The Beginner’s Video Drone Buyer Guide

drone buyer guide

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Highlights

There are a lot of drones for beginners on the market, which can be a little overwhelming
In this drone buying guide for beginners, we’re giving you all the tools you need to buy a drone with a camera
We’ve included some of the most recommended video drones for beginners and some budget options under $100

Table of Contents

It’s no secret that buying a drone can drastically improve your videos with stunning aerial footage. Buying a drone with a camera offers you plenty of new perspectives to shoot from, giving you new angles and beautiful shots that you could only dream about before. The question is, if you’re a beginner, where do you start? Just 5 minutes of research on Google or YouTube will throw up an overwhelming amount of information and resources – enough to make it tricky for you to make a decision. That’s why we’ve written this drone buyers guide for you – a way to understand drones for beginners that can help you make an easier, more informed decision. It’s time to start cutting down how much time you spend researching and start flying!

What is a drone?

Before you decide on your first drone, we’re taking you right back to the basics, starting with what is a drone exactly? Traditionally, the term “drone” has always been associated with the military – synonymous with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Remote Controlled (RC) aerial machines.

buying a drone with camera

In recent years, however, technology has advanced so much that it’s also become an affordable consumer product. These “consumer drones” are built for things such as professional aerial photography and videography (that’s us), as well as carrying, inspecting, tracking and plenty of other things. Because the space is still relatively new, new use cases are always emerging, and the industry is expanding rapidly.

In short, a drone is an aircraft without any human pilot on board (a UAV). This drone is part of an unmanned aircraft system (a UAS) because you have a ground-based controller (that’s us) flying the drone and communicating with the UAV. In our specific case, we’re flying the UAV around to capture beautiful video footage.

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Different types of video drones for beginners

As we hinted at above, there are all kinds of different use cases for drones. You’ll find plenty of great examples of this over in the Artgrid stock footage library, where you can download unlimited professional-looking aerial footage with an unlimited license. Just click on the Aerials category and check out the stunning footage available.

It’s important that, as beginners, we understand the different types of drones on the consumer market. So we’ve broken these down into four categories:

FPV

First up, FPV drones. FPV stands for first-person view, and the concept is very simple. The FPV drone is very small and compact – meant for high speed and maneuverability. On board, there’s a camera that wirelessly transmits a live video feed to a headset or FPV goggles. The pilot wears these as they fly, giving them a first-person view of the environment they’re passing through. These drones are designed to capture heart-racing shots with a crazy camera angle, getting up close and personal with landscapes and objects or, in some cases, flying right through them.

Below 250g

You may have already heard about the various debates over different drone sizes. Why does it matter, you might be asking? Well, in the US, across Europe and many other nations worldwide, if your drone is below 250g (sub 250, as they say), you don’t have to register it with the relative authorities. Of course, all the other laws and common sense when flying a drone still apply, but cutting out this paperwork and hassle is quite handy. In general, these smaller drones are for recreational use and won’t necessarily achieve anything special when it comes to video. However, there are some exceptions we’ll discuss further below.

Cinematic

We’re calling this category “cinematic” for our purposes as videographers. These bigger drones (over 250g) are built to capture beautiful, cinematic images. Once you’ve registered the UAV and done your due diligence on the local laws and regulations, you can fly these machines to your heart’s content, capturing breathtaking footage. And because they’re bigger than the sub-250 category, you’ll find that they have longer battery life and bigger cameras, delivering higher quality images.

Other

This “other” category is for any consumer drone that doesn’t really concern video drones for beginners. Of course, there are plenty of models out there designed for things such as search and rescue, parcel delivery, tracking wildlife and much more. But for this drone buyers guide, specifically looking at videography, you don’t need to worry about these.

How to choose the right drone?

Buying your first drone can be confusing. That’s why you’re reading this, right? To make life a little more simple, we’ve highlighted the different factors – what you need to look for when buying a drone.

Budget

What’s your budget? Remember – spending big isn’t always the best. There’s no point in spending a huge amount of money on the biggest, fanciest new drone out on the market if you don’t know what you’re doing with it.

Battery life

How long can the drone fly on one battery? You may need to include the cost of extra batteries in the overall price.

OBS

Obstacle avoidance. Any drone for beginners should have this built-in. When you’re learning to fly, mistakes do happen. OBS can save the day.

GPS

Ideally, if your budget can accommodate it, you want your first drone to have integrated GPS. This way, if you somehow lose connection to the drone while flying, it can use the GPS to navigate back to you with the return-to-home feature. GPS can also improve a drone’s general flight performance and stability.

Camera ability

You need to think about the quality of your footage. Are you happy with a full HD 1080p establishing shot, or do you need 4K capabilities?

Size and weight

As discussed, different drone sizes mean different things. Think about how you plan to use your drone and where you’ll be taking it. For example, sub 250g drones might be great for hiking videos because they pack away so small but might not be so sturdy and rugged in windy conditions.

Which drone is best for beginners?

No drone buyers guide is complete without a few suggestions of the best video drones for beginners. There are plenty of models out there, and you should do your own research, but here are a few that come recommended throughout the industry. We’d advise going with something in the sub 250g category to get started. While purchasing the new DJI FPV drone can be tempting, it’s a good idea to get used to flying a “normal” UAV first before taking the plunge into FPV. Take a look at these options:

  • DJI Mini 2

dju mini 2 drone buying guide
Source: dji.com

Conveniently weighs in at 249g, the DJI Mini 2 can capture 4K video and RAW photos. 

  • DJI Mini 3 Pro

More expensive than the Mini 2 but with plenty of impressive upgrades, including incredible OBS and an impressive 30+ minute battery life.

  • Ryze Tello

ryze first drone
Source: ryzerobotics.com

A fun, consumer & beginner-friendly drone that could be the perfect starting point for beginners.

  • Autel Evo Nano+

Under 249g, the Autel Evo Nano+ has several impressive, intelligent flight modes and a beautiful 4K image. This is a solid competitor against DJI dominance.

Best drones under $100

Drones for beginners don’t have to be expensive, by the way. If you’re on a very small budget, you’ll be pleased to know that there are still some options. Of course, these won’t do much in terms of cinematography, but they may help you get used to flying a drone and understand more about how they work and operate. All of the below are available for under $100:

  • Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone with 1080p HD Camera.

  • Ryze Tech Tello Drone for Beginners.

  • Tomzon A31 Drone for Kids.

  • SIMREX X500 Mini Drone.

  • CHUBORY Wi-Fi FPV 1080p HD Drone

Wrapping up

So, that’s our definitive drone buyers guide! There are plenty of great video drones for beginners on the market. Hopefully, this drone buying guide for beginners has helped streamline your research and decision process a little bit. From different drone sizes to GPS and OBS, buying a drone with a camera for the first time can seem really daunting, but with this knowledge, you can now go ahead and make that purchase confidently. Whichever you choose, all these consumer drones are designed with beginners in mind and will have you flying confidently and capturing stunning aerial footage in no time at all.

Frequently asked questions

In short, yes. It really is very easy. You can go ahead and make a purchase for one online right now. Of course, there are always regional differences and regulations that may apply, but generally speaking, anyone can buy their first drone today.

This is subjective, but I would say no. Most consumer drones are designed with the consumer in mind, and in most cases, you can get the hang of flying a drone very quickly. They're designed to be easy and safe to fly, and the remote controllers feel a bit like a gaming pad. When you buy your first drone, it will most probably come with a how-to-start-flying guide.

About Josh Edwards

Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK), and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.

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