A High Level Look at Drones
Advanced remote control and unmanned aerial vehicles, a.k.a. drones, have soared to incredible heights of popularity, thanks to a growing selection with a wide variety of features. They can be surprisingly affordable and offer a range of applications, from recreational fun to professional aerial photography and cinematography. Consider these questions to help determine the type of drone that's best for you.
Who's going to pilot the drone?
There's a drone for almost everyone. Kids can get in on the fun with inexpensive drones designed with safety features. Adults looking to try their hand at flying an air drone can find a range of models, many ready-to-fly and offering convenient features like auto takeoff and land. Hobbyists may invest in more sophisticated drones that can offer more range and stability. Outdoor enthusiasts and filmmakers can achieve stunning aerial shots with drones equipped with built-in or add-on cameras and gimbal systems.
What's your budget?
$100 - $500 will get you rolling -- or flying -- with RC drones that let you perform jumping, spinning, or aerial acrobatics, and even record the fun via built-in cameras.
Drones in the $500 - $1000 range include more powerful and robust quadcopters with features like flight stabilization, autopilot, and higher-resolution built-in cameras.
Advanced quadcopter drones, with powerful processors, customizable components, and numerous available accessories, can range in price from $1000 - $5000 and up. These drones, beyond being fun, have commercial applications, especially in their ability to capture professional-quality aerial footage. They may have built-in HD or 4K cameras, or offer the ability to mount cameras and stabilizing gimbals.
Do you want a built-in camera or not?
A drone camera that's built in offers complete functionality right out of the box with no extra cost. Drones with a built-in camera and gimbal may offer the ability to independently control the camera in-flight, something that often requires additional hardware when mounting your own camera. Drones that support add-on cameras, like your GoPro, give you the option to use a camera of your choice, and one you may already own. This also leaves you with the ability to detach it for handheld and other uses.
What other features should you look for in a drone?
You can also get drones that are equipped with GPS, allowing you to do a bunch of cool things like selecting destinations on a map for your drone to fly to. Beyond auto-pilot, auto-takeoff, and auto-home, some drones even feature pre-programmed flight and gimbal maneuvers to help you capture nearly effortless cinematic shots. There are even drones that can follow you, or selected targets, with remarkable accuracy and complete automation.
Want more information on Drones? Check out these helpful resources:
A Beginner's Guide to Drones
Which drone is right for you: hobbyist
Which drone is right for you: Professional photographer or videographer