Are drones worth it? 10 points to consider before buying!

Are you thinking of buying a drone? There’s a load of questions of why a drone is so very worth the investment AND so many reasons why a drone is NOT worth it at all! It all depends on why you are buying a drone and making sure you buy a drone that matches HOW you are going to use it! Are drones worth it? Well, it depends…

Are drones worth it? YES and NO – whether a drone is worth it comes down to why you want to buy a drone and how you are going to use it! It’s not worth you buying a drone if you only want one because it seems like a cool gadget. But it is 100 percent worth it if you are a photographer and want to expand the number of tools at your disposal. Take a moment to consider what you would want to do with a drone and if there’s a drone on the market that would allow yo to do just that!

I really wanted to buy a drone! I was over a year into my self imposed vlogging challenge. I was producing a vlog every single weekday for a year. I’d gotten good at talking to camera. Taking interesting b-roll footage and editing all of my shot together in Premiere Pro. I was ready to add that next dynamic to my videos – drone footage.

I’d been seeking inspiration from famous vloggers, like Casey Neistat, and there was always one important aspect that made me sit in awe – they ability to tell a story and the amazing cinematography that they used. Drone footage was an important part of the narrative process.

Before I launched into the drone buying I needed to know exactly what I needed in my drone purchase to make sure that it was worth it. I needed a drone that was:

  • Portable – I was using as part of my daily vlogging so it needed to fit in a backpack and travel everywhere with me – even on my bike.
  • Easy to fly – I wanted a drone that had GPS and return to home. I didn’t want a huge learning curve that would put me off using it every day!
  • Recorded HD footage – so that it matched my other cameras.
  • Good forums and community – I have found that any issues with tech can normally be solved when there is a good community. Someone will have almost certainly had the same issue as you as posted it on a forum – typically that problem gets solved!

So I suggest that you write down the features that you want in a drone and look for a drone that matches your use case! Once you have done that check out my 10 reasons why drones are both worth it and not worth it!

Here’s my YouTube video giving you a run down my my top tips!

Drones are worth it if:

You want to get out into nature

When I first bought my drone I was very adamant that it would add something to my life. I really liked the drone photography that I saw online. I loved the natural landscape from above and I wanted to emulate that for myself too! We set ourselves the fun task of choosing a different national park or beach to fly the drone.

Over the past few years, we have been to places that I never thought I would go to – even in the local area – and took me to places that I didn’t want to go but that loved when I sent the drone up. I’ve hiked into national forests with the my trusty Mavic Air in my backpack.

A drone is absolutely worth it if you will use it as the motivation to get out and fly in some cool new spots!

You choose a drone in your budget

There’s no doubt that drones can be expensive! The latest in the market can be nearly $2000! The thing is you almost certainly do not need the best drone in the market or the most expensive!

Drones can be found at a whole range of different price points. Also, never overlook the second-hand drone market. This is where you can pick up a bargain as long as you know what you are looking for. I’ve picked up a drone with only 4 hours of flight time at a fraction of the price of a brand new drone. Also, I got to meet a lovely person who was happy to talk me through all of the aspects of my new fun toy!

Do not get sucked in by the fancy promotional videos or the glossy tech shots. Write down a list of all of the features that you need as well as the budget that you have for your drone. I’m certain that you’ll find a drone (secondhand or otherwise) that will allow you to do everything that you need to do!

That brings nicely to the next point:

You choose a drone that has the features you need

You need to ask yourself a very important question…

“Why do I want a drone?

The answer to this question will reveal exactly what drone you need to buy. The fact is that the drone market is so varied and full of different types of drones that no one drone will be able to do everything. Do you want to race drones? Do you want to take some awesome photographs and video? Is there a specific thing you want to do with your drone?

Buying a drone will not be worth it if you don’t get what you want from it! On the other hand, if you pick a drone that delivers a new capability to your current hobby it’ll be so very worth it!

You want to discover a new hobby

Maybe you are looking at buying a drone because of the opportunity it’ll open up as a new hobby. I actually never thought that I’d be into photography as much as I am – all it took was a drone! There are so many awesome things you can do with a drone that you’ll be able to find an enthusiast group wherever you are – I’m sure of it!

There are so many awesome people who will happily share what they love with you! If you want to connect with fellow drone lovers check out meetup.com and type in drone to see what pops up.

We all need a balance of things we love doing that unleashes creativity and give us something new to learn. Drones are an awesome way to find that balance! I know that I have loved every second of it!

You actually fly the damn thing!

