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
A. The law is a bit murky here in terms of licenses and registering of drones, and as such your best bet is to check local regulations and brush up on the latest requirements from the FAA. In general, you won’t need a license if you’re flying a drone recreationally and the drone weighs under 55 pounds. Anything heavier than that and you might need to register it. If you’re trying to earn money with your drone, you’ll need to be licensed. The FAA is more than willing to fine or even jail those who violate drone rules, so this is definitely not an area you should ignore.
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 blade nano qx is the closest competitor to the Hubsan. Both of them are extremely popular for beginners, and both of them are loved by enthusiasts due to their modification capabilities and excellent flight characteristics. Repairs are easy, the motors have plug in connections so you don’t have to even solder if one goes out. The price on this one is a bit steeper than the others, running about $80 for a complete, ready to fly package, but you do get a more capable quadcopter.
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.
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.
Small drones might be super for indoor and low-level outdoor flying, but if you’re planning to pilot your drone in more difficult weather conditions it’s worth considering how well your flying machine will fare. Petite drones are generally more affected by crosswinds than larger quadcopters, though advanced stabilisation tech can sometimes reduce the effects of a strong breeze.
Almost all of the models featured here have some safety features. Even the DJI Spark, which isn't built for long-distance flight, includes a GPS and automatic return-to-home functionality. If your control signal is interrupted, or if the battery gets down too low (most drones can only fly for about 25 minutes on a single battery charge), you drone will start to head back to its takeoff point and land.
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.
Speedy and nimble, the Mavic Air is great fun to use beyond its image-capture abilities – though these are stellar, too. The 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor sits on a three-axis mechanical gimbal that reduces vibrations and ensures silky smooth footage, with 4K video at 30fps offering plenty of detail. It’s only in low-light that you’ll notice it struggling.