How are drones used for hobbies?

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There are many ways that you can use a drone as a hobby. Some people purchase a drone because they like the idea of placing a camera in the sky, whilst others want to fly fast and perform aerobatics. I found a greater appreciation and love of photography and videography after purchasing my first drone. I purchased my first drone to market a new start-up that I had launched and ended up enjoying all of the different photos that I had been taking of my adventures and holidays. In that sense, drones opened up a new hobby that I didn’t expect I’d enjoy as much.

Hobby drones can be used to capture some incredible footage for social media, YouTube, or to document your holidays and adventures from a unique perspective. Drones can also be used for racing and joining a racing community.

There are many ways that a drone can enrich your life and free time. In this article, we will go over the three types of drones – camera drones, racing drones, and underwater drones – and have a look to see how each can be used to enrich your current hobby or start a new one.

Photography and Videography

When most people think about purchasing a drone, they have seen drone footage and videos online. This motivation means that they are looking to purchase a drone with a camera.

Drone photography and videography allows you to capture images that were once reserved for those with a helicopter.

It is getting easier and easier to capture stunning footage with drones. Their technology allows the user to frame the shot and adjust the settings (just like a DSLR camera) and the technology allows for bigger sensors to be sent up with a drone.

If you want a full rundown on drone photography, check out my other article – drone photography for beginners – click here to be taken to the ultimate guide for new photographers.

drone photography for beginners

Just like land-based photography, the quality of your photos is only limited by your imagination. There are so many awesome ideas and creative drone photographs online that you will almost certainly find a style you want to replicate and manipulate to create your own.

I have written a long article on drone photography ideas – I go through 20 drone ideas that allow you to level up your drone shots and inspire your shots creatively.

With the capability of sending a high definition camera into the sky, you will be able to start a YouTube channel, create engaging online content, capture holidays and adventures, and record wildlife like never before.

Things to do with a camera drone

Once you have the capability of sending a camera drone into the sky, you’ll have the ability to capture impressive footage that you’ll want to share with everyone. Starting a YouTube channel about your drone adventures is a fantastic way to share your recent adventures with friends and family.

Start a YouTube channel

Starting a YouTube channel is free and open to everyone.

I have always found that having a location and purpose for any of my drone photos or footage means that I will fly my drone more often, and I am much more likely to utilise the footage that I have captured.

It is unlikely that your drone footage will go viral unless you do something amazing or capture a unique lifestyle. However, you may grow an online following by answering typical drone questions on your YouTube channel and turning it into a resource for people with drone-related questions.

If you forget about the vanity metrics of YouTube and use it as a place to store your photos and videos, it can be a fantastic vault of memories. You can even set your YouTube channel to private or turn the videos to private so that people can only access them with a link.

I know that my YouTube channels have benefited greatly from drone footage and that the drone footage I have collected now has a place where it can be viewed by other people rather than just sitting on my computer and not being looked at by anyone!

YouTube is a permissionless communication medium that democratises your ability to connect with people worldwide. Once you start creating content, you may find that an audience is automatically drawn to you.

Create online content

Creating content for other platforms such as tik toc, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms is another fun use of your drone.

I have personally stayed away from using any of my drone footage for social media as I try to avoid social media as much as possible.

However, if you are already on social media, you can enhance your online presence. People love looking at drone footage as it provides them with a unique viewpoint of everyday life.

Creating online content with your drone is particularly powerful if you live in a beautiful part of the world and have unique and interesting hobbies that would be fun to watch from above, such as rock climbing, surfing, or other outdoor activities in beautiful places.

Capture your holidays

Recording your adventures with a drone is a fantastic use of your drone for a hobby. I love travelling, and I love sharing my memories with family and friends.

Travelling with a drone is a perfect match. I recently took my drone to Lord Howe Island and across outback New South Wales. There were so many fun ways to capture footage and video that I was flying my drone multiple times a day during this trip.

My recent Lord Howe Island trip

I was particularly worried about annoying my partner by flying my drone all the time. Flying a drone is not really a great spectator sport. However, she loved the footage we were able to collect. Because we were walking up some incredible mountains, we were able to show off our adventures and accomplishments during hiking.

Likewise, Lord Howe Island provided some incredible opportunities for flying my drone as long as the drone was self unlocked for the duration of my stay. Lord Howe Island is a protected site, and you need to self unlock the airspace to fly.

If you want to know more about geofencing and how to get around it you should check out my other article – where I go through the best drones that do not have any restrictions on your flight.

Best drones without geofencing [Hacks, unlocking and more]

Record wildlife

Recording wildlife and capturing the beauty of nature with a drone is one of the most magical ways you can use your drone as a hobby.

You mustn’t hassle the wildlife and act as inconspicuous as possible while capturing nature.

Nature is best captured when it is completely undisturbed. Sometimes this is easier to say than do because drones can be particularly noisy.

Getting close to wildlife with a drone tends to spook them – they even spook some humans!

Having a drone camera with a zoom feature will allow you to keep a good distance from the wildlife. You don’t even have to look at the expensive options for this feature. The Parrot Anafi has a 2.4x lossless zoom and is under $500!

Make sure you choose a drone with a good zoom, and you’ll find it much easier to film wildlife!

If you want to know more about the best drone for filming wildlife check out my other article, where I also go through a buying guide so that you won’t be left with buyer’s remorse at the end of the day.

Best drone for filming wildlife.

Racing drones

Racing a drone is a very skilful hobby. The learning curve for flying a drone is incredibly steep, and you may end up destroying drones in the process.

Drone racing gets incredibly serious and competitive, but you can do some incredible stuff. There are many YouTube channels dedicated to drone racing, and one of the best is Mr Steel!

