DJI are killing it when it comes to the drone industry, making the best consumer drone, with the Phantom 4 and a bloody great entrant in the pro market with the Inspire. Overnight DJI update both, making them even better.
The DJI Phantom 4 Professional improves on what was already a great platform, in some very important ways.
When you pour a couple of thousand into a drone, the last thing you want to see is that drone crash. While the Phantom 4 already detected objects in front of it, the drone can fly in multiple directions, leaving a large potential danger vector where it’d be possible to bin it.
With the new Phantom 4 Pro, you could hand the controller to an inexperienced friend or family member and have confidence the drone is smart enough to implement self-preservation. With a new array of cameras and sensors, the 5-directions of obstacle sensing and four-directions of obstacle avoidance, protects the Phantom 4 Pro from more obstacles.
In a practical sense, this technology will deliver confidence to attempt complex flight paths to achieve shots you otherwise would be nervous to attempt.
The system is now able to detect obstacles up to 30m in front (up to 50kph), allowing it to plan its flight path to avoid them or simply hover in the event of an emergency. This same system also allows it to hover in position without GPS, this is handy in large indoor areas that may not have access to GPS satellites. There’s infrared sensors on its left and right sides so the Phantom 4 Pro can avoid obstacles in a total of four directions. This is incredibly important to ensure you can safely perform high speed turns where you battle the traditional sideways drift.
Remote Controller with Build-in screen
When you unbox the Phantom 4, you’ll need to source a controlling device, typically the phone in your pocket. Some pilots prefer to use a dedicated device like a 7″ tablet as the controller display. The new Phantom 4 Pro now comes with an option to buy it with an integrated display. It doesn’t come cheap at an additional A$500 for the 5.5″ 1080p display.
If you’ve ever flown the Phantom 4 at speed, you’ll know its difficult to fly from looking at the screen alone. This is due to an ever so slight delay between the drone’s camera and the video broadcast to your controller. Generally operation is fine, but at top speed, you could easily miss a smaller object until its too late.
DJI understand they needed to do better and upgraded the Lightbridge HD video transmission system, adding support for 5.8 GHz transmission. The ability to choose between 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz allows pilots to cut through interference and eliminates image lag caused when flying in an area with extensive 2.4Ghz frequency use.
By using different frequencies, the video transmission system and the controller avoid interfere with each other eliminating image lag.
The existing camera in the Phantom 4 was fantastic, but DJI’s not sitting still. In the Pro, there’s an updated camera featuring a 1″ 20-megapixel sensor capable of shooting 4K/60fps video. Previous models only allowed 4K at 30fps and you had to drop to 1080 quality to access 60 and 120fps, so for those looking for silky smooth 4K, this is a very welcome addition.
Individual stills can now be captured at 20MP. The burst mode stills can be captured at 14 fps, but honestly, most times the quality of the 4K video allows you to grab stills with more than enough quality.
The insides of the drone are now made of titanium magnesium alloys, making it stronger while reducing weight. The next step would be carbon fibre, but that’s still crazy expensive.
1-Inch 20MP Sensor
DJI have left the days of GoPro support well behind them, instead understanding camera technology is now a core competency. A custom engineered lens made up of eight elements is arranged in seven groups, it is the first DJI camera to use a mechanical aperture that eliminates rolling shutter distortion that can occur when taking images of fast moving subjects or when flying at high speed and a mechanical focus.
DJI say this now places the camera on the Phantom 4 Pro in equal footing with many traditional ground cameras, with one obvious massive benefit.
The Pro gives you the choice of using the H.264 codec for 4K videos at 60fps or the newer H.265 4K at 30fps, both with a 100Mbps bitrate. Lets pause on that for a second.. 100Mbps that’s double a Blu-ray disc.
Price and Availability
For more information head to http://store.dji.com/product/phantom-4-pro where you can grab the Phantom 4 Pro for A$2,599 or the A$3,099 for the version with the controller display. The estimated shipping time is currently one to two weeks.