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12.07.2017

The DJI Phantom 4 Professional Plus

 

DJI Phantom 4 in flight

 

What a fantastic “toy” or as DJI is calling it: prosumer product. That is a good definition of this aircraft. The whole handling of it is really easy. You unpackage it, you charge the battery and the remote control, mount the propellers on it and you can already (the very first time you need to update the RC and the aircraft) start and can record some nice video material. But step by step.

What you get

I purchased the Plus Version of the Phantom 4. That means the remote control has an extra display, which is really bright and useful outside. This display can shine with 1000 cd/m2. But it is more than a display, it is a castrated smartphone with a modified version of Android-OS. The drone itself weighs 1388 grams with propellers and battery. With this characteristics you can start and fly the Phantom 4 Pro without permission here in Germany. Please collect all the information for your country what is allowed and what not before your purchase.

You get two sets of propellers. One battery. One micro-SD Card. Mine was from SanDisk (some exemplars get one from Lexar) with 16 GB capacity and up to 60 MB/s writing speed, so you can record in cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at maximum 60 frames per second. What else? Of course some cables: the power supply and a USB-Cable to connect it to the computer.

All that comes in a reliable styrofoam box which should suffice for the first usages. I bought an extra battery and some more will follow to get more flight time. With one charge you can fly 30 minutes under ideal conditions. Whatever these “ideal” conditions are. I would say one charge holds up from 20 to 25 minutes. Of course it depends on how do you fly and so on.

DJI Phantom 4 Remote ControlDJI Phantom 4 Pro on pad

What is possible with this quadrocopter?

I bought this aircraft to film and take photos. Not just to fly around and make some noise. The camera, the gimbal and the aircraft are absolutely well balanced. It is possible to make really smooth tracking shots. And we talk about tracking in over 100 meter and more in the air with over 40 km/h. And this is just wonderful what the Phantom 4 Pro is performing.

The system offers you a lot of modes for flying and comfortable options. Like the ActiveTrack for example. You mark your desired motive on the screen and the drone will follow the subject automatically. This works reliable under the requirement that the object is good enough silhouetted against the background. If you mark a car what is for a short time covered by trees, the drone will lose the marking and stops. And there are other functions like TapFly where you tap on the map or what is visible on the screen and the drone flys there. The Gesture Mode is for the selfie-lovers. In this mode you can use the Phantom without the RC so you can give instructions like to take a photo. I didn’t used the last two options until now. So I cannot say how well do their job.

The safety

Almost 2000 Euros in the air and you get a lot of mechanisms which protect your investment. The Phantom 4 Pro has a 6-Camera Navigation system to protect it from collisions. The infrared sensors, ultrasonic sensors and cameras checking permanently for obstacles forward, backward and downwards. The infrared sensors are only active in the Beginner Mode and Tripod Mode There is a little downer. When it is too dark – the manual describes under 300 luces – the camera system for obstacle avoidance isn’t working correctly or not a bit. In my opinion everyone with healthy or fit eyes should solve this “problem”. Of course you get this messages on the screen of the RC.

If it is your first flight you should use the Beginner Mode. In this mode the whole flight behavior is very accommodating and slow. I would it in any case for the first flight lesson. Otherwise you have a simulator on the remote controller. But it’s just a virtual exercise and is not as real like a real flight. The reason why it makes fun since the first second you fly with this device is you don’t have to compensate any unpredictable behavior. When you don’t give any command to the drone it will just hover. Not more. This is why it so easy to fly with it. So don’t be so scary to fly your aircraft.

DJi Phantom 4 Pro in flightDJI Phantom 4 Pro downside

You have three flying modes. The P mode: All sensors are enabled and GPS supported (only outdoor and depending how well the Phantom 4 Pro is receiving the satellite signal) flight is warranted. Max speed in this mode is 40 km/h. The behavior of the drone is accommodating and calm.

The S mode: The Sport mode offers you the maximum speed of 72 km/h. The behavior is much more sensitive and agile. The braking distance is over 50 meters. And the obstacle avoidance is disabled. Don’t use this mode until you are confident enough in your flight skills.

The A mode: Altitude. Really challenging. No GPS and no sensor support. Only the barometer of the aircraft is active for positioning. Experience is indispensable.

These modes are set on the RC as with a selector lever. The RC is giving you all the time information on wich altitude you are, the speed, the wind conditions and any other circumstances which are related to the aircraft during the flight. And of course you have a permanent feedback how much time is left to fly.

When you are done you can land manually or with the “Return to Home” Button. This works only when GPS Signal is warranted during the start. It is impressive how the drone is flying back to you automatically without any commands.

The camera

For photos is the camera acceptable. You don’t get SLR quality but a usable image, which is very good editable cause of RAW. The photos come in the. DNG format. The focal length of the camera is 24 mm and the smallest aperture is 11. Open aperture is 2.8. The ISO range for photos is from 100 to maximum 12.000. All this in combination offers you a good camera for any kind of landscape pictures or cityscape by night.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro photo RAWDJI Phantom 4 Pro photo edited

Photos are fine with the camera. But the quality of the videos are exquisite. When you record at daylight you get a crispy sharp picture (almost too sharp) and well balanced colors. And for better post production you can record in D-Log (DJI’s own color gamut). The colors look washed out and flat. But this is the advantage of this profile. You have more opportunities to edit the look of your image. The recording format is H.264 or the still experimental H.265 codec. I only used the H.264 codec in cinema 4K resolution and the results are really great. At 4K or C4K you record at 100 Mbps. There is also a 120 fps option to create a smooth at 1080p.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro photo RAWDJI Phantom 4 Pro photo edited

The low light capabilities of the camera are good. You can film in the dark but then you should use the standard color profile, because D-Log is locked at 500 ISO. The maximum ISO is 6400, manual settings. This is still usable but you can see a lot of noise on a larger screen (PC Screen for example).

As I mentioned the gimbal is doing a wonderful job. You get smooth tracking shots in great height. Sometimes you recognize small squalls as shacking but this acceptable for a system of this size and weight.

Conclusion

Simple and very close to professional. It is my first remote controlled aircraft and I would say it has never been so easy to get such aerial shots and videos of this quality. You get a flying camera for photos and filming with really less learning effort and which allows you to create remarkable results with. For round about 1800 Euros it is an all in one package with almost no cons. A wish would be a camera lens made of real glass for a nicer lens flare. But this is a really small con in my eyes, so it is up to you if you want to film against sunlight. Just watch my demonstration video and form your own opinion about the lens flare. And for more comfortable filming I would recommend to buy more batteries for more flight time and maybe a more protective case for transportation.

 

         

 

 

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