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Whether you’re a vlogger, photographer, video creator, drones in 2023 offer one of the most unique perspectives that can quite literally take your content to new heights, allowing you to capture stunning aerial footage and photos that were once impossible to achieve without expensive equipment and professional expertise. So, if you’re ready to take your content to the next level and make the leap to aerial photography and videography, but you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! As someone who’s been flying for nearly 10 years, here’s my beginner’s guide to buying your first drone, including a few of my personal recommendations at the end of the post.

Things to consider before you buy

Purpose & Usage 

The first thing to consider when buying a drone is your own personal requirements, so before you do anything else, determine why you want to buy a drone and how you will use it. For example, if you’re a content creator looking to add cinematic aerial footage to your portfolio, a DJI camera drone would be a great choice. These drones come equipped with high-quality cameras and gimbals that provide stable footage, making them perfect for capturing breathtaking aerial shots.

DJI Camera Drone next to FPV drone with GoPro

Photo by redcharlie

However, if you’re looking to shoot fast paced action, extreme sports or more free flowing visuals, you’ll want to consider something more specialised such as an FPV (first person view). These drones are typically tougher, more customisable and more agile than out of the box camera drones, and they offer a truly unique perspective for aerial video. However, this does come at the cost of being significantly more complicated with a much steeper learning curve, so I’ll be focussing mainly on more beginner friendly drones in this guide.


Like any other piece of kit, drones cover a wide range of price ranges, and each price range offers different features that you may or may not actually need. Determine how much you’re willing to spend and what features you want to have, while keeping in mind that cheaper drones may not be anywhere near as advanced as you need, but expensive drones could be overkill. I’ll be covering some of the most important features to consider in more detail throughout this blog post but camera quality, transmission distance, obstacle avoidance and battery life are just a few examples of advanced features that a higher price tag will get you.

Drone photo of road leading to Stetind mountain in Norway

Shot on DJI Mavic 3

Pico do Arieiro mountain above the clouds from drone in Madeira, Portugal

Shot on DJI Air 2S

While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest drone you can find, it’s important to keep in mind that with drones, you really do get what you pay for. Aside from features that will almost certainly not work as expected, cheaper “knock off” drones will not be as reliable or safe as drones from reputable companies such as DJI – yes I will be referencing them a lot because in my opinion they are they really are the best! Instead of going for that “bargain” DJI look alike on Amazon, I think you would be 1000x better off just buying and older model from a second hand market place or reseller – as I have done many times before.

Size & Weight

Smaller drones, such as the DJI Mini 3 are pretty much pocket sized and are easily the most portable and best to travel with, but they are also more affordable, making them a good choice for beginners or hobbyists who are just getting started with drone flying. However, smaller drones do have some drawbacks such as smaller camera systems, usually resulting in lower quality and much less stability in windy conditions than larger drones. Although you might be surprised at how well a small drone can handle the wind, I like to know that I can launch my drone on top of a mountain regardless of difficult conditions, which brings me back to determining your own personal requirements.

Photo by Adrian Regenci

The other big factor worth noting that in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and much of Europe, there is a weight limit on drones that can be flown without registration or too much restriction. The weight limit is usually 250g and often you will still be able to fly in built up areas, around larger groups of people (such as an event or festival) and sometimes without registration, provided you are still following the general rules of course.


Every county has slightly different rules so it’s important to be aware of the weight limit in your country or region and to ensure that any drone you buy is compliant with local regulations, but in many cases you’ll find that a smaller, more lightweight drones may be the most practical and convenient option.

Range & Flight Time 

Flight time and range can be affected by a number of factors, including wind speed, direction and temperature. Strong winds can make it more difficult for a drone to maintain its position and stay in the air, while cold temperatures can cause the battery to drain more quickly. When it comes to flight time, you can always carry spare batteries and the range will almost always be much further than you could realistically fly on a single battery but I find that it’s always nice to know that you have more than you need. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these specifications are often based on ideal conditions and may be affected by factors like wind, temperature and line of sight.

DJI drone controller

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

For this reason, I would actually say that the most important factor to enjoy the most range from your drone is the video transmission quality, as you are far more likely to lose a stable video feed before you actually disconnect from the drone itself. WiFi is the more common and affordable option, and is usually found on older or cheaper drones. The video signal is sent from the drone’s camera to the controller via WiFi, and can sometimes suffer from latency issues or interruptions in transmission, especially in areas with a lot of interference. OcuSync and OcuSync 2.0, on the other hand, are proprietary video transmission technologies developed by DJI, which offer more reliable and higher quality video transmission, with less latency and less interference.

What features do you need

Camera & Gimbal

If you’re buying a drone for aerial photography or videography, the camera and gimbal are obviously going to be some of the most important features. Camera’s with larger sensors typically offer better image quality, and with relatively small size of a drone camera  compared to the camera you might be used to it can make all the difference, especially in low light conditions. You should also think about what camera features you might need, such as multiple lenses for telephoto zooming or camera rotation for true vertical shooting.

dji mavic 3 drone

Photo by Masood Aslami

Another important feature to consider is the gimbal stabilizer, which is the device that helps to keep your camera steady and level during flight, ensuring that your footage is smooth and stable. It makes a big difference in the quality of your footage, especially when flying in windy conditions, so you definitely want to make sure if the drone you choose has a built in camera, it has a gimbal too!

