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Blog Banner: Drones For Beginners

Drones For Beginners

Drones aren’t only for the pros anymore, but it’s still intimidating to filter through all your options. Don’t worry, I’ve done the hard-work for you. The drones vary in price, features and difficulty, so make sure to read through the pros and cons of each one. These choices were hand picked to help you find your first drone. If you need some help with any of the terms used in the reviews here, check out the Terminology post.

Think I missed a good one? Let me know!

DJI Spark Blue

DJI Spark

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Flight Time

8min

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Speed

50 km/h

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Resolution

12 MP

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Gimbal

2-axis

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Control Range

2km

Pros: Portable. Active Track. Hand-Gesture Flying. Tap Fly. Return To Home. Compact Remote. 2-axis Gimbal. Multiple Fun Colors. Altitude Lock.

Cons: A bit pricey for beginners.

Details: The DJI Spark is hands-down the best drone for it’s price. The amount of features packed into this drone is truly incredible. The Active Track feature is probably my favorite on this little beast. The Spark can automatically recognize different shapes and follow them around filming or taking photos as needed. This allows pilots to get unique footage that otherwise would require manual flying. DJI’s return to home feature is great for beginners and experts alike. It is often easy to forget how long you’ve been flying, so being able to have the drone return to you rather than falling out of the sky is a huge plus. The altitude lock is another wonderful feature, letting the drone hover in place where the pilot has left it. This feature can really come in handy for new pilots who may panic while flying. Lastly, the 2-axis gimbal allows for more stable photos and videos even as a brand new pilot. Rather than stressing about being shaky on the controls, the gimbal lets the pilot focus more on the shot than the stability of the flight.

Parrot Mambo FPV

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Flight Time

16min

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Video Resolution

1920 x 1080

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Camera Resolution

1920 x 1080

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Control Range

0.1km

Pros: Auto-hold position. First Person View Camera. Downward facing camera. Auto-stabilization. Can be programmed to do loads of automatic maneuvers. Works with FPV goggles.

Cons: No propeller guards

This is a fantastic drone for beginners or kids. The Parrot Mambo FPV is the Parrot Mambo drone but with an attached first person view (FPV) camera on it. As if this drone isn’t cool enough, you can hook it up with FPV goggles and stream what the camera is filming right to the goggles. Which really creates a wild flying experience. The stabilization and auto-hold position features for the Mambo make it act more like an expensive drone than a toy. If the user has an interest in programming, this drone comes ready to be programmed using their own SDK or Apple’s Swift language. Programming the drone allows you to create even more automated maneuvers like flips, turns and more.

Holy Stone Predator

Holy Stone HS170 Predator

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Flight Time

6-8min

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Control Range

30-50km

Pros: Inexpensive. Rechargeable battery on drone. Propeller guards. Flips and rolls with single buttons. Solid Gyro-stabilization system inside. Long control range.

Cons: Remote requires batteries. Smaller flight time. A little over an hour to recharge.

The Holy Stone HS170 Predator is a really really fun drone. The gyro-stabilization inside this drone allows for complex maneuvers like flips and rolls to happen at the push of a button. The drone comes equipped with solid propeller guards and fun colorful LED lights. The HS170 Predator also has 3 different speed options, allowing the pilot to learn at their own pace. It is pretty wind resistant and comes with an easy to use USB charger. Unfortunately, the remote doesn’t come with a rechargeable battery like the drone does, but it takes quite a long time to drain the AA batteries.

Hubsan X4 H501A

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Flight Time

20min

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Video Resolution

1920 x 1080

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Camera Resolution

1920 x 1080

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Control Range

200m

Pros: Ability to stream video to smart device. Long flight time. Automatic Return GPS. Follow Me Modes. High Quality Motors (brushless). Very Easy to fly.

Cons: Follow Me feature can be tricky to get to work at first.

