A week ago my Hubsan H501S fell into the ocean. And when I say fell... I flew into someone's fishing line... and then it fell into the ocean...
I was devastated. It took a bit of saving and convincing my wife to get that little drone. And I thought my drone days were over for at least a few months while I save up again.
But then something magical happened... I realised I still hadn't sold my old speakers. Enter a decent cash injection...
I then went on my usual obsessive online rampage, looking for the cheapest possible thing to do what I wanted to do, without buying complete rubbish. And I found this: The Tovsto Aegean SE
A basic dual GPS drone (not even the Phantom 3 Standard has dual GPS) with a proprietary camera and 2 axis gimbal and a 5.8Ghz transmitter, but no FPV screen. The controller is also very nice. It also has no telemetry, so you have no feedback on location, distance, height etc. And range is quite good, with a minor mod.
The video footage was not on par with DJI but it was quite decent and that gimbal works like a charm. And for the current pricing on Tomtop.com with free expedited shipping, it was a steal at $329.
The comparative competitors are the Hubsan H109S which you can get for as little as $299 on a good day, the Phantom 3 Standard and the XK X380.
The Hubsan is a decent quality Hobby/Photo drone with an okay camera, but only a dampened motorised camera holder - not a stabilised gimbal. And it has a great built in FPV system and the fairly solid and large support base online. This has been my favourite for a while.
The Phantom 3 Standard is just a solid all round package and can be improved with various mods, but it generally comes in at about $599 - $699... which in this price range is a bit steep.
The X380 can go for about $250 but it's a bare bones system. No FPV, no gimbal, just the drone, controller and GPS capabilities. It's really for the uber hobbyist.
Compared to those three, the Tovsto Aegean SE has an okay camera, a very good 2 axis gimbal, a simple and rugged setup with a surprisingly good GPS system and the ability to go "under the hood" with your computer and change all sorts of settings. The GPS gives you Return To Home and the failsafes that go along with that. It also has a low battery alarm. The biggest downside is the lack of FPV and telemetry. But if you have a compatible Android phone, this new product fro Eachines will fix the FPV problem easily (they have an app to check if your phone is compatible): https://www.banggood.com/Eachine-ROTG01-UVC-OTG-5_8G-150CH-Full-Channel-FPV-Receiver-For-Android-Mobile-Phone-Smartphone-p-1147692.html?rmmds=buy
The drone also supports 3rd party gimbals and cameras, so you can also upgrade as you go along.
Oh, the flight time is not brilliant, but you can use cheaper generic batteries to fix that, since the battery bay is huge.
So... overall... the Tovsto looks very good indeed.
Is telemetry really that important?
I believe FPV is very important for aerial photos, so I am not sure why they didn't at least include a basic screen. But I don't believe telemtry is all that important given the Tovsto's battery warning and RTH failsafe. If you're hobby drone pilot you're restricted to line of sight anyway.
In summary, if you're using Android and your phone is compatible with the Eachine gadget OR you already have an FPV system, then this gives you an excellent starting point. A better camera and gimbal, telemetry and better range can all be modded over time.
But I said I almost bought it. That's because I bought Phantom 3 Standard on an insane deal at Tomtop... here's the link: https://www.tomtop.com/dji-multicopter-1111/p-rm4231eu.html?aid=F9&utm_source=shareasale