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FPV Beginners Buyers Guide

Updated: Mar 7

One of the most intimidating aspects of getting into cinematic FPV is knowing what gear to buy. The recent DJI FPV Drone has gotten a lot of new people interested in the hobby, but having flown it, there are better options available that are just about as easy to put together and get up in the air.


In this buying guide I'll simplify the process as much as possible and walk you through the process of putting a kit together to get you started. Some of the links in this post are referral links and using them will help support my creative endeavours, but all of the equipment I'm recommending are products I have purchased myself and use on a regular basis. So with that out of the way, let's get started.


There are two basic options I'm going to walk you through. A low-cost starter kit for people who just want to dip their toes in FPV drones (around a $129 investment) and a mid-range freestyle set up (around $1700) for people who know they're in this for the long haul and want a kit that they will continue to use as they progress as a pilot.



The $129 Kit

This $129 kit from BetaFPV is ridiculously good value. It includes a micro drone, remote and goggles for less than the cost of a DJI FPV battery. A huge perk of this package is that you can use the remote in most simulators (more on those later), which means you can practice flying bigger freestyle quads while you're waiting for batteries to charge on this thing in the real world.


I would highly recommend picking up the 8pcs Battery package (you should be able to bundle it with the purchase) as well as an extra 65mm Micro Whoop Frame in case you have a bad crash and need to do some repairs (oh yeah, repairs are going to be a big part of your life moving forward).


The quadcopter itself is extremely resilient. I've been letting friends try mine out in an attempt to get more people around me into FPV and so far it's held up to a lot of pretty bad crashes. The batteries are easy to charge and last for a few minutes. The goggles are an analog feed, which is pretty brutal compared to the DJI digital feed you'll get, but it's more than good enough for just flying around your house.


I'd recommend this quad to people even if they're also planning to go with the more expensive package because it's fun to fly around indoors with it and it means if the weather is crap you can still get some practice in. And if you get bored of it you can give it to a friend to start their learning journey with.


One thing to remember when this drone arrives is to go straight into flying in full manual or acro mode. This drone has a self-levelling mode that will keep you from flipping upside down, but we want to be able to go upside down, that's why we're flying these things, and it takes a lot longer to learn if you have to unlearn the safe way of flying. I can't stress enough how much faster you'll learn acro mode if you start that way from scratch!



The Big Guns


When it comes to Freestyle Quads for Cinematic FPV, there are basically three categories: Cinewhoops, 5" Freestyle, and Cine Lifters. My personal recommendation is to start with a 5" freestyle drone, because it's right in the Goldilocks Zone of FPV quads. If you can fly a 5" freestyle drone well, you'll have no trouble with a tiny whoop or 3" cinewhoop, and you probably wouldn't have a hard time adjusting to a bigger cine-lifter like the Shendrones Thicc...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.


A lot of OG FPV pilots will tell you that building from scratch is a mandatory requirement for getting into the hobby. I personally disagree, but their reasoning is that you're going to crash -- a lot -- and rebuilding is something you're going to have to get used to. While it's true that you are going to crash and you will definitely have some rebuilding in your future, my experience was that it was a lot easier to do repairs on a quad that was built and tuned well in the first place, than something that I hacked together myself as someone new to the hobby. Besides, we want to get good at filming with these things, not rebuilding them!


My first 5" quad, which is the same one I'll be linking below, was built for me by a friend (before there was a Bind 'n Fly option), and I beat the living daylights out of it before one of the carbon fibre arms finally gave out and snapped. When it finally came time to do my first repair, I just took a lot of photos of how everything was put together as I took it apart, ordered the repair arm for a few bucks, and had no trouble putting it all back together again. As you dive deeper into the hobby, you're naturally going to want to customize your quad so it flies how you want it to, but as a beginner it's absolutely impossible to know what components to buy.


Option 1: 5" Freestyle Bind n Fly


For that reason, I highly recommend the TITAN DC5 BNF w/ DJI Digital HD FPV System from iFlight. This is the quad I first learned on, which I still have and fly regularly. While my main quad is a custom-built Armattan Marmotte, I don't recommend the Marmotte to beginners because the components inside are a lot more crammed together, making repairs pretty tricky for beginners. The Titan is super easy to take apart and put back together, is very durable, and spare parts are relatively inexpensive. The link above will get you a quadcopter that is already built, tuned and paired with the DJI Equipment it comes with.


So if you've clicked the link above, here are the options I recommend checking off:

- Type: Mode 2 (Left Stick Throttle)

- Power Version: 6S Version

- Under Replacement Parts:

- Select "Nazgul 5140 Propeller x 3 sets/6 pairs" (propellers are the number 1 thing you're gonna get really good at replacing. You can't have too many. Make note of the 5140 number as that refers to the specific size and pitch of the props for this drone...You'll be ordering more.

- Select "TITAN DC5 Rear Boomerang Arm x 1pc" (This isn't mandatory, but I highly recommend ordering this now so you're not sitting around waiting for it to show up when it does eventually break.)

- Select "Titan DC5 Front Boomerang Arm x 1pc" (Again, not mandatory, but I'd recommend it.)

- Under Choose Options:

- Select "FULLSEND 4S 1300 mAh 120C LiPo Battery - XT60 x 1pc" this will be the battery you use for powering your DJI Goggles.

- Select "FULLSEND 6S 1300 mAh 120C LiPo Battery - XT60 x 1pc" this will be the battery you use for powering the drone. We'll talk more about batteries below.

- Select a "TPU Adjustable GoPro Mount" based on the model of GoPro you plan to fly on your quad.


