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.
Overall you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for in the toy drone section with something for a camera to play with. The HD 720p camera takes great video and pictures. The price is right at under $130.00 amazon, and really the customer service is the kicker. No other drone company we’ve spoken to has displayed such dedication to making sure their customers are happy.
There’s a reason you see DJI’s Inspire showing up everywhere from movie sets to Enrique Iglesias concerts — it’s a beast. The Inspire 2 boasts some seriously impressive specs: a controllable range of up to 4.3 miles, a top speed of 67 miles per hour, forward obstacle avoidance, and all the stabilization and autopilot features you could ever ask for in a drone. But the camera is definitely the star of the show.
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.
The other primary consideration is how the photos and video are stored after you take them. Drones with WiFi capabilities will work with your mobile device, letting you see and store media real-time on your phone. For those that don’t, you’ll store the media on the drone, usually on a microSD card. If this is the case, know how much storage the drone comes with and whether (and by how much) it can be upgraded.
For both DJI drones, it's not necessary to go into depth about the basic functions, like take off, landing and navigating. You pay a premium, but these are definitely the top drones in the sky both because of their ease of use and extra features. On one battery, the Mavic flew for 21 minutes, in many different modes, speeds, and altitudes. The Tap to Fly feature on the Mavic was the biggest disappointment. The remote screen is too vague to simply place your finger where you want to go.
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.
There is a wide variety of full-featured drones now available for less than $100. While you won’t get the range or feature set of a more expensive option, an inexpensive drone is the perfect choice if you’re just starting out. It’s generally easier to operate than its pricier counterparts yet sturdy enough to withstand a variety of novice pilot mishaps. The majority also pack features that you might be surprised to find at this price point.
The Hubsan X4 H107C has super stable flight capabilities, gives you approximately 10 minutes of flight time, includes gyro sensitivity that can be adjusted based on your personal preference, and a 0.3MP camera that can record video and take picture paired with a Micro SDHC card. The only feature that seems to exist, and is worth mentioning, is that it can do a 4-way flip, which could be fun and something interesting to add to a video.
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.
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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!