Drone Buyers Guide 2017: How to Choose the Perfect Drone

Whether you are a first-time flyer or looking to find the perfect drone for your next commercial endeavor, knowing what the exact intended use of your drone will be is an essential part of the selection process.
Beginning the hunt to find the perfect drone can quickly become a daunting task, especially with the number of drones to choose from on the market today. Within the last year, drone manufacturing giant DJI has released a slew of brand new, groundbreaking drones that have shaken up the market, and expanded the options for both recreational and commercial users. Below we have compiled a list of our top recommendations to help drone pilots find the perfect fit for the task at hand, whether it's their first drone or their next professional investment.  

The Beginner – DJI Spark

The small, compact, and technologically advanced DJI Spark is the latest drone released in the DJI drone lineup. Popularly deemed the most innovative yet affordable consumer drone to date, the Spark is designed with brand new features that enable pilots to launch, land, and control their drone with their very own hand gestures. as well as take stunning aerial video and photos from the air.

The Spark is small in size, roughly the size of the palm of your hand, but jam-packed with powerful features that make it the perfect ready-to-fly-system for beginners. The1080p, 12-megapixel camera on a 2-axis gimbal enables users to capture stunning aerial views. The drone also features DJI's powerful obstacle avoidance system so that pilots can fly through the skies with ease, as well as approximately 16 minutes of flight time.

Users can pilot the Spark with either their cellular device or additional remote controller. With a cell phone, the Spark features a 100 metre range, while the controller extends the Sparks range to up to 2 km.

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Industrial Inspections – DJI Matrice 200

Drone technology is quickly skyrocketing in the commercial sector as industries around the world see the potential drones have to benefit their business and commercial endeavors. With the recently announced DJI Matrice 200 series due to be released this September, DJI specifically designed the series to cater to those in the commercial sector who require an aerial platform that is cost-effective, efficient, and user-friendly.

The new M200 series is designed for industrial usage whether it be building and bridge inspections, search and rescue missions, or agricultural surveying and analyzation. It is built to be as easy-to-use and as portable as possible, as well as resistant to strong weather conditions.

The Matrice 200 series is the first of its kind that can be equipped with multiple payload configurations. The series comes in three versions: The Matrice 200, the Matrice 210, which features the capability to mount two cameras, or the Matrice 210-RTK, for increased accuracy. Currently, the M200 series can support the Zenmuse X4S, the X5S, XT and Z30 cameras.

The M200 features a closed-shell foldable body that makes it much more portable and easy to transport. Flight time on the series has also increased thanks to the drones dual-battery system, enabling the drone to fly for up to 35 minutes.

Any industrial endeavor including surveying, mapping and more can all be conducted with ease and with more accuracy than before ever thanks to the new M200 series. With the drones ability to simultaneously record footage using two cameras, and its durable, portable design, pilots now have access to a powerful aerial platform unlike anything else before it.

The Hobbyist – DJI Mavic Pro

For recreational or hobbyist users that desire a drone with all the bells and whistles, but that is still compact enough to take with them on the go, the DJI Mavic Pro is a perfect choice. The DJI Mavic Pro released the end of last year, features a revolutionary foldable design that enables the drone to fold down to roughly the size of a water bottle. Though small, the Mavic does not sacrifice any features.

The DJI Mavic Pro, like all DJI drones, features an extremely user-friendly design and controls to make flying as effortless as possible. For hobbyists, the Mavic features a solid array of specs including a 7 km range, 27 minutes of battery life, a front and bottom facing obstacle avoidance system, and a variety of innovative intelligent flight modes including ActiveTrack, Trace, Tap to Fly and more. The Mavic additionally features a 4k 12-megapixel camera, for those looking for a drone that can take stunning HD aerial footage.

Overall, the Mavic Pro’s compact size, intelligent flight features, long range and high-quality camera make it the perfect compact yet powerful drone that will satisfy any hobbyist looking for a dependable, innovative and easy to fly drone to capture every moment of their next adventure.

Professional Photography (New Flyer) – Phantom 4 Pro

The Phantom 4 Pro, like its namesake states, is a drone capable of shooting professional quality footage while being extremely easy and safe to fly thanks to its full 360-degree obstacle avoidance camera.  

The Phantom 4 Pro’s obstacle avoidance system features front, bottom, rear, and side sensors to ensure beginners are flying safely in all directions. The drone also features a 7km range and 30 minutes of flight time so that pilots can cruise through the skies with plenty of time to spare.

For professional photographers, the Phantom 4 Pro’s camera is the highlight of its design. The Pro is equipped with a powerful aerial camera that features a 1-inch CMOS sensor, that is capable of shooting 20-megapixel stills with up to 11.6 stops of dynamic range. Users can also shoot 4K video at 60 fps, for stunning shots that are crisp, clear, and highly detailed. Thanks to the drones large sensor, the Phantom 4 Pro features incredible low light performance and is capable of capturing stunning aerial footage with high resolution and rich colour that will satisfy even the most critical professional photographers.

Professional Photography (Experienced Flyer) – Phantom 4 Advanced ​​​​​​

The Phantom 4 Advanced is the newest drone in DJI’s iconic Phantom series, taking the place of the hugely popular DJI Phantom 4. The Phantom 4 Advanced combines the camera of the Phantom 4 Pro with the obstacle avoidance system of the Phantom 4, offering up a middle ground between the two drones. For those who have previous drone piloting experience, feel comfortable flying, and who want an upgraded camera at a more affordable price, the Phantom 4 Advanced could be the perfect drone to capture their vision.
The highlight of the Phantom 4 Advanced is the 1-inch, 20-megapixel camera that delivers footage with incredibly high resolution and rich colour. Like the Phantom 4, the Phantom 4 Advanced features front and bottom facing sensors to autonomously detect obstacles in its path. This is a step down from the Phantom 4 Pro's complete 360-degree obstacle avoidance system.

Along with the camera and new intelligent flight modes, drone pilots will appreciate the drone's 30 minute flight time and 7 km range. If you are looking for professional level footage that won't break the bank, the Phantom 4 Advanced is the perfect happy medium in a ready-to-fly package.

Professional Filmmaking – DJI Inspire 2

If you are looking to create the next aerial masterpiece worthy of the big screen then look no further than the DJI Inspire 2, DJI’s latest Inspire series aerial platform that was specifically designed to capture Hollywood-worthy footage from the skies.

The Inspire 2 comes equipped with two different camera options to suit the needs of the user. First, the Zenmuse X4S, which features a 4K 20-megapixel camera with a 1-inch sensor. Second, the Zenmuse X5S which is a Micro Four Thirds camera that features an interchangeable lens option, and a 4/3” CMOS sensor. The Zenmuse X5S can capture 5.2K footage and 20.8-megapixel stills, and can additionally capture 30-megapixel stills in DNG RAW mode.

Not only is the Inspire 2 capable of capturing professional-grade video and stills, the drone features a dual-battery system for extended flight time, a sophisticated obstacle avoidance system, and dual operator mode options to give pilots the smoothest flight experience possible and cinema-worthy footage.

Preparing for Take-Off

In order to garner the best flight experience possible, and to get the most out of your drone, knowing the exact intended use of your drone is essential. We hope with our recommendations drone pilots of all levels take to the skies with the best drone to suit their needs whether they are the spearheading their next drone business venture or looking to create their next filmmaking masterpiece.