Its been a while since the Phantom 4 has been on the stores. The Partnership with Apple inc. and the evolution in the drone technology has taken DJI phantom 4 one step ahead of its competitors. Though Yuneec was the first to come up with both the obstacle avoidance and Active track, DJI was the first to come up with the working commercial product. DJI has always been one step ahead when it comes to getting this done and they never failed with their DJI 4.
The Phantom 3 was a great experience for Professional Droners. Many aerial photographers took the time out to test the product, take it to extremes and find out what it can achieve. Since the launch of Phantom 4 , there have been a lot of videos showing the ability of this bird and experimenting in various locations, wind conditions. There were a few range tests, tests on cameras, Battery life, Collision avoidance and active track.
While the DJI 4 is mostly the DJI with a few upgrades at first look, there is a lot going on under the hood.
DJI 4 First look
Nothing has changed at first look. The DJI 4 has no significant design changes. Its still a quad, The same size (almost). Still bulky. Just a bit shinier than its older self! For a newbie, he would hardly find a difference until he looked close. But whats under it is a bit more different from the cover itself.
4 Cameras for collision avoidance and ActiveTrack
That’s new to the DJI 4. There are 2 front facing cameras and 2 ground facing cameras, wired and ready to check. The obstacle avoidance module is one of the few highlights for the DJI 4 and is advertised extensively. While many of the pilots are excited about it, many would warn you to not completely rely on them. Obstacle avoidance has a bit of restrictions when it comes to wires, tree trunks, Glass or mirror objects. So if you were hoping to get the DJI 4 To follow you while you are cycling in the woods, You are probably going to have a broken drone and a $1399 bird in the bin!
The activetrack works extremely well and has the ability to track an object, person or even a face to some extent. The drone will float around the designated object as long as the person is visible. If you hide behind a wall, the drone will hover for a while, unless its an extended period of time when it will fly back to base.
Since the DJI for is equipped with only front facing cameras, your drone will not be able to detect objects behind it. Flying the drone backwards towards an object will inadvertently crash it, because there is no way to detect.
The DJI 4 Camera
There has been a few changes to the camera itself. While it was a great experience for aerial photographers with a dJI 3 Pro, the DJI 4 Cameras have a slight edge to it. The DJI 3 Pro and DJI 4 has 4K videos at 12MP , The DJI4 Goes a step ahead with 120 FPS with 1080P making slow motions look professional. The lens too has been changed on the DJI 4. While the DJI 3 has a plastic lens, the DJI features a Glass lens, which is far clearer. The only problem which the camera still faces is the Lens flare when facing light. Light facing videos have a lens flare in both DJI 4 and 3 cameras while the intensity is considerably lesser in the DJI4. While some of them wouldn’t find it a big issue and many actually like the lens flare in the videos, there are times when we all wish that there wasn’t one.
DJI 4 Battery, its life and the changes.
Yes its lipo, but your old DJI3 Batteries wouldn’t work. Everything from the charging to the battery size and shape is different. The fact that the battery costs $180-$190 per piece is adding more frustration to many people. It was always a problem to acquire batteries for the DJI due to limitation in stock, the DJI 4 website has come up with the option of a spare battery straight from the first purchase at the price of $1399. The chargers & the pins too are now different. Collaborating with apple, DJI now has the Apple compatible chargers and pins which look a lot better and less messy. But of course all this comes with the steady rise in price.
The dJI Phantom 4 Frame
Did we say that the DJI looks the same? Well it does but its what inside that makes the difference. The frame of the DJI 4 is made of magnesium, as opposed to aluminum in the previous versions. Magnesium turns out to be harder, yet lighter. With Lesser weight come a lot of features, including better agility, more precision, great stability, enhanced balance and better battery life. Though you don’t really see a lot of vibration on a DJI 3 , The DJI 4 Phantom is much more stable with little to no vibration at all, thanks to the magnesium frame. What more? The design has changed a bit in terms of battery placement, improving the centre of gravity of the drone, making flights more predictable and precise.
DJI Phantom 4 Enhanced Flight modes
The addition of sports mode in the DJI Phantom 4 is just one of the few additions which have created a lot of attention in drone enthusiasts. Enabling the Sports mode helps the drone to fly up to 45 Miles per hour, saving time in reaching a spot or returning to base a breeze. Other flight modes include Activetrack, TapFly, Intelligent Flight & Atti. Every mode has its own benefits and has been tested extensively by DJI. While there are slight improvements in each of these modes, the Sports mode is the one people are talking about.
The DJI Phantom 4 is tested to have up to 28 Minutes of flight time and a range of 5 KM with 720 P Steady video to the base. While these figures may not be the best in real time, Most people have tested up to 18 minutes of flight time but up to 6 Kilometers of range. The fly to base works perfectly with some cut off in the video, but the DJI 4 Phantom performs great even at a range which is not advertised by the company!
There is a lot of technological advancement in the DJI4 which may not be significant for most pilots, but these are great steps ahead in the UAV industry.
While the dJI phantom 4 May still be in its beginning stages of Obstacle avoidance and active tracking, the UAV industry is making progress every day.
New firmware’s with advanced features can be expected in the near future, not to mention better products and more features from competitors like 3DR and Yuneec.