Since I have a little more free time I decided to fill it by acquiring a drone. I picked the DJI Phantom 4 to try out. Obviously I’m not going to be “droning” professionally, but I wanted something I could take some “good” video with (the P4 does 4K @ 30FPS… with some caveats…)
Initial impressions are favorable. Setup is pretty simple if you’ve got a advanced engineering degree (I would plan on a couple of hours to upgrade firmware, get software installed and configured and get your actual hardware charged and ready for flight).
Flight is remarkably easy. The P4 uses GPS to help with flight which made me more confident and definitely makes controlling the drone much easier (it hovers in place when not moving). When starting off you start out you can use a “beginner” mode which keeps the Phantom within a 30m radius (of whatever you designate). Once you get more comfortable DJI claims you have up to 3 miles of control. The POV on the remote is excellent and makes flying intuitive. The P4 has some anti-collision technology to make sure you don’t crash but I found it incredibly annoying and restrictive (however, that was while flying inside my house). In sports mode the drone can travel up to 45 MPH but flyer beware.
Video quality is not quite what I expected. There are a lot of video artifacts and a distinct moire effect on detailed surfaces like grass. I think this has something to do with transmission transmission throughput. I’m trying out different settings and I’m hoping I’ll find a way to clean things up a bit (maybe encoding stuff through software like Adobe Premier will help- I’m not sure yet).
You can record video in any resolution up to 4K and / or take hi-res photos from the air. I don’t know why, but (as I have mentioned in previous posts) I am enamored with aerial photography.
Overall construction quality is good. A lot of work has clearly gone into the design and implementation of this product and it’s a blast to fly. I love the fact that the blades can be removed and installed in a matter of seconds. Transport in a backpack should be no sweat as the unit is compact and fairly light. It will be fun to get some aerial shots of upcoming adventures.
While the P4 is obviously not a professional quality drone I did expect better video quality (I watched a lot of videos from the P3 and this seems to be a step bbackwards). Knowing what I know now I would probably buy it again. Remember to register your Phantom drone with the FAA and avoid restricted airspace. Happy flying!
Overall Rating : 7/10