Here are some important features that I think you should consider when buying a drone.
- Flight Time & Range
- GPS Assisted Flight (This feature makes flying much easier)
- Camera (Gimbal or Fixed)
- Controller Type (Phone or built-in screen)
- Features (Follow Me, Come Home, Emergency Procedures, etc.)
Drone Flight Time – Most drones over $400 come with about 20-25 minutes of flight time per battery, while drones under that price point tend to have around 8-15 minutes. If you plan on going with a drone under $100 you can expect 6-8 mins.
The Remote Controller (Specs/etc.) Phone attachment, built in screen, backlit screen, size, etc. Most drones allow you to use your phone or tablet as a screen.
Flight Range – How far and how high do you want to fly your drone. The FAA says you are not supposed to have the drone out of your visual eyesight, but most drones under $200 go about 100 meters, but if you go with a drone around the $200+ mark you can reach about 500 meters. Some drones on the more expensive end can go up to 4 miles like the DJI Mavic Pro. As a beginner, this is the least important feature I think. Any drone over $200 will go plenty far enough since you should keep the drone in eyesight at all times.
Drone Camera – Some things to think about are camera mount and gimbal, 4K, image stabilization, etc. Having a camera that can turn side to side and up and down makes the drone experience much more fun.
Flight Modes – FPV (First person view), live feed, etc., auto-flight mode to fly via GPS (orbit, follow me, return home and others), hover, headless mode, & manual modes. From researching, most users tend to like when drones have a hover feature that will make the drone hover when you take your hands off the controller.
Features – Return home button, auto take off and land buttons, tricks, and flips, FPV, altitude hold, hover, prop guards (safety feature), low battery indicator.
Highly Recommended Drone Features:
Return Home: automatically return the drone back to launch location, using a single button.
GPS Flight Assist: Having GPS assist makes flying a drone much easier. When I was a beginner, this made me feel much safer.
Beginner Mode: Some drones have a beginner mode option. This helps you learn the ropes without giving you absolute flight control. Very helpful.
Emergency Landing: if problems are detected by the drone such as low battery life, automatically attempt a safe, controlled landing or execute the return home mode.
Auto-Hover: sometimes called a “Panic Button”, hover mode immediately stops all forward motion and hovers in place. Important when wind or weather conditions temporarily ruin a shot; or, if you lose sight of the drone and no longer have video stream or telemetry data to confirm its position.
Headless Mode: A very good flight mode for a beginner. Watch this video to learn more about Headless mode and what it means.
Changing a Battery: – How easy is it? Some of the lower priced drones don’t have batteries that slide in and out. They can be a little tricky when you want to change a battery.
Drone Weight: – If your drone is too light you will have a very difficult time flying it outside. With the drone I have, (Holy Stone HS200), if I try to fly in any wind over 5mph it becomes very hard. If you live in a windy area I recommend buying a drone with a little bit more size and weight. In addition, GPS lock will also make a big difference.
If you’ve just purchased a drone here are some recommendations before you fly.
- Go to a park, field or big empty area with no buildings or wires.
- Early morning flying is usually better due to less wind.
- Don’t fly your drone with other distractions…focus on what you are doing.
- Stay away from people, animals, power lines, and water.
- Know your limits, take it slow. Most drones come with a beginner mode. I recommend you use it.
- Read the Manual….Then, read the manual again.
- Watch videos on YouTube of others using the drone you have.
**You took your drone outside and got it stuck in a tree…What do you do now?
The first time I took my little Holy Stone outside I got it stuck in a tree. I went to a soccer field by the local high school. I was flying just fine and was starting to push the battery life limit (6-9 mins.) and I thought I would take it up one more time. Unfortunately, I got a little too high, caught some wind and it took the drone across the street and into a subdivision. It came to rest on the top of a 23-foot tree. It showed me just how fast you can lose control of your drone so be careful. If you do get stuck in a tree here is a site that has some good tips on getting it down.