Phantom 4 Pro Review

Phantom 4 Pro Review

After being wowed with the Phantom 4, few of us expected to be impressed again so soon by DJI. Yet we were; the DJI Phantom 4 Pro was dropped into our hands. Incorporating the same flight chassis as the Phantom 4, the 4 Pro implements some crucial upgrades that really set it apart from its predecessor. In this quick review we’ll tell you why the Phantom 4 Pro is worth the extra cost, and what improvements have been made.

We’ll let you decide whether or not it’s worth it.

Speed & Design

Let’s talk design. The Phantom 4 Pro chassis is basically the same as that of the Phantom 4. It’s sleek, white, and made with a core of magnesium a thick plastic shell. It weighs in at about 3 pounds (so it has to be registered with the FAA).  Like the Phantom 4, the camera is supported by a 3-axis gimbal and can shoot in 4k (but better now – we’ll touch on this later).

The Pro has a bigger, more intelligent battery. They say that you should never trust the flight-time estimates suggested by drone companies (as so many other factors affect battery-life), still this machine clocked in at about 24-25 minutes flight time.  The Pro can most certainly fly for longer than the Phantom 4. It also has a flight range of 4.3 miles.

One of the most talked about things in the design of the Pro is the sensor placement. What wowed everyone before about the Phantom 4 was collision avoidance. Quite literally, DJI brought the future to us; a drone with autonomous features that could avoid crashes on its own. That was a big deal. Well it has been improved.  The Pro has sensors everywhere. The front obstacle avoidance sensors are accompanied by another pair on the rear. On the sides of the drone there are both vision and infrared sensors. Both the front and back sensors of the Phantom 4 Pro can scan objects up to about 100 feet, while the side sensors can detect objects at about a third of that distance. The 4 Pro even has sensors that record the takeoff so that the drone knows where to ‘return home’.

See what we’re saying? This machine casts a protective bubble around itself. With the newly integrated sensor system it can practically detect anything around it (it is nearly 360 degrees sensor-safe). Better yet, the new and improved system can now fly at 31mph with obstacle avoidance on. That’s 9mph faster than the previous model. It’s important to note here that when in sports mode (45mph) obstacle avoidance will not work. So… as they say… fly at your own risk.

Camera

There have been some serious improvements in the camera department. Behind the camera (capable of 4k at 60fps and 20MP stills) lies a sensor about four times the size of its predecessor. Due to the new eight-element-lens system, shooting in low light (and in any light) has greatly improved. Of course, the more traditional rates of shooting are still available (30 and 24fps). But another big thing that’s changed is aperture control. The Phantom 4 Pro incorporates a new mechanical shutter which greatly reduces rolling shutter distortion (no thanks to shooting at 60fps!). For all of you serious photographers out there (and techies I suppose) – you’ll probably enjoy hearing that the camera supports H.265 4k at 30fps, H.264 4k at 60fps, and both incorporating a 100Mbps bitrate.

The only thing considered mildly negative about this new camera is that its range of vision is a bit narrower than the previous model. However, that element combined with the upgrades doesn’t really affect our opinion of the value of the changes in the camera department. The Phantom 4 Pro is simply engineered to capture better aerial photography.

Intelligent Flight Modes

All the intelligent flight modes found in the Phantom 4 are also in the Phantom 4 Pro, with a few additions. If you’re not sure what those were, no worries, we’ll run through them.

Active Track: Basically a feature that allows for the drone to track a moving object and hold on it (this object can also be yourself). Where this has improved in the Phantom 4 Pro is that now the drone can track when flying forwards or backwards – it will focus on the object and center it in frame regardless of its own position. This feature works better at close distances. By using the programmed algorithms it also supports three different modes with the Active Track intelligent feature:

Trace: It will follow either behind or in front of said subject, avoiding obstacles automatically

Profile: It will fly alongside said subject at multiple different angles

Spotlight: It will constantly keep the camera locked onto the subject despite where the drone flies

TapFly: Well, TapFly isn’t necessarily an intelligent feature within the drone but it allows for the pilot to direct the drone by simply taping on the screen. So let’s say you have your drone livestreaming FPV to your mobile device. All you have to do is click on a point and the drone will soar there. Keep in mind, the drone won’t make any crazy maneuvers or turns, but will guide easily into its turns.  What you get new in the Phantom 4 Pro is the TapFly free mode which allows for you to pilot the drone while keeping control of the camera (meaning drone can fly in one direction and the pilot can film in another).

Return Home: This is a feature that the Phantom 4 has, but now it is improved.  Instead of just following the way back to your ‘home’ point, the Phantom 4 Pro autonomously chooses the best, safest route back home, taking weather conditions and distance into consideration. This is possible because now the drone records where it goes from takeoff – so when it returns, it will land in the exact place it left.

Draw: This is a new feature of the Phantom 4 Pro not found in its predecessor. The pilot can draw a line to where they want the Phantom 4 Pro to go and it will move in that direction while maintaining speed, altitude, and whatever the camera mode is set on.

Controller

Now with this new Phantom, you don’t need to have a tablet or smartphone to have a clear image feed. Well, that’s if you purchase the more expensive ‘+’ model (it comes with the Phantom 4 Pro+ remote controller). This new remote has an integrated 5.5 inch 1080p display which is brighter than most smartphones or tablets.

