A Drone Makes a Perfect Gift

There is not a man on this planet who would not love to get a drone as a gift. Face it, trapped inside that man’s body is a little boy who loves toys. A drone is the ultimate toy, so it’s really a no-brainer. If you need help finding the perfect drone for a man in your life, keep reading. I’ll give you a quick overview of the pros and cons of four popular DJI drones to help you pick the one that is best for you.

1. Tello

$99

Tello

Tello is a perfect beginner drone for kids or adults. Don’t let the $99 fool you into thinking this is just a toy drone. Despite the price, it has some advanced technology that makes it safe and easy to fly, even for a complete novice.

You can fly it with just your smartphone or pair it with an optional controller.

If you are computer savvy, you can program flight routines using Scratch (a computer language developed by MIT). And if you are the adventuresome type you can perform some acrobatic maneuvers with your Tello, including flips!

While it’s 5 MP camera is limited to 720p and doesn’t have a gimbal (like the more advanced drones) it will certainly take photos and video you can post on social media.

Learn more about the Tello.

SPECS

  • Electronic image stabilization
  • Camera resolution: 5 MP
  • Video resolution: 720p HD
  • Formats: JPG (Photo); MP4 (Video)
  • Flight Time: Approx. 13 minutes
  • Max Range: 100 meters

PROS

  • Price
  • Portability
  • Simple and fun to fly

CONS

  • Camera is very limited
  • Limited range and flight time
  • Limited automated flight options

2. Spark

$399 (Currently includes free controller!)

Spark

If you want a drone that’s a bit more sophisticated, but still very affordable, take a look at the DJI Spark. It’s very small and portable and incredibly easy to fly. To take off, set the Spark in the palm of your hand and look at it. It will recognize your face, take off and hover in place. You can then control basic functions using hand gestures. To get more control, use the DJI Go4 app on your phone or connect your phone to the optional remote controller.

The Spark has a 12 MP camera with a 2-axis gimbal which is a considerable upgrade over the camera in the Tello.

Spark also features a number of intelligent flight modes that will fly the drone automatically to free you up to concentrate on taking photos or video.

Learn more about the Spark

SPECS

  • Top speed 31 mph
  • Camera resolution: 12 MP
  • Video resolution: 1080p HD
  • Formats: JPG (Photo); MP4 (Video)
  • Flight Time: Approx. 16 minutes
  • 2-Axis gimbal for image stabilization

PROS

  • Price
  • Portability
  • Good quality camera

CONS

  • Arms do not fold
  • Loud
  • Limited options for video

3. Mavic Air

$799

Mavic Air

The next step up in price and sophistication is the Mavic Air. This is a drone for people who are serious about photography and video. The ability to shoot images in DNG format (which gives you a lot more information to work with in post-processing) opens up a range of creative possibilities. The Mavic Air is also capable of shooting 4K video at multiple frame rates allows you to capture smooth, cinematic footage. The  3-axis gimbal provides rock solid motion stabilized video.

A number of intelligent flight modes are available in the software that will provide autonomous control of the drone so you can concentrate on capturing video.

The Mavic Air has forward and rear obstacle avoidance sensors as well as downward sensors that help it maintain its position while hovering. If it senses an obstacle while flying, it will autonomously select a flight path to avoid the obstacle. It also has DJI’s Return to Home failsafe built in that will enable it to fly back to the take-off point if it experiences a loss of signal or critically low battery.

If you are purchasing the Mavic Air to do photography, you should consider getting the Fly More Combo. You will get two extra batteries, a charging hub, a case and a couple other items that you might find useful. The battery is rated for 21 minutes of flight time. But in the real world, you will get closer to 15 minutes before  you need to stop filming and start flying back to the landing spot. Extra batteries will get you back in the air and shooting again without waiting for a battery to recharge.

Learn more about the Mavic Air

SPECS

  • Top speed 42.5 mph
  • Camera resolution: 12 MP
  • Video resolution: 4K
  • Forward and rear obstacle avoidance
  • Flight Time: Approx. 21 minutes
  • 3-Axis gimbal for image stabilization

PROS

  • Extremely portable
  • Advanced obstacle avoidance
  • Excellent camera

CONS

  • Limited flight time
  • Somewhat loud

4. Mavic Pro

$899

The Mavic Pro is another drone designed for aerial photography. It was the first folding drone made by DJI. While not quite as compact as the Mavic Air, it is still extremely portable.

The camera on the Mavic Pro is essentially the same as the one on the Mavic Air. You have the ability to shoot still images in DNG format and videos in 4K. It also has a 3-axis gimbal for motion stabilization.

The intelligent flight modes available in the software (such as the ability to keep the camera locked on a moving object) will provide autonomous control of the drone so you can concentrate on capturing video.

The Mavic Pro has forward obstacle avoidance sensors as well as downward sensors that help it maintain its position while hovering. It also has DJI’s Return to Home failsafe built in that will enable it to fly back to the take-off point if it experiences a loss of signal or critically low battery.

The Mavic Pro is the quietest of the DJI drones. It is also available in the Platinum version which is even quieter. But you can save a little money by buying the regular version and putting on a set of the low noise props that were designed for the Platinum.

The battery is rated for 27 minutes. In my experience, I can get around 23 minutes before I need to land. My recommendation is to get the Fly More Combo. You will get two extra batteries, a charging hub, case and a couple other goodies.

Learn more about the Mavic Pro

SPECS

  • Top speed 40 mph
  • Camera resolution: 12 MP
  • Video resolution: 4K
  • Advanced controller
  • Flight Time: Approx. 27 minutes
  • 3-Axis gimbal for image stabilization

PROS

  • Excellent camera
  • Quietest DJI drone
  • Long battery life

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No rear obstacle avoidance

The bottom line

If you’re looking for an inexpensive drone to just fly around and take an occasional photo or video for social media, go with a Tello or Spark. If you want a drone that has more advanced features that is capable of taking high-quality photos and video, consider the Mavic Air or Mavic Pro.

If you go with the Spark or one of the Mavics, I recommend purchasing DJI Refresh. It’s an insurance policy that will allow you to replace a drone at a greatly reduced price in the event of a crash. Prices for Refresh as well as the replacement costs vary depending on the model, but it is a great deal.