Flying was a prohibitively expensive experience until very recently. Over time, commercial flights have become more affordable, making it possible for people of all economic backgrounds to get on an airplane. Most recently, flying a plane – be it a small one – is even accessible to almost anyone.

Nowadays, all you need to do to become a pilot is buy a drone and go fly it – even if you can’t actually be inside. In this article, we’ll discuss about the different types of drones available on the Australian market. If you don’t have the possibility to get your hands on a full-size airplane, these devices will allow you to fulfil your dream of flying.

Key Facts

  • Most people need a camera on their drone, which is why its quality is extremely important. Nowadays, the most advanced models can offer up video image quality up to 4K and very high photo resolution.
  • The autonomy – or flight time – is naturally another key aspect. When we’re talking about drones that are friendly to most budgets, as we will discuss next, this range falls between 5 and 30 minutes.
  • The flying distance goes hand in hand with the autonomy. The most basic models cannot fly more than 50 metres from the control point.

Ranking: The best drones on the Australian market

We’ve researched and analysed the drone market, and have come up with a selection of the very best models available out there right now. We have tried to include products for all budgets, while taking into account the value for money of each.

No. 1: DJI Spark

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Chinese company DJI has gone a long way since its creation in 2006, and they are now an industry leader in camera drones and quadcopters, with innovation and accessibility at the heart of their brand. Don’t let the size of this fun mini drone fool you: it offers incredible quality, which is why it has become an Amazon’s Best Seller and a customer favourite.

This little guy is extremely complete and light, weighing a mere 300 grams. It can track a specific target, respond to your hand motions when you want to take a selfie, and can reach up to 50 km/h in flight. It offers a flight time of up to 16 minutes, and a maximum distance of 1.2 kilometres. Flight autonomy and Return-to-Home functions included. Past customers have loved all the fun the DJI Spark provided!

No. 2: Haoxin F21G

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Hoaxing is another Chinese brand, and their goal is truly to make drones accessible to everyone. This is exactly what this device is, with the most affordable price of our ranking – by far. And if you’re afraid that it’s just not good enough, bear in mind that this drone is Amazon’s Choice in the category. It actually offers incredible bang for your buck.

It features an HD (720p) camera and gesture recognition so you can easily take your photos. The Air Route planning is ideal to have your drone do exactly what you want, and it also includes a unique choreography dance mode. It has a maximum flight time of 10 minutes and a control distance of up to 40 metres, which aren’t bad considering its fantastic price. This product comes with an 18-month warranty.

No. 3: DJI Mavic Pro

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Here is another model from the Chinese brand DJI, but this is the absolute top of the line. The Mavic Pro is indeed the most expensive drone of our ranking, and for very good reasons. It has a top speed of 65 km/h, and an outstanding maximum control distance of up to 7 kilometres! You can fly this drone for up to 27 minutes, which is also the best specs on our list.

You can shoot videos in 4K Ultra HD at 3fps, which makes this drone ideal for professional uses. This product is compatible with DJI’s virtual reality goggles to really feel immersed in your flight, or simply slide your smartphone in the remote to take control. The TapFly function makes this drone easy to use for complete beginners. The Mavic Pro is definitely a huge investment, but we’re sure yo wont regret it.

No. 4: Hubsan H501S Pro X4

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Chinese company Hubsan has reached global recognition in the drone industry, and they offer great quality at more affordable prices. The H501S Pro offers a wide range of functions: auto-return, a 1080p HD camera, a GPS and an LCD transmission screen, as well as a practical and simple design that makes it a very portable device.

The size and weight of this drone are also extremely attractive, and it offers 20 minutes of flight and a maximum control distance of 300 metres without interference. The charging time of the battery is approximately 150 minutes. Past customers have particularly praised the value for money of the Hubsan H501S.

No. 5: GoPro Karma

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As you probably know, GoPro is the industry leader in action cameras, so it’s not a big surprise that they are expanding their products to include drones. And while the GoPro Karma is definitely on the more expensive side, it’s also a top-of-the-line product and offers incredible features for anyone who needs top quality.

With a top speed of 55 km/h, you can control it at a maximum distance of 1 kilometre, and its flight time can last up to 20 minutes. The controller is easy to handle and has a battery life of 4 hours. This drone is compatible with most GoPro cameras, but keep in mind that none are included. While this does raise your overall investment, it also allows you to pick the camera quality you want and need!

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about drones

Now that you’ve discovered our ranking of some of the best options available on the Australian market, be it for amateur or professional drone pilots, it is important for you to have more information in order to make the right choice. In the following section, we’ll discuss some of the most important questions asked by users, and we’re positive this will come in handy for you.

Drones have become a key tool for landscape photography and video. (Source: Inga Linder Kopiecka: 76976058/ 123rf.com)

What is a drone exactly?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, are remotely operated, unmanned aircraft. They were originally designed by and for the military industry, but drones have quickly expanded their spectrum of uses. They are now frequently found in the entertainment, photography and video industries.

We’d like to focus on the latter two in our article, but that doesn’t mean drones aren’t used in many other sectors. These include pipeline or livestock surveillance, firefighting or civil security, and many others.

Amelia EarhartAmerican Aviator

“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”

What maintenance does my drone need?

The most important care for your drone is to be extra careful when you start flying it. The first few times you take it out and start learning how to handle it, we strongly encourage you to do so in an open space, where there is no obstacle into which it could crash or cause damage to material or humans.

