Review: DJI’s Phantom PRO 4
From wetsuits to wireless headphones, we get to test a lot of pretty cool things… but I can confidently say few have tickled our inner-geek quite as hard as this one! The DJI Phantom PRO 4 – Obsidian ($1,799).
I think it’s fair for you to know, prior to launching this technical marvel from Phantom off the ground just 60 days ago… I had very (VERY) little experience piloting drones. I’m about as beginner as they get. I want to let you know this, because it’s important for you, dear reader, to understand that DJI’s equipment is incredibly user-friendly and easy to understand. Granted, I do lean quite a bit more “tech-savvy” than the average Joe… but the simplicity of this unit is surprising.
The most difficult part of getting off the ground with the DJI Phantom Pro 4 was understanding the insanely complicated legal responsibilities behind unmanned flight. Any joker can swipe “take off” and soar off into the distance… but reading through endless FAA regulations and flight-zone responsibilities took HOURS of mind-numbing work. I fully understand that this device, for all legal purposes, is an unmanned aircraft, but jeeeeeeeeez!
After 60 days with the DJI Phantom PRO 4…
… I am 100% hooked! Everything I look at now, from a beautiful day at the beach to sprawling mountain-scapes immediately brings the phantom to mind. Am I officially a camera junky now?
Here’s a little more of a breakdown on the features DJI touts online:
At this point in our lives, if it doesn’t have a balls-to-the-wall amazing camera, are we really even interested? The P4 is the new benchmark for excellence. The only negative… I really need to get my flight skills up to par because the camera catches every little movement in vivid 4k.
As a novice, this comes in extremely handy. After a few weeks of becoming familiar with the Phantom 4, I tried purposefully running it into things (trees, bushes, rock formations, the occasional irritating neighbor) and it gracefully maneuvered around. At one point I found myself in a bird swarm (the on-screen obstacle sensor was going haywire) and the drone not only avoided all contact, but the camera remained steady and sharp. This is also an important factor for height. Different locations have height limitations which can be quickly entered into the P4 for peace of mind.
This was, by far, my favorite part about the P4… AND it’s extremely simple to use! Especially the “Draw” function. I easily used my finger to draw a route for the drone to follow (side-to-side only, it always maintains a forward motion at the current elevation), then use the travel time to focus on where the camera is pointing instead of obstacles. The really neat part of the making function is you can control speed, and if you want to navigate the camera or just shoot straight on. I tested the live tracking with a few slower moving targets with great success… and plan on filming a surfer & mountain bike expedition soon.
30 Minute Battery Life:
I felt this was a little “iffy” for me, but to be fair I REALLY used all aspects of the drone’s abilities while in flight (to include filming in some fairly turbulent winds without any issue). It seemed to hover in the 20-23 minute range for my usage.
Here are a few short videos I put together with my very limited experience.
Executive Suites Hotel (Squamish, BC)
Our first official outing with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Morro Strand State Beach (Morro Bay, CA)
A quick (and little bit funky) video of the beach near my house.
Twilight Hour (Morro Bay, CA)
Shooting in low-light (just as the sun set) to see how well the camera performed in poor lighting conditions.
Marina Walk and Back Bay (Morro Bay, CA)
This entire thing was shot in one take (25-ish minutes of battery life). You can see during the point where I’m tracking along the estuary that the camera picks up even the slightest movement change. I think fixing this will come with time & experience.
Each of these videos was edited without much difficulty using Final Cut Pro on my MacBook Pro, with music from Facebook’s free audio library.
Review DJI Phantom PRO 4 Obsidian
Summary From wetsuits to wireless headphones, we get to test a lot of pretty cool things… but I can confidently say few have tickled our inner-geek quite as hard as the DJI Phantom PRO 4 Obsidian!