Review: DJI Phantom 4

Review DJI Phantom 4

1.Review: DJI Phantom 4 drone

In this article, I would like to review DJI Phantom 4 drone. This is one of my favorite drones and the drone which I flew the most. In this review, I will highlight the most important features of this drone, why these features are there, how someone can take advantage of these and what are the limitations and other considerations when buying this drone.

Phantom 4 release date: 15-03-2016

Weight: 1380 g

One line summary:    Easy to use, stable, consumer camera drone with moderate obstacle avoidance and better vision tracking. Good for aerial imagery and training.

2. DJI Phantom 4 Features:

In this review of phantom 4 drone, I can not include all the features and attributes but few which i think important to mention are listed below.

2.1 Flight modes

“P” for positioning or also called GPS mode, A or “atti” mode and “S” or sports mode. GPS mode is the mode you will normally fly in. Extremely stable flight and the drone will be stable at its own. If a problem comes and the drone can not keep itself in GPS mode, it will go to “atti” mode. In sports mode, the drone can fly at the maximum speed of nearly 45 miles per hr. This is good if you want to reach somewhere quick.

2.2 Tap to fly

What this means is that you can tap on your iPad and the drone will fly.

2.3 Return to home

This feature is absolutely important for an expensive drone and one of the main considerations for someone who don’t want to lose the drone. Luckily most drones have this feature. How this works is basically when you think the drone has gone too far unintentionally or entering into an illegal zone, you do a particular maneuver on drone controller and the drone returns to the point from which it took off without you flying and bringing it home.

2.4 Active Tracking capability:

On your ipad, just draw a circle on an object you want the drone to track (for example a person or a car) and the drone will start tracking the object. This functionality is somewhat similar to what is called “follow-me” in some other drones and can be used to take some amazing videos. All this tracking will be based on camera and no action is required by the operator.

2.5 Point of interest

This means that you can tell the drone to circle around a specific point. For example, if you are doing an inspection of an industrial tank, then you just point the tank as a point of interest and the drone will just try to hover around that tank in a circular fashion keeping that in view all the times. Very cool for some other commercial purposes such as real estate photography etc.

2.6 Waypoints

You can assign the waypoints on your iPad and the drone will plan a flying path based on those waypoints.

2.7 Remote control range

The range of the transmitter is 3.5 km. This is enough because you are legally required to keep the drone in visual line of sight with naked eyes and the lights on the drone are not of very high quality, so you won’t be able to see the orientation anyway if the drone goes too far.

2.8 Propeller Installation

The propellers are the snap-on type and very easy to put on and off. Two propellers are black and two grey. The same colors are on the end of motors. The propellers also have a lock and unlock sign embossed on them so you know in which direction you need to turn the propeller in order to lock it on the motor or unlock it. Just push and turn and the propeller would be locked. Pretty easy stuff.

2.9 Vision positioning sensors.

These are the camera sensors for obstacle avoidance. The drone has 2 sensors on the front and 2 below. There are no sensors on behind, right or left of the drone. What these sensors do is sense the obstacles in front or below the drone and will not fly into it.

2.10 Sonar

The sonar sensor senses the altitude of drone from the ground for a stable flight. This is helpful if GPS is not available or you are flying the drone in a building.

2.11 Gimbal

Gimbal is very stable even in windy situations. The location of the gimbal is good and propellers are usually not visible in the videos taken.

Video capability 4K at a maximum 30fps and Full HD 1080p at 120 fps

 2.12 Controller

The controller is robust, looks professional. This can hold iPad mini. For photography, you might want large size device and should check whether it can hold or not. I just use iPad mini.

2.13 Lights

Lights are brighter bot not as bright as they should be. I personally not happy with the lights and I think there is a lot of room for improvement.

3. DJI Phantom 4 Flight Operation:

3.1 Behavior of DJI Phantom 4 in wind

If the drone is in GPS mode, there are no issues and the drone is stable, the camera is stable and you can still get the amazing videos. If for any technical issues, the drone goes into “atti” mode in a windy situation, then it depends on the capabilities of the drone pilot to fly the drone in a stable way. If it is windy and gusty then it would be extremely difficult to keep the drone under control in “atti” mode.

This, in fact, happened to me when I was being tested for my drone pilot license. It was extremely windy and the task was to move the drone in a straight line from one point to another point just 5 meters away while in “atti” mode. I found it extremely difficult to do just that because of the high wind conditions. On the other hand, in GPS mode if you think the drone is doing something which is not intended, you just remove your hands off the controller and the drone will stay where it is, no matter how much wind is there. It’s so simple. But one must practice a lot to control the drone in “atti” mode so that in any emergency situation, you don’t lose/crash the drone. The important thing to remember is that in a windy situation, you must keep your eyes on the drone at all times and be prepared for any unforeseen situation.

Review DJI Phantom 4

3.2 Phantom 4 indoor flight

For indoor operation, the GPS is not available and the only sensors we have are 4 vision camera sensors and an additional sonar sensor. The vision positioning system detects any obstacles with 4 these sensors and the sonar sensor detects the altitude of the drone from the ground. The drone will start beeping if you try to move it towards a wall or any other obstacle. This is useful when GPS is not available such as in when flying the phantom 4 in indoor. You should, however, keep in mind that the drone does not have obstacle avoidance sensors on right, left and behind and care should be taken for drone movements in these directions.

4.   Battery

4.1 Flight time:

28 min

4.2 Capacity:

5350 mAh

4.3 Charging:

You can connect the charging cable either way with the battery which is cool. You should charge the battery fully before flying. For more info read this article.

4.4 Dual battery capability on board:

No

5. Buying DJI Phantom 4:

5.1 Price:

Approx AUD1700

5.2 Retailers:

Apple, JB Hifi

5.3 Other considerations:

Look for import duty if any.

6. Competitor drone of DJI Phantom 4:

x star premium from Autel Robotics

 

Buy from Amazon

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