Skip to Content

What Is an FPV Drone? (Explained for Beginners)

If you’re interested in FPV drones, I commend you as you’re about to enter an entirely new world of wonders.

But before you fly, let’s cover the basics. What are FPV drones?

A first-person view or FPV drone offers low-latency live transmission to the pilot, usually received by an FPV headset (goggles). FPV drones may often be flown in manual or acro mode for an immersive experience.

This guide will provide more information and insights into FPV drones, so don’t miss it!

Best Drone Courses for Beginners (Part 107 & More)

To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.

See Course List Editor's Choice
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

What is an FPV drone?

While a standard drone transmits live images to the pilot and has a latency of over 200 milliseconds, FPV drones have a low-latency transmission of a few milliseconds. 

This opens the door to new possibilities with quick reactions and a high level of detail seen through the goggles. You can fly FPV drones with elevated accuracy like no other.

FPV drones are used for freestyling, racing, and creating unique cinematic content.

An FPV drone can be flown as a standard drone, but the idea behind FPV is to fly in manual or acro mode, where all the leveling sensors are disabled, and you’ll completely control the drone.

How do FPV drones fly?

What Is an FPV Drone? (Explained for Beginners)

Flying first-person does not mean utilizing a different flight style than standard drones – this is a common confusion.

You can fly a drone in normal mode and with FPV goggles. It’s not the same as flying in acro, but it’s a safer way to enjoy the view.

What’s also common is flying drones in acro mode (manual), which requires an FPV headset.

Without FPV goggles, you won’t be able to spot details and have accurate reactions while watching on a drone screen.

FPV drones flying in acro mode operate differently than standard drones. You’re in charge, as you won’t have a stabilizer, gyroscope, or active sensors.

Is it hard to fly an FPV drone?

FPV drones are tough for beginners. This is an entirely new skill you will have to learn. 

Training in an FPV simulator will help you understand the essential controls of an FPV drone.

Flying an FPV drone becomes easier as time passes and you get the hang of it. You will develop several abilities, such as keen attention to detail and sharp reactions.

I recommend simulators such as Liftoff or VelociDrone.

FPV.SkyDive is a great free sim.

» MORE: 9 Best Drone Flight Simulators (FPV and Commercial)

Are FPV remote controllers different from standard drone controllers?

Standard drones have a video module (such as the DJI Air O3) to transmit live images to a screen and receive radio input.

FPV drones usually have a video module (like Caddx Vista) that transmits live images to the goggles. Still, a different radio module will receive a signal from the radio controller.

That’s one reason FPV remote controllers are massive, bulky, and have many triggers and buttons. 

Other functions can be bound to the remote controller, such as arming the drone, activating turtle mode, micro-adjusting the gear, and displaying information on a screen.

One another difference between a standard and FPV remote controller is that FPV will not have any throttle spring tension.

This means the throttle stick will never be centered automatically and must be adjusted continuously to keep the drone in the air and fly at different speeds.

What are FPV goggles, and how many types are there?

FPV goggles are headsets with internal components and a screen or two (one for each eye) that display the live transmission from the drone’s camera and on-screen display information.

You will see precisely what the drone sees.

There are two primary types of FPV goggles: analog and digital.

Analog FPV goggles

Analog goggles receive an analog transmission from your FPV drone.

The analog transmission advantage is that the latency is the lowest possible (the video is not compressed), and they are much cheaper than digital.

Moreover, an analog camera and components are very cheap, and an analog FPV drone is usually half the price of a digital one.

A disadvantage of analog transmission is that the resolution is very low, similar to an old 1990s TV (usually, the resolution is 800×480).

The quality of the image is also terrible, and the range is much lower than digital.

Digital FPV goggles

Digital transmission has been on the market for only a few years.

They are more expensive goggles, but the image resolution is higher, the quality is fantastic, and the range of a DJI VTX module is astonishing.

The disadvantages of digital transmissions are the price (usually the cost of an entire budget FPV analog drone) and higher latency than analog.

The most known digital FPV goggles on the market are DJI FPV Goggles V2, DJI Goggles 2, and DJI Integra.

As digital transmission advanced in recent years, including lower latency, more pilots started switching to digital.

The only reasons to use analog are lower prices and for racing, where you need the latency to be as low as possible.

» MORE: DJI Goggles 2 vs DJI FPV Goggles V2 (Explained)

Is it risky to fly an FPV drone?

Flying an FPV drone is generally riskier than a standard drone.

A standard GPS drone typically benefits from gyroscopes and sensors that keep the drone hovering in the air, auto return to home, and many intelligent functions.

An FPV drone flown in acro mode poses a significant risk of crashing. You will be responsible for micro-adjustments.

FPV drones can reach speeds even higher than 100 miles per hour. It’s difficult to control a drone at these speeds, even for a more experienced pilot.

