The decision to buy a drone raises a number of personal requirements that should be carefully analyzed and studied before purchasing such an expensive technical device.
In our buying guide, we give you a tool with which you can explore in more detail what parameters are important for buying a drone.
The most decisive argument in favor of a drone for most stakeholders is by far the price. However, there are solutions for this: a variety of technologies and accessories, even for a small budget. On the other hand, there are drones that cost a little more but are unmatched in quality.
In the next article, we’ll show you what really matters and which models are right for you.
Different needs, different drones
It’s not always easy for newbies to follow the drone market.
While there are some major manufacturers DJI (market leader), Yuneec (# 2 in market share), GoPro or Hubsan that offer really good quality drones, there are also a large number of new brands flooding the market with cheap products at discounted prices. …
There’s a plug at the start of your buying decision, whether you’re looking for an entry-level drone that can also be smashed for little money, or a better quality drone with a camera that produces fantastic flight recordings. And the technical equipment and the price differ significantly.
Another criterion for choosing a drone is its size when folded or in flight mode.
Mini drones are designed to be small, compact, and quite robust for both transport and flight. A big plus is the low price.
Budget: drone price
For many of you buyers, price is probably the most important criterion. It can often be difficult to determine which drone can now meet your own requirements. A brief distinction or classification of drones should help you choose the right model for you.
DJI offers excellent quality but costs a little more. The cost of a new battery can range from 100 to 150 euros.
Yuneec, on the other hand, often offers a very affordable all-in-one package that includes an extra battery, remote control, and other extras (like the Yuneec Q500 4k handheld gimbal). Replacement batteries are available here at prices ranging from 30 to 40 euros.
With its Karma drone, GoPro offers a quadcopter that is definitely in the higher price range. Considering compatibility with GoPro action cameras, the investment here makes the most sense if you already own an action camera from that manufacturer. Using a gimbal or a selfie stick are great options that come in handy when purchasing a GoPro drone.
Another drone manufacturer that is still relatively unknown in the USA is Hubsan. This manufacturer dispenses with some technical equipment (gimbal system!) And instead offers drones with many features at a low price.
For example, the Hubsan drone has a follow me mode, a return to home mode and other great features for just under € 250 (in the highest configuration).
The best drone with 4k video resolution and high volume delivery is the Yuneec Q500 4k and also our price-performance winner in the field of camera drone.
If you travel a lot and need a foldable, easily transportable drone, and your budget is around € 1,000, we can recommend the Mavic Pro.
Flight characteristics, flight time and flight range
Currently, you can find the best flight behavior from the DJI manufacturer. Drones are soft as oil in the air and can even withstand gusts of wind (depending on weight and model).
Due to its light weight, the smaller DJI Spark drone wobbles slightly in the air than comparable models, which are much larger, such as the Phantom 3 Standard, which is in the same price range.
The controls work flawlessly and directly implement what you give the drone through the remote control.
The new models from Yuneec also exhibit an excellent figure in the air and offer the same flying feel as the market leader. The Typhoon H Hexacopter is particularly relaxed in the air thanks to the 6 rotor blades. If the motor fails, the drone does not fail, since 5 more are active.
The French manufacturer Parrot offers many different models, although the feeling of flying in more advanced drones only convinced us of the Parrt Bepop 2. The Parrot Disco looks great and is a completely new concept, but the performance is not outstanding in our opinion.
For flight times, we can create a small rating that you can use for orientation, but this should not be considered a fixed one, because each flight brings with it different environmental conditions. Keep this in mind that a long flight time does not automatically mean a good drone!
- Parrot Mambo, Parrot Airbourne 7 minutes (entry-level drones)
- DJI SPark, GoPro Karma 16 minutes
- Yuneec Breeze 4k 18 minutes
- Khubsan drone 20 minutes
- Yuneec Typhoon H 21 minutes
- Yuneec Q500 4k 22 minutes
- Mavic Pro, Phantom 3 Professional 23 minutes
- Parrot Bepop 2 24 minutes
- Phantom 3 Standard, Xiaomi Mi Drone 25 minutes (also entry-level model, but with good technical equipment)
- Phantom 4 Advanced 27 minutes
- Parrot Diso 35 minutes
For professional drones, flight range is not so important as they can fly over 500 meters without losing radio communication. However, in the USA you are not allowed to fly out of your sight due to the current drone laws. Therefore, given the distance, how far the video transmission signal can reach without too many problems is especially relevant for cheaper drones.
Range sorted by drone model:
- Parrot Mambo, Parrot Airborne 20m with mobile phone, 60m with flypad
- DJI Spark 180, maximum 200m
- Khubsan drone 200 m
- Phantom 3 standard 300 m
- Yuneec Q500 4k 350m
- GoPro Karma 400 m
- Mavic Pro, P3 Professionel, Phantom 4, Typhoon H, Xiaomi Mi, Parrot Bepop 2> 500 meters
If you decide to buy a drone with a camera, there are significant differences in quality, functionality, and gimbal systems used.
