What is the best drone to buy?

I’m often asked ‘what is the best drone to buy?’ Whether for:

  • Entry or advanced level drone users
  • Commercial or recreational purposes
  • Photography or agricultural uses, or mapping
  • Rural or urban use

And many are asking online for opinions. Incomplete and inaccurate information is rife so I’ve written a comprehensive, independent summary.

Traps to be aware of; often drone owners offering opinions:

  • Have only flown one or two drones and this is what they recommend for you.
  • Are only familiar with their own circumstances, not yours. Your specific aims, requirements, circumstances and budget may be completely different. EG they are unaware of the challenges involved in rural & remote Australia (from ultra-fine dust to temperatures regularly above 40c, winter below freezing, humidity above 80%, long distances from mobile phone reception and slow upload/download speeds). Do they have sound knowledge of professional-standard photography requirements (what drone features will make a real difference to what you create, and what don’t matter). Do they understand the needs of small business owners or are they just flying recreationally, and with more spare time than you have? And do they realise that a professional can get good results from basic tools – IE spending a lot doesn’t = better results, if the operator isn’t up to speed.
  • DON’T get hung up on spec sheets, without understanding what the specs actually mean. EG, the difference between optical and digital zoom or what shifting from Lightbridge to Occusync may mean, in terms of usability. Or fall for the common assumption that because a lens carries the brand name of a traditionally expensive camera manufacturer it automatically produces better images than the rest. Many bang on about specs instead of examining end results. Actual output and performance! These days many phone & drone manufacturers talk up hardware specs including sensor size but they cut hardware quality corners and rely on software to correct imperfections.
  • DO:  take listed capabilities only as a guide for comparing between models. There is of course a big difference between the real world and a manufacturer testing a drone’s flight time and distance in perfect conditions (no wind or signal interference, at sea level, temperature in low 20s C, flying in a power-efficient manner). A manufacturer’s listing of a flight time of 47 minutes does not mean you’ll be flying that drone for 47 minutes. Maximum flight distances are often spruiked but should be ignored because in Australia, same as in most countries, it is only legal for a drone pilot to fly their drone as far as they can see it with their own eyes, unaided (‘VLOS’). And there are numerous reasons why signal interference can occur. Use these specs to compare models. EG ‘this model usually has a longer flight time than that one’, ‘this drone is likely to have a stronger drone-to-controller signal than that one’.

The information below is written with Australia in mind however the principles apply globally.

I don’t sell drones; the information I provide is completely independent and based on solid hands-on drone usage. See the bottom of this page for my drone-related qualifications & experience. In summary:

  • Fully licenced & certified by CASA and I’ve owned & flown many of the most popular consumer level drones.
  • I have been invited to present at drone conferences on 4 continents (Europe, China & the US, in addition to Australia); delivering keynote addresses as well as drone introductory sessions & masterclasses.
  • Small business owner & professional aerial photographer for 30+ years.
  • I run drone training sessions through the Rural Drone Academy but this has no bearing on information provided to the general public re recommendations for drone purchases.
Outback drone photography - on OBE Organic's Adria Downs Station, Birdsville

Outback drone photography – on OBE Organic’s Adria Downs Station, Birdsville – taken with DJI’s Phantom 4 drone in 2016.

There’s a lot of detail here but it’s important to note – buyers are often spending more money than they need to or buying a drone that isn’t a good fit for what they need. If you don’t want to waste time or money, it’s worth doing decent research before buying a drone.

If you simply want a summary of what is the best drone to learn to fly on (without considering any other factors, eg job requirements or portability), then see the What is the best drone for beginners blog post.

Want to buy & fly a drone? First:

  • Determine exactly what you want to use it for. Is a drone the best tool for the job?
  • If in Australia: visit the ‘OK2Fly’ website (via CASA) and enter the location where you intend to fly your drone most of the time, to check you are legally allowed to do so from an airspace point of view. And visit the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and read the drone laws that apply to your situation, to check it’s safe & legal to do what you have in mind.
  • If in another country: visit your federal government’s national aviation body & read up on the drone laws. There may also be an official drone app which you can download which shows where you can and can’t fly drones. In the US it’s the Federal Aviation Administration; Canada: Transport Canada, UK: Civil Aviation Authority.  and in New Zealand it’s also the Civil Aviation Authority. Up until mid 2019 European countries had separate drone laws for each nation, but EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) has put an impressive amount of work into formulating EU-wide drone regulations.
  • Also – be aware that the remit of aviation authorities is to ensure aviation safety. There’s also federal, state and local authority laws preventing drone flights in specific areas – from coastal ports to urban parks to Defence Force facilities and prisons (including prison farms).  The onus is on drone operators to ensure they have thoroughly checked (‘ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law’).
  • The internet is full of people who’ve spent a thousand or two buying a drone, only to find they live too close to controlled airspace to fly where they want to, without a drone licence and special permission; or what they want to do just isn’t safe or legal.  EG checking bores on stations (out of line of sight). Don’t risk buying an expensive paperweight – check before buying.

Then:

Buying a drone is like buying a car.  The vital consideration is: what do you (or the operator) specifically want a drone to do (what will the drone be used for), and who will be flying it (child or adult, experienced or inexperienced)?

In simple terms, the 5 main choice-related considerations:

  1. Portability (smaller = better)
  2. Visibility (how far you can fly it legally is determined by how far away you can see it. Bigger = better.)
  3. Quality of images (or the ability to use other kinds of sensors) & camera features
  4. Price (don’t pay more than you need to)
  5. Wind resistance (vital consideration if flights are time-sensitive and you are in coastal or other regions where high winds are a regular occurrence)
  6. Weight class of the drone, in relation to registration or licencing requirements. In Australia what matters most is sub 250g & sub 2kg categories (the CASA website has more details, and I run through this kind of information in workshops).

What is best for you depends on which of the above considerations matters most to you. List your personal priorities in order.

