Yesterday, on he first of March 2016, DJI announced the very rumored an highly anticipated Phantom 4.
The DJI Phantom 4 is the first of its series(and maybe one of the first in the world) to feature advanced obstacle avoidance and complex subject tracking, making safety and automatic positioning the selling point of this drone.
You can buy the Phantom 4 right now from the official DJI store
Here's a video of the Phantom 4 hands on from the guys at Tested
Phantom 4 new features - Obstacle avoidance technology
This very techy drone has quite a few systems to detect where it is in 3D space. One of them is a set of optical sensors up front that will detect any object in front and stop you from hitting that cliff.
This feature is not only for dumb people or beginner users, it pays an important role when it comes to things like the auto-follow feature too.
The augmented vision system also provides object detection, besides object avoidance. Which is to say that this drone can know you from your mom (probably based on the fact that she doesn't wear pajamas) and is able to follow one person or speciffic object, even if it's moving.
This follow me technology has been seen before, but it usually requires the subject to wear a device or hold the controller for this to work.
Here are some technicalities of this beautiful front facing camera system
The interesting implication of having an avoidance system can be seen when it comes to the Get back Home button. It does not only fly in a straight, preset line making you nervous if it will hit any trees or cables on the way.
- The field of view: 30º horizontal and 60º vertical
- It can detect objects at up to 15m ( aprox 50 feet) away
- On the remote, in the Dji GO interface you can see a visual object detection mark and set it for whatever you like
Now, you can be certain it will get back intact because it can readjust its course back home by itself in case it has any obstacles in the way, even mountains.
The main Flying modes for the Phantom 4
The sport option
It is probably the most expected and fun feature of this new quad. It enables the Phantom 4 to reach speeds of up to 44.7 MPH, which is noticeably higher than the previous 35.8 MPH. This also means the max pitch is increased to 45º and the ascent and descent both are improved when it comes to max speed.
The only drawback to this is that it disables the vision system, but it's not like you're not going to pay attention when racing at speeds like that.
This makes the controller possible optional in some cases. In this mode, you can now press the screen wherever you want and the drone will go to that specific direction.
The new Phantom 4 became a beast when it comes to cinematography. It makes even the most complicated and pro tasks very easy and automatic.
The point of interest feature in smart mode, not only circles around a specific subject, but also keeps a steady course of flight even if that object is moving.
This is also the mode that features the previously mentioned Follow me mode and others like Waypoints, Course Lock and Home Lock.
I talked before about how you can select a specific object or area in the DJI Go app and let the copter follow it by itself. This is the mode to do it in.I haven't tested these modes myself, but from the many videos I've seen it seems to work really well. What can I say, I trust DJI doing a great job with at least the main new feature, it's a big company after all.
How big is the Phantom 4 battery compared to the Phantom 3?
The flight duration for this new bad boy is about 5 minutes more than its predecessor, the Phantom 3.
It caps at approximately 28 minutes (from what DJI says, it even went up to 30 min in certain prototypes) and holds a charge of 5350 Mah and 15.2 Volts. So the battery is a little bit bigger and more efficient. Even so, the overall quadcopter weight is only with about 100 grams bigger.
What other features make the Phantom 4 worth buying?
1.The addition of quick release propellers will make it easier than ever to remove or put them on, shortening the time you spend preparing the quad-copter for a flight.
2.The new Phantom 4 will also be cooler so much safer to fly in the summer thanks to the grills for cooling vents on bottom of arms and addition of the composite material on the camera and bottom of the drone.
3.The motors will also heat up slower thanks to their changed position, situated a little more on top of the arms(having less contact with the body and more air flux from outside). Details matter!
4.A small but useful change from the Phantom 3 has been moving the Micro-SD card and micro-USB port from the camera slot(gimbal) to the body.
5.The landing gear is shorter and wider for more stable landings (yet no retractable legs, sigh)
6.The quad-copter arms are a little higher than before relative to the body and camera position, so it will help avoid the front propellers get in the footage.
7.The stereo Visual system that sits in the front of the quad is able to detect objects depth, making the additional feature of the
8.Tap- fly mode even more precise. It means you can target a spot further away or closer to the camera and the Phantom is supposedly able to move there by itself.
This system can also tell when you detect persons. This is very useful in the Active Track mode and it means it can follow people even if they turn around.
From the videos I saw it's even hard to hide from the Phantom, and even if it looses you from sight, when you get back in the shot it will start following you again.
Just to make sure, this is pretty advanced technology but don't worry that the Terminator era is going to start soon. Or maybe it will all start with dji and not skynet, who knows?
What is the price for the Phantom 4?
As stated in the beginning, this great flying machine comes packed with technology and many improvements from the P3.
The P4 is officially availible on the DJI website for $1,399.
I must admit that it's less than I expected, considering another similar drone, the Yuneec Typhoon H will probably be about 1700.The drone is only available online at the time of writing but will arrive in DJI Flagship stores and Apple stores by March 15.
Are there any improvement in terms of camera quality?
Dji says it is, but it's only slightly improved with an added a slow-motion option that captures 1080p at 120fps and it has also improved the lens so there's less chromatic aberration and better corner sharpness.
So, overall this is probably the feature that changed the least from the already incredible camera of the Phantom 3.
If you want to check the specific camera differences here's a comparison photo between the Phantom 4 on the left and Phantom 3 Pro on the right.
The fact is, the camera technology hit a plateau already and it will take some more time to improve and the already existing technology.And who needs 6k anyway in this day and time?
There are also differences in the gimbal structure and looks. It has been replaced with a cleaner and sturdier 3-axis gimbal that anchors the camera on both sides while the pitch is controlled by two motors.
Here's an official video showcasing the camera capability and object tracking of the P4
Final conclusion: Is the Phantom 4 Worth Buying?
I wouldn't buy the Phantom 4 for myself at this point in time because I don't need the advanced features right now.
The fact is: If you have a Phantom 3 Pro already you don't quite need the P4.
However, if you start from scratch, or want to capture moving objects and automatize the flying mode, this is perfect for you!
It is way safer and has some really cool features and it's the same price the Phantom 3 pro was a few days ago!