Selecting the right drone as a beginner can be difficult.
The thing is:
Regardless of your budget you want a drone that can deliver a great flying experience, and your probably want a decent camera too.
If you have the budget for it I highly recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. You get a great drone that is super easy to fly and control, and it shoots very stable and crystal clear footage with a high quality camera.
If you want a fun toy-grade drone to learn with, the best option might be the Syma X5C. It does not have a long flight time, but it is cheap and fun to fly. You can do flips in the air, and it has a camera.
Here is the list of the 6 best drones for beginners 2016:
#1 DJI Phantom 3 Standard
– For Outstanding Performance –
|Camera: Video 2.7K 12MP photos|
|FPV: live HD video feed|
|Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal included|
|Flight time: 25 minutes|
The Phantom 3 Standard from DJI might seem like a pricey option for a beginner, but considering that it is very easy to control and fly, even difficult to crash, makes it a great choice for any beginner with the budget. The video is excellent and the gimbal stabilized the footage very well.
It has an integrated camera stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal. It takes photos in 12MP and the video is in 2.7K.
Designed for Beginners
This drones has been constructed to be easy to use for beginners, and it has extra safety controls. It has some useful features like live GPS tracking, return home via the press of a button and auto-hover.
You can use the Phantom 3 Standard with the follow me function, having it filming you and following you while you surf, skateboard, bike, run or ski.
Best Beginner Drone
If you have the budget for it I highly recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Standard camera drone for beginners. The quality that it offers is exceptional and as a prosumer drone it has lots of exiting possibilities. With a high safety profile it is great for people just starting out.
#2 SYMA X5C Explorers
– Great Flying Experience –
SYMA X5C Explorers
The Syma X5C Camera Drone is an excellent beginner drone, that performs better than what you would expect at the price.
It is really fun to fly, and can perform flips in the air. It can be flown both indoors and outdoors. Dont expect amazing videos, as this is more of a toy drone.
It comes included with a HD camera, and a 2GB memory card. The video can be a bit shaky as it does not have a gimbal, it does however have a gyro stabilization system.
Overall it is a great quadcopter to start with, and the price tag is right.
#3 UDI U818A
– Easy Beginner Quadcopter –
|Camera: 640×480 pixels|
|Flight time: aprox 9 minutes|
The UDI U818A is a fun and easy beginner quadcopter with a camera. This is a good choice if you are looking for a toy-grade drone to shoot some video for fun, and the quality of the footage is not that important.
It has a 6 axis gyro to keep it relatively stable, a 3.7V Lithium polymer battery that will give you around 7-9 minutes of flying time. The battery takes around 2 hours to charge.
The UDI U8q8A carries a 640×480 pixels camera. It is not a high quality camera but you can get some decent shots and video.
Overall this is a cool little drone, and the camera included makes it a good choice for beginners.
#4 Hubsan X4 (H107L)
– Best Mini Drone –
Hubsan X4 (H107L) Quadcopter
|Flight time: approx 8 minutes|
|Dimensions: 2.3×2.3×1 inches|
The Hubsan X4 is a fun and cheap quadcopter great for beginners. It has no camera, but it is great for practicing flying techniques before buying a higher quality drone.
It is manufactured by Hubsan, a company known for their swift and agile drones that can fly indoors and outdoors.
It is a one-piece, durable mainframe delivered RTF (ready to fly).
The LiPO, high capacity battery produces a flight time of around 8 minutes.
This mini drone is very small, just 2.3×2.3×1 inches, with a weight of just 4 ounces.
You can use it both indoors and outdoors, but it does not fly very good in windy conditions because of its small size.
Fun and Cheap
This is a great choice if you want a cheap mini drone to learn on, and even though it is cheap it provides lots of value.
#5 Ionic Stratus Drone
– Can Carry GoPro Hero Cameras –
This drone is perfect if you already have a GoPro camera you would like to use with your drone. It offers great value, and is fun to use with a GoPro.
It has a flight time of around 10 minutes.
If you want to extend your flying time, there is a battery available you can buy.
Designed for GoPro
The Ionic Stratus does not have a gimbal, and the video can get a bit shaky, so unlike the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, this is more of a toy-drone.
The camera is rubber mounted fixed, to remove vibrations from the quadcopter. You can remove the mount if you want to attach a good gimbal.
It offers a fun flying experience for beginners, but might not fly or land easily when there is a lot of wind.
This video is taken with a Hero3 Black attached.
#6 Hubsan H501S X4
– A Drone That Follows You –
Hubsan H501S X4
The Hubsan H501S X4 has some really cool features, and the prices makes it friendly for beginners.
On the controller you see the live video feed, so you can see exactly what the camera is seeing.
Follow Me Mode
You can also use the drones follow me mode, and let it follow you when your run, bike, surf etc. Having a drone that can follow you enables you to shoot some really cool action videos. Drones that follow you are usually quite expensive, but this quad is actually affordable.
The flight time is also quite impressive at around 20 minutes.
It has an automatic return to home function for extra safety.
The Beginners Guide
Want to make your first steps in the exciting world of drones? Are you an extreme sports enthusiast? Do you want to explore the world of aerial photography? Maybe you have a business idea that you need a drone to realize?
Buying the Right Beginner Drone
UAVs come in all shapes and sizes from toy-like quadcopters to large, commercial machines. Generally as a beginner you want a cheaper quadcopter that wont break the bank if it crashes or flies away.
