The Best Drone for Beginners in 2021

the best drone for you especially if it’s your first drone there are a lot of different drones on the market these days and i haven’t used or owned all of them i haven’t tested them all so i’m only going to speak about the ones that i know of personally that i personally used and tested here in alaska and put through a lot of different situations and no surprise a lot of them are dji drones we have the dji mini 2 which is a great small drone and then we have the air 2 and the air 2s very similar drones but different image capabilities we have the mavic 2 pro which has been the workhorse of dji’s offerings for people who are in the pro prosumer kind of category and are wanting to get really high image quality and then we have the skydio2 which is a very unique and very specific use case scenario drone that is fantastic if you need its specific uses or if it’s its specific capabilities so let’s break down each of these drones and why you might want them this won’t be an exhaustive breakdown of each of the features of this drone that’ll be way too many but i do have reviews of every single one of these drones and comparisons with a lot of them and we’re going to start with the mavic 2 pro the mavic 2 pro although it’s coming up on three years is still an excellent drone and extremely capable for handling a lot of different situations and i think that’s why it’s been a lot of people’s go-to drone mine included for your pro level work but you still need something small portable on foldable the mavic 2 pro has been great it has a one inch sensor which takes 20 megapixel stills it’ll shoot up to 4k up to 30 frames a second in 10-bit d-log color with a hasselblad color science or color profile that’s built into the sensor which is fantastic it gives you really nice really rich really beautiful colors straight out of the camera if you’re shooting in the d-log profile and you add the lut from dji or you color grade it yourself you can get some really fantastic stuff out of this it works well in low-light because it is a one-inch sensor and it has 360 obstacle avoidance which makes it really great if you want to be able to track yourself or use a lot of the smart features and the smart shots another way that this drone is a really good choice still on the market even though there’ll probably be a new one sometime this fall is that you can use it to do waypoints which means you can use it for mapping missions another thing that sets this drone apart and makes it a really good choice is if you’re operating in harsher environments really cold environments the mavic 2 pro handles those really well i can personally say i’ve flown it as cold as 40 below zero uh that’s fahrenheit same celsius at 40 below it’s just really really cold at that point it doesn’t matter everything’s freezing but the drone has flown and handled that really well now it has the best top speed out of any of the drones i’m going to talk about today it has 45 maybe 46 miles an hour depending on the conditions and it really handles a fair amount of wind it responds well it’s just a little bigger a little more powerful so it’ll handle a lot of conditions a little bit easier now for some of the reasons you may not want to get this drone it’s a little bigger it’s a little heavier it’s definitely the biggest and heaviest out of all the drones we’re going to compare today especially when it’s unfolded the batteries are bigger it’s obviously quite a bit more expensive depending on your budget it may not be in your budget and there is probably going to be a third version or a new version or something similar but a newer version of it coming out sometime this year my guess is probably in the fall one more downside about the mavic 2 pro is when you’re going full speed forward in sport mode the gimbal will bottom out or reach its max range motion and drop down a little bit but let’s say that 1500 1700 almost 2 000 is a little out of your price range because let’s face it that’s a fair amount of money to spend for your first drone you would need to register it you would need to get a license in most places to use it commercially so maybe there’s something a little cheaper and that’s where the air 2s and the air 2 come in now i’m going to talk about both of these drones but they are a little bit different the air 2 came out about a year ago and now we have the air 2s the air 2 still a great drone a little on the cheaper side but let’s start with the r2s the air 2s has the same one-inch sensor 20 megapixel stills but it doesn’t have a variable aperture a mechanical aperture like the mavic 2 pro does so if you want to be able to change and adjust your aperture as you’re flying which does come in handy if you’re shooting in professional environments and the lighting is changing quickly that doesn’t this doesn’t have it so you’ll be relying more on your is iso or your iso or your um your shutter speed to be able to adjust for changing lighting conditions which makes it a little more challenging to shoot with it does shoot in 10-bit color it also shoots in the 5.4k video which is fantastic beautiful it’s detailed it’s really nice and if you’re shooting in the 10-bit color you can get some really spectacular results out of it but the color is not the same as the mavic 2 pro because this doesn’t have that hasselblad color science built into it it it it still looks nice but it’s not quite the same now can you get it to be and look the same yeah i think you can if you spend some time color grading and one of the things that sets the air 2s apart from all the other drones on this list except for maybe the skydio is that the gimbal doesn’t bottom out it will keep the level the horizon perfectly level even when flying in forward in full sport mode which is really really nice if you do a lot of things at high speed now it does have dji’s newest ocusync 3 or 03 transmission protocol which means you can go way further than you legally can go because