Summary of different drone features to consider & significance in relation to completing required tasks:

  • Portability: size & weight. Will you be carting it around on a motorbike, in a ute, or on a plane?  In your pockets or a large hard case? Considerations include battery specs, if you want to be able to carry it on a passenger plane.
  • Quality of the inbuilt camera: which really only matters a lot if you want to sell drone photographs; otherwise, most inbuilt cameras on larger drones are good enough (producing quality aerial images and videos is much more difficult than on the ground; buying a top quality drone camera is a waste without the experience to get the best out of it.)  Some of the smaller drones have camera specs & output that match larger, much more expensive drones – so don’t presume bigger/more expensive = better quality image creation ability.  The two main aspects to consider are: the level of detail in the image and the dynamic range (how much detail is in the darkest & lightest parts of the image. Only so much can be rectified via editing software. And you might not want to have to spend time editing. Or fussy details might not matter that much. Another drone workshop topic discussed in detail.)
  • Ability to attach other cameras and sensors:  rather than just use inbuilt cameras and sensors – are you wanting to use your drone for mapping, for example?
  • Capacity to carry other weight:  eg spray units (bearing in mind that using drone spray units requires licencing and special permission; IE you progress to this point rather than start from it.  You only buy a spray drone after you’ve got all the licences required.)
  • Number of motors: quadcopters [4 motor drones] drop like rocks if one motor fails – no redundancy. Octocopters & hexacopters can usually keep flying.  For licenced pilots this matters, because special permission may be granted by CASA to fly higher or closer to people than would be the case with just a quadcopter. But quadcopters are usually much cheaper & simpler.
  • Weight of the drone:  heavier drones usually fly more smoothly in strong winds.  Lighter drones struggle to film smooth videos. Will you be making videos, and flying your drone in an area where it’s often windy?  Small light drones can struggle in coastal areas. Strong winds also chew through battery power, shortening flight times.
  • Noise: if you want to muster livestock out of holding paddocks with your drone, noise is an advantage. Some later models drones are quieter than earlier models – so they’d be less useful for moving stock.  And see the Mavic 2 Enterprise – which can use a loudspeaker.
  • Power:  affects speed, lift capacity, steadiness in the wind etc.  Cost is fairly directly related to power.
  • Longevity/durability:  consumer drones are not made to fly longer than most pilots use them over about 3 years. As camera & software specs are rapidly improved longevity is more of an issue for drones above 2kg with interchangeable cameras (older drone bodies can be useful for a long time by just upgrading the camera). Most consumer drones are superseded long before their moving parts wear out. The availability of batteries does become an issue for discontinued models.
  • Range (transmission range – controller to drone):  is rarely an issue for sub 2kg consumer drones because the controller-to-drone transmission range for most is way beyond VLOS; ie they cannot be legally flown to the edge of transmission range (without licencing plus special BVLOS permission, which is very hard to obtain, for sound safety reasons). IE ignore ‘5km range’ and ’10km range’ that you may see on advertising material because sub 2kg drones cannot possibly be seen by the operator just 1 kilometre away, even in ideal atmospheric conditions.
  • Speed: is also worth ignoring – unless you’re buying a racing drone (a rather moot point; as drone racers typically custom build their own drones, anyway).  The top speed advertised with drones is usually not available in all modes, and super-fast speed is rarely required. It’s also worth noting that current collision avoidance sensors do not usually work at top speeds.  (Logical when you think about it but it continues to amaze, how many fly their drones full-tilt at solid objects then complain when their aerial robot is not able to sense and brake before impact.)

And –

Drone battery considerations:

  • Flight time – when new the real flight time for most fully charged drone batteries is  around 20 minutes; depending on the brand/model and flight conditions. Bearing in mind that you can’t run a drone battery down to zero when flying. (Of course UAV battery life will improve as technology evolves.)
  • Capacity of the drone batteries. Current CASA and airline rules re the carriage of dangerous goods (eg lithium batteries for drones) state that below 100w the quantity carried is discretionary. Above 100w there are limitations on the number that can be carried.  Larger drones – above 2kg – usually have more batteries and they’re higher capacity, fewer of which can be carried on airlines. So this should be considered if you want to take your drone on planes.  It may be necessary to send your extra batteries as cargo (rather than on a passenger plane) or by road.  Rules for carriage of dangerous goods on airlines are discussed and formulated by the IATA (International Air Transport Association) so rules tend to be similar across airlines; but always check CASA’s ‘carriage of dangerous goods’ section as well as the relevant information on the website of the specific airlines you’ll be flying with.  Some airlines now insist drones must be in checked luggage rather than hand luggage (but batteries still in carry-on). Airlines can and do change these rules overnight, so check before you leave for the airport.
  • Lithium batteries that power drones are expensive and do need replacing every so often. The current price for Phantom & Mavic batteries is just under $300, and batteries for larger machines are more than $300.
  • Quantity & battery management – best practice management is tedious; buying a big stack of batteries means lots of work looking after them properly. Most drone operators, including professionals, find 3-4 batteries is the optimum number to own for each drone.
Farm drone photography (High Country, Victoria)

Farm drone photography (High Country, Victoria)

Which model of drone is best?

Just like cars, there are different drones for specific purposes; and drones that are more multi-purpose. If you buy a tiny, easy-to-park & economical town car it will be great for that purpose but if you take it bush-bashing you’ll be disappointed.  Choose your horse for the right course.

Like cars, there are many different brands of drones and a variety that are considered good quality.  But for simplicity’s sake I’ve concentrated on the most common brand of consumer drones: DJI.  It’s like the Toyota of drones. Because:

  • DJI drones are readily available everywhere – easy to find
  • The internet is full of ‘how to’ videos and problem solving for various models of DJI drones
  • Easy to find accessories for (new & secondhand)
  • Most spare parts are readily available and they can be repaired by the mechanically or technology-minded at home
  • Competitively priced and easy to sell secondhand when upgrading
  • Most drone training courses revolve around DJI drones

