Drones might not be delivering your mail and walking the dog quite yet, but they are rapidly becoming a fixture of everyday life. If you have been thinking about earning your pilot’s wings, it’s a great time to shop for that first drone. They are getting more powerful, seemingly by the day, easily capturing video and photos of outdoor activities, action sports, family gatherings, and any event that can be enhanced by having a cinematic, bird’s-eye view. Here are a few things to think about before launching your maiden flight.

Some drones seem almost miniature but are still able to capture high-definition photographs and videos from incredible elevations. DJI

Drones have become so miniaturized in recent years that it almost doesn’t make sense to buy anything but one of the most compact models. Features crammed into these flying marvels include high-resolution gimballed cameras, HD video, long flight time, and super lightweight design. But all that technology comes with a price; the smaller and more powerful the drone, the more you will pay at checkout. Assess your anticipated usage to make sure buying a mini drone is worth the extra dough.

If your job requires you produce images or videos of real estate or other large-scale offerings, a drone can help you gather incredible footage for promotions. SNAPTAIN

A professional videographer has different needs than a kid playing in the backyard, therefore drones are designed and marketed to meet a wide spectrum of demand among users with varying skill levels. If you are a newbie, look for a user-friendly drone featuring one-key take-off, return, and landing. Voice command functions and gravity-control mode (which allows a pilot or steer the drone with a tilt of their smartphone), are also nice features for the aspiring drone jockey.

Before you buy, make sure the camera resolution is high enough to suit your needs. Holy Stone

Drone-camera resolution ranges from the low end of 720P through 1080HD and right on up to the new gold standard of 4K. The best drone cameras are gimballed, offering even greater image stabilization, but that is a feature for which you will pay a premium. Drones with a “follow-me” mode allow you to get great hands-free footage while paddling, running, skiing, and biking, or engaging in any activity that covers ground quickly.