it’ll go way beyond your visual line of sight it has active track and you can set up some waypoints not the same waypoints as the mavic 2 pro you at this point you can’t with the dji fly up so your your ability to use it and what you can do with it is a little bit more limited and that includes how the drone responds to the remote controller you don’t have the same amount of fine controls to be able to dial in exactly how you want the drone to respawn so if you’re doing more professional level work the mavic 2 pro would probably be a little bit better way to go but if you need something that’s smaller that’s cheaper that’s more compact has great flight time the dji air 2s is a great drone for that comes in at about twelve hundred thirteen hundred dollars for the flymore kit which gives you a few extra batteries a multi-charger and stuff like that on the downsides this doesn’t have the same amount this it doesn’t have 360 degree obstacle avoidance although the front down rear obstacle avoidance does work well it doesn’t have side obstacle avoidance it does have a sort of upward obstacle avoidance and it does have tracking features which is really nice because it will track you to a point in a lot of different situations of all the drones on this list i think it’s my favorite right now because it strikes a really great balance of the image quality you can get out of the drone and the capabilities of what it can do it can fly up to 44 miles an hour it can handle pretty good wind i don’t know how cold it can handle yet but the air too could definitely handle pretty cold temperatures it definitely can go places go quick it can go up and down extremely fast which is really nice if you want to go somewhere and get somewhere fast you can get up there fast you can come down quickly and it has a lot of the same really nice smart shop features so you can get a lot of really great shots of yourself or of your family when you’re out on vacation or doing things like that now the drone would need to be registered and you especially if you’re using commercially you will need a license for it but the drone will need to be registered either way if you’re in the us now this is your first drone and you’ve never flown drones before you’re about to buy your first drone i put together a course that will take you through the basics of unfolding the drone of charging and taking care of the batteries to the basics of your very first few flights and how to train your muscles and really learn how to fly your drone safely and then even into some of the more advanced features like how to fly and use obstacle avoidance or not use obstacle avoidance how to use active track and use some of the smart features in your drone so that you can get the best and the most uh use out of your drone possible and then we come to the air 2. now the air 2 is very similar to the air 2s but it has a smaller one over one half inch sensor it will give you hdr footage which is nice it doesn’t have upward obstacle avoidance but it does have a forward back and down obstacle volumes which works well it has a little longer flight time than the air 2s which is really nice about four or five minutes more depending on how you use it and it will only give you 12 megapixel stills now there is a kind of trick feature that will give you up to 48 megapixel stills but they aren’t true 48 megapixel stills and although they are a little more detailed than the regular air 2 12 megapixel stills it does do a little worse in low light because it has that smaller sensor and depending on how you shoot with it it may not handle your lighting conditions as well as the air 2s because the air 2s has that larger one-inch sensor and then we come to one of my favorites just because it’s such a great drone and really i think it’s probably the one i recommend the most for people who are buying their first drone a beginner drone and even some commercial work it’s it’s just really a great drone and that’s the mini 2 which is a fantastic little drone one and in large part because it’s very capable but it’s under 249 grams which means it fits into a category that none of the other drones fit into you don’t have to register it if you’re using it for hobby use just for yourself for fun you don’t need a license you don’t need anything special like that to be able to fly it and use it to film yourself and post stuff for your friends on social media now if you’re using it commercially you will need to register it and you will still need your commercial drone license in whatever country you’re in but it’s still even using it commercially fits into a lot of places that other drones will not because it’s so small and so light and enables you to do things that you might not be able to do with larger heavier drones but let’s talk about the image quality because that’s always a big concern the image quality of this is good it’s not as good as the other drones it doesn’t have a super big sensor not surprising but even the little sensor that comes out of this you can get some really great 4k up to 30 frames a second footage which is really nice and if you’re in good lighting conditions it’s really good you can get 12 megapixel stills which honestly let’s be honest if you’re just posting stuff on social media you don’t need more than a 12 megapixel still that’s more than enough and i really like the stills that come out of this drone another great big thing for this drone and makes it a great first drone is it’s super small super light super portable it takes up almost no space in your camera bag because it’s just so small and it adds almost no weight so if you like to do a lot of stuff like this where you’re going out and exploring or you’re going to places unknown and you’re going to hike and carry everything on your back then the mini 2 is a really great addition or even just traveling around the world traveling with your family the mini 2 is great because you don’t need to add a lot of weight or a lot of