Drones are truly revolutionary devices and they’re a great piece of kit to have in your gear bag. Here are 5 tips to help you when you’re buying your first drone.
How will you use it?
First, figure out exactly what it is you want out of your new drone. A few things to consider are:
- Where will you use it?
- Will you be travelling often?
Where will you use it?
If your plan is to go shooting predominantly outside of urban areas where there may be higher wind speeds and high altitude, you may want to consider a larger drone, such as a DJI Phantom Pro. These are more sturdy but offer more stability in sketchy conditions than their smaller counterparts.
On the other hand, if you plan to shoot primarily in urban areas where there are more buildings to buffer the wind, a drone such as the smaller DJI Air 2s will get the job done just as well.
Will you be travelling often?
If you’re a frequent traveller, it’s worth considering buying a more portable drone such as DJIs Mavic 2, which is a phenomenal little thing that folds down to fit in pretty much any bag. It offers superb image quality with the option of a mounted Hasselblad camera in addition to the already impressive optical zoom camera option.
Larger options such as the Phantom 4 Pro are also easy enough to carry when you go for their carry case, although this can get bulky if you’re dashing between flights in an unfamiliar airport.
Doing research is key. Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to use it, a quick google search will yield a vast range of reviews for you to sift through. There are great resources on YouTube, with the likes of channels like Matti Hapoja, Captain Drone and Top Tech Now.
Visit B&H’s Explora site for expert reviews from one of the world’s largest audio visual stores, or The Verge, Tom’s Guide and many others. All offer in-depth reviews of the latest drones on the market.
Of course, you want to make sure the drone you choose can do what you want it to do. Look out for features such as hyper-lapse or timelapse capabilities, panorama mode, terrain follow, steady shot or simply the ability to have full control over the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Many drones now come with a host of easy-to-use features that will help you get the shot you want without you having to do more than get the drone up to altitude and press a few buttons. If you’re more of a full-manual kind of person, it’s a good idea to read the full specs before you buy that drone.
When you buy, buy more.
It’s always a great idea to buy the extras like the additional battery packs, extra propellers and charging dock. If it’s out of your budget, you’re better off saving up to buy the full package. The last thing you want is to buy a drone with one battery and a remote, only to go out to shoot and have it last only 15 – 30 minutes.
DJI – the largest consumer drone manufacturer will usually have their “Fly More” package which includes extra batteries, propellers, a handy (and protective) carry case, additional connector cables, a charging hub and other essential hardware (like a car-charger!). This means more flight time for you, which in turn gives you more opportunities for amazing photos.
Wherever possible, invest a little more into a couple of lens filters such as ND (Neutral Density) filters, UV filters or Polarizing filters. These go a great way in improving your shooting options, image quality and generally protecting your drone’s lens.
Other optional extras include low-noise propellers, propeller guards and gimbal guards, all of which are great to have when you want to shoot silently, face the potential risk of flying into an object or need to protect the gimbal when you’re on the move.
As soon as you’re ready to take off on your first flight, check out our pre-flight checklist.