By now you must have heard about the Phantom 4, DJI’s latest and greatest consumer drone. After all, the DJI Phantom 4 has been out for a while now and pretty much everybody has done a review on it.
Except for us….
Although we did quite a few comparison articles we never really reviewed the Phantom 4.
And we’ll admit, when DJI relased the DJI Phantom 4, we weren’t really that impressed (read “Forget about the DJI Phantom 4” for more about that).
Although the technical improvements over the DJI Phantom 3 are amazing (see “DJI Phantom 3 vs Phantom 4, which one is better“), we were a bit underwhelmed when looking at it from a consumer point of view.
After all, the camera (or rather, the lens) got a tiny upgrade and obstacle avoidance didn’t seem that interesting to us.
But, we’re a couple of months down the road and have been flying the Phantom 4 for just as long. So do we still feel the same or have we changed our opinion?
Read on to find out.
As you might have already guessed from the title, we did indeed change our mind.
And although we still think it may not be worth upgrading for a lot of people who have the Phantom 3 Professional, we do feel the Phantom 4 is the best choice for everybody else.
So what exactly made us change our mind?
In the end it turned out to be the little things that swung the balance to the other side for us.
Phantom 4’s stability
3 Second exposures turn out incredibly sharp which is great for anybody who is into photography.
The Phantom 3 just can’t match it. Or at least, we can’t with the Phantom 3. Perhaps somebody out there can work his/her flight magic and match the Phantom 4’s stability in long exposure but to us it would be just that, magic.
And although, at first glance, the improved stability might not seem like a big thing to a lot of people, it really is.
Not only does the extra stability make it a lot more easy to produces more usable night-time shots, when you combine it with the use of ND filters for the Phantom 4, it allows you to be a lot more creative with your photographs.
F.i. you can use it to blur the moving clouds or waving grass when shooting landscapes or to soften water and make it smooth when shooting seascapes, waterfalls or flowing water in general.
Phantom 4’s lens
This again is likely only interesting to photographers but less artifacts definitely makes a difference.
It’s something that doesn’t really matter when you just use your photos on the web but as soon as you start printing them at larger sizes the difference starts becoming very noticeable.
The difference is actually bigger than we expected, especially in shadow areas.
It’s actually so much of a difference that we no longer have Phantom 3 aerial shots on our walls. They have all been replaced by photos made with the Phantom 4.
Phantom 4 video
Third, 4K video.
Yes, the Phantom 3 Professional has 4K video as well. That’s the reason we said it’s probably still not worth upgrading for a lot of people who now fly the Phantom 3 Pro. Photographers being the exception here, they should definitely consider upgrading in light of the previous 2 points.
But why do we care about 4K video at all? After all, lot of people can’t even watch 4K video yet and even more people don’t have the processing power to edit 4K.
This is something that we already explained in our article “Making better video with your Phantom 4“. So we’ll just go ahead and quote ourselves:
“By shooting 4K and downsampling to 1080p you can often keep more detail in your video and you can improve some of the colors in the footage as well. And not only that, you’ll also be able to digitally zoom in on parts of the footage, if you want to do so, without compromising the quality of the final product.
And there is another advantage. 4K may not be the standard yet but it’s moving to be. When it becomes the standard you’ll be happy that you have 4K footage laying around that you can re-use for projects. Especially if you use your drone commercially. And storage is cheap these days anyway so that’s not something we really have to worry about.”
When the Phantom 4 just came out we didn’t give DJI enough credit when it came to ActiveTrack. It seemed like a nice feature but we wanted control over the shot instead of the Phantom 4’s on-board computer deciding what it wants to shoot.
As it turns out, DJI has given us that.
While in ActiveTrack mode we can still use the sticks to control the Phantom 4. This allows us to focus on composing our shot while the Phantom 4 tracks our subject.
It’s a bit like having another pilot who flies the drone while we just focus on composing our video shots. Because of that, ActiveTrack turned out to be a great feature after all.
Aside from ActiveTrack the DJI Phantom 4 has another special mode, TapFly.
TapFly does exactly what you would expect from the term. Tap somewhere on the screen of your device and the Phantom 4 will fly there all by itself. You don’t have to use the remote controller at all. And the best thing is, it works with Obstacle Avoidance. This means that you can just tap to send the drone somewhere and it will automatically avoid obstacles that are in it’s way. Flying a DJI drone has never been more as easy as this.
Finally, and this is really a silly one, we really like the way it looks. The Phantom 4 has definitely grown on us and by now we like the way it looks better than the Phantom 3. (Come on, don’t judge us, we told you this was a silly reason).
But there is more…
These are the reasons that have swayed us, experienced pilots.
How about the Phantom 4 for beginners?
We’ve already answered the question is the DJI Phantom 4 the best drone to start with?
And we still stand by pretty much everything we’ve said in that article.
But, we’ve let complete beginners fly the Phantom 4 with just a minimum of instruction and it surprised us to see how well they did.
All it takes is a single press of a button in the DJI Go app and your Phantom 4 is up in the air, hovering, waiting for you to take control of it. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
And after flying, automatic landing takes care of something that we’ve seen some beginners have problems with.
When first landing a quadcopter we’ve seen a lot of people spending some time figuring out exactly how to land. Usually, they have their drone jumping around all over the landing area until they get this part of flying down.
But the Phantom 4’s automatic landing, although a bit rough to our eyes, does an impressive job and keeps impact down to a minimum. It generally bounces once and that’s it.
Most beginners don’t fly the way we do when we’re filming. Rather than moving sideways and/or backward, they tend to fly in pretty straight lines, mainly going forward. And while doing that, Obstacle Avoidance did very well indeed, preventing several accidents from happening.
Granted, we made sure that none of the new people flew in Sport mode or things could have gone wrong after all.
So take this nugget of advice, if you’re new to the DJI Phantom 4, don’t fly in Sport mode until you completely stop relying on Obstacle Avoidance (or if you’re in a desert with no obstacles at all within flight range).
Based on this, maybe we can change our advice a bit.
Yes, a beginner can definitely fly the DJI Phantom 4.
But, if you buy a DJI Phantom 4 as your first drone we still recommend you also get something like the Syma X5C as well. Learn to fly with that, at the same time as your Phantom 4. That way you can get great quality video right from the start while you learn to “really” fly on the X5C. And, if the electronics in the Phantom 4 go haywire for some reason, you’ll be able to take control of your Phantom 4 and fly it back manually.
So if you’re looking for a (new) drone then we can wholeheartedly recommend the DJI Phantom 4. It’s a great quadcopter that is fun to fly and will get you great video footage as well as great photographs!
You can easily order yours by just clicking the image below.
As you might have noticed, we didn’t include the specifications for the Phantom 4 in this article. The main reason is that we already published those in another article so if you’re interested in the specifications check out: “DJI Phantom 3 vs Phantom 4 – Which one is better“.
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When you buy the Phantom 4, you may also want to look at accessories for it. You’ll find our recommendations in this article: DJI Phantom 4 – 10 must have accessories. These accessories will help you enjoy using your DJI Phantom 4 even more.
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