What to look for when buying your first drone
If you’ve never bought a drone before, the world of drones can seem incredibly exciting. It’s an area of technology that seems to have developed amazingly quickly in the last few years, meaning that there is now a fantastically broad choice of drones available. However, if you are a drone novice, attempting to choose from those machines could feel daunting. We can cut through a lot of your confusion as we deliver the following guide to buying a drone for the first time.
What types of drones are there?
There are various categories across which many drones have been separated, though those categories are not always easy to identify. This is certainly the case with the consumer market – where, as Gizmodo explains, the most obvious gulf is between “budget” and “premium” models.
Often, the least expensive drones are “toy drones”, one of the many categories outlined by CNET. As this particular category’s name suggests, the focus here is very much on casual fun, not hard work. You can enjoy flying small such drones in your living room or outdoor space, but keep in mind that drones don’t necessarily become easier to fly the cheaper they become.
That’s a point we will return to later. You can imagine how vital ease-of-use can be when it comes to camera drones, an area in which DJI has reigned supreme among drone makers. The company’s range includes the Phantom models, which are great for capturing photos and video in the air. Meanwhile, an intelligent but also readily portable model is the appealingly small DJI Mavic Pro.
Among other drones are selfie drones, which are similar to toy drones in size and controlled from a phone, and racing drones. If you’re considering one, aim to get a ready-to-fly (RTF) one.
A few pitfalls to watch out for
You might be tempted to believe that, the cheaper a drone, the more basic it will be and, therefore, the more capable you will be with handling it, too. Except that, well, this isn’t entirely borne out in reality. A common theory that better applies is “you get what you pay for”. More expensive drones often come with features that make them easier to fly.
Also, you need to check that you have whatever registration and skills are necessary for flying your favoured drone. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration requires anyone wishing to fly a UAS – unmanned aerial system – weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds for hobby or recreation to register with that agency. The UK and Australia do not require any equivalent registration provided that you don’t want to put a drone to commercial use.
On the subject of which, UK-based drone owners can easily hone their skills in flying their machines for commercial purposes. They can take drone training with COPTRZ to work towards obtaining their PfCO – Permission for Commercial Operation – from the CAA, the Civil Aviation Authority. The course can be taken in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Leeds, Glasgow, and other parts of the UK.