Just like people, drones come in all shapes, weights, and sizes. Odds are you’ll buy only one so you want to make it the right one. There are a lot of different models out there. Which one is best for you? This handy guide will help you make the right choice.
First and foremost: Decide what you want it for. Your drone has to have the right features for what you want it to do. Extra features might be overkill: more costly and more complicated to use.
People usually fly drones to capture fun they can share with others. You might take video of family outings and parties, good times with friends, jogging on a beach or kayaking along a trail, documenting your kids’ sports events for relatives who couldn’t be there, taking video of your travels and lots more. Here are some features you should consider:
- Family events: Get a drone that can fly safely indoors and out. Be sure it’s small enough for indoor flight.
- Fun with friends: Ease of use is super important. You want to be engaged with them, not the drone. Look for dead-simple operation for the drone and the camera. A cool feature to consider is Orbit 360™, which will keep the drone circling above you and your group, whether it’s a campfire or a ball game.
- Outdoor activities: A drone with Follow Me can track you or others whether you’re walking, running, or even barreling along in a dune buggy.
- Sports: Be sure the drone has a 4K camera. Flying close to or over other people is not allowed so you and your drone will have to stay back a bit. Sharp, crisp video will help you get a great view of the action.
- Travel: You want a lightweight portable drone, one that’s small and rugged enough to toss in backpack or duffel bag―or even a photographer’s vest―and take anywhere. And you definitely want a drone with geofencing. When you’re away from home you may not know where it’s safe to fly. Geofencing will help keep your drone away from no-fly areas.
- How friendly is the drone? It’s going to be a personal companion so it should be extremely easy to use, with plenty of automatic flight features like auto take-off, hover, and autoland. What happens if the drone’s battery gets too low, the signal to the controller is lost, or your phone’s battery dies? You want a drone that will return to its launch point and land by itself, no fuss or drama.
- How much time will you fly each day? You may need extra batteries or even a second battery charger so you’ll never be without power.
- Are you flying indoors? If so, propeller guards that shield the propellers on all sides are a must. In addition, look for a drone with optic flow and ultrasonic positioning. Those are fancy names for a drone that can see what’s below it and know how high above the surface it is. This helps keep your drone rock-solid stable indoors.
- What type of pictures do you want? Regular high-definition or ultra-high definition? Drones with a 4K UHD camera let you shoot in 1080p or 4K. 1080p works for most of us most of the time but you want 4K for those times you need it.
- Make sure the drone you buy is supported by its manufacturer. Not all drones protect you against accidental damage, and only a very few like the Lily Next-Gen® protect you against loss and flyways.
Now that you’ve made your decision and brought your drone home, know how to fly it safely. Check out the great tips at Know Before You Fly.
Last but not least, we’re assuming you’re flying just for fun. If you’re flying for an organization, even if it’s a volunteer group, you need to have a Part 107 Remote Pilot’s Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Think of it like a driver’s license plus. There’s a written test to ensure you know the rules but no “road” test. Check out the FAA website for more: https://bit.ly/2PjYIii
Whatever you want from a drone and wherever you’re going to use it, make sure it fits your needs for your first flight and every one thereafter.