1. Ryze Tello & Parrot Mambo (discontinued):

  • Both are a very small drones, weighing less than 100g and costing less than two hundred dollars.
  • These drones are learning and recreational tools, not useful for work purposes, and they’re really for indoor use only.
  • However though these small drones are often referred to as ‘toys’, they should not be treated as toys and given to children to fly unsupervised. A spinning propeller across an eyeball can cause permanent damage, and the props easily tangle in long hair. Children flying drones should be supervised and wear protective glasses. (A session on how to best manage children & drones, with other advice, is included in my drone workshops.)
  • Image and video quality isn’t too bad considering the tiny size of these machines – but not usable for anything much other than social media posts (& no option to record ‘raw’ image files).
  • The smaller & cheaper the drone the harder they tend to be to fly, but as they’re light they’re fairly tough; and they are great for training.
  • Usually controlled via a phone, however cheap control units can be purchased which makes them much easier to fly (less lag).
  • These drones use VPS not GPS – so they can easily fly indoors (as long as the surface below isn’t too reflective or bland), but it’s best to have prop guards fitted when inside buildings to protect eyes, faces and walls from damage.
  • The transmission range is short – they cannot fly far from the operator (usually less than 30 metres, but it varies according to conditions)
  • Batteries only last for a few minutes.
  • Being so light, Tello and Mambo drones struggle even in a light breeze.
  • As these two drones weigh less than 100g, have a low transmission distance and short battery life –  they can be flown in some areas where 100g plus drones are not permitted, as the smaller drones are deemed to not pose a risk to aviation safety & minimal risk to people or property.
  • Tellos and Mambos don’t require complicated software updates or a licence to operate.
  • There’s fun but educational free-to-download software that kids can use to programme them. EG Tynker.
  • Note: – DJI sells Tellos & provides components for them; but they’re designed by Ryze. Parrot is a French drone company, now moving towards production of commercial drones only, so Mambos have unfortunately been discontinued.

2. DJI Spark (Discontinued, much to the disgust of the many fans):

  • Primarily designed for the cashed-up selfie taker.
  • Ideal for travelling light – fits into a big pocket or handbag & can be operated via a mobile phone screen rather than a dedicated controller.
  • Relatively cheap.
  • The compromise is a poorer quality camera & gimbal and due to lightness & less power, Sparks struggle in wind; but handy for putting up for a look (eg checking spot fires).
  • Maximum battery life of 16 minutes.
  • Much shorter range – the transmission range is shorter, but in any case, being smaller, Spark drones are less visible from a distance.
  • Yuneec Breeze is a similar brand & model to consider, and Parrot may have something similar.
  • DJI’s Spark has really been replaced by the Mavic Mini, released in November 2019.

Mavic drones – consumer models:

  • DJI’s Mavic drones are designed to fold up so they’re easy to cart around & less likely to be damaged in transit, and they fit very neatly into durable ‘pod’ style cases.
  • Each Mavic model has different specs and these can be compared on DJI’s website, in detail. Only you can decide what will suit your particular circumstances – the bottom line is that you get what you pay for.
  • There are three lines of Mavic drones for recreational or light commercial use (rather than industrial):
  1. The Mavic Mini – first created in 2019, specifically to fit under the 250g weight class – so it weighs just 249g. Ideal for travellers with only carry-on luggage and designed to be under the compulsory registration threshold in some countries. Note that on the later 2 models DJI has dropped the ‘Mavic’ name for the Mini.
  2. The Mavic Air series – originally released in 2018 and updated in 2020 and again in 2021. Smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Pro; the compromise sitting between the Mini and the Pro. Like the Mini, the term ‘Mavic’ has been dropped from the name, so it’s now just known as the ‘Air’.
  3. The Mavic Pro series – the original and heaviest Mavic line, first created in 2016.  The Mavic most commonly used for work-related purposes.

3. Mini 3:

  • The Mini 3 is the world’s most popular sub 250g drone, and this version was released on 17 May 2022
  • There’s two distinctly different main markets for the DJI’s Mini drone: 1) Travellers who want a reliable, easy to use drone that is simple to transport & 2) Professional photographers who need a smaller drone to fit into tight spaces or who choose to use a sub 250g drone for certain work, to avoid a whole lot of aviation law related admin (paperwork & permissions). Yes professionals can get usable results from small drones.
  • Fixed aperture – this is painful for professional photographers used to being able to change all 3 light controls (ISO, shutter speed & aperture). But for aerial photography aperture adjustments are mostly to control light not change depth of field, so filters can be used to adjust the light hitting the sensor instead. It’s just a lot more fiddly.
  • ‘Visual line of sight’ (VLOS) drone rules in most countries prohibit the flying of drones further away than the operator can see them (& these rules apply country-wide; not just in urban areas). As the mini is so small, the legal range is only a few hundred metres even in the best visibility. If you want to fly further away than this, buy a larger drone.
  • The ‘DJI FLY’ app was created for the original ‘Mavic Mini’ and DJI have unfortunately stuck with it. It’s a much simpler (‘dumbed down’) app compared to the Go 4 app used on older drones and ‘Fly’ is hated by most drone owners who have used the older app. They miss the extra options and greater on-screen detail that makes flying safer.
  • Summary – surprisingly good image quality, super portable, relatively simple to use. But if you want a drone that is more visible, can tolerate a bit stronger wind and produce better quality images or videos then you need to spend more on a larger and heavier drone.
  • Note: I don’t recommend touching the original Mini – the specs on the Mini 2 & 3 are just so much better. Top of that list is wind resistance & connectivity, which the original Mini had issues with.

4) & 5): Original (first) Mavic, Mavic 2 Pro & Mavic 2 Zoom now replaced by the Mavic 3; and the Mavic Air 2s has replaced the first two Mavic Air  models:

