Drones are big business. Currently, non-military drones are a $2.5-billion industry, and growing at 15 to 20 percent annually. There are hundreds of drones currently available, and with so many options, trying to figure out which drone is best for you can be a difficult task.
From RC-like toys to professional rigs the size of a small car, drones come in a variety of shapes, sizes and capabilities. Primarily used by filmmakers, now drones are being used by law enforcement, real estate agents and even retailers – like Amazon’s delivery drones, which are already delivering packages in selected areas.
So, no matter if you’re a filmmaker or a parent looking for an awesome birthday gift, here are the five best drones for beginners:
Best Drone Under $100: Blade Nano QX RTF ($89.99)
Key Features: It’s great for beginners because it features Blade’s exclusive SAFE (Sensor-Assisted Flight Envelope) technology, which helps with stability.
Using the SAFE system will automatically hover the aircraft when no controls are being used, which is great for beginners learning how to fly. The SAFE system also helps reduce crashes and limit damage to the craft when crashes do happen. The Agility mode gives flyers maximum height, which is appealing to immediate and advanced pilots.
It’s not only a great quadcopter for beginners, but fun for veteran flyers, too.
Worth The Money? Yes. This excellent beginner-friendly drone features propellor guards and a tough, lightweight airframe. Need a drone that’s durable and kid-friendly? This is it. It can also be flown indoors and is ultra portable; plus, it fits in the palm of your hand.
Best Drone with Camera Under $200: Dromida Ominus FPV ($199.98)
Key Features: Four flight modes, long flight times and extremely durable. Great for beginners as well as experienced drone pilots.
The Ominus FPV comes fully assembled, has a Wi-Fi-enabled First Person View (FPV) camera, a micro memory card, card reader and a smartphone holder with sun shade. It also has LED running lights, which look super cool at night.
Worth The Money? Yes, if you’re looking for a drone that’s ready to shoot out of the box. Your smartphone acts as a camera remote, turning the camera on and off and adjusting brightness. You can also replay new videos or delete old ones and even edit photos or delete unwanted photos. Easy out-of-box set-up makes this a great drone for beginning filmmakers.
Best Drone with Most Features: DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ ($1,369)
Key Features: Equipped with a camera that shoots in 1080p with 14MP stills, the Phantom 2 delivers 25 minutes of flight time, and can travel 35 mph and 900 feet in the air. It also has 3-axis camera stabilization, precision flight and stable hovering. Top it off with programmable flight patterns and onscreen real-time flight parameters and you’ve got the best $1,400 you’ve ever spent on a toy.
The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ is how we got those amazing shots in DMA’s summer camp video.
Worth The Money? We think so, but it really depends on how you’re using it. Unless you’re a full-time filmmaker or looking for the drone with the most built-in features, we’d recommend other drones on this list.
It’s perfect for digital filmmakers looking to get the perfect aerial shot in extremely high definition, with one of the longest flight times on the market at 25 minutes. The Phantom 2 Vision+ is among the top ready-to-fly drones on the market, but it also carries a hefty price tag.
Best Drone for GoPro: Blade® 350 QX2 ($449.99)
Key Features: With the flip of a switch, the 350 QX’s Home feature will automatically return the drone to its take-off location. It’s also GPS-fencing compatible, and will fly 9-14 minutes before needing a recharge.
Worth The Money? Yes, if you already have a GoPro action camera. For 15 minutes of flight time you get maneuverability and features found only in $1,000-plus machines, but at half the price. And because the 350 QX2 comes ready to use with GoPro cameras, you don’t have to purchase a separate camera mount.
Best Hands-free Drone: Lily Camera ($499 pre-order)
Key Features: Lily is the first “throw-and-shoot” camera that follows a tracking device worn by the owner. With a 20-minute flight time, it offers the second-longest flight time on the market. It shoots video at 1080p 60 fps/720p 120 fps and 12MP stills, allowing slow-mo shots and crisp digital photos. For all these great features, we love the Lily Camera.
Worth The Money? Yes. Lily is the best drone for family vacations and extreme sports. It can fly for up to 20 minutes and shoots HD-quality video and photos.
Lily uses a tracking device that you wear, so it’s hands free. Like having your own personal aerial camera operator, making it perfect for enthusiasts who are into kayaking, snowboarding or even surfing and filmmaking.