Over the last few years, drones have become an everyday must-have among the photography and videography communities. Thanks to more affordable pricing, even those with a tight budget and a hankering for a birds’ eye view can purchase a drone. But are drones really worth the investment?
There are many variables when deciding if a drone is right for you. If you wish to enhance your photos and/or videos, are looking for unique ways to simplify the way you do business, or are just searching for a fun weekend project, then a drone may be worth your time and money. However, there are several factors you need to consider that may affect your decision to invest in a drone.
The decision to purchase your very own drone can be difficult, especially if you’re on a budget. In this article, we will dive into the essential factors you need to consider before adding a great piece of tech to your arsenal.
Why Do You Want A Drone?
Are you interested in learning a new hobby? Maybe you're a photographer or videographer that is looking to enhance your shots? Are you planning on using a drone commercially to simplify or expand a business? Drones are fantastic tools for all of the above. However, you will save time and money if you have clear motivations before purchasing one.
If you’re an avid photographer, you will need to invest in a drone with a high-quality camera. Further, if you plan to shoot video, preferably a camera capable of shooting in 4k as well.
If you’re looking for a new hobby, drone flying can be a fun weekend adventure. You wouldn’t necessarily need a drone equipped with a fancy camera. However, if you plan to venture into competitive endeavors, such as drone racing, you will need to invest in a drone that has strong flying capabilities.
If you’re a contractor, farmer, or run any type of business where a bird’s eye view can assist in business operations, then a drone would be a great piece of equipment to invest in to help further your company.
How Much Are You Willing To Spend?
Obviously, the cost is an important factor to consider when purchasing a drone. High-quality camera drones, for instance, can cost between $300-$1,500 or more, depending on their photo and video capabilities.
What needs will buying a drone fulfill? Since drones are not a small investment, this is important to consider so you can budget accordingly. Are you planning on starting a videography business? If so, you should wait until you have the funds to purchase a quality video drone that your business can benefit from.
- Average cost of toy drones – great for newbies and hobbyists: $20 to $250
- Average cost for a high-quality camera drone (prosumer): $300 to $1,500+
DJI's Mavic 2 Pro is our recommendation for a prosumer camera drone. With a flight time of 31 minutes, a top speed of 44.7 MPH, and a Hasselblad camera capable of shooting 4k video and 20-megapixel stills, this is hands down the best drone for the money! You can check out the current price on Amazon here, and on DJI's website here.
There are also required drone accessories you will need to purchase, too. Extra batteries and propellers are must-haves as a drone pilot. As a beginner, you can expect to damage a good number of propellers during crash landings. The average battery life of a prosumer drone is 16 to 31 minutes, so additional batteries will come in handy.
Below are a few important accessories to have for a prosumer drone.
- Average cost for propellers: $10 to $40
- Average cost for propeller guards: $10 to $30
- Average cost for extra batteries: $50 to $140
- Average cost for a drone carrying case: $25 to $150+
- Average cost for micro SD cards: $10 to $60
Do You Have The Time To Learn How To Fly?
It can take you quite some time to learn how to properly fly a drone, especially becoming accustomed to the controls and settings. If you plan to use your drone for photography, this is very important in order to get the most out of your investment and capture the killer shots you desire. Tracking objects and capturing big pan shots can take a while to master.
It also takes practice to understand the telemetry that is being displayed on your phone as you fly. A thorough understanding of flight telemetry and battery info will greatly decrease your risk of having a crash. This includes learning how to land manually in case of an emergency. As mother used to say, “practice makes perfect”, and learning to fly a drone is no different. Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something if you don’t have the time to learn how to use it?
Where Do You Live?
Even though the global drone industry continues to grow, many places restrict you from flying a drone unless you get yourself a commercial drone pilot license (even those with a commercial license can't fly in some areas). If you’re looking to purchase a drone as a hobbyist, you may want to review restricted airspaces around you before hitting that “buy now” button.
