When drones initially hit the scene in the wider markets, they were expensive, complicated, and not something the everyday individual would keep in their photographic arsenal. These days, however, times are changing. Drones are becoming increasingly reasonable in price, and they’re becoming more easy to operate.

The drone’s history is an extensive one. They were originally invented for military purposes, with their first recorded use being in 1848 by the Austrian military. Technically speaking, the first flight of an unmanned vehicle (now more commonly known as a drone) was in 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss. Also, they used unmanned balloons. Very different.

Commercial drones aren’t for military operations

The drones featured in this article aren’t being used for secret military operations (that we’re aware of), but rather for revolutionizing the way that photos are taken and, in doing so, providing a whole new perspective to a conventional scenic shot. Most notably: bringing about the rise of aerial photography.


No longer is aerial photography reserved for the few among us who can borrow the occasional private jet or helicopter. Drones allow for the everyday individual as well as the professional photographer to try their hand at aerial photography that would previously have been entirely unavailable to them.

It wasn’t until 2016 that commercial drones really started to make waves in the market, as popularity began to surge. This opened the door for seasoned photographers to apply a new and innovative perspective to their work, and introduced aspiring photographers to the exciting art of photo taking.

With wider popularity comes wider range, and that can be daunting

Aerial photography opens up a way to view the world in a completely innovative way. It’s easy to understand why popular social media such as Instagram is becoming awash with the unique shots provided by drones.


However, drones’ popularity can also make them a little daunting to begin using. If you were to just Google ‘drone’ or even ‘aerial photography drone’ then you would get overwhelmed pretty quickly by the sheer amount of options available. Luckily, there’s an easy way around this. All you have to do is ask yourself, “What do I actually need my drone for? What do I need it to do?”

Affordability isn’t always better

While it might seem like the easiest and most obvious option to just go ahead and buy the cheapest model you can find, which will usually market at around $60, while you’re still learning the ropes, you have to remember that they are cheap for a reason.

They’re often a lot lighter and they come with no form of stabilization, which can make for some troublesome flying. In addition to this, some of the cheaper models don’t come with an operating device specifically designed for the drone but, instead, have an app you can download to your phone. While these work well, it does make for less control in some instances.

Remember, you have to operate this thing. It isn’t just a case of strapping a camera to a magical device and watching as it takes Instagram-worthy aerial photography shots for you to bask in later. They can be a little tricky for a beginner. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little more just to ensure better results.


If you leap to the $100-$200 price bracket then you’re more likely to achieve the results you’re after. It can be an expensive investment for something you’re just trying to break into, but if it’s quality you’re after then it may be worth purchasing the higher end drones instead of wasting money on cheaper products that ultimately you’d have to replace anyway.

Some of the most affordable (and effective) drones available include:

  • Ryze
  • Holy Stone
  • Syma
  • Eachine
  • Hubsan

A deeper dive – Related reading on the 101

Interesting photography doesn’t have to be aerial, sometimes animals are entertainment enough!

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