So, you’ve seen some cool FPV videos on YouTube and Instagram, and now you’re looking to  buy your first FPV drone. Maybe you’ve spent hours on some Chinese websites and you seem to have gotten nowhere. Well, to get into FPV, first  you need to understand a little bit of the FPV world and what skills are necessary.

1. FPV is a niche hobby

This hobby is about building crazy stuff, experimenting, hanging out with friends and having a lot of fun. It’s an amazing world where you can learn a lot of complex stuff. Because of its experimental nature, the industry is an open market with a huge variety of components and products from different Chinese manufacturers, albeit with some standardization. This kind of market is like a primordial soup for new technology. Indeed, every FPV drone is an assembly of different components, usually from different manufacturers. Maybe one day DJI will go to market with an easy plug-and-play FPV drone, but at the moment it’s all about mixing different parts.

In short, to get an FPV drone you have two options:

  • 1. Buy a ready-to-fly FPV drone from some good Chinese manufacturers
  • 2. Build your drone own using common components used by the hobby community

The first choice is easy, but some electronics and soldering skills can be helpful regardless, especially if you have to fix your drone. The second option is more advanced but gives you the chance to more deeply understand how a drone is made and to build one perfectly tailored to your needs.

2. There are three main FPV categories

These categories are:

  • Racing
  • Freestyle
  • Cinematic

You can think about racing as the Formula 1 or Moto GP of drones. In racing, technology and piloting skills are pushed to the limits. The result is that many of the best electronic components and advancements come from this category.

Freestyle is about lifestyle, hanging out with friends and playing with the environment by doing cool tricks and interesting maneuvers.

While racing and freestyle are more in the hobby world, cinematic is a bit on the edge. In the cinematic world, FPV drones are just tools used to achieve astonishing new perspectives. You don’t need to fly really fast and you don’t need to do complex tricks. Instead, cinematic FPV is about precision and control.

3. The importance of electronics skills

FPV soldering

There are high-quality pre-built drones in this industry, but having some soldering skills will save you money.

If you are a novice, you will crash a lot and you will have to fix your drone several times.

Most of the components are easy to change, but sometimes you will have to replace more complex parts. However, don’t worry, soldering wires is quite simple on these drones and you can achieve good results with some cheap solder from Amazon.

4. Video production skills are essential

Cinematic FPV is all about video, and if you are a filmmaker you already know how to create amazing cuts with your footage. There are a couple of things you need to pay attention to, namely exposure and stabilization.

Exposure
Most action cameras are made to be as easy to use as possible, with all kinds of automatic settings. If you want solid cinematic footage, you need to use manual settings and ND filters. Fixing the shutter speed and ISO allows you to control the motion blur and lock exposure for better shots.

Stabilization
In Freestyle stabilization is considered cheating, but in Cinematic it’s obligatory. Stabilization is not for correcting your flying mistakes but rather to polish your footage.

There are two types of stabilization:

  • In-camera with hypersmooth: This is the fastest way to achieve smooth footage, but you need to fly well to avoid digital artifacts.
  • Post-stabilization with ReelSteady: Post-processing stabilization apps are great because you can fine-tune your footage to your specifications. ReelSteady is a great tool, but you will also need a GoPro Hero 6 and some care when mounting the camera to your drone.

This article wants to gives you a general view of what is FPV. Follow FilmFPV if you want to learn more about FPV. If you have any comments or feedback drop some lines in the form below.

Stefano Rinaldo

Stefano Rinaldo

Hi, my name is Stefano Rinaldo and I live in a small town among the Dolomites. I started my journey in the drone industry about 8 years ago as a videomaker and aerial cinematographer in a company specialized in multirotor and RC stuff. Two years ago I dived in the incredible world of FPV. After months of trial and error, I figured out how hard it is. This is why I started FilmFPV to make FPV more easy and accessible for filmmakers, content creators, and drone pilots.

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