3 mistakes everyone makes when buying a drone

Ready to take to the skies? Make sure you swerve these common buying errors

DJI Air 2S review
(Image credit: DJI)

A drone gives an exciting, alternative view of the world for shooting video and photos, but in the heat of the moment as your finger hovers over the 'buy' button, it's easy to make a rash decision. Before you place an order, you should definitely consult T3's best drone or best beginner drone guide for some top recommendations. But before you make your final decision, you should also be aware of these 3 common mistakes everyone makes when choosing a drone.

1. Going big

There are drones to suit all levels of user, from complete beginners who want to fly in their back garden to high-end filmmakers. As you might expect, the results that you get from more expensive drones are better than those that populate T3's best cheap drone guide, but before you plump for the one that will launch your Hollywood career, it's important to remember that high-end drones are big and heavy. That means that you need to think pretty carefully about where you fly them and get some training that leads to a qualification – at least the CAA-approved A2 Certificate of Competency.

If you opt for a sub-250g drone like the DJI Mini 2 (or the hotly-rumoured DJI Mini 3), however, you're golden as you can pretty much fly them where you like. Apart from near airports. Avoid airports!

2. Forgetting the power

Manufacturers like to entice us in with attractively priced drone kits that have everything you need to get started. However, with just one battery you'll find that just as you're getting into the whole flying experience, you have to land. Companies like DJI usually offer a 'fly more combo' kit that costs more but includes useful extras like a couple of spare batteries, a dedicated charger and additional propellers. These are often great value, but it's worth doing the sums to see if it's better to stick with the basic kit and add a couple of extra batteries. Whatever you do, we recommend getting at least two batteries to give you extra flying time.

3. Crashing the cash

Many modern drones have useful object avoidance systems and there are some excellent 'return to home' systems, but neither of them are infallible. So, as a wise drone pilot once said to me, only spend as much on a drone as you are prepared to lose. If the thought of seeing your hard-earned cash smash into a tree or splash-land in the sea makes you feel physically sick, perhaps you should consider spending a little less on your drone. Alternatively, consider spending a bit more to get comprehensive insurance cover for your drone.

Angela Nicholson

Angela has been Amateur Photographer magazine’s Technical Editor and Head of Testing for Future’s photography portfolio. She’s a widely respected editor, writer and reviewer as well as a CAA-qualified drone pilot.