I recently tried out a low-budget camera drone to capture some of the spectacular scenery around the legendary Aitutaki Lagoon in the Cook Islands — reputedly the world’s most beautiful lagoon.

If you’re in the mood for an exotic tropical island, just sit back and click ‘play’ on my Aitutaki: a Tour by Drone playlist on YouTube and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the ultimate Polynesian paradise, with beautiful views of this unique coral atoll, set to indigenous island music. Enjoy!

My concise review of the Hubsan H501 camera drone I used to capture this Aitutaki footage

I acquired a Hubsan X4 H501S camera drone through JYZ Drone on Amazon. This is an excellent entry-level camera drone, with no gimbal, which I highly recommend it to anyone considering trying out or learning to fly their first camera drone. There are pros and cons to having no gimbal; personally, I kinda like the real–life style of no-gimbal footage, and the simplicity and freedom of flying without a gimbal. I also like the fact that the H501S is ready to fly immediately fresh out-of-the-box, with the convenience of an LCD screen built into the controller, 20 minutes of flight time on one battery which is difficult to beat even with high-end camera drones, plus the batteries and spares are a fraction of the cost of any big brand alternatives. If you want highly stable, professional quality video, consider the Hubsan Zino, but I strongly recommend starting with the H501S — not least because you will probably want to test the limits and take risks, it’s part of the fun, and you’ll crash it several times. You could buy multiple H501S drones for the price of one pro class DJI model! Hubsan has a range of other economical drones, such as the Zino Pro Plus.

If you have any questions about buying, flying or troubleshooting your drone, feel free to contact me. I wrote a quick-start cheat-sheet of all H501S controls, and have developed life-hacks to tackle common operational issues — such as recovering corrupted MP4 video files from any drone’s SD card (using VLC Player’s convert/stream feature) e.g. as usually occurs in the event of a premature power-off while recording is in progress.

If I had to choose the ultimate camera drone available right now, or at least my favourite, it would be the DJI Mini Pro 3.

From the archive: this blog post was imported from the old version of this website, and is archived in the Internet Archive, here.

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