This drone is built for better photos: the camera is farther away from the propellors to prevent interruption; the Phantom maintained near perfect stability even in 5+ MPH winds; and the various flights modes, such as Follow Me, worked great for getting interesting shots. We only flew the drone to 240 feet in the air, but we could have flown it much further if we had better visibility.
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.
For a beginner, there are a few drones that stand out on this list, but the drone you get heavily depends on what kind of beginner you are. If you’re looking at getting into drones because you like flying things and you want something to learn on, the Bugs 3 is a great choice. If you’re just looking for something to fly for fun around the house and bash around, you will probably want to look at the Mambo FPV.
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The controller has an LCD screen that displays important information such as battery life, range, and trim adjustments. The acceleration power is also displayed in percentage form. The controller also has a return to home button. Press this and the drone flies back to you. This is not a feature commonly found on a drone at this price point. The 2MP camera on the F181 is of 720p resolution and can take images at a 1280 x 720 resolution.
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.
FPV, or ‘First Person View’, drones give you the best possible experience imaginable, giving you a front seat to the action. FPV works by having a camera mounted on the drone, broadcasting a live video stream to the drone’s transmitter, FPV goggles, or a smart device. You’re able to fly more precisely and gain better shots with an eye in the sky than you normally would from your view from just the ground.
On the other hand, ATTI is a partially different tool, whereby the quadcopter uses other techniques and not necessarily external sensors to firmly hold the drone in correct altitude and orientation. ATTI allows the drone to hover in place, as well as to gently drift around while being pushed by the wind. Some drones also have GPS which offers great precision and coordination during flight.
A flight time of 15 minutes or more makes the DROCON Bugs 3 a very attractive proposition. It's not the easiest to learn, but once you've got the hang of it, performance is excellent. So why isn't it in our best five? It's designed to carry GoPro action cameras (or similar). If you've got one, it's worth the investment. If you haven't, it's an expensive toy.
Even if you have no good reason to justify buying one, you have to admit that drones are cool. Some are glorified tech toys, but most models we highlight here are fit for use in imaging and cinematic applications small and large. If you think you can use a flying camera in your next project, there's some good news—the tech has come a long way in a very short time. There are models on the market now that put earlier copters to shame in terms of video quality and stabilization.
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!