With sharp attention to detail, you will always have to set the speed, altitude, and direction and ensure your drone doesn’t crash or hit anything at that speed. 

FPV drones often crash, especially when freestyling or racing, and many pilots learned how to repair and change drone parts.

Is an FPV drone right for you?

An FPV drone suits any pilot looking for a challenge or eager to capture unique videos.

After you learn to fly an FPV drone, flying a standard GPS drone will be very easy. You also have more drone possibilities and possibly a higher earning potential.

The reason I got into FPV is to capture cinematic long-range footage. This type of footage differs from what you film with a standard drone. 

For instance, I tend to fly my DJI FPV drone at over 60 miles an hour, diving mountains and get close to the ground while maintaining this speed.

Flying FPV also allows you to explore your surroundings with a fully controllable Cinewhoop drone.

Cinewhoop drones can access places no other drones can fly, such as indoors, abandoned buildings, inside a forest, etc. 

Since Cinewhoops have duct guards, the propellers and the surroundings are protected from damage.

FPV drones are also great for freestyling and racing.

Learning to fly an FPV drone acrobatically is a real challenge but worth the risk. If you’re competitive, racing with a drone comes even with more significant challenges.

Ultimately, there are many reasons why you should get into flying FPV drones, but all are worth the increased risks.

» MORE: DJI Avata – Hands-on Review (From an FPV Beginner)

What are the advantages of flying an FPV drone?

  • You can capture unique cinematic videos standard drones can’t.
  • You should have an immersive experience when flying with FPV goggles.
  • An FPV drone is ideal for freestyle or racing.
  • You will learn a new skill and completely control the drone as never before.
  • An FPV drone is usually less expensive than an excellent standard drone.
  • The FPV community is smaller but tight-knit, offering tips for repairing, diagnosing, and improving your drone. They also readily share FPV drone flight footage.

What are the disadvantages of flying an FPV drone?

  • It’s easier to crash an FPV drone than a standard drone.
  • You must learn how to fly an FPV drone in simulators.
  • Investing in a complete kit with goggles, a remote controller, and batteries can be expensive.
  • FPV drones require regular investments, such as repairing and changing parts.
  • You may have to learn how to repair the drone yourself, especially if you custom-build one.
  • Misusing Lipo FPV batteries can quickly start a fire.
  • You cannot use FPV drones in many industries.

Drone racing with an FPV drone

Only an FPV drone can be used for drone racing. No standard GPS drones can race or reach the speeds necessary to make a race compelling.

Drone racing is the ultimate challenge in the FPV world. It requires skill, dedication, and hundreds of hours of training in simulators and the real world.

However, with a good custom FPV drone, you can participate in all drone racing competitions and potentially get sponsors.

Freestyling with an FPV drone

FPV drones are the only ones you can use to freestyle unless you do heli and fixed-wings freestyling.

The challenge attracted many new drone pilots into this niche hobby.

To freestyle, you must first train in simulators and have at least a few hours of practice to ensure you don’t crash your FPV drone.

Creating cinematic content with an FPV drone

An FPV drone for cinematic videos is one of its best applications.

Filmmaking industries are now using more FPV drones to create cinematic content.

These drones are called Cinelifters and are cinematic Cinewhoop FPV drones capable of lifting a professional video camera.

The possibilities are endless with a cinematic FPV drone, from diving into mountains and waterfalls to capturing a wheat field at high speeds and low altitudes.

» MORE: What is a Cinelifter? (Explained by a Professional FPV Pilot)

Do you need to know how to repair FPV drones?

If you want to get into FPV, you don’t need to know how to repair the drone and change parts, at least not initially.

However, to get more in-depth with FPV, you must learn, which is difficult.

Learning to repair FPV drones requires you to comprehend every drone part, understand electronics, and know what is compatible with other drone components.

Also, soldering is an important skill when repairing or changing drone parts.

Nowadays, everything can be learned online, mainly on YouTube.

Are there any ready-to-fly FPV drones?

There had been very few analog FPV ready-to-fly kits until DJI entered the fray with the DJI FPV in 2021.

A year and a half later, the DJI Avata, a fantastic Cinewhoop FPV drone, was released.

The entire FPV community gained momentum, and many new FPV pilots got into flying these drones.

A ready-to-fly FPV kit is a good starting point before getting more into custom FPV drones and have the budget.

Many FPV pilots recommend buying custom FPV drones, but this can be overwhelming if you do not know FPV.

» MORE: Best Beginner FPV Drone Kit

Are laws and regulations for FPV drones different from standard drones?

There are drone laws and regulations everywhere worldwide, differing from country to country.

Most countries and territories also developed specific laws for FPV drone pilots.

One common law found worldwide for flying FPV drones requires a spotter.

A spotter is another person who will require direct sight of the drone and be in constant communication with you because you won’t be able to see the drone with the goggles on.

Other than that, the differences between standard and FPV drone laws are insignificant.