Let’s be honest here. It is not difficult to be drawn to the prospect of having your own drone. Apart from the fact the news is full of drones being the next ‘big thing’, social media sites like YouTube and Facebook are full of videos taken from drones, and about drones too. Instagram is awash with fantastic images taken from drone cameras and so many of them look fantastic as they are providing us with pictures from angles we are not used to.
However, there is the problem of trying to run before you can walk, or in this case flying before you can run. In the right hands, a drone can look simple and safe to fly, but like anything, practise makes perfect, and where drones are concerned, gently does it is the order of the day. Irrespective of whether or not you feel a one-pound drone can’t do much damage, try telling that to someone who you just flew into, or when dropped your drone on their head from 200ft!
Then there is that other little matter of money. Hobby drones range in price from $20.00 to $5,000.00 and if you are new to this hobby, it could be a costly mistake to start off too big too soon. Our advice is to start with something of a small-to-medium size and that comes in what we refer to as the ‘affordable’ or ‘budget’ range of drones. This means that if the early test flights are as unsuccessful as those of the Wright brothers, you won’t break the bank or be reduced to tears. In addition, the lighter the drone, the less damage it can do to itself if it flies into something or falls out of the sky.
On a final couple of points, the less expensive the drone, the less costly replacement rotor blades will be, and when learning to fly, we recommend you stock up on these! We also know that with the popularity of drones, when you decide to ‘upgrade’, you should have next to no problem selling your first drone, assuming of course it is not in pieces tucked away at the back of your garage.
So what do we recommend? Well the following is our top 5 choice of drones for new pilots that will suit every new pilot’s budget:
This is without doubt one of the most popular drones going, and at around $60.00, and when fitted with an HD camera which comes with a 2GB SD card, you can understand why. It is small enough and light enough to be flown indoors, yet heavy enough to be used outside. Great features of this model are its ability to do flips at the push of a button on the control, and added stability from a 6-axis gyro. Flight time is an ample 7 minutes – ideal for new pilots. Rating 9/10
Discovery HD+ RC Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera
For under $150.00 you can get an awful lot of drone and a great deal of extras. Discovery do a great range of drones, and this one complete with HD camera and 4GB SD card is a great combo for the new pilot. This has 2 flight modes, one specifically designed for beginners, also has one button 3D flip and roll capability, and a brilliant return home function for when you are getting into trouble! The top price includes extra batteries and a power pack to increase the overall flying time. Rating 8/10
AKASO X5C 4CH 2.4GHz 6-Axis RC Quadcopter with HD Camera
Shop smart and you can get this model for under $100.00, which is a great buy. We like this as it is great for the novice because the rotor guards will save you a lot of time replacing damaged ones! The built-in HD camera produces great quality images, but what makes this a real fun drone is the inclusion of flashing colored LED lights which are fantastic for night flying. The 6-axis gyro adds extra stability and is perfect for building confidence, while this model also comes with an extra memory card, spare rotor blades and interference free transmission so other quads won’t spoil your fun if they are nearby. Rating 7/10
This is fun. At under 6” across and weighing under a pound, this is a brilliant starter drone where you can’t do too much damage if things go wrong. However, this drone will keep you happy for a long time as despite its small size, it still comes equipped with a great HD camera and memory card. The flight time is good for a drone of this size and it is ideal for indoors as well as outdoors use. This drone is fun with a capital F as it offers you a 360° 4-ways flip (left, right, forward, backward), continuous roll for perfect action and 4 sensitivity levels to adapt to your skill level. Rating 8/10
Our last choice is another mini drone, this one really being pocket size! The actual body of this drone is only 2” across, and the rotor blades are also only 2” in diameter, so a six-inch maximum span makes this a great drone with which to understand how they fly, learn what they are capable of doing, and what can go wrong, but all in a scaled-down environment. Despite its size, you still get a camera, 4-direction rotation and a six-axis gyro for extra stability. For a drone to help get you hooked on the hobby, this one’s a great start. Rating 7/10