Friday 4th March

Earlier this week, DJI introduced another game changer into the market of consumer quadcopters which has blurred the line even further between professional aerial video makers and advanced hobbyists. Tipped as the ‘the sexiest drone that DJI ever designed’ this new edition of the Phantom series has, I believe, re-written the rule book when it comes to film making – and did I mention that you can control this camera remotely from 5 kilometres away!

The Phantom 1, originally known as the Phantom, was released in January 2013 and onlookers would frequently see it equipped with a GoPro camera soaring overhead as those amateur film makers would aim to capture something unique to make them stand out from the crowd. The Phantom 2 was then released in December of that year, and included upgrades that included return to home, increased flight speed and controllable range which was complimented by an increased battery capacity.

The Phantom 2 Vision + was the only DJI product to have featured in my kit bag, for a brief period, and was one of the first models to introduce a three-axis electronic stabiliser which kept the shot steady regardless of changes in pitch, roll or yaw. That model was introduced back in July of 2014, now March 2016 the game has changed completely with this new model in the Phantom series, the Phantom 4, DJI’s smartest flying camera ever.

Whilst you can read about it in more detail on their website, I will cover some of its most aw-inspiring features in the next few paragraphs.

For a long time amateur drone pilots have had to manually avoid obstacles in their path in the sky but not for much longer. The new front obstacle sensors allow the drone to react to and avoid obstacles in its path. Their positioning system has also been re-defined sharpening up its positioning capabilities, allowing for greater security and confidence for those who choose to fly indoors. A new TapFly mode allows you to watch it fly autonomously without worry, and after a simple tap on the screen of the live view on your smartphone, you will simply send it flying in any direction you want.

With the continual advancements in camera sensors one would come to expect a 4K camera on this new model, and you would be correct. The high performance camera can shoot sharp, clean video up to 4K at 30fps and Full HD 1080p at 120fps for slow motion, through a newly designed lens that is claimed to dramatically increase sharpness. 12 megapixel Adobe DNG RAW images are also on offer for those aerial photographs looking for an edge.

For solo film makers like myself, we are supported by a new visual tracking system called Active Track. It makes tracking a moving subject as effortless as a few taps. Whilst newcomers to the drone market are making this feature possible with wristbands and wireless beacons this feature comes as standard in DJI’s new flagship Phantom 4. Pilots simply select their subject by turning on Moving POI (point of interest) and all the hard work tracking your subject, and framing them correctly is done for you.

The phantom makes use of revolutionary materials and refined aerodynamics which places the centre of gravity closer to the Phantom 4’s heart, which has improved its balance, enhanced its agility and added more accuracy to how it responds to your commands. It is claimed to have a maximum flight time of approximately 28 minutes, and I don’t think it will be very long before we see 30 minutes claimed by the manufacturers.

This will be one gadget firmly placed on the top of my wish list this year and I look forward to closely monitoring YouTube over the next few weeks to witness the aerial marvels that amateur film makers have to offer!