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A 10-Step Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Drone

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Drone flying close to forrest

Drone flying close to forrest


Drones have evolved rapidly from being just a mere flying toy. They are now useful tools for aspiring photographers who need to get wider angles or more intuitive shots for their projects. In addition, they also serve a variety of different purposes such as mapping terrain and surveying wildlife.

Drone flying over river

Drone flying over river

Here is our 10-step guide to buying a drone. You can also read about the things to know before buying a drone.

1. Price Range

The price range for drones varies from $50 to a couple thousand dollars. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even the most expensive model may not perform well for what you need. It all depends on how experienced you are handling drones and what you plan to use it for.

Camera drone

Camera drone

More expensive drones may have longer flying times, better cameras for photography and video-recording, better controllers and more durability in extreme environments.

2. Drones For Beginners

Although the most basic drones range from $50 to $300 and are often smaller and easier to manoeuvre, they can still handle a lot of tasks. Most offer camera and video-recording capabilities. Some will offer a live video feed to your controller which will in turn help you to navigate the drone out of sight.

Drone flying indoors

Drone flying indoors

3. Drones for Intermediate Users

The next batch of drones are for intermediate users and can range anywhere from $300 to $1200. These drones are normally bigger and offer much better flying experiences. The majority of these drones come with a more impressive 720p camera and are able to fly for a longer period of time on one charge.

Drone flying over sea at sunset

Drone flying over sea at sunset

4. Drones for Experts

The next class of drones can cost $1500 or more. These drones are some of the most impressive tools for photographers or avid drone-lovers. These drones can sport up to 6-8 rotors for better flight control and cameras with 1080p or better.

Drone flying aobe emergency scene

Drone flying aobe emergency scene

If the drone is not equipped with a camera, come with an attachment where you can attach your own personal camera or an action camera such as a GoPro. You will normally get a longer flight, more stability, and a better controller for flying.

Drone aerial footage of houses close to beach

Drone aerial footage of houses close to beach

5. Cameras

Drone camera

Drone camera

The majority of people prefer to use a done that is equipped with a camera. The good thing is that is now standard for new drones to have cameras. Most of the drones on the market are fully equipped with at least a 12MP camera resolution and 4k video resolution.

Drone image of beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Drone image of beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

6. Air Time

Picture of Jeongdongjin, South Korea taken by a drone

Picture of Jeongdongjin, South Korea taken by a drone

The air time or flight time refers to how long your drone can stay in the air without the need to recharge. Most average drones will offer 25 minutes of uninterrupted flight time. It is important to know the limits of your drone to prevent it crash landing.

Drone flying in the sky

Drone flying in the sky

7. Video Transmission

Another key feature to look out for is the video transmission distance and the type of video transmission system. Look at the maximum distance from which the drone can transmit videos to the controller, and also look at the quality of the video that will be transmitted.

Drone footage

Drone footage

8. The Gimbal

The gimbal is an accessory that can really come in handy if you are using your drone to take pictures or videos. Some drones will have a gimbal fitted as standard. A gimbal attaches underneath the frame of your camera drone to stabilize the platform for the camera. It can also provide a better range of motion for your shots.

Drone with camera in flight

Drone with camera in flight

The gimbal and the camera drone work in unison to give you smooth footage even while rolling and tilting through the air. Your controller operates the gimbal separately. This is what allows the camera to stay steady even when the flight is not. When looking for a gimbal, be sure that it is compatible with both your drone and your camera (if buying separately).

Camera drone

Camera drone

9. The Remote Control

You will obviously need a remote controller in order to fly your drone. Some drones are capable of being used with physical controllers and others can be controlled via a smartphone app.

Drone with controller

Drone with controller

Physical controller configurations range from two joysticks to more complex systems that can control flight and the camera at the same time. With more expensive systems, the flight controller may also be able to gauge external flight conditions like wind speed.

Drone controller connected to tablet

Drone controller connected to tablet

With smartphone controllers, the drones create their own WiFi hotspot. This allows you to fly anywhere, even when there is no other signal. You can connect your smartphone or tablet to the drone’s WiFi to pilot it.

9. Control Range

Drone flying above sea in sunset

Drone flying above sea in sunset

You will need to know what the maximum distance is that your drone can be operated from the controller. They can be anywhere from a couple hundred feet to a mile or more. The range you will need will depend on the purpose that you will be using your drone for.

Drone footage of winding road next to sea

Drone footage of winding road next to sea

Drone footage of pine trees in snow

Drone footage of pine trees in snow


10. Ready-To-Fly Versus Do-It-Yourself Drones

With drones, you can either purchase a do-it-yourself (DIY) model or a ready-to-fly (RTF) model. Your choice will depend on how much time and effort you wish to spend on your drone. RTF models are more convenient and require less work up front.

Drone flying

Drone flying

DIY models allow for greater customization and can sometimes cost less. However, with a DIY model, you will need to have the requisite expertise to build a model, calibrate it, and make it work.

Quadrocopter drone

Quadrocopter drone


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