bulk it has really great uh image transmission system you can go a way further than you legally can just like the other drones it will go for miles and you’ll have no problem there it has a really great flight time like right around well they say 34 35 minutes but honestly 26 maybe 27 minutes depending on how you fly but out of a drone this size that’s really a great great flight time and even though it’s so small you still get a lot of dji’s quick shots which means you can do dronies you can circle you can do a lot of things that will give you some really great video footage of yourself of your family or whatever the subject is you’re filming in fact i put together a whole video right here about those quick shots and how to use them with the mini 2 because you can get some really good stuff out of this drone now for the downsides and the caveats it has no obstacle avoidance so you you have to be aware of you know where you’re flying it how you’re flying it while you’re flying around so you don’t accidentally crash into something because you know accidents happen but it does give you some really great options and honestly i really like flying this drone even around obstacles and through obstacles because it’s so small it’s the slowest of these drones it only goes through 35 maybe 34 miles an hour at max speed but that’s plenty for most things it just definitely will not handle as high a wind speeds as the pro 2 or the 2 pro the air 2s and the air ii it just it won’t and one more small downside about the mini 2 is that it will the gimbal will bottom out if you’re moving in sport mode or if you’re flying against some really strong winds so the gimbal will drop down and you won’t quite have that level horizon but the greatest thing about the mini 2 is the price if this is your first drone and this is why i recommend it to be one of your first drones is because you’re not spending a ton of money and that’s why i say the mini 2 is the best beginner drone i think because the price the value the features you get out of it it’s just one of the best drones you can possibly get especially if you’re not if you haven’t flown drones a lot but if you need some of the more pro level features or you’re going to be doing a lot of stuff if you’re an experienced photographer or videographer and you know you’re going to want that higher quality footage that’s why i put the other drones in here because those might be the better drones for you and there is one more drone that depending on your use case scenario might be the best drone for you and that’s the skydio2 the skydio2 is a very different drone for many other drones on the market it is highly autonomous and highly intelligent skydio has programmed some incredible ai into the drone and really and just kind of mind-blowing obstacle avoidance so why would you want something like that well if you do things like i do where i’m off exploring the world but you want to film yourself doing those things and not have to worry about the drone running into stuff very much then the skydio2 really is your your option now you do have to register it because it’s larger a skydio2 boasts a 21 22 minute flight time in my use i’m not sure exactly what they say maybe 23 minutes 24 minutes maybe but i generally get 20 minutes ish maybe 19 depending on how i’m flying it and the conditions i’m flying it in and you can shoot up to 4k 60 which is great if you like to film yourself doing action sports you can also take 12 megapixel stills it does do a raw photo at 12 megapixels which is pretty nice you can edit it to make some really nice images and bar none skydio has the best obstacle avoidance and tracking of any drone on the planet right now there are some downsides to it though and that those are the fact that it doesn’t fly in super super cold weather it doesn’t like it now i’ve flown mine well below what skydio recommends which i think is like 23 degrees fahrenheit if i remember right and because it relies so much on ai and what it sees in the world around it you can’t fly it in low light so you can fly it like around sunset around sunrise but not too much after sunset and not too much before sunrise because if the light is too low it just won’t take off and one other downside is if you are a more refined like videographer photographer maybe not the photography society so much because you can’t do the raw photos but for video you’re kind of stuck with whatever skydio gives you which is a very gopro esque sort of image now it’s beautiful it’s like really saturated looks great on even on days like this it looks really nice because all the colors are really really punchy and really poppy but if that’s not your thing if you like to have a little bit more neutral look then the skydio is going to kind of drive you crazy but if you want a drone that will basically take all the flying out of your hands and you really only need to control it with a beacon or something like that or just your phone even the skydio is fantastic and it comes at a cost as well as schedule i think right now is running about thirteen hundred dollars for the drone itself now you can fly the skydio2 with a regular remote controller but the range is still pretty limited and you can’t go that far even with the remote controller the beacon does a pretty good job your phone is definitely very limited because the wi-fi signal on your phone just isn’t that strong so the skydio is really built to do things autonomously or to do things in close proximity to you filming you doing whatever it is you love to do now if you want to learn how to fly your drone better or take better videos and photos with your drone you can click or tap right there i put together a short playlist that will help you give you some tips as always if you have questions ask me in the comments below or join my live stream wednesday nights from 4 p.m alaska time 8 pm eastern i just have to paddle back 6 miles to get

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