Once you get the hang of it, you can do some really cool things with a drone. It can be an incredibly fun and fulfilling hobby, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, where do you start when it comes to buying a drone in the first place?
If you’ve looking to jump into the proverbial pilot’s seat and take flight with your first ever drone, we’ve put together a short list of drones you should consider depending on your skill level, budget and interests.
Before you commit to buying a drone, it’s incredibly important that you familiarise yourself with Australia’s drone laws first.
Best drone for beginners: DJI Mini
As you read through the following list, one thing will become very apparent – when it comes to drones, DJI have the market cornered. And as far as beginner drones go, the DJI Mini is a top-notch choice.
“It’s enough of a drone to help you learn how to fly and to capture incredible aerial footage,” wrote Adam Clark Estes in Gizmodo’s review of the DJI Mini. “At the same time, the Mavic Mini is a gateway drone, something that’s going to get you more interested in these amazing 21st-century gadgets.”
The Mini really lives up to its namesake, with its weight clocking in at 249g (for reference, an iPhone 12 weighs 164g). If you’re worried about mother nature taking this drone for a ride, the Mini is designed to withstand level 5 winds (around 29–38 km/h).
If your drone does get blown a bit of course, it’s still able to transmit HD video up to a distance of 10km.
The DJI Mini uses a 12MP camera that can record 4K video at 30fps, and its battery will give you a decent half-hour of flight time.
Start your journey into droning with the DJI Mini here.
Best cheap drone: Ryze Tello
There’s a special kind of disappointment felt when you get into a new hobby, spend a bunch of money on it and then instantly lose interest. Your purchase sits on a shelf collecting dust, silently mocking your financial decisions.
Most cheap drones are glorified R/C helicopters. Which might be fine for some, but if you actually want a cheap one that’s still a proper drone, you’re better off with a Ryze Tello.
In terms of performance, the Ryze Tello, which is powered by DJI technology, is as basic as they come.
On a fully-charged battery you’ll get around 13 minutes of flight, with a max speed of 28.8km/h. For the burgeoning drone photographer, the Tello comes with a built-in 5MP camera that can also record 720p video.
But, most importantly, it has a price tag that sits nicely under $170. If you become a very casual drone fan, this device will serve you well. The Tello can also serve as a good stepping stone into droning. A nice place to learn the basics before you make the leap to something a bit meatier.
You can take flight with the Ryze Tello drone here.
Best all-rounder drone: DJI Mavic Air 2
Do you want a drone that’s favoured by casual enthusiasts and professionals alike? Then you get this drone. In a review of the Mavic Air 2, Gizmodo writer Carlos Zahumenszky described it as being, “a perfect balance between a professional drone and a recreational one.”
This sturdy drone has a solid battery life of just over a half-hour and can hit a top speed of 68km/h.
The Mavic Air 2 comes equipped with a 48MP camera that will let you record 4K 60fps video, which is on a three-axis gimbal that’ll help you capture some smoother footage.
You pilot it through a smartphone running the DJI Fly app that’s combined with the bundled remote controller. It has a 1080p video transmission range of 10km, so you shouldn’t have any problems with not seeing what it’s seeing.
Whether you want a drone that you can use to take some top-notch aerial photography or videos, or you just want one that you can zip around with while blasting Kenny Loggins’ ‘Danger Zone’, you can’t really go past the Mavic Air 2.
Jump into the pilot seat of a DJI Mavic Air 2 here.
Best drone for photography: DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
If you’re someone who loves photography or shooting video, getting yourself a drone makes perfect sense. You can untether yourself from the ground, and reach heights that were previously only available if you were willing to climb a tree or rent out a helicopter.
When it comes to photography the best drone doesn’t come cheap, unfortunately. A DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 drone will set you back a whopping $2,699.95.
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has a battery life that’ll get you a solid 30 minutes of flight time, and the Phantom 4 can hit a top speed of 72km/h. It comes with five-direction obstacle sensors and an in-built pilot assistance program that’ll help you avoid any mid-air collisions while filming.
Its 20MP camera uses a f/2.8 wide-angle lens with a 1″ CMOS sensor that’s mounted on a three-axis motorised gimbal, allowing you to capture smooth 4K footage at 60 fps.
The remote controller has a built-in 5.5″ 1080p LCD screen, which will maintain a 1080p livestream for up to 8km.
Get a bird’s eye view with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 here.