Shooting with a Drone – Phantom 3 pro review
January this year I bought a DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone to take to Iceland and Norway. I had looked at different brands and models and I decided to buy the DJI Phantom 3 pro, mainly because it portability and its price. This drone is light, small and very easy to set up and fly. It is the perfect drone for beginners and at about $AU1,399 it is a great tool to complement anyone’s camera gear…
I bought the standard kit, plus an extra battery and a couple of filters (CP and ND) but I have hardly ever used them because of the vignetting that they produce.
Another drone I looked at buying at that time was the DJI Inspire. This is a much bigger drone, that costs double the price but the main reason why I didn’t select this product is because I would have needed another suitcase to carry it overseas. So it is not as convenient to travel with as its smaller brother the Phantom 3. Although the Inspire is heavier and bulkier it has many pros. The camera for example is much better quality and can be detached and upgraded. Also, with the Inspire you can use two controllers and one person can be focused on flying the drone whilst the other one takes the footage or snaps. Being able to fly the Inspire while having someone else working with the camera is in my opinion, one of the biggest differences between the Inspire and the Phantom 3, but as I said, portability and ease of use was my main priority.
Although my intention was to use the Phantom to capture a few 4K footage for some promotional videos, I have also had a lot of fun taking photographs. It is an awesome tool to capture images from above at some iconic locations that I visit during my photography workshops.
The Phantom 3 has been to Iceland, Norway, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia although in most National Parks of Chile and Argentina the use of a drone was forbidden and I could not fly it. Some countries and National Parks have strict rules about this, but others have no regulations yet and you can take advantage of this but of course using common sense and showing respect and care for the wildlife and people around you.
Phantom 3 pro – Technical Specs
The Phantom 3 pro is a white copter made in China with four pylons (each with a rotor), a fix mounted camera, and landing struts. The drone measures about 58 cm from wingtip to wingtip and weighs just under 1.36 Kgs. LED lights at the bottom of each wing help you keep track of it in the air.
Stability in the air is fantastic, even at high winds, the videos produced were pretty smooth. The Pro records 4K footage in two aspect ratios—a wide 1.9:1 (4,096 by 2,160 pixels) at 24p, and a more standard 16:9 (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) at 30p or 24p. It can also manage 720p or 1080p footage at various frame rates up to 60fps. You have your choice of MP4 or MOV file formats.
As I said, the great thing about this drone is its portability. I can carry the whole kit, including the controller and batteries anywhere in my hand luggage with my Pentax 645z and a few other lenses.
Phantom 4 released
Last month I found out that a new model had been released. The Phantom 4 is considerably faster thanks to taller motors, a low-drag shape, a more efficient battery, and a new Sport Mode, combined with larger (and easier to install) Phantom 4 propellers. A new and more powerful Intelligent Flight battery allows the Phantom 4 to travel farther and stay aloft longer. Where the Phantom 3 Pro eeked out as little as 16 min. of flight, the Phantom 4 battery enables the drone to stay in the air for up to 28 min. Like the Phantom 3 Pro, the Phantom 4 camera puts out 12 MP and 4K video; unlike the Phantom 3 Pro, the Phantom 4 can film at a rate of 120fps in 1080p res. The Phantom 4 brings with it multiple new frontal sensors to help accurately “sense” objects around it. “ActiveTrack” is a new mode that allows a user to follow a subject while managing to avoid obstacles.
Phantom Pros and Cons
The main disadvantage of the Phantom 3 pro is the battery life (I was only getting 15 minutes in Iceland and sometimes it would not fly because the temperature was too low so I had to warm up the batteries before arriving at each location). Although it can shoot images as RAW files, the resolution of its images is not great if you want to print large but otherwise it does a good job.
Another disadvantage is that sometimes, when you are shooting video, you can see the wings of the Phantom in the image and that is very difficult to remove in post-production unless you have clear blue sky. – This is not an issue with the Inspire.
The main pros are the affordability, that it is really easy to fly, very stable and a great smooth 4K video capture.
There are hundreds of articles, reviews and comparisons on the Internet about these drones. With this article I just wanted to tell you my experience with it, and share some of the images I have taken with it in the past few months