- Great build quality
- Flying this thing was pretty awesome in open space
- Video quality is on par with early smart phones and not HD
- Battery life is only eight minutes with no additional batteries included
Most of us by now have probably heard of the term ‘drone’. Whether it’s the news letting us know about the most recent drone strikes in the Middle East, or even Casey Neistat opening yet another viral vlog video with some buttery smooth shots of the roofs of New York skyscrapers, it’s pretty much ingrained on our society.
But to tell you the truth, drones are expensive, and even something like a DJI Spark will probably set you back around 500 pounds. Not good for those wanting to get into drone photography/videography for the first time.
But good news! It doesn’t have to be an expensive venture, as the Recon Observation Drone from UK retailer Hawkin’s Bazaar only comes in at £50, and still features a camera and even a gyro stabiliser. Okay, the quality after testing is nowhere near what a Spark can pull off, as the Recon Observation Drone only films in standard definition 640 x 480, but it’s definitely still enough to scratch the itch of getting your pilot wings on.
So taking a look as the drone itself it comes across very simple. The whole thing is made from plastic, which at first glance feels a little cheap, but after you’ve crashed it a few times – and yes, you will crash it at first – proves that this thing is pretty tough. The blades get a little scratched up quite easily, but I never experienced anything snapping off or losing a blade. There are spares if you manage to break one.
Setup after checking out the instruction manual was a simple task. To sync your remote control, all it needs is for you to flick the left analogue stick forward and back. One beep later, you’re ready to fly, which is where the fun, or maybe the horror begins. Push the left analogue stick forward carefully, to save your drone shooting miles into the sky, and for you to do your initial stabilisation settings.
Make sure the done is hovering, and quickly tap the buttons at the side or under each analogue stick to get it level before flying around. It’ll save a lot of heart ache and anger if you do this stage. Flying the drone though is pretty simple and self explanatory, but it does take some time to get used to the controls. The left stick will controls how high and which way the drone faces, and the right controls the strafe and forward and back.
The dedicated photo and video buttons are again, self explanatory, with one press for start record and a second to stop. All footage is stored on the included microSD card. It comes supplied with a USB card reader to transfer the footage onto a PC. Now the biggest let down in the world with this drone is the quality of the footage. To be honest, it’s naff, and really compares to early camera phones. The resolution is tiny, and it;s filmed in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is very outdated. Pictures however are a little sharper, but with no way of actually moving the camera, you’re going to tend to catch the top of trees and the beginning of a skyline.
Also, don’t use this drone on a windy day. There are three speed modes designed to compensate for annoying gusts, but because the done is so light, it really isn’t able to handle wind. On a clear day though, this drone is really a dream to fly. Controls are responsive, and the 50 metre range gives you a good reach to fly around a large area.
Now it’s really hard to slate this drone, as it’s such a good price for the functionality. And the fact that it actually gets off the ground – we’ve tested some dire drones in the past – and flies around at a decent range, is quite an achievement. But, if you’re already a drone pilot and looking at ways to film your adventures, this isn’t it. Save your pennies and go for one of the cheaper high end models. But if you’re wanting to start a new hobby, or just curious about how drones work, then look no further. The Recon Observational Drone is a great choice. You can find more info on the Hawkin’s Bazaar website.