Many of my customers are interested in flying FPV to film and take pictures, and it’s becoming pretty common to hear of photographers or cinematographers that want to start flying FPV to include those kinds of shots in their work.
They come to me asking, What do I need to start flying FPV, and I’m creating this video in some kind of FAQ fashion to answer that question.
This is the list of what I will recommend anyone that comes with that question:
.-A good radio
.-Batteries for the radio
.-Batteries for the goggles
.-A digital drone (probably with prop guards or ducts)
.-Batteries for the drone
.-An Action Camera
.-A battery charger
The radio is one of the most important pieces because it’s probably the one, together with the goggles, that you will change less often.
These days you find many multiprotocol radios, like the TX16S (B_ROLL TX16S) or the Jumper T-lite, which are great because they have the flexibility to support different radio protocols. There’s another great radio, the TBS Tango2, if you like the playstation format, and you are planning to run crossfire.
Whichever you decide to get, you want flexibility, the possibility to use with a simulator, and the possibility to attach external modules to add support for other radio protocols.
Access and time in the simulator is super important as a newcomer to this hobby. The learning curve to be able to fly is quite steep, and the more time dedicated in the simulator with a real radio, preferable the one you will be using to fly your drones the better.
When you have selected a radio, don’t forget to add the right batteries. The Tango 2 has batteries included, but neither the radiomaster or the jumper comes with batteries.
In my case I’m recommending the Radiomaster TX16S, it’s a good quality for the money, it has an internal multiprotocol module, and space for an external module as well.
Googles are also normally a part that is expensive and you normally can buy one pair and use that for most of your quads. The radio and the goggles are where I think you have to be more careful when it comes to the initial investment.
There are two types of video signal for FPV, analog and digital, with digital providing the best image quality and the best flying experience, especially if you are into filming and photography.
As late 2021 the DJI goggles are the best option when it comes to digital system, and they provide the best image quality, and the V2 version, which is the one available in the market, comes with batteries included in the package
There are many drones in the market, and recommending only one it’s a very difficult task, but generalising quite some I have found 2 types of people looking trying to get into FPV for filming: the people that wants to film indoors and very carefully fly around objects, and the people that cares more about speed and ability to chase objects, with the first type the majority.
For those one looking to film indoors, around objects or people, think about real estate videos, I tend to recommend the GEPRC cinelog25, which is a great sub 250 drone, with an excellent tuning out of the box, and it has prop guards that will help you bumping into things without breaking those things or your drone.
In the same category as the Cinelog25, which is called cinewhoop, there are many other competitors, many of them very worthy, but I have tested many small cinewhoops and I always end up gravitating towards the Cinelog25 when I want to do one of those shots.
If you are more into chasing moving objects, you need a faster bigger propeller drone, like a nazgul or a mark4, but remember if you are starting in the hobby, a faster, bigger drone, may also be a bit more challenging to control, than a smaller drone with prop guards.
The drone needs batteries, and normally I recommend a minimum of 3 to 5. Each battery will give you around 5 minutes of flying time, and if you are doing a job, you most probably need more batteries.
THE ACTION CAMERA
If you are into filming, you will need a good camera to actually capture those moments you want to show up. For that you will need a camera. Drones are small and they can’t lift any camera, specially when you go into a sub 250 gr drone like the cinelog you need a very light weight camera, and here is where a naked GoPro comes into play. A naked GoPro is a stripped down version of a GoPro, normally a GoPro 6, 8 or 9 (and maybe even 10 now) that is removed from many parts to reduce weight. It looks something like this:
One of this cameras will allow you to still capture your clips with the same quality as a regular GoPro without all the weight.
If you want to use a regular GoPro, you will need a bigger and more powerful drone, and again, there are many options here, but the important part to know here is that if you have chosen a small drone like the Cinelog25 you need a Naked GoPro and those one you either have to created yourself, I have a video on how to do that, or you would need to buy one from GEPRC.
There are other action cameras offering even 4K, but up until now the GoPro is the best in terms of quality.
THE BATTERY CHARGER
Forgotten by many during an initial research into FPV, the charger is also an important part of the equation, and also one of those things that if you buy the right one form the start, you may not have to think again about it in many years.
What you want out of your charger is that it can charge the size of the batteries you have, it gives you information about the health of your battery, and that it won’t slow you down too much.
Charging a battery takes between 25-45 min, reason why investing in a dual channel charger, which means that it can charge two batteries at the same time, is not a bad idea.
There are chargers with 4 ports/channels, but the price is normally a bit high to be your first charger.
Together with the charger you may need an XT adapter, and this is because most of the chargers come with an XT60 connector, while batteries for example to the Cinelog25 are XT30, and you will need a small adapter to make these two work together.
There are some other things to mention here like chargers that can act as a power supply, very useful to work on your bench and troubleshoot your drone, and parallel boards, which allows you to charge many batteries at the same time. I’m not a big fan of parallel boards because they have an associated risk as well, and I don’t think the risk is worth it.
THE RADIO PROTOCOL
If you have followed my videos, or have looked into the shop, you will see I’m a big fan of crossfire.
Crossfire is a very stable and well established radio protocol, with huge support from the community which allows you to almost completely forget about the radio connection when you are flying, because it gives you range and penetration, making sure that you can fly in almost any environment that your video signal reaches your googles.
Yes, there are many other protocols doing the same, ghost, ELRS and tracer to name some, but when you are buying a bind and fly drone you only get the option of DJI protocol, FrSky, or crossfire. We are starting to see ELRS more commonly with some manufacturers, and I’m sure that pretty soon we won’t see FrSky anymore and we will see ELRS more, but today you either buy the drone without a receiver, or DJI, or FrSky or Crossfire, and from all those I’m choosing Crossfire with my eyes closed, no question asked.
I have many guides I’ve created for my customers to help them through this initial journey, and if you are in the same case I’ll be more than happy to help you too, just reach out to me and we will talk about it and find what’s best for you.
Until then, thank you for watching and see you soon!
A video version of this blog entry is found here: