February 16, 2018
In just a few short years we have gone from hearing about drone technology in the news to the possibility of owning one ourselves at a very affordable price.
DJI is the market leader in the in the consumer and professional drone industry and they are constantly refreshing and updating their product line.
The recent introduction (late January 2018) of the Mavic Air to their drone lineup has created a huge buzz in the market and many customers are coming to michaels considering their first entry in the world of drones.
As drones are so new to most customers and the technology is so different from standard cameras — choosing the right drone can be very confusing.
With this in mind, here is a list of the major points you want to take into consideration when choosing your first drone.
At this stage, the DJI Drone line starts in the low $600 range for the Spark drone which is very easy to fly both indoors and in light winds outdoors. The most advanced consumer drone from DJI is the Phantom 4 Pro+ at the high $2000 end — so you can see there is a wide range of product pricing which you could say spans the area between a good compact digital camera and a mid level DSLR.
Size and price area basically tied together — the more you spend the larger the drone. However in DJI's lineup, the Mavic series are folding designs and are very portable once folded for storage.
Price and flight time are also tied together, with an upper limit of about 30 minutes of flight time. Overall all new drones are flying longer now per charge than just a few years ago — but everyone still wants longer flight times! In the DJI line, the Spark has the shortest flight time of 16 minutes.
Price and flight range are in lock step as well. The current limit is at 7km within DJI's consumer drone range. Keep in mind that the Australian rules state that you must fly within visual range of the drone only.
Most drone purchased these days are intended for shooting photos or video. The camera payload is the reason for flying! With this in mind, the camera features most likely are critical to your drone decision.
At this stage the consumer drones do not have zoom lenses and everything onboard a drone has to take weight into account. Cameras and Lenses are inherently heavy objects and to cut the weight down, something has to give and with drones it has to be small sensors and plastic lenses. It is important to remember that the camera on a drone can't ever complete with your large heavy DSLR when it comes to ultimate image quality. However, we think you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality that is possible from these remarkable aerial devices. All of DJI's drones, with the exception of the Spark, also have RAW file shooting capability.
Video features might even be more important for drone shooters than stills. All of DJI's drones have 4k video of at least 30fps with the exception of the Spark which only shoots 1080p30 video. There are wide ranges of resolution and frame rate options, including slow motion up to 120fps depending on the model. These days it seem video options are often much more advanced on drones than regular cameras.
When it comes to things that go up in the air, we all know they have to come down at some point — we just want to make sure they come down under proper control and that the drone doesn't inadvertently run into something. This is where DJI's advanced obstacle avoidance system is a great safety feature! All DJI drones have forward facing obstacle avoidance and some models have back and side sensors as well.
DJI is always improving their advanced flight modes and their latest models have the most advanced feature set yet. There are now expert video capture modes on the Mavic Air that would be very difficult for the novice drone pilot to even attempt to fly. DJI is constantly improving their software and updates often add new features for your drone well after newer models have become available. DJI has an excellent track record of innovation and support.
DJI Care Refresh is also available as an extra layer of damage protection. Think of it as crash insurance with a known pre-established deductible for drones.
Sometimes all an interested drone purchaser needs is a little helping hand to help get in the air for their first time. At michaels camera, our in house experts can do just that for you in our drone demo cage. Once you see how easy it is to take of and land all you need to do is pick the drone that is right for you!
Never forget that drones, while small and unlicensed, are in reality small aircraft and as such are regulated by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). It is very important to be aware and fully comply with their rule and regulations. This CASA Page has all the details you need to be aware of.
The 3 drones we featured at the top of this post are the Spark, Mavic Air and Mavic Pro. Most of our customers are interested in one of these models and the following table compares the key features for these models.
All of these models are available as Drone only or in Fly More Combos with extra batteries and a wide range of accessories.
We run drone demonstrations at michaels camera every Tuesday and Friday at 1pm. Drop in and see which drone is right for you! Our expert will be available to answer all your questions and even let you take control and fly for your first time.
2018 is looking like it might be the biggest year yet for getting new users in the air and shooting!
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