I received my DJI Phantom 4 a few days ago and finally unboxed it yesterday (see the video below). I’ll do a detailed review once I get a chance to fly it, but the weather has been very rainy lately, so I haven’t been able to take it for a spin outside yet!
The following is a few quick thoughts on the Phantom itself, especially for the Phantom 3 and earlier users out there. You can make up your mind whether to upgrade or not based on the points, but I seriously think it’s worth it.
- Refinement – That’s the name of the game this time. After playing with the previous iterations and checking out some of the competition, the DJI Phantom 4 is the first drone that seems to “just work”. You pick it out of the box, charge the batteries and off you go. Each bit of it has been refined to improve the ease of use and it shows
- Smart flying – Before the Phantom 4, the 3DR Solo was the only thing that had good “smart” flying capabilities with being able to orbit around a point of interest or execute dynamic shots. Now with the Phantom, instead of a static point of interest being your reference, the drone can construct a 3D “image” of anything you highlight on the screen and use that as it’s point of reference. Amazing orbits shots or sweeping follows are literally a tap away. No strap/phone or gizmo to carry for the drone to lock onto you!Combine this with the fact that the drone can avoid obstacles and you have the first drone with which most people can pull off those tight “flying through a relatively tight space” kind of shots
- Faster – I don’t just mean that in the “it goes fast” sense (though it does) but also in the time it takes to set up the drone to get it off the ground. The Phantoms haven’t really been complicated to set up and get going, but the new propeller and gimbal clamp are a revelation for an impatient person like me.Unlike the previous version where you had to spin and tighten the propellors, this time, you push down and to a quarter turn and you’re done! It literally takes me 1/3 of the time now.On top of this, the gimbal clamp is less complicated – it holds the camera to the landing legs so it’s easier to take off, but more importantly, super easy to put back on! This one point has made me super happy!
- Better camera – I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, but if all the reports are true of better optics, those soft corners and chromatic aberrations should drastically improved. Winning!
- Durability/Stability -DJI made a big deal about the new reinforced skeleton for the drone and it shows. It’s much sturdier to hold and has much less “flex” than before. The motors are also able to generate more thrust and with the addition of a bigger battery and more sensors, there should be markedly less drift.
What does all that mean? Well, you should be able to do some interesting things with the drone now, like long exposures from up high or even some short timelapse captures. I know some people have used the Inspire 1 for long exposure captures, but it feels like the Phantom 4 should be able to do this as well.
It’s not all rainbows and puppies though. I wish they had changed a few things to make the Phantom even better.
- Firstly, it’s always annoying when you pull off an amazing shot and find that the landing gear or propeller is in the shot. As Mr Bloom mentioned, the camera is actually closer to the props. I’m not sure if this is going to be a problem, but it doesn’t bode well. I really wish they employed a retractable system like the Inspire these days.
- The design is well…. getting a bit old. It’s a minor point because it still works so well and is the iconic thing now, but as sleek as it is a bit more variation would’ve been nice
- While you can pull off some amazing shots with the new sensor, there’s none on the back or sides, meaning that you can still crash depending on how you’re flying the drone. I would suspect that maybe having the sensor cameras angle outward instead of straight ahead would allow a bigger range of “vision” for the drone, but I’m sure there’s technicalities that I’m not aware of that would make things hard. Ahh well, one can but wish, right?!
Have you got one of these yet? If so what are your thoughts? Also note you can buy one from the links on this post from the official DJI site (which are all affiliate links so thank you for supporting the site if you do use the links!).