Drone racing is becoming more and more popular due to its availability and increasing affordability.

Join a racing group

Joining a racing group is one of the best ways to get your skill level up quickly and be motivated to practice regularly.

I’d be surprised if there were no drone racing groups in your city or the local area.

Whether or not it is photography, racing, or other stuff, there is a community out there for you – I guarantee it.

It is particularly useful when you are moving to a new city or picking up a new hobby to search the Internet for people that meet up near you. This hobby allows you to make friends, and in my experience, the common interest groups that I have joined have created lifelong friends.

There are a few places where you can find, metre groups which include:

  • Eventbrite – Eventbrite brings together people through live experiences. This platform is full of free and paid meetups.
  • Meetup – Meetup is a service used to organise online groups that host in-person and virtual events. Just go in and type drone into their search engine to find out what you find.
  • Facebook groups – Facebook has groups that allow you to assemble online with people that share similar interests.

Go ahead and reach out to some of these groups; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised about how friendly every drone group is! I love them because you know exactly where to drive the conversation – towards drones!

Create an obstacle course

If meeting up with people is not your thing, you can create an obstacle course in your back garden or local park for flying around as quickly as possible.

You can pick up some pretty inexpensive racing gates, which means that you will not damage your drone if you accidentally collide with them.

Racing gates are a fantastic addition to any drone accessory bag if you are serious about practising to get better. There is a range of racing gates currently on the market, from simple circles that you fly through to cubes that you can stack on top of each other for advanced slalom courses.

Here are some of the best drone race gates that you can purchase from Amazon:

RunCam FPV Racing Gates

  • FPV Racing Air Gate from RunCam is the ultimate tool for cool racing and provides an interesting obstacle to fly through
  • Small size gate perfect for micro-sized drones like 3 inches and below 3 inches micro quads
  • It is made from reinforced tricot fabric, high tensile and extra solid fiberglass poles supported, more durable
  • No assembly required, Pop-up design, just take out of carrying bag and unfold to open. Once done, simply twist/fold and put back into a flat round carry bag
  • FPV square gate is light and easy to be assembled, you can enjoy Drone Racing in any place & any time!

Race gates can be used in a variety of ways, such as:

  • As a start and finish line to time your races.
  • As obstacles to go through, around, under, or over.
  • As a figure of eight Centrepoint for a slalom.
  • Place them horizontally to practice precision ascent and descent.
  • And much more – you can use these drone racing gates in various creative ways.

The thing about drone racing gates is that they can be fun on their own, but they also give you an objective position from which to measure time. One of the best ways to get better when practising flying a drone is to measure what you want to improve.

If you want to know more about how to practice flying a drone and the skills that you need for racing drills, check out my other article – drone flying practice drills – where I go through everything you need to know about practising efficiently.

Drone flying practice drills

Underwater drones

Underwater drones are something that the drone community doesn’t talk about much, but they can be perfect for a hobby if you live near large bodies of water.

An underwater drone is also called a UUV which stands for an unmanned underwater vehicle. These are drones that can operate underwater without humans piloting the craft from within.

Typically, these drones are controlled using a smartphone tethered to the drone directly or are communicating wirelessly – typically through Wi-Fi – with a boy that sits above the drone floating on the water as the underwater drone is exploring the depths.

If you want to know more about the best underwater drones – click here.

Underwater drones [The ultimate guide - drones and tips]

Explore your local reservoirs

Taking an underwater drone to your local reservoirs means that you can explore underwater scenes and look for fish and other wildlife. Perfect for dams, reservoirs, and other bodies of water that are often filled with fish for ecosystem management.

Take it scuba diving

Scuba-diving is a fantastic hobby, and if you have an underwater drone, the drone will be able to capture your underwater adventures as you are scuba-diving. It will still require someone on the surface to pilot while you are scuba-diving. Still, it is a fantastic way of capturing the underwater world quietly and effortlessly whilst also producing content perfect for social media and online platforms.

Take it snorkelling

Snorkelling is perfect if you don’t want to learn to scuba dive, but you still want to experience the underwater world and get close and personal with fish, turtles, eels, rays, coral, and so much more.

Taking your drone snorkelling means that you will be able to scope out the best place for having a dip before you commit to jumping in the water.

You’ll also be able to capture some un-intrusive shots of wildlife and sea life before they react to the presence of human snorkellers.

More options

In this article, we have looked at how you can use a drone as a hobby. However, there are also many more options than you can explore once you have purchased a drone.

The extra options include starting a side hustle or business and using your drone for far more than a hobby.

I have summarised everything you can do with your drone in my YouTube video below.

If you want to know more, check out my other article – click here.

What can I do with my drone?

The final word

This article has covered all of the things that you can do as a hobbyist with your drone. I have loved capturing my adventures whilst on holiday and travelling through outback Australia. I will continue to take my drone with me on adventures and see it as a perfect accompaniment to my travel hobby, and it has even opened up an appreciation for photography and videography that I never had before.

I enjoy learning about the framing and composition of shots and always try to get the best shot possible.

If you are not keen on photography or videography, you can use your drone for racing and obstacle courses. There are large communities that are perfect for joining if you want to use your drone for racing. These communities are full of passionate people that can guide and mental you through what can be quite a challenging and steep learning curve.

The most important thing is that you can evolve your drone hobby with your interests.

I have learned to appreciate new hobbies, and I have also discovered new friends along the way. Buying a drone will not force you out of the house, but connecting with people and having a purpose for the drone footage that you collect will be the main catalyst for enjoying your new drone to the max.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones.