Which are the best drones and quadcopters to buy as of the end of 2017 and first 1/2 of 2018??
UPDATED Feb, 2018 – We update this best drones listing regularly as new products are released and reviewed. Note – we cover the consumer and lower-end Pro market, so you won’t find expensive (over $2,000 base) Drones in the listing below.
Our recommendations are based on 100’s of hours of testing and research as well as our personal experience and that of the experts in the field. ALL DRONES ARE NOT EQUAL, so don’t be fooled by marketing or other claims. With over 50 years experience in model rocketry, ham radio, computers and other technologies, we KNOW DRONES.
The current list is broken down into three (3) categories in descending order of price/features as follows:
1. Consumer Camera Drones – stabilized camera and GPS – we suggest numerous models but all are well below $2,000 for a complete working package. Other models are in the realm of commercial and expert users who don’t need advice from us as to what to purchase.
2. FPV and Selfie Drones, Brushless – are models which can be used for learning, racing and/or taking simple pics and video. Most will not have GPS so can easily get lost if flying in wind or far away. A price range of $100 – $400 is typical for these models.
3. “Toy Grade” models, most of which used “brushed” motors. These are for learning and gifting and, in general, will need parts replacement after a couple hours of use (motors, gears). Typical prices are $15 – $90
Consumer Camera Drones – GPS Based – w/stabilzed cameras.
NOTE: The DJI Mavic Air has been introduced – and it is definitely on the winners list. Be sure to check it out….it’s similar to a Mavic Pro but smaller – some better specs but less range. The link to the Mavic Air (available immediately) is here.
These models are built for taking aerial video and still photos. Taking smooth aerial video requires either a mechanical or electronic “gimbal” (article explaining gimbals) which steadies the camera and removes shake and vibrations. These models all feature GPS so they know their position in space – and can automatically return to the launch point if something goes wrong. Most have a long feature list including multiple sensors and even obstacle avoidance (article – How Modern Camera Drones Work).
Best Overall Camera Drone
If we had to suggest only a single unit it would be the DJI Mavic Pro. Actually, now it is two units since DJI recently introduced an slightly upgraded model called the Mavic Pro Platinum. This is a foldable model which is packed with technology and features and yet is easily transported most anywhere. All drones make compromises between size, weight, cost, flight time and other factors – the Mavic Pro is the rare bird that hits most of the right buttons for most users.
Mavic Pro at DJI
Mavic Pro Platinum at DJI
Mavic Pro at Amazon
*The Mavic Pro, in general, has the longest range of any consumer camera drone – a nice feature if this is on your wish list!
*The NEW Mavic Air is smaller in size – shorter range but claims some better other (camera, wind) specs – link to the Mavic Air here.
Best Imaging (pics and video) Drones [Read more…]