  • The original Mavic Air will squeeze into large pockets on jackets, however the Mavic Air 2 & 2s is too big for pockets.
  • Mavic Pro Drones are not standard-pocket sized but fit easily into a backpack or carry-on luggage and are convenient to carry in any vehicle.
  • Mavic 3 drones: released November 2021. 2 versions: the ordinary Mavic 3  & the ‘Cini’. Both cost a lot more than earlier models and the Cini is considerably more expensive. It comes with an inbuilt 1TB SSD plus Apple ProRes – it is designed to suit professional cinematographers requiring a good quality but small drone – who have more sophisticated software and computer than the average drone user. Amongst a number of smaller differences, the Mavic 3 drones feature a larger sensor than any other sub 2kg DJI drone; it is 4/3, and it has a much longer flight time, with different batteries.  The release of the Mavic 3 also heralds the release of a new smart controller. For the vast majority of drone users, it is not worth paying the considerable jump in price to upgrade from the Air 2s or Mavic 2 Pro to the Mavic 3. The Mavic 3 produces much better images in low light (eg evening cityscapes) however there appears to be no discernible quality difference between the M3, Air 2s & M2P still images taken in ordinary daylight. In addition the Mavic 3 release has been plagued with hardware issues and the software has glitches and missing features.  Unless you need a Mavic 3 right now, wait until all the issues have been ironed out.
  • The main differences between the Mavic 2 Pro & Mavic 2 Zoom, many of which are available secondhand: the upgraded models released in August 2018 – the Mavic 2 Pro has a 1″ sensor; the same size as the larger & more expensive Phantom 4 Pro; whereas the Mavic 2 Zoom has the same size sensor as the original Mavic, but the lens will zoom from 24mm to 48mm. 24mm is a wide angle lens (so things appear further away than they actually are) whereas 50mm is the standard for DSLR cameras – it’s what most closely approximates the what is seen by human eyes.  So it’s important to note that 48mm still won’t get you up close to animals or people (unlike a 120, 200mm or longer lens).  However – the Mavic 2 Zoom is the best cheaper off the shelf drone choice if you need to see something closer while on the fly (as distinct from downloading the image & enlarging it, after flying); particularly if it’s something you can’t fly too close too, for safety reasons. The Mavic 2 Zoom is also great for cinematic effects, as well as being a few hundred dollars cheaper.  However the Mavic 2 Pro produces better quality still images.
  • Mavic Air drone: the original Air was released in early 2018. Then the Air 2 came on the market in April 2020, and the Air 2s in April 2021. The two later models are still cheaper, smaller and lighter than the original Mavic Pros – thus the Air remains more portable. On paper it can handle the same wind strength as Mavic Pros and fly for a bit longer than 30 minutes but comments from users suggest this is over optimistic in real world conditions. On paper the Air can travel almost as quickly as the larger Mavic Pros and the later Air models do have a better transmission system than the original Air. Like the Mavic zoom, the first two Air models 2 only have a 1/2″ sensor (unlike the Mavic 2 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro, both with a 1″ sensor), but the Air 2s has a 1″ sensor (thought not yielding results as good as the Mavic 2 Pro or Phantom 4 Pro). The Air 2s does have some better camera and video specs and auto modes. However the aperture of the Air model is fixed rather than adjustable. Aperture is primarily used in drone photography for adjusting light when filming (rather than increasing or decreasing the plane of focus – more relevant to ground photography) so the Mavic Air drones won’t be the first choice for cinematographers.  Thus the Mavic 3 is the best sub 2kg DJI drone for cinematography amongst photographers who use manual settings rather than just auto.
  • The Mavic 3, 2’s and Mavic Air (original and 2) have 8GB of onboard storage, handy if you’ve forgotten to put a memory card back into it after downloading images.
  • ADSB – due to US legislation, DJI are now making drones with ‘Air Sense’ – an ADSB receiver that pics up signals from manned aircraft that are transmitting location signals, so that drone operators are warned of manned aircraft in the vicinity.  Note that these drones don’t transmit a signal, they only receive. It’s also worth mentioning that many aircraft in Australia are not required to have transponders so relying on ‘Airsense’ or an app such as ‘Flight Radar’ could lead to a false sense of security – until aviation authorities make location signalling compulsory for all airborne manned aircraft, including gliders, gyrocopters and ultralights. All drone pilots must continue to rely 100% on their eyes and ears to look out for approaching manned aircraft. There is a good argument for fitting ADSB transmitters to drones (not just receivers); and an app ADSB signals should not be relied upon.
  • If you are buying a drone to take photographs out the paddock on a motorbike or to take backpacking, IE space is a top priority, you’d choose to buy the Air 2s not a larger Mavic.
  • Buy a Mavic zoom if you need to view greater detail without flying closer. For example – you want to check ewes or cows at lambing or calving time, without disturbing them. If you only need to see the detail later, then just enlarge the footage on computer instead of buying a zoom. Mavic 3 also has a second lens however it’s more expensive than many people would want to pay.
  • You’d also choose a Mavic 2 Pro if image quality plus portability is your number one priority or you need a drone to withstand higher winds – but you’ll be paying a lot more money for it than an Air 2s.
  • I’ve owned an original model Mavic Air – the most beautifully designed portable drone on the market. I sold it only because it wasn’t being used enough.  And, you can get red ones. I recommend the Mavic Air 2s as being the best choice for most travellers or the even smaller  and lighter Mini 2.
  • Mavic Pros (original model and the 2) are the most popular drones on farms & stations in Australia, due to their portability. I owned a Mavic 2 Pro as a backup  but only flew it when I ran out of Phantom batteries (despite online misinformation, the image quality of these 2 drones is very similar).
  • Remember that drones are like cars – usually people will talk up the brand or model they own. If you’re on a farm or station, a secondhand Phantom, Mavic Air 2s or Mavic Mini 2 may actually suit you better than the largest Mavic – so consider the options carefully rather than blindly running with the pack. And ultimately it depends on what you’re prepared to pay – pay more, get more.

6. Mavic 2 Enterprise; ‘M2E’ & ‘M2E Dual’ – industrial purpose drones – now superceded by the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced:

The original 2 ‘Enterprise’ Mavic drones were first released in 2018.  These two related DJI drone models are discussed separately to the Mavics above as the M2E has been designed specifically for industrial purposes – the smallest industrial use drones that DJI manufacture. M2E drones come with 3 interchangeable accessories – a speaker, spotlight and beacon – that would be especially useful for some farmers & livestock producers, though they were created with emergency service uses in mind. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced also has the optional extra of an RTK module that can be added.

  • Speaker; maximum volume 100DB at 1metre distance; audible 20-40 metres away, or more (depending on conditions). M2E pilots can make up to 10 voice or sound recordings & play them on demand. Or transmit real-time voice messages. Developed primarily with emergency service operations in mind.
  • Self-heating batteries: useful for drone work in temperatures down to -10c. (Most drone batteries need to reach 15c before safe flight.  Many people use heat pads and handwarmers to warm drone batteries just before flight in very cold regions.)  The battery heating commences when the temperature is between -20c & 6c and the button is pressed & held for 5 seconds; or heating is automatic if inserted into the M2E & turned on.

Flying drones after official last light & before first light requires full licencing and training in Australia, but these two features are particularly useful in low-light situations:

  • Dual spotlight (2,400 lumens); enough light to capture clear images up to 30 metres away. But not adjustable in flight, only on the ground.
  • Flashing strobe light, for superior aviation safety – visible up to 5km away.