The cheap mini drones often come without a camera, and at the price you really dont have much to worry about, but can focus on learning. The flight time is usually less than 10 minutes. They usually dont have any special functions.
If you add a little more money you get the UAVs that are a little bit bigger, and may have a cheap built in camera. They can be an awesome flying experience, and you can take some photos and shoot some video, but you cant expect great video. The flight time is usually quite short, around 10 minutes.
Some of the budget drones have features like flips, and 3D rolls, but they usually lack the more advances safety features of the prosumer drones, like return to home, follow me mode, hover, point of interest and often dont have live streaming.
Quality Drones and Prosumer Drones
These quadcopters usually set you back at least $300, but has so much more to offer. The flight time can be up to around 25 minutes, and the camera attached is usually of very good quality. A good example is the DJI Phantom 3, which shoots awesome video, and has features like return to home, follow me and auto-hover.
For this price they should have some kind of live video streaming system, via an app or via the controller.
At the high end of this category you can shoot video that looks quite professional, and have a drone that you can fly for up to 25 minutes. The larger drones handle wind better, and some come equipped with a gimbal that stabilizes the camera.
A few important factors to consider when buying a drone include:
- The controllable range: what’s the distance from which you can control the drone? Some of the most basic models have a control range of only 30 meters.
- Battery life: this is a major problem for some of the more inexpensive drones. A single battery will last anywhere between five and seven minutes. More expensive and better-built varieties have an extended battery life of up to 30 minutes.
- Additional features: there are many other great extras that manufacturers equip their drones with. Live video streaming, automatic return home upon the loss of connection, follow-me functionality, flight pre-programming and the ability to go around obstacles are some of the cool extras.
You may want to consider some extra equipment. It can make the drone easier to control, increase the versatility of the equipment or prolong the flight time.
Some of the top drone accessories and additional equipment to consider buying include:
- Batteries: this one is a no-brainer. Having extra batteries will give you the opportunity to enjoy additional hours of fun. While one of the batteries is charging, you’ll be using the others to fly the drone. Make sure you have at least one additional battery.
- Additional propellers: propellers are likely to break, especially while you’re making those first flight attempts. Buy at least one full set of spare propellers.
- Propeller guards: this one is great for beginners. It will keep your fingers and the propellers safe.
- Landing gear: some quadcopter models are compatible with advanced landing products that are wider and more stable than the original. Customized landing can also help you improve picture/video quality.
- SD cards: having at least a few micro SD cards will give you all of the memory required to shoot beautiful pictures and capture longer videos.
- Carrying case: a quality carrying case will keep your expensive equipment protected while not being in use. It will also simplify the task of carrying your drone and accessories around. Make sure that the carrying case you’re getting has comfortable, padded straps.
Getting Ready to Fly
Always read the instructions thoroughly before getting started. If there are any instructional videos, you should go through those, as well. You may think that flying the drone is a piece of cake but if you’re not careful, you risk damaging a rather expensive gadget. Chances are that you don’t make the first flight your last one. Take your time and prepare yourself before going out there.
Familiarize yourself with the remote control – play around with it, push the switches and practice coordination between the two hands. You should also know how to take off and land the quadcopter gently. Acquaint yourself with indicator lights and what each one of them means.
Assemble the quadcopter and check that all of the pieces have been secured together. Find a large open space and test the quadcopter. Don’t go to maximum speed and maximum height immediately. Baby steps are a good idea for the first flight. Once you get a better feel for the controller and how the drone responds to it, you’ll have the freedom to execute some much more daring flight experiments.
Learn Aerial Photography
See this guide: 7 Tips to Master Aerial Photography.
Drone terminology can be confusing for beginners. I have compiled a small drone glossary for beginners.
If your UAS weights more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg) you need to register it online.
It is very easy to register, and you do it here online.
Consider Regulations in Your Country
In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the authority responsible for crafting drone regulations. Currently, FAA has a set of guidelines. The guidelines for flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) state that:
- The UAV should remain at an altitude of below 400 feet AGL
- Flights in an area in a three-mile radius of an airport aren’t permissible
- The UAV should be kept within the pilot’s sight at all times
- The UAV can’t be piloted in NOAA zones
These suggestions apply to hobbyists. When it comes to commercial use, each individual entity has to seek a permit. These are issued on a case by case basis. Various companies have already managed to obtain permissions for the commercial use of drones, which means that it isn’t impossible.
Things are a bit different in other parts of the world.
In Canada, UAVs that weigh less than 77.2 pounds are considered recreational and they aren’t subjected to particularly strict rules. Special Flight Operation certificates are required for all of the drones that are larger or owned by commercial entities.
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is the entity that has the authority to craft regulations in many European countries. According to current EASA rules, a certificate is required regardless of the intended use. Just like in the case of US permit requirements, these are handed on a case by case basis.
In some Asian countries, the agricultural use of drones has been fully permitted. In Australia, the commercial use of drones is possible after a relatively simple identification process has been completed.
Keep in mind that such rules are still in the process of being developed. You may want to figure out which authority is responsible for issuing permits in your country. Their website should feature information about the certification requirements and the complexity of the procedure.
For a beginner with a good budget, looking to learn more about the world of UAVs, I recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. It is a great tool you, and has applications beyond just being a beginner drone.
If you want something cheaper, I recommend the Syma X5C for the fun flying experience and the low price. It is well worth the price, and a great starting drone.