Flying/ filming with the DJI Phantom 4 includes lovely new footage from Switzerland!

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Again, sorry for the lack of recent posts; filming commitments and now an injury to my back has made it tricky to keep on top of the blog. I will try harder I promise.

I did an initial blog post on the new DJI Phantom 4 a few weeks back but I didn’t talk about actually flying it. Now having used it for a couple of months, I can say that it really is a lovely drone. An evolutionary not revolutionary upgrade to the Phantom 3. That revolutionary upgrade was from the Phantom 2 to the 3. The improvements here are great, but image-wise it is much the same, and most of the improvements are for features I don’t see myself using much – the tracking, obstacle avoidance etc. Most definitely it is a sleeker and somewhat sexier machine as in that previous blog post.

 

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The Phantom 3 on the left with the Phantom 4 on the right

 


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Whist visiting Switzerland to give a talk at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, in the very short time I was there I flew my P4 around Lac Leman/ Lake Geneva as it was so damn gorgeous. I flew in areas that I double checked with my hosts that I could fly in, and I did research myself. In one spot I was right on the cusp by about 100 metres, which wasn’t intentional at all. Once I found this out I stopped.

Lausanne really is a beautiful place to film, and all my flying was out over the lake or up in the surrounding hills. I most definitely have conquered my fear of flying over water!

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When I flew through some vines, I had to switch into sport mode to disable the obstacle avoidance. Otherwise it would have just stopped and not moved as they were too close. A word of warning…those sensors are only on the front, not the sides or rear. Also I did some tests with myself as guinea pig, and it stopped short of me every time bar one where it just went past my head. Use it as a safety backup, not as a matter of course. Manual control and careful flying are essential. The tracking feature especially is a risky one with only the front sensors, it could track your chosen person sideways and fly into a tree quite easily! You can see my successful Jackass test below…don’t try that yourself please. I am an idiot!

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Is it worth the upgrade over the P3? Yes and no. A lot of the improvements are internal to make it more reliable and perform better as an aircraft. Mostly things you won’t immediately notice, but better internals and more reliability are most definitely good things! They still need to improve the codec and give it a higher bitrate. The image seems the same as the P3. I think it is a much nicer machine and feels better built. If you have invested in a P3 with lots of batteries, you might want to stick with what you have for now as the P4 batteries are different. They do last longer though. It’s a tough call! I have replaced my two P3s with two P4s.

You can see some more P4 shots from Utah with my first of a new series of vlogs, this one is my NAB Post Mortem Part 1, Part 2 is done and waiting for approval before sharing!

All in all, it’s such a joy to fly and still the most fun you can have whilst filming. I love my Inspire 1 as it’s so solid and resistant to heavier wind, but the image is identical to the P3 and P4 as far as I can see. The Inspire 1 Pro is a big step up with its larger sensor and interchangeable lenses, I just wish that bitrate was upped here too. I may get the X5 raw camera soon which is a massive step up in quality. I just wish there were a halfway choice. For now, the P4 is my favourite drone. It’s so light, easier to set up and nimble as hell, plus with practice you can get some lovely slick moves that normally would require an Inspire 1 and second operator.

A quick word on profiles. I still am not using log on them as I dont think the codec can withstand it. I just bring my contrast down all the way, saturation down -1 and sharpness down -1.

Happy flying and be safe! I am doing my PFAW with Heliguy. Check out their upcoming courses below!Screenshot 2016-05-30 21.41.55

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