The total for all of this should come to just under $1400. Hit Add To Cart but don't check out just yet, we still have some more stuff to add! If iFlight is sold out of these DJI components, you can click here to buy the Goggles and here to buy the DJI Remote Controller - Mode 2 direct from DJI. At the time of writing, the prices are the same via DJI and iFlight ($569 for the v2 goggles and $299 for the remote).


You're definitely going to want more than one battery for your drone. I'd actually recommend 4-5, which gets you around 25-30 minutes of flying with a 6S quad. You can definitely get more, but when I was first starting out, 4-5 was plenty for a session. For the sake of keeping things simple and having everything arrive together, I recommend adding 3-4 of this battery to your cart.


Some other extras to consider adding are: - Even more propellers

- ND Filters for your GoPro


All that should come to around $1500 total. At this point you can now check out with the iFlight cart. We're close, but not totally done!


The last thing you're going to need is a LiPo battery charger. You can definitely just go to your local hobby store and see if they've got anything, or you can order this one that I use and highly recommend, the Venom ProDuo Charger. It can charge 2 batteries at a time, although you will need to buy this extra XT60 cable, at least I did when I got mine. If it now comes with 2, please let me know so I can update this!



Option 2: CineWhoop


While I do recommend going with a 5" freestyle quad for your first real FPV drone, I can understand why people would look at those exposed propellers and imagine what their face would look like as a bowl of spaghetti. If you'd rather play it safe and get a ducted quadcopter, or cinewhoop, then my current recommendation is the ProTek35 HD CineWhoop w/ DJI Air Unit - BNF.


CineWhoops are not as powerful or fun to fly as a 5" Freestyle quad, as they're less powerful, slower and safer, but there is still a place for them in the world of cinematic FPV. The ProTek35 is one of the best CineWhoops available right now and the BNF one means that it will show up built, tuned, paired with your DJI equipment and ready to fly.


If you clicked the above link, here are the options you'll want to select if you go with the ProTek35:

- Receiver Option: "No additional Receiver, I use the DJI FPV Radio"

- Propeller Guard Color: You decide!

- Power Version: 4S Version

- Choose Options:

- Select "DJI Remote Controller - Mode 2 (Left Stick Throttle)"

- Select "FULLSEND 4S 1300 mAh 120C LiPo Battery - XT60 1pc"

- Select a "TPU Adjustable GoPro Mount" based on the model of GoPro you plan to fly on your quad.

- Select a "ND16 Lens Filter" based on the model of GoPro you plan to fly on your quad.

- Select "Type C to 5V Balance Plug Power Cable x 1pc" which will allow you to power your GoPro off the balance lead of your quad's battery and save the weight of the GoPro battery, especially if you're planning to fly a Hero 9!

- Under Replacement Parts:

- Select "Nazgul 3535 Propeller x 3 sets/6 pairs" Make note of the 3535 number as that refers to the specific size and pitch of the props for this drone...You'll be ordering more later!

- Select "Prop Guard" in the colour(s) of your choice so you're not waiting around for a replacement if you have a bad crash and need to replace the one it came with.


The total for all of this should come to just under $800. Hit Add To Cart but don't check out just yet, we still have some more stuff to add!


The ProTek35 Package doesn't come with a set of Goggles, so click here to add the V2 DJI Goggles to your cart. You're definitely going to want more than one battery for your drone. I'd actually recommend 4-5, which gets you around 15-20 minutes of flying with a 4S quad. You can definitely get more, but when I was first starting out, 4-5 was plenty for a session. For the sake of keeping things simple and having everything arrive together, I recommend adding 3-4 more of this battery to your cart.


All that should come to just under $1500 total. At this point you can now check out with the iFlight cart. We're close, but not totally done!


If iFlight is sold out of the DJI Goggles or Remote, you can click here to buy the Goggles and here to buy the DJI Remote Controller - Mode 2 direct from DJI. At the time of writing, the prices are the same via DJI and iFlight ($569 for the v2 goggles and $299 for the remote).


The last thing you're going to need is a LiPo battery charger. You can definitely just go to your local hobby store and see if they've got anything, or you can order this one that I use and highly recommend, the Venom ProDuo Charger. It can charge 2 batteries at a time, although you will need to buy this extra XT60 cable, at least I did when I got mine. If it now comes with 2, please let me know so I can update this!



Wrapping it all up


So that's it! When all this arrives you'll have everything you need to start flying. But that doesn't mean you should right away! I would highly recommend spending at least 20-30 hours in the simulator before you try and fly in the real world (I know that sounds like a lot, but it's fun and it'll fly by!). I personally use LiftOff and DRL Sim, which are available on both Mac and PC through Steam. You can connect your DJI FPV Remote via USB-C and get a feel for how the drones handle with the same remote you use to fly. In the simulator, I would practice things like landing, flying through small openings, orbiting around objects, and flying low to the ground, and ALWAYS in ACRO mode. Don't even bother with Level or Horizon, and stay away from 3D for now (3D allows you to reverse the direction of your motors mid-flight so you can flip upside down and then throttle upward...it's infinitely more complicated than ACRO and not at all necessary for cinematic FPV).


When you're comfortable with those basics in Acro mode on the Simulator find a big, EMPTY football field or baseball diamond for your first flight in real life. If you can, try to connect with some local FPV pilots so you can glean vital knowledge off them in real time! If you're in the GTA, feel free to reach out to me and maybe we can go fly together.


Lastly, if you want to continue learning about FPV stuff from someone who has basically dedicated their life to teaching it, check out Joshua Bardwell on YouTube. He has videos explaining how to build and repair, how different flight modes work, how to charge and care for your batteries, and probably has an answer for every question you could possibly have.


If you have any questions about any of the above, feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram, I'm @cbenfey.


Happy flying!

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