Some people will tell you that beginner pilots should cut their teeth on lower-end drones, but in our expert opinion, that’s nonsense. Why? Crappier drones are harder and less reliable to fly, which means that you’re far more likely to crash and destroy them. We think its a smarter idea to start out with a slightly nicer drone with reliable, responsive controls, a decent warranty, and a design that’s easy to repair or upgrade.
Another great feature is you can use your fingertip to chart a flight path. You do this by dragging your finger across the video image from the drone that is shown by its app on your smartphone. Then, the drone will automatically fly the flight path you have chosen. You can also teach the drone to respond to voice commands that you record with your smartphone.
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.
Nevertheless, no matter the dimensions of your craft it’s not permissible for hobbyist drone users to fly their machines over 400ft above the ground, plus you’re required to always maintain a clear line-of-sight with the machine at all times. Furthermore, it’s your duty to carefully inspect the device before each flight session to ensure that it’s airworthy so as to avoid unnecessary accidents. Generally, the best drones under 100 (over 50) weigh less than 0.55lbs, but it’s your duty to ensure that you fly responsibly.
And now the bad news. You get what you pay for, and if you want an aerial video platform that can capture stunning footage, you need to be ready to spend some cash. Because drones are such pricey propositions, it pays to do your research before buying one. We've tested many of the ready-to-fly models on the market to determine what's important to look for, and the best models available.
Once you have a GoPro hooked up and are ready to go, you can use the TTR Hero application to monitor your distance, altitude, battery level, and more. Follow Me, Landing, Return to Home, and Waypoint Groundstation are the included features. Interestingly enough, Waypoint Groundstation allows support for up to 16 Waypoints that are preset by you before flying, which is pretty neat.
The Altair AA108 is durably built and will not break easily. You can count on a solid flight time of around 10 minutes, a bit less when you’re running it FPV. However the 720p camera really works well and connects to your phone through WiFi. It’s easy to fly because it has 3 flight modes, 1 beginner, 2 intermediate and 3 advanced mode. It also has Altitude Hold which allows you to take your thumb off the control and the drone holds it’s own altitude, making it very stable because it’s not bouncing up and down as you try to maintain altitude!
The Yuneec Typhoon H is an innovative and exciting autopilot drone. It goes beyond traditional quadcopters and offers great features that consumers love. It has a noteworthy CGO3+ gimbal camera with a 360° range of motion that offers manual camera settings while in flight. This drone has professional quality features but is sold at a consumer price. There are a handful of flight modes to use for added stability and exploration. You can set your drone to orbit a circular path around you as you fly as well as setting points of interest so your Typhoon will automatically orbit a subject of your choice. There are follow me features that allow your drone to move with you and easy return to home for easy landing right near you.
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.
Unlike all of the other quadcopters on this list the manufacturer, Blade, has a very strong pedigree in radio controlled aircraft and because of that, Blade uses the DSM2 radio frequency standard. This is a key difference when compared to all the other quads on this list because if you have a DSM2 capable transmitter, you can fly using that rather than a lower quality transmitter the company would throw in.
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.
Another big addition is Spark’s obstacle avoidance system. While the ability to sense and avoid objects is usually a feature reserved for larger drones, DJI went ahead and built one into the hull of the Spark. It’s not quite as robust as what you’ll find on the Phantom 4, or even the Mavic Pro, but it still serves its purpose, and helps you avoid crashes.
There are various factors you should take note of when shopping for these particular machines. First, you need to check the control operating system to ensure that it’s easy and manageable to use. Basically, there are 3 main control functions you can choose from which include OPTI, ATTI, and GPS, though they all help in flight-stabilization and assistance they tend to do it in slightly different ways.