It also can’t handle itself outdoors, with the slightest breeze gusting it away (not only that, but because of how small it is, it’s easy to lose line of sight). Charging takes somewhere around 20 minutes with the usb charger, however you’ll need your own usb to wall adapter or a computer handy to plug it in. Unfortunately, unlike some other quacopters on this list, due to the size and engineering of this drone, repairs are extremely difficult, requiring a very tiny screwdriver to open it up, the solder pads for the motors are also tiny. Repairs aren’t impossible, but it is more difficult.
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
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.
These drones are marketed towards beginners because they are really cheap. However, these drones are not the easiest drones on the market to fly. Higher-priced drones, with the ability to use GPS coordinates and that have onboard obstacle detection and collision avoidance, are much easier to fly than these drones. You will have to spend in the range of $200 to $300 to get these advanced features for a drone; however, you may ultimately be happier if you do this than if you lose or crash one of these drones.
When taking all of the specifications of the Smya X5C1 Quadcopter in mind, it is a drone best suited for the true beginner as a good starting drone. It can also be for those interested in experimenting with some light photography, or casual indoor or night flying. Other than the short battery life, this drone has it all, and remains one of the best drones for anyone interested in seeing just what drones are all about. The Syma X5C-1 a great starter drone with a camera in our opinion. The Syma is also an excellent drone to learn to fly.
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.
As mentioned above, you will crash, and you certainly don't want to go home empty-handed. Having back-up propellers can make or break your day. Extra batteries are also a must. Current battery chemistry limits flight times to somewhere between 5 and 25 minutes for most amateur drones. Having plenty of charged spares means you can fly longer — though flying for more than 30 minutes straight can be fatiguing.
Transporting a delicate drone to and from a flying site can be a daunting process. Some drones come with a basic storage case, but you might consider purchasing a sturdier packing case or customized backpack for safer portability. These special storage systems can carry additional rotor blades, batteries, chargers, binoculars, and other essentials.
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.
For those looking for a basic done that has FPV camera capabilities that are still pretty decent, but at a fair price, the Hubsan H502S is definitely the way to go. There are minimal features, mostly just the GPS function, which is a nice touch that makes all the difference, and you get up to 12 minutes of flying time on a single charge. You also get Return to Home, Follow Me, one-key control, the whole set.
Although this HD Drone can be flown safely outside, make sure to avoid too much wind whenever possible. This is a lightweight drone, and as such it is susceptible to harsher weather conditions than some of the heavier, higher end drones. For hobbyists just itching to go out on blustery days when the wind is howling, try leaving the drone at home and taking a kite out instead.
If a drone in this category has first-person-view (FPV) capability, you can see what the drone sees. All except one of these drones require a smartphone (not included) to be able to view and record the video. The smartphone is held in a bracket and then it is connected to the controller. Some of these drones can be flown by only using the smartphone with a downloadable app installed that controls the drone.
Despite the DJI Phantom 4 Pro being a few years old, it’s still one of the most popular auto-pilot drones amongst professional aerial photographers. The 1080p camera is great for capturing brilliant imagery. It’s larger than the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, and missing some of the extra camera features, but it’s still a solid professional autopilot drone. The Phantom has three flight modes that are easy to switch between. In Position Mode offers obstacle sensing, Sport Mode adds extra agility and higher speed. While in Sport Mode, the Phantom can reach 45mph speeds. Atti Mode is ideal for the most experienced pilots. It switches off satellite stabilization and hold’s the drone’s altitude, making for smoother footage. This a top choice for professional pilots.
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.