The Phantom 4 officially went on sale March 15, 2016. Drone lovers will find the Phantom 4 to do nearly everything the Phantom 3 does well; as well as some added features. So what exactly does the Phantom 4 do that the Phantom 3 did not do. In addition to the chart below, the Phantom 4 is also faster than the Phantom 3 by 10 mph and has a longer signal range by 2 miles.
|Phantom 4||Phantom 3(Professional & Advanced)|
|Flight Time||28 mins||Approx. 23 mins|
|Obstacle Sensing System||Yes.||N/A|
|Vision Positioning System||Yes
Effective range is 0-10m
Effective range is 0.3-3m
|Slow Motion Video Recording||Yes: 1920×1080@120fps||N/A|
|Weight inc battery||1380g||1280g|
|Max. Flight Speed||20m/s (Sport Mode)||16m/s (Atti Mode)|
|Max. Ascent/Descent Speed||6m/s ascending (Sport Mode);
4m/s descending (Sport Mode)
|Intelligent Flight Battery Capacity||5350mAh||4480mAh|
From my experience the Phantom 4 is incredibly easy to handle and fly. Most semi-experienced drone operators can take the controls of the the Phantom 4 and have a fairly easy time piloting it. The obstacle sensing system is a nice feature that is a addition from the Phantom 3. The thing to take note of here is that the optical cameras that help with the object avoidance system only work if the drone is flying forward. If the drone is flying backwards or sideways; the object avoidance system will not engage so don’t rely on it in those cases.
It was actually more difficult to get the drone calibrated and ready to fly than it was to actually begin flying it. Basically, we have been practicing line of sight flying with our drone since we are still somewhat new to it. Obviously, flying line of sight will simplify things to an extent in terms of the possibility of running into unforeseen obstacles; but in the long term you have to become comfortable with flying the Phantom 4 even when you can’t see it.
For operators who are looking to fly the Phantom 4 in lower light or dark conditions, the red and green lights on the bottom of the drone come in handy. Not only do they allow you to keep a line of sight with the drone, they also allow you to keep track of which way the drone is facing. When below the drone, the red lights are the front, while the green lights signify the back of the drone (a little counter intuitive, but you get the hang of it).
Take off is fairly simple. After connecting the propellers to the correct shafts; you can take off manually with the controller, or you can use the shortcut auto takeoff from the controls on the smart phone app. We have found the auto takeoff to be sufficient for our needs as it gets the craft running and hovering at around 7 or 8 feet. From there it’s easy to ascend and continue your flight. Either way is functional and it just comes down to personal preference.
Take off video
The camera on the Phantom 4
Like the Phantom 3, the Phantom 4 has a 4k UHD camera attached to a 3 axis gimbal. An operator can record anywhere from 1280 x 720p all the way to 4096 x 2160 (2160p or 4k). You can recored in .MOV, .MP4, OR MPEG format. The specs of the Phantom 4 are almost identical to the DJI Zenmuse Z3 which is the camera included on the base level DJI Osmo Handheld 4K and DJI Inspire 1 v2.0 . With the Phantom 4 it is possible to record a 120 FPS slow motion at 1080p resolution.
|Sensor||1/2.3” Effective pixels:12 M|
|Lens||FOV ( Field Of View ) 94° 20 mm ( 35 mm format equivalent ) f/2.8 focus at ∞|
|ISO Range||100 – 3200 ( video ) 100 – 1600 ( photo )|
|Electronic Shutter Speed||8 s to 1/8000 s|
|Max Image Size||4000×3000|
|Still Photography Modes||Single shot|
|Burst shooting: 3 / 5 / 7 frames|
|Auto Exposure Bracketing ( AEB ): 3 / 5 bracketed frames at 0.7 EV Bias|
|Video Recording Modes||UHD: 4096×2160 (4K) 24 / 25p|
|3840×2160 (4K) 24 / 25 / 30p|
|2704×1520 (2.7K) 24 / 25 / 30p|
|FHD: 1920×1080 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p|
|HD: 1280×720 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60p|
|Max Video Bitrate||60 Mbps|
|Supported File Systems||FAT32 ( ≤ 32 GB ); exFAT ( > 32 GB )|
|Photo||JPEG, DNG ( RAW )|
|Video||MP4 / MOV ( MPEG – 4 AVC / H.264 )|
|Supported SD Cards||Micro SD, Max capacity: 64GB. Class 10 or UHS-1 rating required|
|Operating Temperature||32° to 104° F ( 0° to 40° C )|
The Phantom 4 comes with a gimbal clamp that protects both the lens and the camera body of the drone by keeping it covered as well as locked in place while transporting. It is very important to remember to attach the gimbal clamp before packing the Phantom 4 away as it could sustain significant damage to the camera body and lens otherwise.
DJI Promotional Video Phantom 4
Tips for starting with the Phantom 4
You will get advice all over the internet about the hoops that you need to jump through with different modes, features, and even modifications you need to make or activate before using your drone. My advice is- just start cautiously flying it in a somewhat controlled environment. This will end up being the best way you can gain real world experience with the Phantom 4. You can read the manual cover to cover three times and still make mistakes when you are out in the real world.
- Make sure you are not in a restricted airspace when you are going to fly the Phantom 4. Check your flight area before-hand US Airspace Map
- Don’t fly the Phantom 4 out of line of sight when you are first starting.
- Don’t fly in low light or dark.
- If you are in extremely bright conditions; find somewhere with some shade to operate the drone because it will be difficult to see the display on the phone otherwise.
- Keep your eye on the battery level- the red lights on the Phantom 4 will start to blink and beep warning you that the battery is beginning to run low. My advice would be not to push this. If the battery starts to run low; bring it down and replace with a fresh battery or recharge.
- Don’t fly in sport mode unless you are an advanced drone operator.
- Do perform the basic calibrations before you fly.
- Have fun! People tend to take drones waaaaayyyyyyyy too seriously. If you want some inspiration for how to fly drones and actually have fun with it- check out some of Casey Neistat’s work with drones – Casey Neistat
Whats included with the base level Phantom 4 kit
Aircraft Body x 1
Remote Controller x 1
Propeller pairs x 4
Intelligent flight battery x 1
Battery Charger x 1
Power cable x 1
Gimbal clamp x 1
USB OTG cable x 1
Micro USB cable x 1
Micro SD card x 1 (16GB)
There are a whole host of accessories most of which you can find here- However, the most useful accessories we have purchased are the DroneGuard Backpack and extra intelligent batteries. The extra batteries will come in handy for obvious reasons. With a flight time of 28 min (more like 22) on a full charge; having extra batteries to use is almost a necessity. On a longer shoot the last thing you want to do is be waiting for a battery to charge.
The other item I would recommend for anyone planning to use the drone regularly is a DroneGuard Backpack designed to hold the Phantom 4. There are many different backpacks available for the Phantom 4. The one we chose works extremely well and holds all of the parts of the Phantom 4, as well as the unit itself, quite well. The backpack is comfortable and a provides the necessary support and protection that the drone needs. The drone, batteries, and controller all have their own compartments and there is still some room for miscellaneous items.
Anyone who is considering a drone should probably take a look at the Phantom 4. Although there are some newer models available now with the DJI Mavic Pro (which is actually cheaper than the Phantom 4); the Phantom 4 has been the standard for DJI drones for some time now. So while there are newer models available; the Phantom 4 actually outperforms the DJI Mavic Pro in many areas. Even beginner operators will find the Phantom 4 controls easy to use and the interface intuitive. If its in your budget, the Phantom 4 is an excellent choice for anyone looking to add a drone to their arsenal.