When it comes to drones with cameras, there are countless models to choose from on the market. In fact, most drones now come equipped with an on board camera or a mount to attach your own camera so that you can capture your flight in technicolor.
However, there is a gaping chasm between what high-end and beginner drones offer and how difficult they are to use.
Buying a top of the range camera drone when you don’t know your gimbal from your GPS could be a big mistake. Camera drones can be complicated pieces of equipment, and it could end up with you crashing thousands of dollars worth of equipment because you overestimated your photography and flying skills.
Thankfully, you can still take beautiful images and videos without training to be a pro with a beginner camera drone—the resolution and quality of these drones are improving all the time. If you are a recreational flyer who wants to snap some selfies with your drone or capture some basic aerial photographs, drones for beginners with a camera are ideal. Read on to find out more.
What makes a good camera drone for beginners?
Before buying any drone, you should consider how well you can fly and what it is you are trying to accomplish. If it is your first time, then the camera drone you choose shouldn’t have tons of complicated features.
For rookie drone photographers, sturdy, light, and affordable drones are the way to go. You should look for ready-to-fly (RTF) or almost-ready-to-fly (ATF) drones, which are much easier to set up. Quadcopters are the most stable, affordable and simple of the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).
Price range—You can get camera drones on a very small budget nowadays, but to get a standard quality camera you’ll want to think about spending upwards of $100.
Distance and flight time—Most beginner camera drones are only likely to reach 100-600m, so you can always keep your drone in sight, which is great for beginners. Flights tend to last from 10-20 minutes on a good beginner drone.
What basic features should I look for in a camera drone for beginners?
Here are a few of the features that you can expect to come with your first camera drone:
FPV (First-person view)—This is a great feature that allows you to control and follow your drone in real time from the screen of your smartphone or through VR goggles. You can see through the eyes of your drone as you fly, so you can get the perfect angle for your shot.
Smartphone feed—You can pair your drone with your smartphone and use WiFi to stream video back to you. Most beginner drones have an app that allows you to edit and share your photos easily with your friends, family, or followers.
GPS ‘follow me’—Some of the slightly higher priced beginner drones will have this feature, which combines visual recognition with your smartphone’s GPS to help you take a picture-perfect photo. It means that you can put your control away, and the drone will ensure that you’re still in the frame, so you can focus on creating fabulous photos instead of worrying about stabilizing the flight.
HD video—You can get up to a 4K video quality on some beginner drones, but it’s likely to be extremely shaky. Even if 4K isn’t available in your price range, you should get a drone with a pretty standard camera quality of 720-1080p Full HD.
What you won’t get in a camera drone for beginners
You definitely won’t get the razor-sharp shots and the stability of video footage that you would with a more expensive camera drone complete with a 3-axis mechanical gimbal. You probably won’t benefit from advanced features like object avoidance (goodbye, crashes!) and high speeds of up to 60mph, either.
Best camera drones for beginners
These models offer novice pilots the opportunity to break into drone photography without breaking the bank.
The Holy Stone F181—This is one of the easiest to use camera drones. It has a 720p HD Camera and upgraded 4GB Micro SD card. It doesn’t have FPV and can’t be connected to your smartphone. But this just means that you can focus purely on flying and catching a stable shot, making this one of the best drones for beginners with a camera.
Ryze Tello—You can control this micro drone through your smartphone, and it has VR headset compatibility. It is incredibly user-friendly and boasts a 720p camera with the added bonus of image stabilization so you don’t get shaky footage. There are also some fun features included, like different flight modes that make capturing good quality video easier, as well as 360-degree video.
Parrot Mambo FPV—As the name suggests, this is an FPV camera drone that includes fun cockpit goggles so you can stream your wide angle view HD drone footage straight into your eyeballs. It has 720p quality, a flight range of up to 100m, and good altitude hold for stable photos.
DJI spark—Some people class this as the ultimate selfie drone. This mini drone is at the higher end of the price scale for beginner drones, but it offers features like facial recognition and hand gesture control, which make flying fun. The 1080p video and 12 MP camera mean you’ll be snapping those ‘dronies’ in no time.
Some things to remember
A drone with a camera is likely to weigh above 0.55 lbs, so you will be required to register it with the FAA before you fly. Also, if you are going to be paid to fly your drone for any reason, you’ll need a Remote Pilot certificate under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107).
These beginner drones aren’t going to provide you with awe-inspiring images. If you are a serious sky photographer, the cameras won’t cut it. But if you want a fun and user-friendly experience while you get to grips with shooting aerial photos and flying your machine safely, they are a perfect choice. Safe flying and happy snapping!