BUYER'S GUIDE

Buying A Drone: Everything That You Need To Know About

Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

Drones are the talk of the town now and everyone has at least a general idea about what they are and what is their purpose. However, not many people know the elaborate process of buying a drone, even though they actually might want to buy one in the future. But before we delve into the details, let us first discuss the more technical aspects.

What are drones?

Drones are multirotor flying devices that go high up in the air and give you a whole new perspective of the general surroundings (if they have a camera attached). These devices are remote controlled and some even manage to give you a first-person view of the world through the inbuilt camera. Other models have the possibility to offer you a recorded video or still photographs that are stored on an SD card.

What are drones

These drones, especially the ones offering a first person view, give you the perspective of a pilot. You’ll almost feel like flying a real copter. Due to their high capacity when it comes to aerial photography, many drone models interest professional photographers and hobbyists who engage in photography. For a much better understanding of this matter, we suggest reading our article about what drones are and what are their applications in today’s world.

How to select the ideal drone?

If you too are a drone enthusiast and are looking forward to buying a drone, this article is for you! There are different kinds of drones available in the market and you need how to choose wisely.

One piece of advice: avoid going with the expensive models thinking that expensive drones would offer you the best services. You must make sure that the drone you purchase matches both your skills as a pilot and your needs.

Choose the best drone for you

However, it is true that the quality of the hardware and accessories increase as the price goes up. Drones are thus classified into different categories based on usage and the specifications. For instance, drones are classified into three major groups depending on the levels of competency: beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Drones for beginners

This is probably the most complicated category of drones available. These need to suit the interests of the beginners, who are taking baby steps into the world of flying.

Essentially, entry-level drones are small and light and they will have to cater to a few conditions. Firstly, the lightweight structures allow them to move easily. This is especially because every beginner starts his or her flying career in drone flying, indoors. Once the user gains experience indoors, he is free to take it outside.

Drones for beginners

These drones are, however, difficult to control outside because of their small frame and structure. They become susceptible to being overturned by winds. That’s why easy maneuverability is a must for drones of this kind. Some of these drones might come with cameras. But, more often than not, these devices are likely to produce low-quality images.

Overall, these drones are great if you want to try your hands at some flying experience in the price range of about $50-$200, and you can find out much more about these models by reading our article about best drones for beginners.

Intermediate drones

Next up are intermediate drones. These are slightly heavier and sturdier as compared to the drones for beginners. Specially designed for an outdoor flight where there are a lot more hindrances and obstacles coming up, these drones are equipped with easy to control options.

Intermediate drones

Also, these come with very effective flight controllers in order to allow the user or operator to have full control over the device in midair. Most of the time, these drones come with a high-quality onboard camera that can give you decent pictures at 720p or better.

Intermediate drones are ideal for hobbyists. These can be taken around a park to get a bird’s eye view or even around your house for the same purpose. These drones range around $300 to $1000.

Advanced drones

These are the most efficient drones you will come across. Yes, they might get a little tough on your pockets since they are priced at more than $1000. However, they give you services worthy every penny.

These drones include the likes of quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopters, and others which are ideal for professionals who have enough experience in flying. The presence of extra motors (6 or 8 motors) gives these devices the required stability and takeoff. The propellers are strong enough to carry slightly heavy objects.

Advanced drones

Advanced drones come with a lot of additional features like high-quality flight controllers to give you sufficient control over the device a few meters off the ground. The GPS feature helps you keep track of the drone, and this is, sometimes, accompanied by the Return-to-home feature that ensures the device comes back to its take-off point even when you can’t control it. The fact that these copters can manage autonomous flights is a property worth paying for.

The drones that fit in the advanced category come equipped with supremely powerful cameras that give you high-resolution photographs. Videos are recorded at 1080p or higher. If your drone is not equipped with an in-built camera, you could always choose to place an external camera with an exceptionally strong and effective gimbal. These advanced drones are especially useful for professional photographers, mainly because these cameras can provide you with different photography angles, ones you can get only with a proper helicopter.

