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 most enthusiasts. Professional drone pilots are also on the increase as the somewhat new technology is such a useful tool used in anything from marketing, surveying, search and rescue operations and professional aerial photography. Any of these jobs could be a very lucrative career.
Selecting a Drone
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.
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 it's position. And with both infrared and optical flow senors, this makes for smooth hovering and soft landings.
The camera is a 2 axis which 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. A good demonstration of it's video capability. Overall I think the Breeze 4K is a great beginner drone. It was for me.
Breeze 4K full 1080HD
The Breeze 4K Still Shot
This is the second drone I purchased and is the least expensive for a DJI brand drone. Still being a very affordable drone, and for it's 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, the 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. Considering it has an altitude ceiling of over 13,000 ft. (4,000m) and a range of nearly 2 miles, this was definitely something I was looking for.
The DJI Spark
Now this little bird can fly!
— Rob Hampton
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.
- Start Simple. If you've never flown a drone, purchase a relatively inexpensive model which 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 it receives 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.