Another couple of interesting industrial-standard features:

  • Password protection for the 24GB of data stored on board (not the memory card), and the password is required to operate the drone (when turning it on, & connecting to the remote controller).
  • Every image can be stamped with the time, date & GPS location. Note that this is an optional feature; not compulsory. Useful for farm image recording of pasture, crops etc (as well as search & rescue, etc). This could also be used to prove drone pilots were operating illegally and be valuable protection against false accusations from paranoid members of the public or vexatious claims.  (Although the flight data also does this already, on other DJI drones.)
  • ‘Local data mode’ prevents data from being sent to the internet via the mobile phone or tablet being used with the drone (security measure).
  • DJI Air Sense: Air sense pics up ADS-B signals & displays them on screen. However, ADS-B: Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast signals out – or an equivalent – would ideally be compulsory on all manned aircraft but are currently only required on aircraft operating under IFR. Potentially useful for drone flights near airports but not further away, as manned aircraft using IFR are usually many thousands of feet up, between airports. Or where emergency aircraft are operating – but permission (as well as a licence) is required to fly in declared emergency zones.  Many aircraft do not use ADS-B. At some stage in the future it’s possible that all drones will be required to transmit location signals, to help ensure aviation safety.

The second version of the M2E drone is the ‘Dual’:

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual is fitted with a FLIR thermal camera as well as a standard camera for capturing visible light. Whereas the ordinary M2E is fitted with an optical zoom. Also included on the M2E Dual – a spot meter for measuring object temperature (eg re building fires) and some other temperature measurement features.  The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual costs more again than the ordinary M2E, but worth consideration for anyone who could benefit from having an airborne thermal camera. It may also be useful for locating feral species such as pigs in scrub and tall crops such as cane.

Unsurprisingly, Mavic 2 Enterprise drones cost a lot more than ordinary Mavics; and really the specs are way beyond what most farmers & livestock producers would end up using. M2E’s are drones to upgrade to, if the need becomes apparent; not drones to start from.

The 2021 updated version – the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced – has a far superior thermal sensor to the predecessor – so it shows far more detail. It also comes with a smart controller as standard, but the total price is at least twice the price of the original models.

Fiona Lake, catch-landing a Phantom 4Pro V2 drone – which must be done in a particular way to avoid injury. Props fitted to these drones look like plastic but they contain carbon or glass fibres and inflict very nasty cuts if mishandled. Catch landing is not recommended for drones which do not have landing legs. (Image by Townsville photographer, Cheryl Robertson).

7. DJI Phantom 4 Pro Version 2:

  • DJI released their first Phantom drone onto the market in 2013.
  • They stopped making the latest in the series, the Phantom 4 Version 2, in mid 2019 – but then started manufacturing them again in January 2020. And many people are hoping for a Phantom 5, with interchangeable lenses – more portable than an Inspire.
  • It’s important not to confuse the V2 model with earlier models, as the V2 is a much better drone than the other P4s.
  • The P4P V2 was DJI’s most expensive consumer level drone until a mysterious price change around 2020, when the Mavic 2 became more expensive to buy.
  • Many secondhand Phantoms are still available and at reasonable prices – but, new filters are becoming harder to find and unfortunately batteries for older models are only available from third party manufacturers as DJI has discontinued production.
  • Due to a combination of features, durability, ease of use and price – DJI’s Phantom drones were the world’s most popular consumer drone.
  • The media still prefers to use the image of a Phantom drone when running drone stories, though the story may have nothing to do with DJI or their Phantom model.
  • Phantom drones were upstaged by the portability of the Mavic drones which first appeared in 2016. This increased when the very popular Mavic 2 Pro model was released in 2018, with the same size image sensor as the Phantom 4 Pro Version 2.
  • Phantom drones are not as portable as the Mavics so less practical for carting around. But Phantoms can squeeze into most carry-on suitcases (along with batteries, which must be in carry-on luggage, not checked baggage. But always check airline spec for rule changes, before flying.)
  • If a Phantom is carted around a cattle station or farm it should be kept in a hard case – quite bulky and of course unsuited to a motorbike (although police traffic accident investigators carry the RTK model in motorbike panniers).  The upside is that if you get a good case you can get the drone out & going a lot quicker, and pack it up faster – there’s no stuffing around unfolding/folding it all and it is more durable. And a good hard case is ideal for a take-off and launch pad in dusty or wet conditions. The last benefit of hard cases? Should a battery self-combust, a well sealed case could prevent your house from burning down. (Battery safety is covered in detail during Rural Drone Academy training.)
  • Because Phantom drones have legs, they can be safely catch-landed (with the right technique) – thus keeping them out of dust and moisture when landing.  The legs also provide a degree of protection against rough landings; keeping the gimbal, camera and other vitals further away from the ground, thus making them ideal for farm & station use.
  • Phantom 4 drones have a mechanical shutter which means they are suited to producing accurate maps, unlike drones with a rolling shutter.
  • Partly because the Phantoms have been around longer than Mavics and partly because Phantoms are better suited to mapping, there is a larger number of apps available for Phantoms than for any other drones.
  • Because Phantoms are now mostly used by more experienced drone operators and Mavics have proliferated, Phantoms have become viewed more as professional gear.
  • Phantoms are more durable , with drone insurer stats showing that they typically receive less expensive damage when crashed.
  • One feature that I absolutely love is that the Phantom drone multi-charger also has a ‘discharge’ button, which can put all 3 attached batteries into ‘discharge’ mode at the flick of a switch. This is extremely useful when you charge all the batteries up to 100% then get caught with unflyable weather or a change of plan.
  • It’s also possible to fly Phantom 4 drones in ‘atti’ (attitude) mode – with the GPS turned off. This is vital safety training for GPS signal failure. It also enables smoother videos. The option of ‘atti’ mode is why Phantom drones are preferred by better quality drone trainers, and still used by many. The only other DJI drones with ‘atti’ mode weigh more than 2kg and cost thousands more.
  • The top-of-the-range DJI consumer drones, the Phantom 4 Pro V 2 and Mavic 2 Pro, produce photographs which are similar in quality but still not as good as photos from professional quality camera equipment used by photographers in planes and helicopters, or the far more expensive models of drones which allow interchangeable cameras.  (These drones weigh over 2kg, thus entering another licencing category; and full systems cost many thousands of dollars more). However the image quality of the P4P V2 & Mavic 2 Pro is close enough to be usable for most commercial photography purposes, if done with care.
  • I’ve owned a Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, and the Phantom 4 Pro V 2 (as well as smaller DJI drones, including the Mavic 2 Pro).  I don’t have the patience for faffing around with folding stuff and fiddly SD card removal and screen connection cords and prefer being able to put a tablet-sized screen straight into the P4 controller. I like the Phantom’s durability, ability to fly in strong winds, greater visibility (while still being small enough to carry onto planes) and I like catch landing to keep it out of the dust & dew. Plus the image quality matches the more popular, later model Mavic 2 Pro.  Phantom 4 drones are like the Toyotas of the drone world.

