So you have decided to buy a drone (RPA – Remotely Piloted Aircraft). How to choose the right drone is a question we often get asked. There are literally hundreds of RPA’s on the market for you to chose from. It really is a fast paced industry with new technology every time you look. We will give you some things to consider, and hopefully make your final choice a little easier to reach.
Things To Consider For Your Purchase
- Have you flown an RPA before?
- How much money do you have to spend?
- How much space will you have to fly it in?
- What you want the drone for?
- How much storage room you have?
- What is everyone else using?
- Do you know CASA’s (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) regulations for safe flying?
Have you flown an RPA before ??
If this is your first RPA, and it probably is if you’re reading this, then the technology available to help you is massive. The latest consumer drones are very easy to fly and use. With obstacle avoidance, proximity sensors and active tracking, they nearly fly themselves. But to become a pilot and produce the results you want, you need practice. You need to understand the capabilities of your RPA. You will be able to go and purchase any of the current model high spec consumer drones and fly it, take photos and videos and your results will be good. More practice, and your results will be fantastic.
How Much Money Do You Have To Spend ??
If you have no limit, then the options are huge. If you are on a budget, which most of us are, then it limits you fairly well. You will get a good, reliable camera drone for less than a $1000. For less than $2000 you will get a great camera drone set up You will get a fantastic flying aerial platform for less than $3000.
How Much Space Will You Have To Fly In ??
Hey, your reading a camping and travelling blog, so chances are you will have open areas to fly in. If you want to fly indoors or small spaces, then you can get great tiny drones for less than $200. We have had various Horizon Blades for practice indoors and they are excellent, robust and reliable toys. Great for honing your control skills on rainy days. I still use them now.
What Do You Want The Drone For ??
Again, we are a camping and travelling blog, so we want to take our “capture the moment pics”, to the next level. We want that overhead shot that people rave about. Or maybe you just want to see whats on the other side of an obstacle in your path. Do you need the best camera available, 4k and better, or will normal HD do the job for you.
How Much Storage Room You Have ??
When you are travelling, size and weight of everything becomes a factor in your decision. We upgraded to a DJI Phantom 3 a while ago because the huge hexcopter we have used for years was just too big.
What Is Everyone Else Using ??
This is a great way to research, ask others. just make sure that you are asking the right person. The young guy racing around the local park with goggles on isn’t going to be much help. What are other people in your demographic using. “Word of Mouth” is a great way to find out the Pro’s and Con’s of different things.
CASA’s (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) Regulations
Because you are about to “fly an aircraft”, you become bound by Casa’s regulations for recreational drones (RPA’s). These are spelt out fairly simply, but seem to be misunderstood.
You can download a copy of CASA’s latest brochure, Flying Your Drone For Fun, to print and carry with you.
Also, keep checking our YouTube channel as we do a series of videos explaining the current regulations.
So Now You’re More Confused.
For us it was a little more simple. I have built, flown and used DJI products for over 5 years, so DJI it is. They really are the absolute leader in the consumer drone market so here are their top 3.
The DJI Spark
The DJI Spark is a great small drone but a bit limited out of the box.
- Its small size.
- Gesture controls.
- Could be flown indoors with prop guards.
- Can be controlled with your phone.
- Quick launch
- 12mp camera
- Only HD Video
- Gestures work reliably only at close range
- Not supplied with a controller
- Limited range as standard
- Short flight times
- Only 2 axis gimbal
- Doesn’t like wind
The DJI Mavic Pro
Is a great small drone with some impressive capabilities.
- Folds up to a small package
- Full 4k video
- 12mp camera
- 3 axis gimbal
- 20 min plus flight time
- Long range control
- Many features
Cons – Not really any, getting picky
- Not quite as wide a field of view
- Many features, lots of time to get to know them all
- Mid sized controller
- Phone gets hot in controller
The DJI Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 is perfect for the serious aerial photographer.
- 1″ CMOS camera sensor
- 4k @ 60fps
- 20mp stills
- 25 min plus flight time
- Rear obstacle avoidance
- Many many features in this aircraft
- Doesn’t fold away
- Can’t control with mobile phone
As I have said previously, I am a big fan of DJI, the Spark however, is not on my needed list. A great selfie drone, for close range, low wind, basic video and great stills. Great for beginners that want to capture the moment quickly and close up. We need 4k capabilities and greater control distance.
The Phantom 4 is a must for the high end hobbyist or guys flying under the Sub 2kg rule commercially. A huge range of features, incredible camera and very reliable platform.
The Mavic Pro is my choice. Great camera, huge list of features and its major draw card for us travelers, is its portability. It folds away to a very compact and light weight unit.
Another point with DJI. When you are considering your purchase, if you have the extra cash, grab the “Fly More Combo” as an upgrade. You will usually end up buying the extras in these combo’s eventually, so it might save you a little in the long run.
The DJI links in this post, will take you directly to the DJI store where they have different specials at different times and free, fast shipping over $300 value to us guys in Oz. I have used the store many times and shipping has been 3 days to the Gold Coast.
Once you’ve purchased your new drone you can contact us for familiarisation sessions or lessons.
I hope that helps a little, please ask questions and I will endeavor to help you out.