As many of you know I have just returned from an adventure in the Atacama desert in Argentina.
I put the pressure on Saul Frank from Camera Electronics to get me a new Phantom 4 in time for this trip and he performed with a few days to spare, so I did not really have much time to get up to speed with the machine.
As you will see by the video link below, I did a reasonable amount of flying whilst away in the desert and in fact flew at most locations.
My initial impressions are certainly very positive and there are some obvious improvements in the Phantom 4 over the 3, namely:
- The battery life is definitely much better than the 3 and probably capable of the 30 minutes flying time they speak of in their marketing blurb.
- The battery life in the Remote Control has also been improved dramatically;… so much so, I only had to charge the batter on the RC once in 10 days!
- The next noticeable improvement is that it seems to be a smoother machine than the 4 and that is hard to quantify, but over all, I feel that the take off and flight itself is generally smoother.
- The build quality is also more robust and aesthetically it looks great.
- The best improvement I think is that the fact that the props now ‘click’ into place rather than ‘spin’. This makes for a much faster set up time for sure!
- Also in the improvements is the Poly Styrene foam case that comes with the 4. It keeps everything nicely in tact and also allows for the battery charger and 2 spare batteries to be included in the carry case. My Ninja Turtle Poly Styrene Backpack worked well, but it would not fit the charger, so the charger was always lying around separately.
- For the over seas trip I simply dropped that new Poly Styrene case into a Pelican case and locked it up for the air travel and then had it travel in the back of the 4 wd for 2,000 km’s over gravel roads, so you would have to say that the case works and protects the machine!
- Next on the improvement list is the gimbal protector…much, much better than the 3 and is a solid plastic device that cups the camera and clips onto both legs. A very sturdy support for camera and gimbal and quick to click on and off.
- In regards the the new auto flight settings, I must say that I did not have much chance to try these out as I was on the run the whole time. I will do a separate review on that part of the 4 as time permits.
- As you will see in the video below, I did have a bit of an incident when trying a fly around in hilly terrain and was possibly relying too much on collision avoidance.
- On thinking back, I think (as happens in all incidences) there were a few things that contributed to the incident. Firstly, I was maxed out in altitude trying to get over the hill. Secondly I was flying sideways and it was difficult to see the situation that was coming up until too late.
- Thirdly I am not sure if the collision avoidance works in a sideways mode and on that front , I think there could be an improvement in the next evolution of these wonderful little machines!
- In regards the camera improvements, I think it is fair to say that I can see improvements in both video and stills quality from the 4 over the 3, especially in stills mode as there seems to be less noise at low light in the 4 and also better clarity on the edge of the images.
- In summary I think that DJI have a real winner with the Phantom 4 and it certainly has a raft of improvements over the 3. With the improved battery life of the 4, I was able to comfortably go out on a 10 days shooting adventure with only 2 batteries and be able to do everything I needed to.
Nice work DJI and Phantom fliers out there…be careful when flying sideways in hilly terrain! 🙂