Accessories and add-ons to look out for in a drone

Drones usually come as a ready to fly device or as a device that can be put together and then flown. However, this doesn’t mean that the purchasing will stop here. Usually, the drone is the first item you buy, and then you continue with the accessories.

Just to make an idea of what you are getting into, below is a list of the most wanted accessories on the market.

Action cameras

If the main aim is to try your hand at aerial photography, then it is best to opt for a device that comes packed with a camera already. The advantage of using a built-in camera is that you know that it goes well with the device hardware and software and there are no separate installations required.

It is easiest to use and also very compatible with the applications you might be using on your smartphone.

Drone with action camera

However, you could also opt to attach your own camera. This has some other benefits. Firstly, this opens up your choices to purchase a drone without an in-built camera that is both cheap and light. Plus, you get more versatility in the choice of camera you use.

You could attach a camera like a GoPro to your drone structure. These copters will come with a separate mount on which you can attach the photographic device. However, to use a separate camera, you have to possess some knowledge of the method for doing so.

Gimbals

Once we have discussed action cameras, it is the time to move on to gimbals. However, let us tell you up front, this is an optional feature.

A gimbal basically is attached underneath the framework of the drone. This imparts the additional stability to the copter and also facilitates a better range of motion for the camera. Basically, when the drone is in the air, the camera and the gimbal work hand-in-hand to give you stable, steady and crispy pictures of the earth as seen from above. This means that when the copter moves, turns, rotates, or even flips, the gimbal holds the camera in position. As an operator, you have full control over the gimbal to keep the camera on target.

Drone with Gimbals

If you are looking to purchase a drone with a gimbal, make sure that the gimbal, drone and the camera are compatible with each other. For a better understanding of this topic, we suggest checking out our article about drone gimbals.

Remote controllers

The next big thing for a drone is the flight controller. This is a very important part of the whole setup because this is where you can control the drone, its movements, the camera action and the likes. It basically works towards sending your instructions or commands to the flight controller fitted inside the copter body. Usually, you have the choice to opt for the remote controller, you are most comfortable with. This is because most of these devices can be tethered on to your drone very easily.

Now, depending on your usage and the price of the drone, you can get the features required. Some controllers are well equipped to gauge the wind speed and the pressure of the area.

Remote controller

More often than not, these controllers are in the shape and structure of a joystick with the necessary controls. With the help of these controls, you can move the drone forward, backward and sideways. Some drones and controllers come equipped with auto take-off and auto-landing options, return to home option and the likes. However, radio controllers can sometimes be affected by interfering radio signals and other such external factors.

Batteries

The batteries are another important aspect for any drone. It is a known fact that different copters offer different flight times based on the properties of the device. Now, the trick here is that the more powerful the battery is the longer the flight time will be.

Batteries

Generally, drone batteries take an hour or a little more to get fully charged. Once charged, some drones can run for 5 minutes while some others can go as long as 20 minutes on a single charge. Some copter sets come with a few extra batteries that make it a little more durable. Even otherwise, you can opt to replace the old batteries with new ones after a few trips.

Propellers

While buying a new drone, another point to note is the set of propellers. These are, quite basically, the power of the drones. When you take your copter out for a spin, it is but natural that there will be a few hindrances, a few crashes here and there.

No flight is completely perfect. But propellers are what protect the interior and delicate parts of the drone from the collision. These include the motors, the transmitters and the likes.

Drone Propellers

The propellers face the impact and react quickly to save the rest of the device. These accessories are cheap to purchase and thus once broken, can be damaged very easily. Some packages come with spare propellers.

But more often than not, you need to keep a few propellers as spare at home. Also, keep in mind that these rotate both clockwise and anticlockwise; so be careful before you make the purchase.

Drone cases

With every electronic device comes the necessity of a proper backpack or a case. It is the same for a drone. If you are flying your drone outdoors, you will have to take the entire package outside. It is for these situations that you really need the drone bags.