Once you’ve got the piloting under control, remember to be particularly careful with the exterior and interior cleanliness. Air pressure is definitely one of the most recommended ways of cleaning your device, especially if you fly over land where it can accumulate a lot of dirt.

foco

One of the biggest issues we face with drones is that they can often get lost. This is why a very useful function has been designed: the automatic return to the point of control using GPS technology.

What types of drone are available out there?

As you’ve seen from our ranking, drones can greatly vary, generally depending on their price. The most affordable models are purely designed for recreational use and are popular amongst aviation fans. You can still equip them with the camera of your choosing, which means you have a certain control over the overall price.

The drone market also offers higher performance models – even professional ones – that naturally increase the cost. You should find anything you need: from unmanned aircraft created for the surveillance of large natural spaces, to models designed to support audiovisual productions.

Drones have quickly gained a real place in the sector of tech products. (Source: Golubovy: 61529164/ 123rf.com)

What are drones used for?

A drone is basically a way of flying an aircraft without needing a whole crew. As we briefly discussed earlier in the article, drones have now expanded their range of action beyond their military origins. They are now frequently seen carrying out other civil tasks, such as the surveillance of mountains, traffic or structures.

That being said, the recent boom in drone use from the general public is naturally linked with leisure activities, as well as for photography and video.

Characteristic DJI Spark Hubsan x4 Haoxin F21G DJI Mavic Pro GoPro Karma
Flight time 16 minutes 20 minutes 10 minutes 27 minutes 20 minutes
Size and weight 14.3 x 14.3 x 5.5 cm – 300 g 22 x 22 x 7 cm – 440 g 11.2 x 12.6 x 3 cm – 200 g 36.2 x 29.1 x 21 cm – 743 g 30.3 x 41.1 x 11.7 cm – 1 kg
Camera CMOS sensor with 1080p at 12MP 1080p HD camera 720p HD, optical flow sensor 4H Ultra HD video, 12MP photos
GPS Return-to-Home function GPS with auto-return N/A Return-to-Home and autopilot functions GPS with auto-return

Are drone images of professional quality?

The quality of the images you get with your drone will obviously depend entirely on the capabilities of the built-in camera. 4K or Ultra HD cameras will provide excellent image quality, while models with fewer functions will lead to a poorer quality for your videos and photos.

On the other hand, the use of drones for professional photographs and videos is a practice that has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. Nowadays, many series, movies and documentaries – True Detective, Jurassic World and Free Solo, for example – are recorded entirely or partially with drones, as well as several photographic campaigns. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of these devices:

Advantages
  • Offer new perspectives for photography
  • Perfect complement for audiovisual productions
  • 4K
Disadvantages
  • Not all drones come with high quality cameras

Shopping Criteria

In the following section, we will talk about the most important criteria that you should consider before making your purchase. Please keep in mind that the first thing you should consider is the use you’ll make of your drone: this will determine which characteristics are more important for you. Here are the aspects to take into account:

  • Size and weight
  • Camera
  • Flight duration
  • Flight distance
  • Piloting and GPS

Size and weight

The size and weight may be key factors for you: if you often transport your drone, having a small model that is easy to fit just about anywhere is very interesting for you. That being said, remember that drones that offer similar functionalities in smaller dimensions are generally more expensive.

If you’ll use your drone for outdoor photography, it is recommended to opt for a model weighing less than 2 kg, but the ideal would be less than 1 kg. The DJI Spark, for instance, weighs only 300 grams.

Remotes come in all shapes and sizes. (Source: Itle Watthana: 80283431/ 123rf.com)

Camera

All the drones we have analysed for this article feature a built-in camera, like the majority of models on the Australian market. Their quality generally goes hand in hand with the price of the drone: you can find anything from high quality cameras with 4K video, to simpler ones, with HD image of no more than 2.0 GB. Your choice will naturally be determined by your use.

Flight duration

As we mentioned before, the flight duration will vary from one model to another. The most professional drones can offer a flying time of up to 20 or 30 minutes, some of which also feature the automatic return option. Simpler, more affordable devices won’t offer more than 5 to 6 minutes, with a useful flight time not exceeding more than half of that.

Model Flight time
DJI Spark 16 minutes
Hubsan x4 20 minutes
Haoxin F21G 10 minutes
DJI Mavic Pro 27 minutes
GoPro Karma 20 minutes

Flight distance

In the same vein, the maximum distance between the drone and its control point depends primarily on how much you’re willing to invest in this product. These distances can generally reach up to 500 metres, with more affordable drones offering 50-60 metres of autonomy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.American Human Rights Activist

“We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”

Piloting and GPS

The way you operate and control your drone is another aspect you can’t overlook. Certain remote controls even include LED screens. You should also think about whether you’ll need a GPS or other such functions. Your GPS, for instance, may include other features such as Return-to-Home (RTH) or the possibility of redoing the initial route without changes.

Summary

Also called unmanned aerial vehicles, drones have very quickly gained a key place in the tech sector. They have had the capacity to evolve out of their original military sphere, reaching civil spaces and the entertainment industry. Aviation lovers, photographers or videographers are all reaping the benefits of these devices.

We’ve done our best to provide you with a broad yet comprehensive overview of what the drone market has to offer, whether you want to use for leisure activities or professional purposes. Remember to evaluate key criteria such as flight time and distance, camera quality or drone size.

If you liked our article, feel free to share it on your social media. Leave us a comment with any suggestion or question in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Goce-Risteski: 27709575/ 123rf.com)

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