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DJI Phantom 4 Review - Performance

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DJI Phantom 4 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

DJI Phantom 4 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - In scenes with high levels of contrast, such as when the sun is in or near the frame, images can appear over-exposed, and when this occurs you can use the raw (Adobe DNG) images to recover highlight detail. The majority of the time, JPEG images produce good results, although care needs to be taken to avoid any smudges or fingerprints on the lens, as this can lead to a loss of contrast and flare. Colour reproduction is generally quite good, although tended to be cooler rather than warm on default colour options.

The camera tends to keep the ISO speed low, mostly shooting at ISO100 when used outdoors. There is no optical zoom, so if stills photography is your main aim, then you may want to consider a drone with a 16+ megapixel camera, interchangeable lenses, or optical zoom, so that you can alter the focal length, although these tend to cost roughly 3x as much. Alternatively, you just need to fly closer to your subject if you can. 

DJI Phantom 4 Lens test images

Lens Performance - With a wide-angle 20mm equivalent lens (in 35mm terms) the lens gives a 94-degree field of view (FOV), which isn't as wide as some drones and action cameras, however, this means that there is less barrel distortion visible compared to wider lenses. The camera also automatically corrects images for distortion and aberrations in-camera, so that JPEG images are corrected straight away, and it was difficult to spot any purple fringing or chromatic aberrations. It was also difficult to spot any problems with lens flare, despite deliberately trying to take photos with the sun in the frame.

Shooting with the HDR mode produces images that look quite artificial, and to get the best results, processing the raw files or editing the JPEG images to your own personal tastes could be necessary. Detail is reasonably good, and images are fairly detailed and quite sharp, particularly in the centre of the frame, but become softer outside of the centre of the frame. Whilst the drone's camera may not compare to a premium compact camera, the results produced are good enough, and the camera and gimbal solution provides a surprisingly stable platform for photography.

Video - There are a wide range of resolutions and frame rates available, as well as options for White Balance (including manual), sharpness, contrast, saturation, plus colour options, including black and white, and D-Log. It's a shame there isn't the option to record HDR video, or choose different compression options, as some may prefer a higher bitrate for higher video quality rather than 60Mbps. You can record in MP4 or MOV file formats, and also choose between PAL and NTSC. The ISO range available for video recording is ISO100 to ISO3200, and there is an anti-flicker setting.

Video resolution and frame rate options include: 

  • 4K Cine (4096x2160) at 25, 24fps
  • 4K UHD (3840x2160) at 30, 25, 24fps
  • 2.7K (2704x1520) at 30, 25, 24fps
  • FullHD 120, 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24fps
  • HD 720p at 60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24fps

There are options for the Gimbal, including FPV (first person view) or Follow, and further advanced settings. You can adjust the gimbal roll, as well as auto calibrate the gimbal.

The camera doesn't record sound (as all it would record would be the noise of the propellers), so you'll need to think about whether you are going to add sound to videos later, either music or alternatively by recording from where you are positioned with another recording device.

Video quality is good and tends to mirror the results we got with still photos, with sharp details in the centre of the frame, becoming softer as you look away from the centre of the frame. The stabilisation provided by the 3-axis gimbal is extremely impressive, producing stable and smooth video footage while you fly the drone in any direction, as well as when the drone is being flown in windy conditions. 

 

You can view more videos recorded with the DJI Phantom 4 on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Channel.


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Comments


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Chris_L 5 5.1k United Kingdom
18 Jul 2016 12:56AM

Quote:It's a shame there isn't the option to record HDR video

I've yet to use a camera that can record HDR video and can't think of a consumer camera that does that

The review neglects to mention the most important thing for video professionals - the log recording ability which, for video makers, is as important as being able to attach ND filters. Maybe you are mixing up HDR with LOG (like Sony S-LOG, Panasonic V-LOG etc.)? The DJI P4 does record log though.
joshwa Plus
8 898 United Kingdom
18 Jul 2016 8:16AM
Hi Chris,

No I'm not mixing up HDR with LOG. A few recent Canon DLSRs record HDR video ( Canon EOS 760D ), and a number of camera phones have HDR video recording - the HTC One had it in 2013.

As DJI Phantoms have used Sony sensors, and Sony make sensors capable of HDR video, it would make sense to see this implemented, particularly for consumers.

Thanks
Josh
Chris_L 5 5.1k United Kingdom
21 Jul 2016 2:32PM
Looks to me that the "HDR" you are talking about isn't real HDR, it's simply tone mapping done by combining two exposures producing video with a standard dynamic range. It's a gimmick and it's processor intensive and usually done at just 720p as two video files have to be recorded at the same time.

Video enthusiasts love Panasonic's GH4, Sony's A7S. A7S II, A7R II, FS-700 etc and one major selling point of those cameras is the ability to record in LOG. You even pay extra to do it with a GH4 and users pay happily.

That's why DJI introduced LOG, not some pseudo-HDR - The same D-LOG that gave their Inspire 12 stops of dynamic range - not important enough to mention when reviewing the video features of the drone?!

Don't even think you bothered to turn it on for doing your test videos. If you review a flying camera it's something you should be testing... Come on Josh! Take it out again, I can't buy based on the above! Grin

It's a bit like ignoring that a stills camera shoots raw!
harn11 1
2 Nov 2017 10:20AM
Chris_L, you are right, it is just tone mapping, i think Panasonic's GH4 and other like that are real ones. BTW, more reviews are available for the best drones like this at http://www.fitdrones.com/

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