Technology

DJI Phantom 3, Your First Drone


Drone’s have taken over the market. You can see them flying around just about anywhere and even with such a short battery life they are extremely fun to play with and an amazing tool for capturing video and images.

What is the DJI Phantom?

The Phantom is the quadcopter you probably think about when you hear the word drone. The Chinese company, DJI, is leads the market in selling drones and their Phantom series is by far the bestseller. The drone uses an HD camera and depending on which version you purchase can shoot 2.7k or 4k video.

I personally purchased the $499 DJI Phantom 3 Standard Edition. The drone comes right out of the box ready to fly. Their quick-start guide really makes the whole setting up experience really easy as well as the actual DJI app that you must download on your smartphone or tablet to fly. DJI dropped the prices on all of their latest drones and for $499 you will not find something even close to the Phantom 3. A cheap knockoff drone for $499 will not have nearly as many features as the Phantom 3, nor will it be as easy to set up. From unboxing to your first flight, you can have this thing set up in half an hour. Your only issue will be that the battery does not come fully charged out of the box so you’ll only get a few minutes of air time.

The drone can take off automatically with the push of a button and even uses GPS signal to know where it is at. With the GPS signal, you can set a “Home Point” that the drone will return to if it’s battery is low, it lost signal to the controller, or you simply told it to. In order to stabilize it’s flight, the Phantom 3 must be connected to GPS signal or it will not fly properly.

Why the Standard Edition?

Phantom 3 CameraLike I mentioned before, DJI is having an amazing sale right now to celebrate their 10th anniversary. This mean that you can pick up the drone and get flying immediately for only $499. The more expensive models come with upgraded cameras and controller. The upgraded controller would allow you to fly your drone up to 3 miles away, but unfortunately that distance breaks FAA regulation anyways. Besides, with your first drone you really want to keep the price low. As a rookie pilot accidents do happen…often, and it would be a shame to throw away a really expensive drone after one crash. Keeping the drone in eyesight will usually be your best option and help keep the cost lower.

The camera on the Standard Edition shoots at a maximum resolution of 2.7k. Shooting videos in this mode theoretically captures a better quality video, but there is a smaller crowd using 4k monitors and TV’s, most viewers will still be watching your shots on 1080p. Down-sampling, or converting the higher quality video to lower quality, creates a better looking lower quality video but will still take up a ton of space on your SD card. Because of the lack of viewers watching on 4k devices, sticking with a maximum 2.7k or even shooting in straight 1080p might actually be beneficial as it will safe you money, space on your SD card, and save you the trouble of editing such a power hungry file. Editing higher resolution videos can only be done on newer, faster, computers.

Pricing and Accessories

Amazon by far has the cheapest price when it comes to the Phantom. You only save a few dollars, but I recommend paying the full price and getting the 32gb SD card. The drone comes with an 8gb Phantom 3 Casealready installed into the camera but higher quality videos will quickly fill that up. On top of that, the battery is only meant to last around 25 minutes. It takes a ton of energy to keep this thing flying, recording, and sending information to and from your smartphone. Batteries aren’t cheap as they are a little under a $150. I recommend getting one additional battery so you can have nearly an hour of flight time without finding an outlet to charge as well as a travel carrying case. I’m not the biggest fan of the Phantom Backpack but there are some great off-brand cases that will help keep all your accessories together and your drone safe.

 

If you ever want to know more about the drone, feel free to comment or email me at zstephan@guysdomain.com