This one will come as no surprise. A drone will only be worth it if you actually fly the damn thing! All of the tips above will ensure that you pick a drone that you’ll want to fly. I’m in no doubt that the people who say that drones are a fad – of have a drone sat in their cupboard collecting dust – bought one because they thought it was cool but didn’t work out why they where getting one!

I took my drone out every day for over a year and my confidence grew with each flight. I learned new things, overcame new issues, and enjoyed the feedback about my vlog. I made new friends and intrigued passers-by with my noisy flying gadget. It has also caused me to start this blog!

For me, a drone has been a tool which opened up opportunities to learn and connect with people. I’m sure it can do the same for you – just take your time in the selection process!

Now, lets take a look at why buying a drone would NOT be worth it!

Drones are NOT worth it if:

You don’t know why you want one

As we’ve discussed above, a single drone cannot be all things to the drone community. Even within the array of camera drones, some are better suited to other tasks over others. For example, check out my other article on what camera to buy if you are filming wildlife.

If you are thinking of buying a drone due to fear of missing out or you think it is cool to own a drone, you may find yourself quite disappointed with what you end up with! This is why you many want to buy a drone:

  • To take some awesome drone photos
  • To film drone footage
  • To race (first person view)
  • To lean how to build a drone (through a kit or building a custom drone)

Each of these drone purchasing reasons require a different level of research into what will work best for your reason. Just take the time.

You live in a country were laws are too restrictive

When drones fall into the wrong hands – and people get silly with them – drones get a bad name. Over the past couple of years drones have become a widely affordable consumer technology. And with that comes the potential for people to misuse that technology.

As drones become commonplace more countries are taking the steps to create laws to protect the public. Laws typically include:

  • Being a certain distance from people and cars (30 m in Australia)
  • Flying under a certain height (200 m in Australia at the time of writing)
  • Staying clear of airports
  • Staying away from national parks
  • Not flying above people
  • Not taking photographs of people without their permission
  • Paying attention to no-fly zones
  • Doing training or flying lessons
  • Obtaining permits for certain drone activities.

As you can see – there is a load of different regulations that a country can choose to create laws around. One of the most annoying aspects is all of these laws and regulations can change at any time without warning. In the UK, you need to pay for a license and renew it every year. In Australia, you are free to fly a drone under 250 grams. Anything over that and you need to take a test and pay some money.

Similar laws and regulations are popping up around the world – so make sure that you understand your obligations before you buy a drone. Otherwise buying a drone may not be worth it!

You can’t afford one

This one is personal and different for everyone. Drones can get pretty expensive and you shouldn’t put yourself under any financial strain for the sake of a new gadget.

There are plenty of hobbies that don’t immediately require the outlay of a load of cash or assets. When you first get a drone it is a very exciting bit of kit but the novelty can very quickly wear off. That novelty can wear off is a much more sinister way if then you have put yourself in a precarious financial situation.

Check out my list of beginner drones and you’ll see that you don’t need to break the bank to afford this new hobby. You can also pick up second-hand drones – I did and I do not regret it! There are also some companies that rent out drones. You could see how well you like the experience and try out a couple of models before you launch into a purchase. It may just be the thing that you need to stop yourself spending those hard-earned dollars!

You get bored with things easily

Oh the rush! The rush of flying your drone for the first time. A mixture on anxiety and excitement as you see your “laptop with wings” disappearing into the distance. That excitement can quickly die down if you don’t have a reason for flying your drone.

Drones are a really cool technology and I love flying mine but the honest truth is that it is not as exciting as it used to be. I still fly my drone to record footage for clients or add a little bit of drone goodness to my YouTube videos and vlogs. If you are the sort of person that gets bored with new things quickly – maybe consider if buying a drone will really be worth it!

You don’t like learning

Buying and flying a drone (commercial or custom made) comes with a whole range of things that you need to learn. Software, apps and calibrations to only name a small few. You may need to learn to program too if you are building your own drone. However, commercial drones get around this problem and make piloting a drone a really simple experience.

Buying a drone will not be worth it if you don’t want to learn a whole new range of skills and develop an understanding of how best to use your toy! I really enjoy learning and so it’s been a pleasure to learn as I go!

The final word

So there are 10 points for you to consider if you are unsure if a drone will be worth it for you? Remember to make sure that you answer the most important questions that are posed in this article before jumping into the purchase.

There are plenty of forums that contain a wealth of information and a community that’ll be able to quickly answer any questions that you have about drones! Don’t get yourself into any sort of financial hardship for the sake of flying a drone – there are always cheaper options if the price is an important factor as to whether a drone it worth it for you.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!