Dronelife’s 2018 Drone Pilot Christmas Gift List

- Malek Murison | DroneLife

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out if your drone is registered with the relevant authorities. That’s right folks, Christmas is right around the corner and Santa Claus is coming to town.

Which means that it’s time to think about buying some drone-related gifts for yourself or that special drone pilot in your life.

Here’s a list of Christmas suggestions from us. We’ve got everything covered, from drone-related stocking fillers to big gift ideas.

Stocking Fillers

Looking for a small, drone-related gift to fill a stocking or delight a distant relative?

Your best bet is to keep it practical and go for a useful accessory. You’re looking for the drone-related gift equivalent of socks on Christmas day: dull but entirely necessary.

The most obvious thing to go for is a spare battery. No matter which aircraft the drone pilot in your life is flying, there are going to be times when the realities of physics and aviation bring their drone session to a premature end. The majority of popular models on the market have flight times between 15 and 30 minutes. So you can see why a spare battery or two would be useful.

Next up is something you can’t even wrap: a software subscription. Plenty of drone pilots use stock applications from manufacturers to edit their footage and spruce up videos for social media and sharing. But a growing number are getting to grips with more sophisticated software, such as Adobe’s Premiere Pro or Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

Providing you have a computer that can handle the workload, these software packages help pilots add a professional touch when editing videos by mixing together different shots, mastering coloring and tweaking other camera settings in retrospect.

Neutral Density Filters are another great drone pilot stocking filler. They are available for most high-end drones, either directly from manufacturers and from third-party photography companies.

Think of them as a little pair of sunglasses. They come in various shades to limit the amount of light the drone’s lens is exposed to. The result is that the pilot has more creative potential during flight and post-production. With an ND Filter in place, you can slow down the shutter speed and capture shots that emphasize motion: water, clouds, traffic, that kind of thing.

Or you can increase the aperture in bright conditions without overexposing your shots completely. Which is ideal for shooting snowy scenes or at the height of summer.

Just make sure the ND Filters you choose fit the drone model you have in mind.

For more stocking filler ideas you can go through the whole range of potential drone accessories. You can find a range of backpacks and cases that have been tailor-made for using with drones and keeping all of your aerial photography gear safe while you’re on the go.

Over the past few months we’ve been testing the Manfrotto Aviator Hover 25, a rugged backpack with plenty of space to carry your drone, spare batteries and other accessories.

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It has dedicated pockets for the DJI Mavic & OSMO. Both can be accessed quickly without needing to put the bag down.

There’s plenty of nice touches that show the designers have kept delicate equipment in mind: An insulated pouch that protects batteries, along with loads of neatly packed compartments to keeps items from slipping and hold your gear steady.

There’s also a dedicated compartment for an iPad, tablet or small laptop.

For longer-term storage or packing while you’re driving or taking a flight, there are plenty of options out there. GPC (Go Professional Cases) have a bunch that are worth looking at – each is designed to fit a specific model.

Our final stocking fillers for drone pilots are the little touches that can make flights safer and more creative. The first is a landing pad. These give a drone somewhere to land and take off from. You’d be surprised how useful a rolled up piece of plastic with discernible design can be.

First of all, taking off and landing when the ground is wet, muddy, snowy or some combination of all three is bound to damage the moving parts of your drone in the long run.

And, for more advanced models, a landing pad provides the drone with a recognizable point that allows computer vision systems to return to home with greater accuracy. This is particularly helpful if the terrain is uniform – the system can’t tell patches and snow and grass apart from each other, for example.

Finally, we have lights. Most drones come with lights built in, but they aren’t necessarily versatile enough to be an extra creative element or bright enough to meet the regulations regarding night flights. Earlier this year we took LumeCube’s drone lighting rig for a spin.

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They have different rigs available depending on which drone you fly. The lights connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth so you can adjust them during flight to illuminate scenes from above, add a strobe effect and more.

New to Drones?

Christmas is famously the time of year when a new intake of pilots is introduced to the hobby. These usually range from photographers who want to take their skills to the sky to RC enthusiasts ready to start FPV racing and everything in between.

Either way, there are a few drones that we’d classify as entry-level and perfect for beginners.

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