8.  Phantom 4 RTK (Real Time Kinematic) – industrial use:

  • Specifically designed for more accurate mapping; by using RTK & avoiding the need for ground control points (which ensure map location accuracy).
  • Thousands of dollars more than standard Phantom 4s, but thousands of dollars less than other drones designed for similar work.
  • Not an entry level drone – this is for drone users who are serious about mapping & know what they’re doing.

9. Parrot Anafi (discontinued)

Parrot discontinued consumer drone manufacture in 2019 and now concentrates on producing commercial drones. The Anafi was roughly similar in specs to the original Mavic drones but cheaper.  I list the unique features of the Anafi as an example of why the drone industry needs a healthy range of manufacturers – a diversity of features to choose from, plus creative development. It is good to consider all main brands when purchasing. The features that differentiate the Anafi from DJI’s similar level models:

  • Gimbal tilts 180 degrees – from right down to the ground and right up to the sky above (EG great for inspecting underneath structures such as bridges)
  • Digital zoom (useful for inspecting stock without disturbing them)
  • Hand launch and hand catch modes – with clear instructions (great for using on boats)
  • USB cord charging for batteries and the controller. And it’s a ‘C’ port. (This is fabulously convenient – it means no lugging around a stack of chargers and forking out for overpriced essentials. DJI has one charger for using in vehicles and another for using with the mains power supply, and different chargers for every model of DJI drone)
  • Wind resistance listed at 50 km/hour (much higher than Phantom & the largest Mavic drones, as they list wind resistance as being in the mid 30 km/hour range)
  • Super quick and easy to download Google maps of specific areas (for use when away from mobile phone reception)

10. DJI Inspire & Matrice models:

  • Inspire and Matrice drone systems cost thousands of dollars more than the much simpler sub 2kg Phantom and Mavic drones, mentioned above.
  • These drones weigh more than 2kg, which means they can only legally be operated by licenced drone pilots. Except Australian primary producers flying over their own land (up to a 25kg weight limit). But refer to CASA’s website for the precise and current details on this.
  • The batteries are larger so there’s restrictions on the number that can be taken on planes.
  • These heavier drones are primarily used by professional cinematographers and for agricultural and research purposes – IE advanced uses (not just straightforward still photography).
  • Not the drones to buy when you are starting out, these are drones to buy once a smaller, simpler drone is mastered and you are certain you really need something more sophisticated to accomplish the jobs you need to do.  And if you’re in business, you must also consider – will your clients want to pay the much higher rates that you’ll need to charge them, if using a much more expensive drone system? Mostly – they will not.
  • Many of these heavier and more expensive drones were in the past sold to people who could have instead used a sub 2kg drone for the same purpose.
  • Some of the advantages of a DJI Inspire 2 drone:  simultaneous recording of the data onto 2 different mediums (SSD & micro SD, so an on-board back-up is created instantly), camera with interchangeable lenses, greater redundancy (dual batteries, IMU & barometer; but only 4 motors, so no motor redundancy), GPS & GLONASS (navigation accuracy), higher top speed, front camera as well as the image-recording camera on the gimbal below (to allow 2 operators; 1 to operate the camera the other to fly the drone – for high-end/high risk jobs). Disadvantages of the DJI Inspire 2: many thousands of dollars more for the whole setup in total, compared to the next cheapest DJI photography drone. Thousands more for the drone and the camera; plus the extra accessories, & the SSD required has to be at least 480GB – more expense. Greater size and weight (airline transport more difficult and more expensive). Unless you’re doing commercial work every day or nearly, or big screen movie-quality cinematography, a new Inspire 2 is virtually impossible to justify, from an economic point of view.  Especially for anyone working a long distance from capital cities, who must carry a back-up drone, thus doubling the outlay of extra thousands of dollars. The Inspire 2 will however greatly impress clients who see it and for some drone operators, that may be a factor for consideration!

11. Spray drones (the most common spray drones used for weed treatment in Australia):

  1. DJI (China) – DJI are the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer drones; the agricultural division has been added as an afterthought. There’s pros and cons of different brands – it’s best to compare all that are available.
  2. XAG (China) – a company that specialises in drones for agricultural/land management use. Recently there have been good reports from customers on the Australian-based service staff & parts warehouse located in Australia.
  3. Yamaha (Japan), RMAX – more like a chopper without a seat for a pilot, the RMAX is built like a tank, costs well over $100,000, requires extra training/licencing and it has to be hands-on flown by a remote pilot. (Rather than able to run a predetermined route autonomously, under the supervision of the drone pilot.)

Earlier drone companies didn’t realise agriculture was a potentially profitable industry so spray drones, such as DJI’s Agras, were developed long after consumer drones with cameras. Now there are a multitude of spray drone manufacturers, mostly based in China, but at present the above three are the most commonly used in Australia.

The Yamaha RMAX is a beast, looking like a small manned helicopter. And with a hefty price tag; $120,000+. Due to the RMAX’s size and cost it is not something commonly used at present or feasible for part-time work. Whereas the much smaller Agras and XAG spray drones cost less than $50,000 and while obtaining a licence to operate them is time consuming it is not too difficult for ordinary farm operators or regional drone spraying service businesses. Operators must have a Remote Pilot Licence and Operator’s Certificate (or operate under someone else’s OC); plus an APVMA permit (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority).

At present there are relatively few spray drone operators in Australia and next to no training is available within Australia or other countries. However the industry is slowly expanding, as the immense benefits of aerial precision weed spraying are realised.

