I did it, I’ve gone and gotten myself a drone. Not just any drone either. It was all or nothing, so I went for the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. This beauty keeps the design of the DJI Phantom 4 but the Pro isn’t just in the name: More sensors and a brand new camera make this drone arguably the most advanced portable one out there. While I was previously interested in the DJI Mavic Pro and actually had preordered one, constant delays and the announcement of the Phantom 4 Pro made me question my decision.
This article won’t be a full review of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. As the title suggests, this is merely a reflection on my first flight(s) with the drone. I’ve edited a few photos and videos and feel like now is the right time for a quick look back on my first experiences as a drone pilot.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro - The drone
What attracted me most to the Phantom 4 Pro was the brand new image sensor. DJI have essentially managed to strap a Sony RX100 to a drone. And It doesn’t end there. This camera is capable of recording at up to 4K/60 FPS. These specs don’t just put other drone cameras to shame, most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can’t even record at that framerate yet. The quality of the video has also received a significant bump with the video’s now being recorded at 100 Mbps.
DJI also managed to pack in some new sensors to aid flying. I’m not going to go through them one-by-one, but from my experience, this drone is nearly impossible to crash.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro - The controller
DJI decided to stick with the same controller design as the Phantom 4. Sure, it’s a big controller, but it fits nicely in my hands. The controller has got up to five hours of battery life. I’ve not been able to test that yet, because I charged it after every flight.
I decided to go with the Phantom 4 Pro and not the Pro+ model. The Pro+ includes a controller with an integrated screen. The price of the Pro+ is what made me go with the Pro. I’ve got a Pixel phone and the screen on that is bright enough for me to able to read it in sunlight.
The app runs great for me. I’ve read a lot reports from people saying it just doesn’t work on Android phones, but that hasn’t been my experience. I’ve had no app crashes so far. Just remember that I’m using a Google Pixel, which is currently the top-of-the-line Android phone. I could imagine that the reports of the app crashing are coming from users with cheap Android phones.
Photos by the DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Because I’ve been mainly learning how to pilot the drone, I kind of forgot to take any decent photos so far. I’ve done the "trees from above" that everyone does when they first get a drone and so far I’m impressed. The camera shoots RAW (DNG files) and as far as I can tell this camera is very capable.
Videos by the DJI Phantom 4 Pro
I’ve created two short edits using footage from the Phantom 4 Pro for my YouTube channel. One thing I want to highlight is that the Phantom 4 Pro can record in the H.265 format. What does that mean? File sizes end up being a lot smaller compared to other formats. My other camera, the Samsung NX1, also uses this format, so I’ve been recording in it for a while and I’ve never had any problems. I simply convert the video to ProRes before editing and then delete the converted footage and keep the original, once I’m done.
Intelligent flight mode
I’ve only tested one of the intelligent flight modes: Follow Me. This intelligent flight mode lets you select a person or an object on the screen and the drone will follow whatever you tell it to follow. Thanks to the obstacle avoidance sensors there’s no reason to worry that the drone will crash into anything. I used this while filming my girlfriend and me walking through a forest (video below) and the experience was seamless. No problems to report at all. I’ll be testing the other flight modes in the next couple of weeks and months too and will report back once I’m more experienced.
I’m by no means an expert when it comes to judging video quality. Although I did shoot in D-Log (-1, 0, 0) on my first flights I'm in no way experienced enough to judge the quality of the video or the flat profile. To my eye, it looks excellent and I haven’t even tried 4K with 60 FPS yet.
I love my Phantom 4 Pro! I’m so glad I chose this drone over the Mavic Pro despite not even using 4K at 60 FPS yet. The footage is great and the additional sensors make this drone nearly impossible to crash. The fact that it records in H.265 saves on storage space and the app runs smoothly on my Google Pixel. If you’re reading this DJI: Please make an action camera using this exact camera next!