With DJI-intelligent technology, the new controller has an optimized version of the DJI GO app that we know so well. Basically, it greatly reduces lag and is made specifically for the controller, so that everything is more precise, clear, and responsive. You won’t be surprised to know that it uses the DJI Lightbridge technology and can livestream FPV in HD. It also has a range of 4.3 miles and lasts for up to five hours at a time (which is pretty spectacular for controller life in the drone industry). As expected, the controller is a big white thing that sports two controller sticks, a power button, and a return home button in case you need to get your drone back to you ASAP.

Pricing

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is priced at $1499 on the DJI website. If you want the ‘+’ model you’re going to have to spend another couple hundred dollars for that remote.

A nice perk about the Phantom 4 series is that they all come with high-quality carrying cases. As for accessories, there’s a long list of add ons, including a backpack tailored specifically for the Phantom 4 Pro.

Overall

The Phantom 4 Pro is a big step up from the Phantom 4. It’s basically an optimization of an already highly optimized machine. With the new camera now shooting in higher-quality, with controlled shutter distortion and the optimized intelligent flight systems, longer battery life, and unbelievable sensor-support (even at 31mph!), this beauty is a huge step up from its predecessor and well worth the money. We’ve flown it and it tests out just like it is represented on paper.

The Phantom 4 Pro, like the Inspire 2, is a huge insight into what DJI is capable of accomplishing, and gives us a peek into the future. It’s become a standard in the industry as a whole and predicts how it’s going to continue to evolve. With all these new upgrades and improvements in the intelligence of the technology, we’re thrilled with where this industry is going. The Phantom 4 Pro wasn’t designed to meet the DJI standard of excellence; it was engineered to set a new one. It has succeeded.

Specs for all of you who are experienced and want to know what the Pro’s tech guts look like:

 

AIRCRAFT 

Weight (Battery & Propellers Included) 1388 g
Diagonal Size (Propellers Excluded) 350 mm
Max Ascent Speed S-mode: 6 mps; P-mode: 5 mps
Max Descent Speed S-mode: 4 mps; P-mode: 3 mps
Max Speed 45 mph (72 kph) (S-mode); 36 mph (58 kph) (A-mode); 31 mph (50 kph) (P-mode)
Max Tilt Angle 42° (S-mode); 35° (A-mode); 25° (P-mode)
Max Angular Speed 250°/s (S-mode); 150°/s (A-mode)
Max Service Ceiling Above Sea Level 19685 ft (6000 m)
Max Flight Time Approx. 30 minutes
Operating Temperature 32° to 104° F ( 0° to 40° C)
Satellite Positioning Systems GPS/GLONASS
GPS Hover Accuracy Range Vertical: ±0.1 m (With Vision Positioning); ±0.5 m (With GPS Positioning)
Horizontal: ±0.3 m (With Vision Positioning); ±1.5 m (With GPS Positioning)

 

VISION SYSTEM 

Velocity Range ≤31 mph (50 kph) at 6.6 ft (2 m) above ground
Altitude Range 0 – 33 ft (0 – 10 m)
Operating Range 0 – 33 ft (0 – 10 m)
Obstacle Sensory Range 2 – 98 ft (0.7 – 30 m)
FOV 60°(Horizontal), ±54°(Vertical)
Detection Frequency 10Hz
Operating Environment Surfaces with clear patterns and adequate lighting (> 15 lux)

 

CAMERA 

Sensor 1’’ CMOS; Effective pixels: 20M
Lens FOV (Field of View) 84°, 8.8 mm / 24 mm (35 mm format equivalent),
f/2.8 – f/11.
auto focus at 1 m – ∞
ISO Range Video: 100 – 3200 (Auto); 100 – 6400 (Manual)
Photo: 100 – 3200 (Auto); 100- 12800 (Manual)
Mechanical Shutter 8 – 1/2000 s
Electronic Shutter 8 – 1/8000 s
Max Image Size 3:2 Aspect Ratio: 5472 × 3648
4:3 Aspect Ratio: 4864 × 3648
16:9 Aspect Ratio: 5472 × 3078
PIV Image Size ・4096 × 2160 (4096 × 2160 24/25/30/48/50p)
・3840 × 2160 (3840 × 2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p)
・2720 × 1530 (2720 × 1530 24/25/30/48/50/60p)
・1920 × 1080 (1920 × 1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p)
・1280 × 720 (1280 × 720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p)
Still Photography Modes Single Shot
Burst Shooting: 3/5/7/10/14 frames
Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed
frames at 0.7EV Bias
Interval: 2/3/5/7/10/15/30/60 s
Video Recording Modes H.265
・C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
・4K:3840×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
・2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @65Mbps2720×1530 48/50/60p @80Mbps
・FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @50Mbps1920×1080 48/50/60p @65Mbps1920×1080 120p @100Mbps・HD: 1280×720 24/25/30p @25Mbps1280×720 48/50/60p @35Mbps1280×720 120p @60MbpsH.264
・C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
・4K:3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
・2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @80Mbps2720×1530 48/50/60p @100Mbps
・FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @60Mbps1920×1080 48/50/60 @80Mbps1920×1080 120p @100Mbps
・HD: 1280×720 24/25/30p @30Mbps

1280×720 48/50/60p @45Mbps

1280×720 120p @80Mbps

Video Storage Bitrate 100 Mbps
Supported File Systems FAT32 (≤ 32 GB); exFAT (> 32 GB)
Photo JPEG, DNG (RAW), JPEG + DNG
Video MP4/MOV (AVC/H.264;HEVC/H.265)
Supported SD Cards Micro SD, Max Capacity: 128GB.
Write speed ≥15MB/s, class 10 or UHS-1 rating required
Operating Temperature 32° to 104° F (0° to 40° C)

CHARGER

Voltage 17.4 V
Rated Power 100 W

 

 

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