Camera resolution is critical for both video and photo production.
The following formats are available:
- Full HD: video resolution with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a 16: 9 display. You already know this good picture from your home TV. Most of the channels are streamed in Full HD and already provide excellent picture.
- 2.7k Resolution: Video resolution with 2704 x 1520 pixels on a 16: 9 display. The level of detail in this picture is already better than the movies you know from DVD.
- 4K Resolution (also called Ultra HD): Video resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels with 16: 9 display. This format provides the best video quality currently available on the market.
The frame rate at which the video is recorded is also important for this distinction. Depending on how many frames per second (images per second) are possible, your footage looks smoother or less smooth. Our human eye records the environment at 24 frames per second.
To do this, the following distinction can be made:
- 30fps: This frame rate is the industry standard for drone cameras and delivers high quality, smooth images.
- 60 images per second: Depending on the video resolution, this parameter can significantly increase the price of the drone. 60 frames per second looks really cool and the picture looks more dynamic and lively.
- 120fps: Newer drone cameras offer this setting for creating time-lapse recordings.
The default setting for a good entry-level drone with a camera is Full HD and a frame rate of 30 frames per second. The DJI Spark fulfills exactly this requirement. If you look at aerial photos of this inexpensive drone, then mos
t of you will be satisfied with it.
The entry-level DJI Phantom 3 Standard drone is capable of producing 2.7k recordings at 30 frames per second. The recordings are good but not much different from the Full HD movie. This is due to the built-in action cam that comes with the P3 standard. This is a good average, but there is still room for improvement.
The DJI Mavic Pro 2.7k footage looks truly cinematic and will definitely amaze your fellows. The depth of field is really great and very detailed. The Mavic can provide a frame rate of 30 frames per second.
The DJI Phantom 4 Advanced has one of the best action cameras currently available on the drone market. Recording is possible in 4k (Ultra-HD) format at 60 frames per second. The footage not only looks incredibly sharp and detailed, but also looks very smooth thanks to 60 FPS. Especially fast changes of direction or moving objects are very well recorded.
120 FPS can usually only be obtained in Full HD. The picture looks very fluid, and the reality or the recorded environment sometimes looks like a first person shooter or a computer game.
A special highlight in the drone world is the 360 ° rotating camera attached to the Typhoon H. It can be moved in all directions to provide a panoramic view that is currently a unique advantage.
There are three main harnesses in the drone family:
- Mechanical cardan
- Suspension software
- Built-in camera with no gimbal and no image stabilization software
A mechanical gimbal system is built into all DJI drones and some Yuneec drones.
This system ensures that the camera stays straight during the entire flight. If the action cam could move freely, the flight recordings would only be half as bad because the image would be a little shaky and blurry.
In our experience, this type of image stabilization produces the best videos. Whether the quadcopter is moving forward, backward or sideways, the image is always smooth. The following copters we tested have a mechanical harness:
- Mavic Pro
- DJI Spark
- Phantom 3 standard
- Phantom 3 Professional
- Phantom 4 Advanced
- Yuneec Q500 4k
- Junek Typhon H.
- Drone GoPro Kamra
- 4k Mi drone
The software harness calculates all important image data using very sophisticated software installed on the drone to then transmit the image without hesitation at the output to the connected end device (mobile phone, tablet or remote control).
Excellent videos can also be captured depending on the complexity of the software. However, it should be pointed out here that the software sometimes “cannot keep up” with rapid changes in direction or moving objects, and the video sequence may have a black border or overlap.
However, due to the advanced development of all drones, this happens extremely rarely.
However, this type of drones has one advantage: since there is no free-hanging gimbal to hold in a stable position, such drones are also less susceptible to serious damage in the event of an accident. In addition, the price of these drones is often slightly lower.
It seemed incredible to us how often and what falls, for example, the Parrot Bepop 2 survived. Of course, the quality of the material and the brand are also important.
These drones have a software harness:
- Parrot Bepop 2
- Parrot disco
- Junek Breeze 4k
We also tested Quadrokpoters that have a camera but no gimbal system or software.
The only image stabilization comes from the flight of the drone itself, so if the drone is very windy and does not fly well, the image is blurred accordingly.
The advantage of this drone is its often low cost. If you’re a beginner and just want to try out a drone with a camera, then you’ve come to the right place.
However, if you are planning to shoot high quality video, then these drones are out of the question for you.
These drones have no gimbal or gimbal software:
- Hubsan drone
- Parrot mambo
- Parrot in the air
- Parrot swing
- Syma 5XC
Drone accessories and extensions
For demanding drone pilots, the question of potential drone expansion is sometimes more important than the knockout price criterion.
