landings.
Lead camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H... See Full Bio
There is an altitude hold function that allows you to take aerial shots by releasing the throttle. Once the throttle is released, the drone hovers in place and take the shot. As a beginner, the headless mode will help you to understand the capabilities of the drone better. Once you’ve gotten conversant with the features, you can do aerial tricks and flips with the drone.
Naturally, there are a couple of downsides to a drone being this small – it’s not particularly happy when flying in breezy conditions and the battery life is barely longer than ten minutes. Still, while the body is made of plastic, it’s tough enough so survive some crashes and, in the right conditions, the Tello is an impressively stable and responsive flyer.
There is such a wealth of options in this rapidly growing field that we wanted to share a couple more drones that we like. The first is the Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini RC Quadcopter. This UAV offers a great feature set at an economical price, and its fast charge time (under an hour) will have you back in the air in a hurry. The Force1 U45WF Quadcopter offers features rarely seen at this price point, such as a custom route mode that allows you to trace out a path on the screen that the drone then follows. We also love that this drone ships with three batteries to greatly extend your flying time.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive drone that’s a little more advanced than the beginner offerings on this list, the Altair Aerial Blackhawk is an excellent choice – the perfect drone for the pilot that already has a GoPro camera or is wanting to customize their quadcopter with an action camera. This drone is extremely stable and durable, which makes it great for aerial photography. However, its best features are a flight time of 15 minutes and a range of 300 meters – otherwise unheard of at this price range. If you already have some experience with quadcopters and want something that’s fast, fun to fly, and offers long range at a low price, the Altair Blackhawk is the perfect drone for you!
The quadcopter is only about 3.5’’ measured diagonally motor to motor making it one of the smallest drones on the market. Even in that small chassis, Cheerson managed to fit a 100mah battery. While that may not sound impressive, it delivers solid flight time, keeping you in the air for somewhere between 4 and 8 minutes depending on how hard you fly it.
Aside from its tiny and hyper-portable design, the Spark’s biggest feature is arguably its plethora of intelligent flying modes. In addition to DJI’s standard stuff, the Spark sports a handful of brand-new modes, including Rocket, Dronie, Circle, and Helix (more on those in a moment). The drone also comes with gesture recognition abilities, which allow it to be operated without a smartphone or controller.
And the best part? Parrot also gives you the option of piloting via smartphone or with a dedicated dual-joystick controller. The Flypad, as it’s called, is sold separately for $40 bucks, but it might be worth the extra dough if you don’t have a spare smartphone lying around and don’t feel like handing your kid your brand new iPhone every time he/she feels like flying.
One of the most useful features of this drone that makes it great for beginners is how stable it remains while in the air. It even has a no-tip function to allow for an even smoother fly. This is the best small drone for less than $100, for the beginner looking to experiment with a fast, versatile, and extremely smooth flying drone at a shockingly affordable price. It comes with a 2.4ghz transmitter, spare propellers, and a USB charging cable, charges in forty minutes, and offers a decent amount of flight time averaging out at nine minutes.
All of these multirotors include the essentials; a battery, charger, remote (more commonly referred to as a transmitter), and of course the quadcopter itself. All of these are controlled using a standard mode 2 style transmitter with the throttle on the left and adjustable trim settings. They all also handle using the same basic control scheme and the same basic auto-leveling flight mode, but much like a car, they all feel distinctly different to control.
The JJRC H26WM is a great drone for beginners or those who want a casual drone to zip around with. The camera is pretty decent but nothing too fancy, so don’t expect the world from it. The maximum amount of flight time you can get is approximately 7 minutes, so having an extra battery is a good idea. The camera allows for 2MP in FPV which swings around in all directions.
Another one of the great drone on this list with the beginner in mind, the UDI 818A HD Drone is electric powered, radio controlled, and equipped with six gyroscopes for stabilization. Although it can take a decent beating, it is recommended that this drone not be flown above asphalt or concrete, as it is still made of plastic, and can break if improperly used.