11. Other drone manufacturers:

There are a plethora of other consumer drones on the market, making up the other 20-30% of the world’s consumer drone sales. These of course have pros & cons but some are a lot cheaper. Most drone manufacturers are based in China. One leading brand based outside China is Parrot – based in France, and some drones are made by Japanese companies. The main alternative brands & better-known models:

  • Autel – Evo. Autel is Chinese-owned but based in the US. They produce a range of Evo drones that are similar in size & specs to DJI’s Mavic Pro drones. The Evo II was created in late 2019 & available to the public in early 2020.
  • Parrot – Anafi. Parrot is a French company; France has traditionally been a world-leader in the aviation industry, right from the outset. However the consumer level Anafi drone was discontinued in 2019 & Parrot is now concentrating on industrial drones.
  • Yuneec – Typhoon H
  • Skydio – Skydio 2 (relatively new brand; popular due to to autonomous flight capabilities)
  • XDynamics – Evolve
  • Hubsan – Xino

I took this photo at the Drone World Congress in Shenzhen, China, in 2019. Shenzhen is world’s centre for drone development, with nearly 300 drone companies, and quite a few spray drone manufacturers. Large drone conferences are good places to look for alternative drone brands and models.

Other drones used for agricultural jobs:

  • Hexacopters, octocopters & fixed wing RPAS (including VTOL) – can fly in stronger winds, carry heavier payloads, fly longer/cover larger areas and have other sensors & equipment attached to them.  But they are bulkier, heavier, more complicated, cost a lot more and most require CASA licencing to legally operate.  As mentioned above, these are not drones for beginners.
  • Note also that additional licencing and approval is required to operate a spray drone of any kind.

Larger, more expensive drones usually have greater redundancy. EG they have dual IMUs and compasses, multiple batteries and motors. Flying near people, around buildings and beyond visual line of sight requires drones with maximum fail-safe measures built in. But drone hardware is relatively simple compared to software; hardware rarely fails. Drone software is incredibly complex and this is where problems most often occur.

As is the case for mobile phones, the specs of earlier model drones aren’t as good as the latest.  If you’re buying a drone for someone who is likely to crash it, then an earlier model or secondhand is the way to go.  Bearing in mind – like general aviation, current drones are sophisticated machines that only crash due to pilot error (including lack of planning & foresight) – with the exception of software or hardware failure (that is not due to mistreatment or lack of software or hardware maintenance).  Drone pilots should not rely on obstacle avoidance systems, for example.  These are topics that are covered in drone workshops.

Summary of which drone to buy, when you are weighing up priorities & options:

  • Firstly – I don’t recommend buying a ‘small drone just to start with, then upgrading’. Because: a) bigger drones such as the Phantoms & Mavics are just as easy to fly as smaller drones with GPS; & b) a small drone is just a waste of money, if small doesn’t really do what you want it to do.  If you’re not sure if you’ll like flying drones, I recommend attending a training workshop or heading out to fly a drone with a friend who owns one. Or buying a cheap secondhand drone or old model because if you buy well, you can usually sell a secondhand drone for not much less than you paid for it, if you want to upgrade or ditch drone flying altogether (as long as you don’t hang onto it for too long).
  • What you choose to buy boils down to budget and use. If you want good drone image quality & to be able to open the case & fly your drone with the minimum amount of fuss setting it up; something confidence building and with the best sub 2kg visibility – consider the latest model Phantom you can find secondhand (also best for catch-landing, which is an important factor for boaties and most users in rural environments).
  • If top consumer video & low light image quality is paramount – buy a Mavic 3. But due to ongoing glitches, I don’t recommend this model for beginners. It’s also a lot to spend if you aren’t sure whether you’ll like flying drones or not.
  • If low cost, ultra portability and reasonable image quality are your main concerns – buy a Mini 3.
  • If you just want the cheapest, smallest/lightest drone to fly indoors – buy a Tello.
  • If buying a drone for young children – you could buy a very small drone for less than two hundred dollars, such as a Ryze Tello.  The Parrot Mambo was an ideal drone for primary school age children to learn to fly because it is small and light but surprisingly tough, comes with prop guards for safety and doesn’t require complicated software updates or a licence to operate – but unfortunately it has been discontinued. (Also note; children flying drones  of any size should also be supervised, and wear protective glasses.  More advice for parents is included in the drone workshops I run.) These small drones are best flown indoors. Plus, there’s some fun but educational free-to-download software such as Tynker that kids can use to programme (code) the drone.  But these small drones are learning tools, suitable for indoor flying not for farm or station work.  The smaller & cheaper the drone the harder they tend to be to fly, but this is great training for kids.
  • Remember that whatever drone you buy, it’s likely to be superceded by a much better model within 12-18 months. Durability isn’t something you should need to consider; as for safety reasons, drones should be looked after, to ensure they don’t fall out of the sky or burn your house down.
  • Essential accessories should be factored into budget calculations (details of what drone accessories are vital and what are superfluous, are included in longer drone workshops).
  • Drones used as genuine tools with an authentic track record of helping to produce income can be claimed as a tax deduction (but do check with your accountant for details).
  • Also – check when the model you’re considering was created. If it’s more than 12 – 18months old it’s likely to be superceded (& discounted) soon.
  • Buying secondhand – checking the hardware is obvious, but battery life must be scrutinised carefully also. Frequently used batteries will have a reduced charging capacity. (Best-practice battery care – to keep their charge capacity up – is detailed in drone workshops. Along with vital drone battery safety information.)  As with all secondhand electronic equipment, drone gear is best purchased from people you know well, or from well-established professionals/business owners.  If you buy secondhand gear well and look after it, it can usually be resold within a few months for a similar price.
  • Do check the CASA website or with a fully licenced, well-respected training professional prior to purchasing, to ensure that what you want to do with your drone will be legal. (Not Facebook!) More information on safety laws towards the bottom of the post.
  • If you’re buying a drone for someone who can’t be trusted to follow (safety) rules or who doesn’t look after gear (which can render a drone unsafe), do the world a favour and do not buy them a drone at all.  Drones should not be treated like toys and left with children, unsupervised.  (More on drone safety & laws, below; as well as in workshops.)

DRONE OBSOLESCENCE:

It’s vital to be aware of the recency of the model you’re buying. When new drone models are released production ceases for the old models. If it is a common model, then accessories and batteries will be available for quite a while – but it is something to be aware of. Two-three years is a good lifespan for a drone. Bear this in mind when buying – the more expensive the drone you buy, and the more accessories, the more expensive it is to upgrade  every few years. Eventually new batteries do become hard to find.

Batteries are still readily available for the Mavic 2 Pro, Zoom and Enterprise because there are so many of them in use, and the Advanced Enterprise is a current model. Same goes for Phantom 4’s – the RTK model is still a current model, so batteries are still readily available.

