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DJI Phantom 4 Review - Verdict

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DJI Phantom4 In Air 2 Wide

Value For Money

The DJI Phantom 4 is available for £1123 which makes it quite good value for money, although there are a number of alternatives available:

Yuneec Q500 4K Full Version - 12mp, 4K video, includes controller with screen, two batteries, aluminium case, 1700g, 25 minutes, £879*
Yuneec Typhoon H - 12mp, 4K video, 360 camera, collision avoidance, includes controller with screen, two batteries, 1950g, 25 minutes, £1399
DJI Phantom 3 Professional - 12mp, 4K video, 1280g, 23 minutes, £949
XIRO Xplorer-V Smart Drone, 14mp, FullHD video, 3-axis gimbal, 995g, 25 minutes, £549
3DR Solo Drone, 1800g (with GoPro and Gimbal), 20 minutes, £978 (including Gimbal, excluding GoPro)

* Camera can also be used separately with included 3-axis gimbal

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your drone safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

DJI Phantom 4 Verdict

In terms of drone photography and video, the DJI Phantom 4 is one of the best available, with a stylish design and magnesium core for strength. As DJI are one of the leading and most popular brands in the consumer drone industry, it makes sense that the 4th version of the Phantom would perform brilliantly. The Phantom 4 offers a long flight time, an excellent 3-axis gimbal for steady video and photography, and gives advanced controls and options, as well as being easy to fly for beginners. Thanks to quick release blades, it is quick and easy to install and remove the blades, so that you can get flying quickly.

There are others on the market that are doing things differently, and it's a shame that there is no optical zoom available, although you can easily fly closer to the subject. The camera system is completely integrated into the drone, it would be good if you had the option to upgrade the camera at a later date or choose a different camera and lens (without having to go up to a much more expensive drone). You also need a smartphone or tablet to control the drone, with some alternatives offering a built-in screen. A spare battery is also a worthwhile investment.

Image quality is generally quite good, with the camera using a low ISO speed most of the time, and the f/2.8 lens is good. Although for stills protographers, you may need to edit raw files to get the most out of images. For most people, this drone will be used for video recording, and here the drone is capable of recording some excellent 4K footage, thanks to the 3-axis gimbal system, which keeps the footage stable regardless of wind and flight conditions.

Depending where you live, it's important to be aware of your local authorities flying guidelines for drones, with the UK CAA providing these guidelines, which restrict you to keeping the drone within sight at all times, and at a maximum height of 400 feet / 120 metres. NoFlyDrones provide an interactive map of no fly zones in the UK, which are worth checking depending on your location. If you are in the US, the FAA provides these guidelines, which are fairly similar to the UK's regulations. 

If you want an easy to fly drone, with good photo and video quality and some built-in protection against crashes, then the DJI Phantom 4 is an excellent choice. It's a shame the collision detection doesn't include flying the drone backwards. And if you're unlikely to need some of the features on the Phantom 4, then some of the previous models offer similar features and specifications for quite a noticeable price difference. For those that want an easy to use, fun, drone that's capable of adding an extra edge to photography and video, then the DJI Phantom 4 is definitely recommended.

DJI Phantom 4 Pros

Easy to fly with Beginner mode
Comes with protective case and lens cover
4K video with lots of options
Good 12-megapixel photo modes
Improved flight time
Follow feature
Direct firmware update from smartphone 
HDR shooting mode
High-speed video mode
Lots of fun!

DJI Phantom 4 Cons

No zoom
White drone is easy to lose in bright sky
Price compared to P3 Advanced/Professional
Some other remotes feature a built-in screen
Sometimes height drops 
Loud

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The DJI Phantom 4 offers an easy-to-use drone with an excellent 3-axis gimbal for steady photos and high-quality video.

 


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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
9 902 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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