The drone is a remote-control (RC), multi-rotor flying device that can offer live first-person viewing or FPV of terrain, nature and other outdoor areas. Personal drones are not military equipment. A personal drone is ideal for photography enthusiasts and both RC and aviation hobbyists.
Hobbyist Drones: Basics
The RC drone puts you into the pilot’s seat without ever having to leave terra firma. With a hobbyist drone you can enjoy a thrilling flight from a pilot’s viewpoint. Some drones are perfect for performing aerial stunts, while others are designed for racing. Depending on the drone’s camera quality, you can experience vibrant and detailed pictures or video shots that are accessible only from a bird’s eye point of view.
Drone prices vary greatly and the drone you choose will depend on the type of experience desired. Do you plan to take hundreds of aerial photographs of your neighborhood and your home? Are you looking for a comprehensive flying experience? Do you dream of hours practicing loops and other aerial stunts to show off to your friends and family?
When you have an idea of how you plan to use your drone, then it’s time to look at the features different types of drones offer.
Drone Buying Guide: Features
When shopping for a drone there are specific features to consider. The complexity of these features will influence the price of the drone.
- Skill level
- Battery life
- Flight time
- Camera specifications
Beginner: Entry level or beginner drones typically cost less than $100 and are lightweight, small and often compatible for indoor use. They’re designed to be ready-to-fly (RTF) and if it includes a camera, it will be enough to capture images but the resolution may not be as high as cameras found on intermediate and advanced level drones. Consider a model like the AWW Quadrone, a quadcopter with a control range of 100 feet, seven minutes of flight time and a 30-minute battery life.
Intermediate: The intermediate level features larger models that work better outside. Some of these drones come equipped with an onboard camera or can be fitted with an external action camera of your choice. These are ideal for flights above the neighborhood park or if you want to capture bird’s eye images of your home and property. Consider this level if you’re looking to perform aerial tricks. The DJI Phantom 2 is an intermediate level drone with 25-minutes of flight time plus autopilot mode and an auto return feature.
Advanced: Any advanced drone will be at the highest end of the price point but it will offer multiple features and may include as many as six or eight rotors to supply the drone with maximum lift and superior stability. Look for cameras on the advanced models to offer 1080p video or better plus a high-quality stabilizing mount to ensure the best and smoothest picture quality. P.C. Richard & Son offers the DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter with 4K UHD camera plus 12.0 megapixel resolution, image stabilization and a flight time of 18 minutes.
Wingspan and Sensors
Wingspan is used to determine the size of the drone — it measures from one blade tip to the other opposite blade tip. For indoor use or drone flying in the backyard or neighborhood park, a smaller wingspan will suffice. For capturing video footage and high-quality pictures, you’ll need a drone with greater wingspan.
Sensors often are featured on intermediate and advanced drones. The GPS sensor offers various functions including the auto-return feature and the ability to program the drone with longitude and latitude coordinates.
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