Have you caught the drone bug yet? Drones have exploded in popularity in recent years, but it’s not just photographers and radio controlled hobbyists that are fuelling this craze. More and more regular people are seeing the fun that can be had with a drone. Fitted with a camera, you can get some stunning images from your flights, take a look at this video by Mark Spencer:
Filmed on Blackpool’s Golden Mile, it takes in the seafront, Comedy Carpet, the Pleasure Beach’s Big One and even flies all the way to the top of Blackpool Tower. The potential of drones is truly amazing and you can create some stunning videos and see places like you have never seen them before. Here’s our quick guide for what to look out for when buying a drone:
The battery life of most modern drones is about 11-12 minutes. That’s pretty good if you’re happy with short flying missions, but you could soon find yourself longing for more time. One way round this is to purchase a drone that has the facility to remove the battery, and then stock up on fully charged batteries which you can replace quickly in the field.
Of course, the more money you spend on a drone, you will probably get a longer flying time. Higher end drones come with up to 25 minutes flight time, which should be more than enough for most people, as it can be quite draining being in charge of an unmanned aircraft. The good news is that many of these higher end drones come with a special feature that enables the craft to override the user when battery levels become critical and flies back to you. This is a great safety feature because you wouldn’t want a drone dropping out of the sky over a crowded street. With multiple fully charged batteries, you can easily fly these drones for several hours.
Getting a drone is one thing, but it is adding a camera that makes it fun. The view it can give you of the world around you is truly stunning and is what makes owning a drone so special. That’s why most drones these days come with either built in or detachable cameras, beaming you down all the exciting images of in-flight action.
GoPros are the most popular attachable cameras for drones. They are very well respected pieces of equipment and they capture some of the highest quality footage you can get. The more expensive drones also often feature an image stabilisation feature, which stops your video becoming too shaky and bumpy.
Other drones may have a camera that is built-in that record directly to a memory card. Whilst the footage on these cameras are not nearly as good as you would get on a GoPro, they’re a good way of getting involved in drone flying if you are a beginner.
A really exciting option is realtime footage. This is where a drone sends footage directly through to your linked iPhone or Android device. It’s great fun to use, but it can be rather draining on the battery. Here are our top picks of drones currently on the market to suit all needs and budgets.
The AR Parrot Drone
If you’re on a budget, the AR Parrot Drone is a real bargain buy that offers some great features. Controlled by simply tilting your phone backwards or forwards, it’s a drone that is very intuitive to control, and is a great choice for beginners. The camera is pretty good too, and offers HD recording both below and in-front and also comes with image stabilisation. A true value for money drone.
Hubsan Q4 Nano Quadcopter
If you’ve got kids, or would just like to see what flying a drone is all about, then you should consider a Hubsan Q4 Nano Quadcopter. Weighing just 12 g, it can zip about your living room or garden performing flips and other aerobatic manoeuvres. It’s only got a five minute flight time, but it is easily charged by its USB cable and is a real bargain at under £30.00.
DJI First Person View Phantom 2 Vision+
This is a really good choice if you want one of the best drones on the market. With the ability to record HD video at 1080p, it can also stream live video to your phone or tablet. The built in camera is attached to a 3 axis gimbal which stabilises your images. With a flying time of up to 25 minutes, you can even track it using the radar feature of its app you can download onto your phone.
Parrot Rolling Spider
An extremely unusual looking drone, it’s also extremely fun to use! As well as flying, you can also roll it along the floor and up walls, and the other bonus of the wheels are that they absorb the impact if you crash it. Top speed of up to 11 mph.
DJI Phantom FC40 Quadcopter
A slightly cheaper version of the Vision Plus, the FC40 only records at 720p. However, it is still a really good drone and a fantastic buy for the price.