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With the huge array of drones now available, it can get confusing selecting the right one for your needs. Our helpful guide walks you through the various choices and shows you what to look for when buying a drone.
While many drones available today are little more than toys, there are more advanced drones available for educational and commercial purposes, as outlined below.
Drones are set to play a big role in education thanks to the growing focus on STEM learning. An entry-level drone is great for teachers and students to learn how they operate and fly. Look for one that’s easy to use, is durable, and has readily available spare parts, as it’s bound to have a bumpy landing or two.
Max flight time: 16 mins
Flight range: 2 km
Weight: 0.3 kg
Camera: 12 MP
Video: 1080p FHD
Max flight time: 25 mins
Flight range: 300 m
Weight: 0.5 kg
Camera: 14 MP
Max flight time: 10-15 mins
Flight range: Up to 200m
Weight: 0.4 kg
Camera: 2 MP
Video: 720p HD
Drones have become a useful tool for industries such as real estate, agriculture, mining and construction, where aerial surveillance and footage is required. An ideal choice would be a full HD camera drone with a long flight time and range.
Max flight time: 30 mins
Flight range: 5 km
Weight: 1.8 kg
Video: 4K UHD
Max flight time: 60 mins
Weight: 0.52 kg
Max flight time: 27 mins
Flight range: 7 km
Weight: 4.7 kg
Camera: 20 MP
For anyone obsessive about image quality, such as professional photographers, the camera specs are the most important consideration. Look for a high bitrate (Mbps) and frames per second (fps). A 4k drone camera with a 100mbps bitrate and 60fps will give you crystal clear pictures and smooth footage.
Flight range: 4 km
Max flight time: 45 mins
Flight range: 1.9 km
Video: 1080p UHD
There are several factors to take into consideration when buying a drone.
Drones range from entry-level to high-end ones with all the bells and whistles. Consider what features you really need before splashing out your cash.
Think about what you’ll need your drone for. An entry-level drone will do for recreation, but you’ll need a drone capable of flying fast and long distances to film sports such as car racing.
Entry-level drones are smaller and lighter, making them easy to carry around. Higher grade drones are heavier – something to take into consideration if you’re travelling on foot.
Consider how long your drone can fly before needing a recharge. If you’re flying for commercial reasons, you’ll need one with a decent battery life. Always have an extra battery or two on hand.
Some drones have an easy start feature to make launches simple. Drones with a ‘return to home’ button are also great for beginners as it flies back to you automatically using GPS.
If you’re new to drone flying, rough landings and crashes are inevitable. Look for drones that have readily available and cheap spare parts, including propellers.
Confused by drone terminology? First-time drone flyer? Here’s what you need to know.
FPV means First Person View. FPV drones provide a live view of the flight on a mobile device or other controller. But you can take the experience to a whole new level with FPV goggles or a headset, which makes you feel like you’re sitting in the cockpit!
Many drones have a ‘Follow Me’ mode, which enables them to automatically follow you around using either GPS-enabled devices such as a mobile phone, or recognition technology. This allows you to capture great selfies and film your adventures from a vantage point. If you’re sporty, it’s also a great way to capture your performance so you can view and improve your technique.
A gimbal is a little tool that uses motors and sensors to react to any sudden motion such as tilting or pitching, keeping the camera stable and ensuring smooth footage. Higher end camera drones come with either a 2-axis or 3-axis gimbal. While the 2-axis gimbal is suitable for most purposes, the 3-axis gimbal provides the best stability, making it the ideal choice for professional-level footage.
This is a drone with 4 rotors or propellers on a horizontal plane. You may also come across hexicopters, which have 6 rotors, and octocopters, which have 8.
Most drones are controlled through devices such as your mobile phone, but there are intelligent drones that have a gesture function, enabling you to control them simply by moving your hands. These drones take off from your palm, then respond to your hand gestures while in flight. It takes some practice to master this!
In Australia, you don’t need a license to fly a drone for recreational purposes, but you must abide by certain rules. For example, you can’t fly a drone higher than 120 metres, within 30 metres of people, or over an area where emergency operations are underway. If you’re flying a drone for commercial purposes, you may need to be licensed and certified as an operator, or work for a certified operator. View all the rules on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) website.
There’s a free app to make it easy for you to see where you can and can’t fly your drone. The ‘Can I Fly There’ app is available on Android and iOS, and is invaluable in helping you identify no-drone zones.