The following possible extensions are currently available for drones:
- A mobile landing gear on which the drone can take off and land (very useful on uneven ground)
- Extra battery and propeller (especially important for professional pilots who have to fly longer to make great videos!)
- Drone badge -> Name and address, as well as contact details must be attached to the badge, which is fireproof on the drone from October 1, 2017.
- Controller extensions such as a tablet holder on the Mavic Pro remote or a signal booster for longer video transmission range
- Carry / transport bag
- The ability to dismantle the camera and / or attach another camera designed for the drone. In some Yuneec models, the camera can be easily removed and used on a handheld gimbal. This saves additional costs and is also very practical.
- Both DJI and GoPro offer drones with a universal camera mount mounted on a variety of action cameras, not just a camera specially designed for this model.
- FPV connection or the ability to control the drone using virtual glasses
Flying a drone using FPV goggles is truly an entrance to another dimension, as you no longer control the drone through the display on your device, but you are right in the cockpit and are the captain of your drone flying object.
First of all, it should be noted that you will never be allowed to fly alone with such glasses, because you cannot see the surroundings. You can find more information on this in our drone policy article.
Image transmission usually works at 720p or 1080p, that is, Full HD.
There are great qualitative differences in the FPV drone industry, and especially well-founded research is needed.
The following drones we tested offer FPV flight capability:
- Parrt Bepop 2
- Hubsan drone
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Phantom 4
- DJI Spark
- All Phantom 3 models, but a small update is needed here that doesn’t make sense after calculating the costs and benefits, so it is recommended that you take a look at the newer model from DJI. (like Mavic, P4 or Spark)
- Typhoon H.
- Xiaomi Mi Drone
- Typhoon Q500 4k (This also requires a full hardware upgrade)
The Parrot Bepop 2 provides a very good stable transmission signal when using FPV goggles. The software gimbal system also provides smooth images.
If you are using FPV goggles for drones that do not have image stabilization through gimbal systems or software, then you can probably imagine the result: you are flying a very wobbly plane that is quite difficult to control due to the riots.
From our point of view, FPV goggles make sense for a drone only if the image stabilizes during the entire flight.
Conclusion on buying a drone
As you have seen from our explanation, there are an incredible number of purchase criteria to consider when purchasing a drone. It is often impossible to make a purchasing decision immediately after the first research that you are happy with in the long run.
This is why it is highly advisable to take a very close look at all of our drone test reports, as it is mainly the small details that are important that can make it easier for you to fly / sweeten for you later.
The brief summary should serve as a quick overvie
w of which models we personally find best and what needs are met here.
The DJI Mavic Pro is great for all drone pilots who are on a slightly larger budget and want an all-in-one drone that is not only small and handy, but also offers 4k recordings, zoom functionality and a great flight experience. well served.This DJI model combines the benefits of all Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 models at a great price!
DJI has released the Spark model available for just under € 600 with gesture control. This innovative feature is especially interesting for pilots who want to untie their hands during filming and want to use cool video features. Especially for newbies who don’t know the best way to rotate the camera to get a great shot, it’s worth taking a closer look.
If you have very high demands on technology, flight performance, battery life, safety and sensors, and the price does not matter to you, then the Phantom 4 Advanced is definitely for you. The camera has a resolution of 4k and 60 frames per second, which makes it industry leader. In addition, the flight time is 27 minutes and all terrestrial safety features are implemented (eg forward and downward obstacle detection). Intelligent flight modes that you can use to produce cinematic recordings complement the high-quality drone.
Typhoon Q500 4K is a winner in price-performance ratio for even the more demanding pilots, which not only comes with a very good 4k camera, but also comes with an extensive package including a handheld gimbal, a second battery and a large carrying case, as well as a remote control with built-in display. The price is currently just under € 700 and is unmatched in quality and drone package size!
The Hubsan drone has a variety of technical features at a price tag of almost 250 Euros that you won’t find anywhere else on the market at this price. In this entry-level drone, we were convinced by both the follow me mode and the return home mode and the good flight times. The only drawback is the lack of image stabilization. However, we can warmly recommend this model to novice pilots.
If you want to fly your drone with FPV goggles at an unbeatable price, the Parrot Bepop is worth a look. Not only FPV goggles are interesting, but also the confidence that this drone will withstand one fall or another without serious damage due to synthetic carbon fiber.
If you are new to flying and don’t need a drone with a great camera, you can test the Parrot Mambo or Parrot Airborne. They are available for less than € 100 and will take one or two drops. If you want to fly indoors, this is the model for you!
We hope we can bring you some light into the dark and now you know a little more about what matters when buying a drone / quadcopter.
If, in your opinion, we have not dealt with any topic, write to us about it in the comments, and we will expand our report for you.
|Overall rating 5/5|