5 beginner-friendly camera drones that make learning to fly easy
Drones seem intimidating, but these are five of the best for newbies.
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Drones are becoming more and more popular these days, but to many people committing to one still seems intimidating. Buy a low-quality drone and you’re likely to have a poor experience. Buy a high-end drone and you may just be setting yourself up for expensive beginner mistakes.
Luckily, a lot of drones have beginner-friendly features to help: automated flight modes that easily get YouTube-quality sweeping shots, obstacle avoidance sensors that stop you from flying into a wall, and prop guards that protect the propellers from breaking when you inevitably crash anyway.
And I can tell you from first-hand experience: you'll want a drone that is forgiving of mistakes, because you're going to crash. These safety measures are re-assuring when you’re just starting out—I wish I knew that prop guards existed when I started.
When selecting a drone for myself, I also consider three things: range (how far from you the drone can fly), battery life, and camera quality. Though all the drones in this list are good for beginners, some questions will help you decide: Am I okay with 1080p? Is 4K a must have? How far does the drone need to fly? Do I need one battery or two, and how long do they last in flight?
We'll address all of that for each of our recommendations below. Oh, and don’t worry about having to buy a million accessories; all of our picks come with at least the following:
- An app in the iOS or Google Play app Stores
- 1 re-chargeable battery (though consider adding a second)
- Wall Adapter + Charging Cable
- A carrying case
- Extra propellers (you’re going to break some)
- Micro SD (or storage space on the unit to record video to)
This drone is the entry-level drone for DJI and comes in five different colors. DJI is known for drones that are easy for average consumers to fly, and the Spark is marketed as such.
Charge your battery, and then go fly your drone; it’s (mostly) that simple. This drone lets you operate it using just your hands, your smartphone, or by using a controller (included in Fly More Combo or sold separately), which extends the range of the drone to 1.24 miles.
An added benefit is obstacle avoidance sensors, which beginner drones don’t typically include, that sense nearby obstacles and stop you from flying into them accidentally. This drone shoots video in 1080p and has multiple automatic flight modes to let you easily get cinematic shots; from personal experience, this drone is easy to use and a delight to fly.
Though the price starts at $499, I recommend the “Fly More Combo” for $699. You’ll get an additional battery, the controller, a charging dock, prop guards (the rings that surround the propeller to protect them from damage), and a case to hold it all.
Taking a unique approaching to drones, this drone brings the live video feed to VR (virtual reality) and lets you fly from a first-person perspective.
The Bebop does include automated flights modes as well, allowing beginners to get cinematic shots. This drone shoots video at 1080p and has a maximum range of 1.24 miles. However, without a gimbal to stabilize the video, it uses stabilizing technology that offers stable video as seen on other drones.
At $579.99 you’ll get the drone, a backpack to carry it, a VR headset, the controller, and the standard accessories we listed at the top.
This drone is compact like the DJI Spark and the Parrot Bebop 2, but is intriguing because it starts at an even lower lower price point.
The Breeze is marketed as an easy way to take videos and pictures of you and your friends. It does shoot video in 4K, so it should be sharper compared to the 1080p video you get from the the DJI Spark and the Parrot Bebop 2. However, some reviewers feel that the camera in the Breeze isn’t as nice as the 1080p of those other drones, so 4K isn’t everything.
This is another drone that operates without a gimbal, so your video may come out shakier than with other drones. Nonetheless, it packs a punch for just $399.99, with a bundle including extra batteries and propellers available at just over $500.
The Wingsland S6 is yet another drone that is designed to give beginners a quality experience for a low price point. It comes in adventurous colors: Camouflage, Green Blood, Metallic Silver, Banana, Fresh Orange, and Subtle Acqua, with prices varying slightly between them. The camera records in beautiful 4K at 30fps, but it has a relatively short range of 328ft and the battery provides just 10 minutes of flight time.
The main hook with the Wingsland S6 is you get a barebones package for just $299 and then buy add-ons to get the features to match more expensive drones. So while most models don’t include propeller guards out of the box, you can buy an add-on that gives you that for $15. Examples of other add-ons include: an LCD display board, propeller guards, a spotlight. and even a drone-mounted gun that shoots little foam balls.
With some colors starting at just $249.99 the Wingsland is a great value for you if you don’t need the high end features, but want to have fun and break into the drone world.
The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium comes in a bright orange color so that you can see it easily from the ground when flying and provides excellent video quality in 4K from its larger on-board camera.
Unlike the gimbal-less drones above, the 3-axis gimbal on the X-Star Premium ensures that the video is smooth as well as sharp. It also has a fast-charge battery that will fully charge in just 60 minutes. The battery provides 25 minutes of flight time and the drone comes with a nice hard, protective case. This drone can fly up to 1.2 miles away with a live HD feed—and even farther without.
At $779.99 and with so many features, the X-Star Premium is a bit closer to an intermediate-level drone. The larger format lets your drone handle winds better, but larger drones are typically harder to control for beginners. It’s also more expensive than the other drones we’ve featured here, but the the smoother video (thanks to the gimbal), the 4K camera, as well as the long range and battery life make it worth it.
Honorable Mentions: For those of you that are interested in making an even bigger commitment to a drone, here are a few intermediate level drones that we also love. These are fun, high quality, and still quite easy to use—though they're all a bit more expensive than true beginners may be comfortable with: