Here’s all the best drones money can buy right now
If you’re looking to dabble in the world of drones, we compiled a list of some of the best and hottest ones on the market right now.
It’s official, drones have entered the mainstream. Whether they’re being used recreationally or commercially, the fact is that demand is growing at a rapid pace. You’ll have no doubt seen the amazing footage posted online which show off the capabilities of camera drones and maybe, like many others, this has inspired you to purchase one of your own.
Now comes the tricky part, where to begin? With such a huge range of drones available it can sometimes become confusing to find what exactly it is that you’re looking for.
Fear not, UK-based drone specialists Heliguy have put together a list of drones at various price points along with a description of their features and functionality to help you on the first steps towards drone ownership.
An incredible ‘nano’ quadcopter, so compact it can fit comfortably in your hand and capable of tackling precise, controlled maneuvers in even the narrowest of spaces thanks to the Human Paragon. The X4 has the ability to perform expert take-offs and vertical climbs, even if you’re a newbie.
It comes with two flight modes: ‘Beginner’, for those aiming to become proficient at flight basics, and ‘Advanced’, for those experienced in piloting a craft. In ‘Advanced’ mode, the X4 can execute a range of aerial stunts. It also comes an anti-flip mode, activated by pressing down on the left stick, so now you can fly as proficiently and assertively as you want without having to worry about inadvertent flips.
The X4 is capable of up to 9 minutes’ flight time, perfect for an indoor practice session.
The H501S is an FPV quadcopter featuring a built-in HD Camera, ‘Return to Home’ mode, built-in GPS, ‘Altitude Adjust’ and lightweight brushless motors for increased flight time. It also features a ‘Headless Flight Mode’ to make this craft even easier to fly.
GPS enables the H501S to enter a failsafe mode if the connection to the radio transmitter is lost. In failsafe mode, the flight control system will automatically control the quadcopter and return to the home point and land safely. The GPS can also be utilized for the Follow Me function which enables the H501S to follow and record your activities.
Featuring a 1080p camera for some high quality aerial photography and videos coupled with a high capacity battery, it’s possible to achieve flight times of 20-25 minutes while filming.
DJI Phantom 4
A sleek, minimalist design and vastly improved features makes this craft the standout in DJI’s Phantom range.
The Phantom 4 is able to fly intelligently via tap commands from a smart device and automatically creates unbroken tracking shots as well as independently avoiding obstacles, allowing peace of mind and a much more even flight. Users are able to shoot 4K video at 30fps, full HD 1080p video at up to 120fps for beautiful slow motion, and 12-megapixel photos in DNG RAW for editing purposes.
Flight modes include ‘Follow Me’ for aerial tracking, ‘Course Lock’ for a strict movement pattern, ‘Waypoints’ to set a course for your drone while you focus on filming, ‘Home Lock’ to keep movements tied to a base location and ‘Point of Interest’ which sets the quadcopter circling a specific area to allow for that perfect shot.
There’s also a ‘Sport Mode’ capable of taking the Phantom 4 up to 45mph, making flying even more fun. A high capacity battery and efficient design gives you up to 28 minutes’ (or 18 minutes in Sport Mode) worth of flight time with this popular quadcopter.
DJI Inspire 1
Price: Starting from $1,997
The DJI Inspire 1 bridges the gap between the Phantom series and DJI’s larger, heavy lift rigs, which are designed for use by professional operators. A unique transforming design means it can switch from take-off mode, with its legs on the ground, to flight mode, in which the legs and props move upwards, ensuring that nothing gets in the way of the high quality camera.
The fact that you can add a second controller to the set-up makes it even more desirable for the serious videographer because the pilot can concentrate on flying while a camera operator can focus on getting the footage. The Inspire 1 is also safe to fly indoors or in poor GPS signal areas because it has Visual Positioning which uses optical and ultrasonic sensors to maintain a fix on the ground.
You’re able to get approximately 18 minutes in the air with your Inspire 1, plenty of time to capture those spectacular aerial shots.
DJI Matrice 600
DJI’s new hexacopter (a craft with six rotors) is built to take professional quality aerial photos and video as well as having the potential to fulfil a varied range of other commercial applications.
The M600 works with DJI’s high-end Zenmuse camera line. Carrying one of these lighter units, the drone can stay in the air for a highly impressive 35 minutes. The M600 can achieve a 5km range, which allows for ultra-low latency HD image transmission for accurate image composition and capture.
A generous maximum payload of 13lbs allows for the M600 to take on components such as the Ronin-MX, DJI’s first universal aerial gimbal which allows users to attach a wide range of cameras including RED, Canon, Panasonic and Nikon, amongst others. The M600 can achieve 15 minutes of airtime with a fully stocked payload.
Freefly ALTA 6
Freefly designed the ALTA with the MoVI line of camera stabilizers in mind, with the ability to make a smooth transition from handheld filming to capturing aerial shots in just moments. A refined vibration isolation system rejects high frequency disturbances from the ALTA allowing the MoVI gimbal to create the silky smooth shots it’s known for.
The two key concepts in the ALTA 6’s development were making it robust and lightweight. Freefly use the strongest and lightest materials available to minimize aircraft weight, translating this into increased flight times even with heavier cameras. It unpacks, ready to shoot, in under five minutes.
It’s powerful, adaptable, reliable and optimized for up to 15lb payloads. The ALTA 6 can get manage 20 minutes of flight time, reduced to 10 if you’re carrying its maximum payload.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it gives you an idea of the variety of drones available and what their respective strengths are. Use this as a jumping off point and research which type of craft suits your specific needs.
Remember to consult with your local aviation authority’s guidelines before flying as the regulations differ from country to country, but this shouldn’t prove to be too much of a problem if you’re only looking to fly recreationally. It’s also worth checking out this guide to global drone regulations for more information.
Welcome to the exciting world of drones, happy flying!