Drone flying has become one of our new hobbies. It is fun to try the different options and capture atypical perspectives – like a bird’s eye view of the world. We love to take it everywhere when we travel locally and internationally. We thought we would share what we find useful and some things you should consider when purchasing your drone.
Just recently GoPro announced its first drone – Karma, but there are several other brands which have been selling drones for some time. Before buying the newest drones, consider some of this advice before going for those ‘big brands.’
The most important aspect of drones is the flight time or battery life, which determines its price. Drones with more flight time cost more. Most mid-range drones range between 15 to 25 minutes flight time, while higher-end drones, like the Phantom4, can get a flight time of about 30 minutes!
Everyone wants a drone that can be as far as your visual range permits – this is the second most important thing to consider while buying a drone. A drone with a range of approximately 1 mile is great, but note that this includes the line of site distance from the controller to the drone (the drone operations do have height limitations set by law). For example, our Autel Robotics drone has a range of approximately 1.5 miles. It can however be flown at a maximum height of only 400 m by U.S. law, so the max range can be calculated using Pythagorus theorem which works out to a cool 2304 m. The range can be limited by objects, weather. etc. and the frequency band used by the radio transmitter.
Drones can come with a variety of options here. Some have the capability of mounting a GoPro, like the 3DR drone, or the Karma drone for example. Others, though, like DJI Phantom 3 & 4 and Autel Robotics come with a standard HD or 4K camera. The quality of the camera plays a tremendous role in the quality of the photography or videography feed you can expect from the drone. Also consider the Frames Per Second (FPS) – high FPS is better for action video .This is a great website to give you a visual representation of FPS.
Weight & Traveling Accessories
As a drone photographer you will want to carry your drone everywhere. It’s important to consider the weight of the drone since it does require its own backpack or special carry case. Some drones have a backpack or carry case included in the accessories without additional purchase. Traveling accessories do cost a lot of money, so it helps if the manufacturer includes it with the drone.
Auto Pilot and Navigation
A good quality drone should come with standard features like “Go Home,” (having the drone fly back to your original starting point) and GPS assisted navigation (say you lose visual sight of your drone, these features will help you retrieve it safely). A useful features like “Follow Me,” way points, and the ability to orbit an object or a point of reference are also very useful and enhance your drone’s capabilities.
It is always good to have spare propellers or a battery with your drone kit. The battery will be needed to extended your flight time, especially if you want to also shoot multiple locations on the same day. The spare propellers come in handy if your drone (unfortunately) crashes or gets entangled in cables. We experienced this first hand during one of our recent trips (oops!). The propellers are always the first to get damaged. Oh, and never fly your drone with damaged propellers!
Last but not least, don’t forget to register your drone on https://registermyuas.faa.gov.
For more suggestions, feel free to write in the comment section below. We have done loads of research on drones (photo quality, flight time, prices, etc.), so feel free to reach out to us.
Happy drone shopping!