drone buying guide

Drone Buying Guide

In 2010, the drone market exploded with the launch of the first consumer drone, the Parrot AR.drone. But now there are hundreds of drones and camera systems to choose from. Want to get into racing? Photography? Enterprise uses? Use this drone buying guide to find the right drone for you.

For hobby and “prosumer” photographers

dji mavic pro review drone girl

DJI Mavic ($999):  The DJI Mavic is everything a drone should be. It’s high quality aerial video, in a small package that will have you wanting to bring it everywhere you go. The DJI Mavic Pro wins major points simply because it is so small, light, and can easily tuck into my purse. I find myself bringing it on all my hiking trips without having to haul a huge drone around.

Flight time: 27 minutes

See my complete review of the DJI Mavic Pro here.

autel x-starAutel X-Star ($799): The Autel X-Star Premium drone is an easy-to-fly quadcopter, designed for photographers. The X-Star has similar camera quality to the Mavic, but loses some points because it is quite a bit larger (and certainly won’t fit into your purse).

If you are on more of a budget, then the X-Star is an excellent drone for $200 less than what you’ll pay for the Mavic.

Flight time: 25 minutes

See my complete review of the Autel X-Star here.

For professional photographers

DJI Inspire 2

The DJI Inspire 2 has an image processing system records at up to 5.2K in CinemaDNG RAW, Apple ProRes and more. This drone also has obstacle avoidance on two sides for safety.

It is also an ideal drone for live broadcasters, because the drone’s video can be broadcast live using its dedicated 1080i50 and 720p60 transmission signal, simply by plugging the remote controller to the satellite truck.

Flight time: 27 minutes with dual-battery system

For enterprise users (looking to start a business in mapping, surveying, etc.)

dji phantom 4 reviewDJI Phantom 4 ($1,199): The Phantom 4 is nearly crash-proof. Two forward-facing optical sensors scan for obstacles and automatically direct the aircraft around the object if possible. A redesigned gimbal provides stability, vibration dampening, and reduced risk of propellers being seen in the frame.

Flight time: 28 minutes

See my complete review of the DJI Phantom 4 here.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro ($1,499): The Phantom 4 Pro is pretty similar to the Phantom 4 — but one big difference. Instead of sensors on just the front of the drone that can detect obstacles, the sensors are on all 4 sides. This could be a game changer for many professional use cases, who need that “crash-proof” piece of mind.

Flight time: 30 minutes

For kids (and kids at heart)

UDI U818A WiFi FPV Drone ($119.95): UdiR/C’s Discovery drone is a great deal for anyone looking to capture some basic aerial video.

This drone streams video quality live to your phone, so you can see what the drone sees in real time. The video quality is not amazing — but that’s to be expected for something priced that low.

Flight time: 14 minutes

See my complete review of the UDI RC U818A drone here.

AICase CX-10WD-TX Wifi Remote Control Quadcopter ($47.88):  This drone is super tiny — small enough to actually fit in your pocket.  This drone is an FPV drone, meaning it can live stream what the drone’s camera is seeing to your phone. I like this drone because you can control it through your phone or the remote controller (many drones in this price point do not provide a remote control option).

Buy it from Amazon for $47.88.

This drone is definitely more difficult to fly and keep stable than the UDI U818A drone, so it may be worth paying more for an easier flying experience.. Just like the UDI R/C, the video quality is not amazing, but you get what you pay for.

Flight time: 4 minutes

Drone Girl

Reporting on drones, sometimes with drones