Where to buy your drone, if buying new:

Today’s drones are like ducks swimming. They’re easy to fly – because there’s so much work going on out of sight. Drones will evolve in ways we can’t imagine but they’re already extremely sophisticated machines. Very complex software means much can go wrong and glitches aren’t uncommon, testing the patience of even the most dedicated of problem solvers.

If you’re buying a Mavic or Phantom drone or anything larger/more expensive, the benefits involved in buying from a good quality, local specialty retailer are really worth having.  Yes you may be able to get your drone out of the box and just fly it, but there’s a good chance that sooner or later you’ll have a headache that’s hard to solve on your own.

The sorts of services provided by good drone retailers – drone specialists who really know the market:

  • Reliable advice on what drone and accessories will best suit your specific purposes (the vast majority of drone retailers are clueless and some are unethical. I personally know several drone retailers who have told primary producers they can legally fly drones out of sight).
  • Set the drone up for you – download the latest software & ensure everything is functioning as it should (this really matters, because like all tech, some drones are lemons from the outset & if you’re new to drones, you won’t know what’s a machine problem & what’s operator error).
  • Hands-on introduction, at a low or no cost.
  • Provide basic advice on where to get information re laws and operation.
  • Give locally specific tips eg maximum or minimum operating temperature for your drone batteries, good spots to learn to fly.
  • Provide assistance with trouble-shooting.
  • Repair your machine or assess & send it away for you.
  • Help with warranty claims.

Bear in mind that very, very few people who are selling drones, actually know anything about them. They may sound entirely plausible – but ask them if they fly drones themselves (and if so, what model/s).

Buying drones overseas:

  • Unlikely to be covered by warranty in Australia, only in the country of purchase.
  • There are airfreight restrictions on lithium batteries, so freight could be an issue.
  • Starves local drone retailers of the profit they need to enable them to provide quality after-sales service (& local employment) & stock a wider range of drone, parts & accessories – you know those last minute items you need.

Please note: This drone buying summary was first written in November 2017, and last updated in May 2022.  The above information is kept as current as possible but drone specs and federal laws governing drone operation change frequently.  CASA’s website should be checked for current licencing and operating laws before flying or purchasing a drone.  If you are on my mailing list as a book buyer, or have attended one of my drone workshops, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any specific queries.

A Mavic 2 Pro on an improvised landing mat, at the 2019 Blackall Cultural Association 2 day drone workshop. Funded by the Blackall Shire Council and Regional Arts Development Funding (RADF).

Drone courses & workshops:

I run drone courses and workshops around Australia. When dates and details are confirmed, they are listed on the Next Events page.

If you found this post useful, you’ll really enjoy the drone workshops.  If you’d like to be notified if a drone training session is held in your area, send me a message.

Drone information blog posts

  • I’ve written a number of posts containing information I wish I could have found at the outset. The drone topics below are either not covered by anyone else at all, incompletely or inaccurately.
  • All the information in these posts is included in Rural Drone Academy training, to some degree, but with the addition of many other useful topics, entertaining examples, participant Q & A’s and networking.
  1. Rural Drone Academy workshops & training – want to lift your flying up to another level, solve some drone issues, or you need a hand to gets started? These workshops are useful for all skill levels, ages and backgrounds.
  2. Next workshops plus previous events – upcoming events you can attend. Previous events are also listed, which will give you an idea of the regions covered, themes and the diversity organisations hosting them.
  3. Comments from participants – forthright opinions from people who have attended drone sessions held in four states.
  4. The principles of drone safety & laws – essential reading for every drone pilot. Accompanied by impressive ‘fail’ stories, during Rural Drone Academy training.
  5. How to set up a drone business – how to steam ahead – use time, energy & money to maximum effect – and avoid pitfalls. Included in drone workshops in detail, if applicable to participant interests.
  6. What is the best drone to buy for a beginner?  Objective information to help you decide. The internet is full of drones that have hardly been flown because they didn’t suit the buyer’s purpose. Don’t join them!
  7. What is the best drone to buy? Comprehensive information on the most common consumer models to help drone pilots upgrading or seeking a drone for a specific task. (Information on this page.)
  8. Buy a drone now, or wait for the next model? Information on previous drone model releases.
  9. Is a Crystal Sky screen worth buying?  The pros and cons compared to using phones and tablets as screens, from an objective point of view.

If you are interested in attending Rural Drone Academy training don’t hesitate to contact me by email or ring the business-hours phone number listed below.

PLEASE NOTE: As applies to the rest of this website – the content on this page is protected by copyright.

Agricultural drone photography - irrigated rice, Riverina (NSW)

Agricultural drone photography – irrigated rice, Riverina (NSW)

Fiona Lake – qualifications & experience:

  • Chief Remote Pilot/Operators Certificate for RPAS (ReOC), Remote pilot licence (RePL), Aviation Radio Operator’s Certificate (AROC), and certified night UAV training.
  • 2021, Industry award for Education & Safety, from the largest drone organisation in Australia – AAUS.
  • 2020, invited to join two federal government National Emerging Aviation Technology working groups.
  • 2018, named as one of ten ‘Women to Watch in UAS (drones)’ globally, by Chicago-based Women and Drones.
  • Many drone flight hours in a wide range of agricultural environments, in every Australian state & territory.
  • To date I’ve owned and flown 10 different drones.
  • 30+ years of professional aerial photography experience.
  • I have undergone drone-related education/training at various locations between Victoria and Far North Queensland; as well overseas.
  • I’ve run drone presentations (hands-on training, workshops, masterclasses, panel sessions & keynote addresses) across Australia, from capital cities to remote regions – in every state except WA. To date, invited to present at drone conferences on 4 continents – and invited back.
  • By April 2019 there were just 33 fully licenced (RePL + ReOC) female drone pilots in Australia; and I’m one of them. There’s more women shearing sheep than licenced drone pilots. We need more role models, for the sake of healthy diversity.
  • The drone workshops I run are holistic; a healthy variety of useful information is discussed and entertaining stories are shared.

Interested in attending a drone pilot masterclass, to learn everything you need to know to fly safely, enjoyably and productively?  Or you’ve done a bit of flying and would like to get to the next level? Let me know via the contact form.

Fiona Lake and other invited speakers at the aerial agricultural spraying conference in Nanjing (China), 2019. Drone conferences are well worth attending, to learn from speakers and see the latest technology developments at the trade show.

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