I'm a 48-year-old devoted husband, musician, and drone enthusiast.
With Drones, the Possibilities Are Endless
Flying a drone can be a fun hobby or even a professional job. As drones are now widely available in the consumer market, with many at a relatively affordable price, aerial video and photography are becoming an exciting hobby for many enthusiasts. Professional drone pilots are also on the increase as the somewhat new technology is a useful tool for everything from marketing and surveying to search-and-rescue operations and professional aerial photography. Any of these jobs could be a very lucrative career.
My Recommendations for Beginners
I've written about two different drones that I've owned. They are both perfect beginner drones. If you are thinking about a drone hobby or have never flown one, please consider these two as a beginner option.
1. Yuneec Breeze 4K
The Yuneec Breeze 4K drone is the first drone I purchased. It only took a couple of days before I was comfortable flying at much higher altitudes and further distances. I have seen the Breeze 4K for less than the US $199.00 I paid for mine. That included the controller, which (in my opinion) is a must-have for stable control. Although your phone can control it, it's much easier with the control pad.
More Than Just a Toy
For the price, this bird packs a lot of punch considering how technologically advanced it is. With a GPS connecting to several satellites, it rarely loses its position. And with both infrared and optical flow sensors, this makes for smooth hovering and soft landings.
The camera is a 2 axis that allows only up/down position. The Breeze 4K (hence the 4K) can record ultra-high definition in 4k resolution. I find the video to be very shaky. The full 1080HD video, which is stabilized, makes for much smoother video.
The video below was taken at a park near where I live and provides a good demonstration of its video capability. Overall, I think the Breeze 4K is a great beginner drone. It was for me.
The DJI Spark
Now this little bird can fly!
— Rob Hampton
2. DJI Spark
This is the second drone I purchased, and it's the least expensive for a DJI brand drone. It's still a very affordable drone, and for its small size, this thing is really quite impressive!
The Breeze was the right choice for me as a beginner drone enthusiast, but then I wanted something more—more height, distance, speed, and quality. Being on a limited budget, my next best option was the Spark. At a weight less than 11 ounces, it's quite small. The capabilities of this tiny drone are astounding. It has an altitude ceiling of over 13,000 ft. (4,000m) and a range of nearly 2 miles, which was definitely something I was looking for.
The Spark is very easy to fly. Although it doesn't shoot 4K resolution video, it does a pretty decent job. The YouTube video below demonstrates what this little drone is capable of. The footage I have from my Spark isn't nearly as compelling or impressive as this video.
Tips for Beginners
- Start Simple. If you've never flown a drone, purchase a relatively inexpensive model that has at least some professional capabilities. (I failed to mention above that I've crashed my drone more than a few times. Poor little Breeze never survived the last one ,so I purchased another.) If you end up damaging it beyond repair, at least thousands of dollars will not have been lost during this learning period.
- Don't Panic. Pilot error is the most common reason for drone crashes. Although there have been many instances in which a drone becomes unstable or malfunctions, through research as well as my own experiences, a malfunctioning drone can often be recovered in mid-flight if the pilot remains calm. Most drones will simply just hover in place until they receive a command. (I've restarted the phone app in mid-flight many times.)
- Have Fun and Fly Safe. I love aerial photography and video. There are so many cool pictures to take, so don't be afraid to get that "money shot". Just make sure you've had plenty of practice and have full control of the drone. I often fly over heavily trafficked highways and in the city.
- Know the Rules. There are many regulations today on drones. Drones are classified as a "UAS" or, "Unmanned Aircraft System". Current information on laws, regulations, and licensing details can be found on the FAA's website for UAS.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.