Buying a drone - a beginner's guide

DJI Phantom 4

Drones aren't anything less than a marvel of modern technology because of their superior flying capability and an extensive range of uses. From aspiring aerial videographers to construction site mappers, from a land surveyor to a wildlife tracker, many people are now finding new ways to get a job done or pursue their hobby thanks to drones. If you have decided to get in on the technological revolution and get a model for yourself, don't just pick the first item that catches your fancy.

There are various factors you must take into consideration to buy a drone that would be well worthwhile your money. This guide will teach you all you need to know about drones and how you can get the best bang for your buck without spending a fortune.

What exactly are drones all about?

Unlike Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's), the term "drone" more often than not signifies remote-controlled, autonomously programmed aerial machines built for recreational uses. Drones already have a huge market in the United States as people from all walks of life are trying their hand at this new technology.

Professional videographers are now using drone technology to get extreme aerial angles, engineers are using it to inspect construction sites, and wildlife enthusiasts are using drones to track animals in the wild. Regardless of the purpose, you want to purchase a drone; you can remain assured that it will change your life in more ways than one.

Features to look for while buying a drone

There are a variety of drones available on the market, but as a beginner, it is wise to choose a model that is easy to operate. Anything that flies is going to be hard to control at first, but by selecting a model with the following features, you'd be making sure things go relatively easy.

1. Type of drone: As a beginner, it would be better for you to buy a quadcopter. These devices come with an X or H square frame and are a popular choice among newbies thanks to their stability in flight. The four propellers back enough power to lift and carry 1-2 lbs and can maneuver quite easily even amidst wind speeds ranging from 10 to 15 mph.

2. Camera type: Since most people purchase drones to capture aerial shots, you'll find many different varieties of models that are equipped with resolutions ranging from paltry VGA to 4k resolution, which is the highest quality. Shaky and blurred footage are a drone enthusiast's worst nightmare, which is why you must buy a device that has a gimbal. A gimbal is essentially a mount that keeps the camera steady by using a gyroscope so that high winds and turbulence have very little effect on the footage quality.

3. Flight time: One of the greatest marks of a drone's quality is how long it can remain in the air. The flight time can make all the difference in the world when you really want to capture some breath-taking footage of the mountainside or track the king of the jungle in his own backyard. Choosing a drone with the greatest flight time and range even if it means going a bit beyond your budget can prove to be a worthy investment. Aim for a model that can remain in the air for at least 15-20 minutes.

4. Charging time: The time taken for your drone to charge may be important depending on what you're planning to do with the model. Ideally, everyone wants a drone that flies the longest and charges up the fastest and still comes with a reasonable price tag. Since you can't have them all, it's better to set your priorities straight and invest in a drone that charges up relatively quick and provides decent flight time.

The Phantom 4 by DJI is about the best on the market if you want superior drone technology in a device which is also very newbie friendly. It has a maximum flight time of 28 minutes, a maximum control range of 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) and a maximum speed of 44mph (72kph), making it a great choice for beginners and experienced drone enthusiasts alike.

DIY (do-it-yourself) vs. RTF (ready-to-fly)?

Again, the choice of choosing between a DIY model and RTF entirely depends on the time you can or would want to devote. You don't have to essentially buy a drone if you have the time to build one yourself. Of course, you'll need to learn how to put together, calibrate and code some hardware pieces before the beauty is ready to fly. As you may have probably understood by now, a DIY model offers greater flexibility and usually costs less than their Ready-to-Fly counterparts.