Drone carrying case

You can stuff in all of the equipment and accessories in a bag and go out on your adventure outdoors. It is essential to have a padded, foam interior that can perfectly protect the components inside.

5 Things to keep in mind before buying a drone:

Buying a drone is not an easy task. There are a number of features to consider before you buy a drone. As the pilot of the esteemed drone, you need to focus on a number of points. Here are a few things to keep in mind for the same purpose:

#1 Flying a drone is not the easiest job

Before you go on to make the big decision of buying a drone, keep in mind the fact that a drone flies and everything that flies is difficult to control. So, flying a drone is not going to be a very easy task.

Flying a drone

What makes a drone move is the computer inside of it; more popularly called the flight controller. The trend is that the more expensive drones will give you a smoother flight. This is because of the addition of a number of different sensors to enhance the whole experience.

Also, there are some flight controllers which work towards achieving an agile flying style with high speeds, while there are some others that focus on stability.

#2 Some drones are ready to fly while some others need a bit of work

RTF drones are the ones which are usually ready and do not require any further assembly or working. These are the easiest to fly, but might get a little expensive. There are some minor attachments to be made in this case including the likes of the batteries, propellers and some others.

Build your own drone kit

BNF drones are build-and-fly devices. In this case, you have an assembled drone, but that does not come with a controller. This is the part of the setup that you have to work on.

Thirdly, for the ARF or Almost ready to fly drones, you need to work on the semi assembled kit and make a drone out of it.

#3 Some investments are unavoidable

Buying a drone is not a one-time purchase. There will always be some minor expenditure here and there, all working towards enhancing your flight experience. These investments would include having a good flight controller, a charger and the likes.

There are, however, drones that you can get for as low as $50 with no further investments. But that is the absolute minimum. If you want to experiment with flying or with aerial photography, you would need to spend those few extra dollars.

Drone with GoPro camera

For instance, you can get camera for different prices. The one you choose depends on your needs and specifications. For high resolution pictures and videos, you would require a good GoPro camera. Also, how much you spend on a flight controller depends on how good a flight you are hoping for.

#4 There are many places you could buy your drone from

Drones, being a very favorite device amongst the enthusiasts, are available in different places. You could either choose to purchase them online (on Amazon for example) or you could get them physically from a market.

Make sure you do your research beforehand and are well versed with the information on the manufacturer’s website.

#5 You could be a part of a drone community

Owning a drone is a really exciting prospect. So, you could share your experiences with the flying device with other fellow enthusiasts and learn about newer aspects of the copters regularly if you are a part of a drone community.

Drone community

There are a number of such communities online which give you the chance to express yourself in the forums to make your flying experience a lot more fun!

All set? Do share with us your drone experience.

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Emily B.

    Was happy to find out, that there are so many drone communities in our country. These guys know everything about them and always happy to help.

  • Thanks for sharing with us your opinion.

  • Mike Davidson

    Thank you for this article. I wish I could have you guys when I was buying my drone. Thankfully it all went great and now I am moving towards the professional level.

  • I’m glad to hear that, Mike. Thanks for the kind words and all the best.

  • Mike Walker

    I wasn’t informed about the drone world when I first bought one and I “accidentally” bought an intermediate drone and it was a bit difficult to master it. I had moments when I wanted to quit, but the fun was more satisfying than anything.

    • Jack Brown

      That is why before every purchase you have to inform yourself about the product you are buying. Otherwise, you might end up buying something that is simply not for you. In your case, you had to learn that the harder way, but glad to know that you had fun 🙂

  • Marvin St. James

    Before buying a drone, it’s also important to be clear about one’s purpose. Are you getting one for a hobby? For taking aerial photos or videos? Or for first-person-view (FPV) racing? This will help you choose the perfect drone considering that features actually vary depending on what each drone is designed for.

  • Jack Brown

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂 That is exactly what newcomers to this hobby should pay attention to! Thanks for your opinion, Marvin!

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