The Hubsan X4 HS501A is a perfect hybrid between a toy and a professional drone. Features like automatic return using GPS, Follow Me modes and the brush-less motors put this drone ahead of the other toy drones. The flight time is 20 min which is substantially longer than some of the competitor drones in this league. The camera doesn’t come with a gimbal, so in order to get smoother shots the pilot will need to be more experienced. This isn’t to say that the drone is difficult, it’s actually quite easy to fly and master. I would recommend this drone for anyone looking to get more serious with some aerial fun. The built in display on the remote is a nice added touch which can greatly help beginners with awareness of the drones position. Lastly, the brush-less motors will prevent the motors from burning out after several flights letting your 100th flight seem like your first.

hubsan X4
Bugs 3 Drone

Bugs 3

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Flight Time

18min

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Control Range

500m

Pros: Action camera mount included. Great flight time. Propeller Guards. Higher Quality motors. Great price. Long battery life. Fast speeds.

Cons: A bit large. Lack of automated features.

The Bugs 3 is truly a remarkable drone. It boasts long battery life and high quality motors that can’t burn out like similarly priced drones. The high speed could be seen as a con, but having the availability to go faster is great for anyone looking to expand their drone skills. No camera is included with the Bugs 3 but it does come with an action camera mount that can easily support a GoPro.

Holy Stone F181

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Flight Time

7-9min

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Control Range

up to 100m

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Camera Resolution

720

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Video Resolution

720

Pros: Altitude Lock. Propeller Guards. Flip Maneuvers. Return features. 720HD Camera

Cons: Not the longest flight time.

The Holy Stone F181 is the bigger brother to the HS170 Predator. They both share similar features, but the F181 takes the lead with more maneuvers, an HD camera for video and photos, longer control range, altitude locks and the ability to return with a simple button. The altitude lock features allow you to “leave” the drone in a hover state to get more stable photos and video. There isn’t a gimbal with this drone (it’s a toy) so flying and filming may cause unstable footage. Like the HS170 Predator, the F181 has a rechargeable battery for the drone, but not too long of a flight time. Out of the box, multiple batteries are included to allow the pilot more freedom with flying and less downtime waiting for your battery. The F181 has automatic flight maneuvers like flips and rolls in 4 different directions, giving pilots quite a show. The Gyro stabilization again is impressive allowing for a fast recovery after the more complex flips and rolls. Very fun drone that I would recommend for ages 12+.

F181 Drone
Proto X Nano Drone

Proto X Nano

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Flight Time

4-6min

Pros: 7 fun colors to choose from. Inexpensive.

Cons: Has a learning curve for flight. Crashing can pop off propellers. Very small.

They weren’t joking around by naming this drone the Proto X Nano! This drone comes in at barely larger than a quarter. It’s extremely small but a blast to fly. Out of the box it comes with extra propellers as you’re bound to break one during the learning curve. For under $40 this drone is hard to beat. It’s a fun little drone to learn the maneuvers. Great for someone on a budget who’s not looking for much more than the basics.

Syma X5C

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Flight Time

7min

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Control Range

About 30m

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Camera Resolution

1080 x 720

Pros: 2MP Camera. Easy Flip and Roll Manuevers. Variable flight speeds. Customizable remote for left/right hand setup. Propeller Guards.

Cons: Lower flight time.

The Syma X5C is a capable drone. Syma has put in a few safety features to help our first time drone users. First off is the propeller guards. This is a great feature that isn’t always implemented on drones. First time flyers will unavoidably crash their drone at some point, so you can’t go wrong with picking a drone with propeller guards. The second safety feature Syma offers is the variable flight speeds. Some toy drones can have quite a learning curve in the beginning, so being able to lock in lower speeds can greatly help first time flyers. Although the flight time leaves some room for desire, the range and ease of this drone make it a solid choice. The flip and roll maneuvers are also a blast to mess around with and impress spectators. The Camera is simple to use and again, allows for first time pilots to get a taste of what some big boy drones can do.

Syma X5C Drone

Hey! My name is Mike Miller. I'm a drone enthusiast, self-proclaimed adventurer and web developer. Recently, I moved from the Tampa Bay area of Florida to the beautiful state of Colorado. I love to share what I am filming, learning, or have learned with fellow drone pilots. Follow the adventures @SkylineAperture on instagram. If you ever have any questions or want to say hello, send me a message! Have fun and fly safe!

mike@bearing270.com

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