Safety Features

For obvious reasons, when you’re operating a drone, safety should always be a top priority. Fortunately, most drones, including all the drones that I recommend come with a good range of safety features that can help prevent accidents and ensure that the drone lands safely if something goes wrong.


One of the most important safety feature to consider, especially as a beginner, is obstacle avoidance. As you might expect, obstacle avoidance sensors are designed to help prevent collisions with objects, whether that be a tree, a building, or even a person. They use a combination of cameras, sonar, and other technologies to detect obstacles in the drone’s path and adjust its flight path accordingly. However, not all drones are built equally and some may only have sensors on the front whereas some will have full 360 degree vision.


The best sensor system I have come across so far has been on the DJI Mavic 3, which has advanced environment mapping technology, allowing me to fly through tight spaces at higher speeds while letting the sensor do the work to keep me on course and automatically bypass any obstacles. This has been a game changer for me compared to some of the older systems that I’ve used which would just stop the drone in it’s tracks if it identified a nearby obstacle or tight space.

DJI drone safety sensors

Photo by Kaleb Kendall

Another safety feature to look for is return-to-home feature, designed to ensure that the drone can find its way back to you if it loses connection or if the battery runs low. When the return-to-home feature is activated, the drone will automatically fly back to the spot where it took off from, using GPS to guide it. This should always be combined with an automatic landing feature which will ensure that the drone automatically lands in a safe and controlled manner, helping to prevent crashes or other accidents. While no drone can guarantee 100% safety, having these features can help reduce the risk of accidents and make your flights safer and more enjoyable.

Smart Features

In recent years, many drones have become equipped with more and more “smart” features that can make flying and capturing professional looking footage more accessible. Here are some examples of these smart features:


FOLLOW ME – This feature allows the drone to follow and film a subject as they move around. This can be particularly useful for capturing action shots, such as during outdoor sports or other activities.

QUICKSHOTS – These are pre-programmed camera movements and shots that can be activated with the touch of a button. For example, a quickshot might involve the drone circling around a subject or flying in a specific pattern to capture a particular type of shot.

HYPERLAPSE – Hyperlapse modes allow you to capture time-lapse footage while the drone is in motion. This can result in stunning footage that captures the movement of the drone and its surroundings over time.

Shot on DJI Mavic 3

The best drones to buy in 2023

Here are just a few of my personal recommendations that take into account everything that I would be looking for in my fist drone. I’ve also included some of the most important stats to help you decide if any of them could be right for you.


dji mavic 3 - best all round drone

In my opinion, the DJI Mavic 3 is the perfect balance between stunning image quality and portability. It is noticeably bigger than something like the Mini 3, but the large micro 4/3 sensor makes all the difference, particularly in low light situations such as sunrise and sunset. One of the things I love most about the Mavic 3 is its obstacle avoidance system, it’s a huge upgrade on older models and allows you to navigate tight spaces with impressive accuracy. Another great feature is its battery life of around 40 minutes so I rarely even need to carry spare batteries with me anymore – my first drone could barely even fly for 5 minutes!


5.1K, 20MP

Size & Weight

895g, Fits in a Small Bag

Range & Flight Time

46 mins, 15 KM

Unique Features

4/3 Hasselblad Camera

DJI Mini 3

One of the best options for content creators looking for a compact and portable drone. This latest release from DJI is an upgraded version of the popular DJI Mini 2, with improved features and capabilities. The main advantage of the Mini 3 is its compact size and lightweight design, weighing in at just 249 grams. This means that it falls under the 250g rule in many countries, making it easier to fly without requiring registration or permits. Additionally, it is the only new drone in the DJI line up to feature true vertical shooting, meaning you can rotate the camera from landscape to portrait making it ideal for social media content creation!


4k, 12 MP

Size & Weight

249g, Pocket Size

Range & Flight Time

38 mins, 10 KM

Unique Features

True Vertical Shooting 

DJI Avata

If you’re new to this type of drone, the DJI Avata includes everything you need to get started right away and can be a great first step into the world of FPV. My first FPV was actually the original DJI FPV Combo, and after only a couple of weeks in the simulator app I took it with me to Madeira and my video ended up winning the DJI annual video contest for the FPV category! The Avata is essentially just a new and improved version that can even fly indoors. Although these are great FPV drones right out of the box, the main disadvantage to the DJI FPV models is the inability to make repairs by yourself, and the risk of crashing one of these is obviously going to be much higher than your average DJI drone.


4k Ultra Wide

Size & Weight

410g, Fits in a Small Bag

Range & Flight Time

18 mins, 10 KM

Unique Features

High Speed FPV

DJI Mini 2

Dji Mini 2 the best budget drone

If you’re looking for a high-quality drone on a budget, the DJI Mini 2 is a great option to consider. Despite its lower price point, it still offers many of the features found in higher-end drones, such as OcuSync transmission and intelligent flight modes, making it an excellent choice for content creators who want to capture stunning aerial footage without breaking the bank.


4k, 12 MP

Size & Weight

249g, Pocket Size

Range & Flight Time

31 mins, 10 KM

Unique Features

Under $600