After a long time indecisive whether I should invest in a quadcopter or not, i finally made the decision.
The well renowned DJI Phantom has a good reputation as en easy flown quadcopter. And with all the latest additions to the Phantom 4, I was sold. ActiveTrack, TapFly and the new Obstacle Sensing System is just a few of the new additions, compared to the previous Phantom 3 professional.
Being a first time quadcopter pilot, i was in doubt on how i should approach the learning curve for these machines. I really didn’t want to crash a 1600$ quadcopter on the first takeoff 😦
But after a long time searching and asking experienced people, i skipped the long road going with smaller and cheaper quadcopters before buying what i really wanted, the Phantom 4.
My main target when taking a decision was an easy and safe operated drone, with great video capability, and decent photo quality. And i must say, so far, the targets have been met with a great margin. The 4K video is just astonishing, and with some practicing in video editing software, i hope i can do the video quality justice some time in the future. The photo quality is fine, but can in no way be compared to my 36 Mpix full frame DSLR. But shooting RAW, it can take some nice shots. The advantage is that it can take shots from angles i newer could imagine before 🙂
The new Obstacle Sensing System has 2 new sensors in the forward direction, in addition to the 4 sensors underneath the quadcopter. There are 2 downwards and 2 forward facing camera sensors. In addition there are 2 downward facing ultrasonic sensors. The 2 new sensors will try to prevent a collision when flying forwards. In addition the Phantom has GPS and GLONASS making for some extremely precise hovering. When releasing the sticks in P (position) mode, the quadcopter stays extremely still, even in some wind. But remember that there is no sensors when going sideways, backwards or if flying under something!
The Phantom also has a RTH (Return To Home) function by a press of a button. The Phantom records the spot where taking off and will return to this spot. RTH will also automatically be initiated if the remote controller and quadcopter looses contact. The Home point can also be set manually under flight. This is great if you are on a not so stationary landing spot, as in a boat 🙂 The Phantom is a real joy to fly, and it’s very fast if you enter the Sport mode (72 km/h).
The Phantom 4 has an improved battery capacity, and can fly up to 28 minutes (5,350 mAh, 15.2v). This of course depends on the use. But the DJI Go app has a great overview of the battery, even in flight. Battery capacity, total and individual cell voltage and battery temperature are easily accessible in the app.
The propellers have a quick release function, making the time to prepare the drone for flight very short!
The DJI camera is equipped with a 1/2.3″ sensor, and a fixed f2,8 lens. The lens has good optical corrections, making sure your horizon in not curved like a ball. That was one of my selling point for the Phantom 4 compared to earlier model’s. But as it’s a fixed aperture lens, remember to get ND filters to achieve proper exposure. Remember that your shutter speed should ideally be double the frame rate!
The following video recording modes are available:
UHD: 4096×2160 (4K) 24 / 25p
3840×2160 (4K) 24 / 25 / 30p
2704×1520 (2.7K) 24 / 25 / 30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p
HD: 1280×720 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60p
The camera gimbal ensures that your shots are as stable as it gets. Its amazing what a small gizmo like this can achieve in steadying your shots.
The new ActiveTrack function, lets you select an object on the screen (aka your phone or tablet) and it will, actively follow your object. You can go up, down, or fly around the subject even when its moving, and the camera always has the object in the center of the camera. This ensures more smooth movements than you probably could achieve yourself.
The Tap Fly function lets you tap on a point on the screen, and the Phantom will fly there.
Ok, so now to some video examples of what you can expect regarding video quality. Bare in mind that I’m a novice both to filming, flying and editing! 🙂
First of, here’s are a short video of my first test flight. Nothing amazing in relation to content, but gives you an idea of the video quality. The video have been color graded, so the colors are not as from camera. The video have been edited in Final Cut Pro X. Please select 4K from the YouTube adjustments after starting the video…
Here is a quick & dirty test with handholding the Phantom. Shot in 120 fps. Please select 1080 quality!
Short video from my first test going up to 110 meters (The law regulates maximum flight hight to 120 meter). You can easily set the maximum flight hight in the DJI Go app. Remember to select 4K !!
I do NOT take assignments with quadcopter, shooting nor video or stills. The regulations are strict in Norway as it comes to flying a quadcopter for commercial use.
As of now this is strictly a hobby project, and I will se how it evolves before I decide to apply for a RO 1 approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.
But my conclusion regarding the Phantom 4, is that it is both a fantastic flying camera, and a great flying machine. Even for a novice like me. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, or share your own experiences in the comments!
Cheers, and fly high! (But seriously, don’t drink and fly) 🙂