Comes with a number of advanced automated features such as Follow Me, route following, and return-to-home capabilities. Folds up to fit in bags and backpacks.
Fly-by-phone capabilities can be slow, delayed, or limited with a poor connection.
Comes with a high quality 720P HD camera on a rotating track for cinematic shots. GPS guidance allows the drone to return to a designated area automatically.
4 rotating blades lack any kind of guard to prevent damage from surrounding obstacles.
Provides flight-friendly features such as one-key takeoff and landings, making it easier to fly for beginners. Drone uses GPS and GLONASS position for better location coverage and accuracy.
The 1080P rotating camera needs an individual SD card to store images and videos.
Follow Me capability is accurate in most flying conditions. Collapsible design makes it easy to transport the drone safely without a separate case. Supports 4K recording.
Drone has a shorter flight time compared to smaller, less expensive flight options with Follow Me.
The small, streamlined body makes the drone extremely agile in flight, and it's thin enough to put in a pocket. Uses facial recognition to activate the auto-follow feature. 720P FPV WiFi camera. Reasonable price.
Its outdoor functionality is limited, so we recommend using it mostly indoors.
The popularity of the consumer level drone has grown tremendously in the last few years. If there were ever questions about how the general public would use a device once generally only utilized by the military, those questions have been answered in the form of spectacular aerial photographs and videos shot by practicing or professional visual artists alike. They’ve also been useful in aerial viewing of areas destroyed by natural disasters that are not safe to enter on the ground.
With this increase in popularity comes the need to develop a product that is more practical and easier to use. Auto-follow drones allow users to select a target for their drone’s camera to “lock on” and follow, while it continues to capture high-quality footage from its drone or aerial view. This feature gives creators even more flexibility and freedom to create images, scenarios, or stories without the need to manually control their drone as the subject of the shot, or drone operator, moves around.
If you’re ready to buy an auto-follow drone, check out our top recommended models. Read on to learn all the basics about these cool drones.
Many of the things you’ll need to consider when shopping for an auto-follow drone are the same as shopping for any drone. Even if you are considering an auto-follow drone, you should be mindful of its size, how it’s powered and recharged, and ultimately who will fly it and how they will control it.
If you are looking to add another piece of equipment to your video or photography production setup, you may want to consider the size of your drone and how much space it may take up during travel. While many drones highlight the fact that they are small and can fit in your pocket, others sacrifice small size for added features, power, and stability while in the air. Seasoned drone veterans may not be intimidated by such a small device flying hundreds of feet in the air and out of sight, while others may want something a bit larger to control.
You’ll want to be aware of how your drone is powered so that you understand how it’s going to fit into your production arsenal. Almost every drone on the market simply does not have a long flight time before the battery drains, so you may need backup batteries or ones that charge quickly.
Some of the smaller drones allow you to charge the body directly via USB or AC adaptor. However, most of the higher quality professional drones will come with a battery that needs to be charged outside of the drone's body. This allows for multiple batteries to stay charged, which leads to longer flight times or quick battery changes to get your device back in the air.
Keep in mind that how these batteries are charged will vary as well. Some will allow for a USB connection, which can be extremely convenient. Top-of-the-line drones will typically desire a more powerful charge and require an AC connection.
Many of the high-grade drones that boast the auto-follow feature will come with their own remote. Professional drones tend to take advantage of the industry standard dual-stick quadcopter controls. These controls will take some getting used to as there is a slight learning curve. There are many resources online for users to find information on how to fly, and with just a little bit of practice, the basic controls can be learned quickly.
Other drone products look to simplify the flying experience with remotes of their own. Many of these brands attempt to make flight controls more intuitive or allow users to use hand gestures to maneuver the drone. Some of these products work great, but typically these control variations aren’t as popular for the simple fact that once you’re able to learn standard quadcopter controls, you’re prepared to fly any quadcopter.
Auto-follow vs. tracking
Note that many companies will use these words interchangeably, but so you’re aware of the types of technology available, there’s is a slight difference between some “auto-follow” features and some “tracking” features.
Most drones that feature an HD camera and tracking applications will allow for mobile support. This will ensure that anyone controlling the drone is able to see, and control, what the drone sees while in the air.
Be sure that whatever downloadable apps are available can work with your current phone or mobile device (i.e. Android or iOS). Most applications are free and available in Android or iOS stores or will be made available with the purchase of your drone. Applications won’t be the same across brands, so each interface may take some time to learn.
The auto-follow feature is an important one, as it gives the operator more control over their machine. When you take into consideration the tracking feature, you’ll likely see a spike in overall pricing.
Low-priced: $50 to $150
Any drones for less than $150, even if they still boast a camera, are considered low end or are designed for kids or beginners. Typically, you’ll miss out on advanced tracking systems, long lasting batteries, and high definition cameras. If it does feature an auto-follow mode, that means that it will simply stay within a certain distance of the remote, or just return to home when called. These are great drones to practice quad controls with or buy for first time drone enthusiast.
Mid-range: $200 to $500
In this range you’ll find affordable professional grade drones with most of the bells and whistles to enjoy tracking, long flights, and high definition images. You may not find the most powerful systems or the newest technology here, but when new tech comes along, this is where the previous generation will fall, so you’ll easily find top-notch products within this price range.
This is where you’ll find the top flight, cutting-edge auto-follow drones. As auto and tracking systems improve, piloting your drone will become more about setting targets and checkpoints than manually controlling every twist and turn. However, these systems are likely only to go in the most expensive products on the market, so you should still know how to manually control your drone if you’re going to spend top dollar on your device. If you’re confident in your ability to fly, and want the best of the best, this is what you can expect to pay.
Even though your next drone may come equipped with auto-follow features, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never have to do any work. Here are a few tips on getting the most out of your device while flying it safely and effectively.
Q: How long can a typical drone stay in the air on one charge?
A. Consumer drones are limited in how long they can stay in the air. The best drones on the consumer market can typically keep flight for a maximum of 25 minutes.
Q: How fast can a consumer drone fly?
A. This depends entirely on the size, power, and hardware features of the drone, but because consumer drones are limited, they tend to max out at 50 mph.
Q: Can I record directly to my phone or mobile device?
A. Typically, drones will feature a memory card that’s attached to the camera. Even if you can stream footage to your phone, you’re likely recording the information to the memory card that’s located in the drone itself.
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