THE BRAND NEW DJI PHANTOM 4 was released earlier this week. The technically advanced drone has some exciting new features such as longer battery life, touch screen flying, 120fps recording at 1080, and a sport mode that can reach speeds up to 44mph. The design is similar to the Phantom 3 series but it looks and feels sleeker and more aerodynamic. It has push and twist propellers which allows for an easy and fast setup. The new design keeps the propellers out of the shot at all times.
The two features that I was most excited about were active tracking and obstacle avoidance. Active tracking uses computer vision to recognize a 3-d image and follow that image. This allows the user to select a subject on screen and the drone will automatically follow and keep the subject in frame. This feature is extremely useful because it lets the pilot concentrate on the motion of the camera while the drone literally flies itself.
The obstacle avoidance feature allows the drone to react and avoid obstacles in its path. The Phantom 4 has front mounted optical sensors that prevent it from getting too close to an obstacle. As someone who has crashed his drone a number of times, the idea of having a drone with sensors restricting it from crashing into objects sounded too good to be true. And it was. The Phantom 4 was able to sense and avoid large objects like the bails of hay in this video but it failed to sense and avoid tree branches. The Phantom 4 can detect most objects but it has trouble sensing thin objects like power lines or small tree branches. Admittedly, I was going to be shocked if the sensors were able to detect the tiny tree branches, but I had to give it a try.
The Phantom 4 is an invaluable tool for any filmmaker. The 3-axis gimbal is more stable than ever before. This makes it easier than ever to capture professional quality video. The gimbal is integrated into a super lightweight magnesium core and allows for ultra-stable video footage. The camera shoots crisp 4k footage at 30fps and 1080p at 120fps.
While the Phantom 4 is definitely not crash proof, it has some extremely impressive features and is a big improvement from the Phantom 3. The active tracking alone makes the Phantom 4 worth the investment.