What’s the use of investing in a shiny new drone if all it will do is collect dust? Take the time to do your research before hitting that “purchase” button. You can find your state and/or country regulations looking through the UAV Coaches Master List of Drone Laws.
Reasons Drones Are Worth Your Money
There’s just something fascinating about seeing our everyday world from a bird’s perspective. Having an intrinsically cool piece of technology right in your backpack that you can launch and capture amazing photos with is pretty darn impressive.
Here are some reasons to consider investing in a drone:
- Learning to operate a drone is a fun experience.
- With a drone, you have access to your own personal aviation system. Flying up to the legal limit of 400 feet while exploring your surroundings is exhilarating.
- You’ll get to visualize many things that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen without a plane or helicopter. And this doesn’t include the cool tricks you can do while in the air, too! If you plan to do any sort of photography or shoot videos for YouTube, you should purchase a drone to enhance your shots and capture incredible angles.
- There’s a HUGE market for drone photos and video.
- Drone footage has gained popularity throughout the web in the past few years, especially on Instagram and YouTube. If you’re looking to increase your social media following or leverage drone footage in your photo/video business, drone footage is a great next step in accomplishing these tasks.
- While there have been many areas around the world captured by drones, other parts remain unseen, leaving the scope of opportunity wide open. There is an effect that aerial photos and videos have on the human eye, which often puts them “above” traditional ground footage.
- They are great tools to level-up your business.
- There is a vast array of industries that have incorporated the use of drones in their businesses, such as agriculture, construction, and real estate, to name a few.
- Real estate agents now have a competitive edge with the ability to capture aerial photos of properties for potential buyers.
- Construction companies can create 3D maps to help track progress on projects from an aerial view.
- Those in the agriculture industry can take an almost hands-off approach to spraying and tracking the health of their crops.
- Government and private entities utilize drones to inspect infrastructures.
If you plan to sell drone pictures or videos, we highly recommend that you read this in-depth guide to starting a drone photography business that we wrote.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Spend Your Money On A Drone
Drones are valuable pieces of equipment that are used to enhance our aerial view of the world, as well as assist people in leveling up their business operations. However, there are a few reasons why you should not spend your hard-earned money on a drone.
- You’re not an avid photographer.
If you plan to make money with the pictures and videos that you get with your drone, they better be good. If the only photos you’ve ever taken have been with your phone, you’re probably better off purchasing a DSLR camera first. This will allow you to learn photography basics before spending money on a camera that flies.
The same fundamentals of ground-level photography also apply to drone photos. If you don’t understand the fundamentals, adding the element of flying is not where you should be focusing your time just yet.
- You’re not planning to edit drone footage.
Learning to fly a drone is just the beginning; upon landing is when the real work begins. You have to also be interested in learning how to edit the footage you capture during your aerial adventures. Raw drone footage isn’t nearly as intriguing as a well-edited video.
Don’t expect to have edited footage right from your drone – you will have to navigate the learning curve of making them beautiful and captivating. This is why your money is better spent on a DSLR camera at first!
- You live in a densely populated city. Remember that there are strict rules about flying near airports, around other people, and near law enforcement activities. If you are surrounded by No-Fly zones, you may want to think twice before buying a drone.
- You’re not technically and mechanically savvy.
If you don’t know how to interpret maps, fix small things, or get frustrated when items don’t work as planned, you probably should not get into a drone hobby. Fixing the motor on a cheap drone requires some skill – from using tiny tools to soldering, testing voltage, understanding polarity, etc.
Unless you have a hobby shop near you who does drone maintenance, repairs, and replacements, you may run into more than you bargained for.
Drones are fascinating tools that have changed the way many people create content and do business – I know they have certainly changed my life. I’m happy with my decision to purchase a drone; however, I have put valuable time and effort to ensure my investment was worthwhile.
Be sure that you are ready to embrace those learning curves if you plan to make money with your drone. Otherwise, your time and money may be better spent learning more about photography and videography before getting yourself a drone.
If you are just looking to fly a drone as a hobby, by all means, get out there and grab one! You won't regret it.