Made by the well-known DJI company, the first choice of professional filmmakers for any type of serious aerial video or photography recording is its Phantom 3 Professional quadcopter drone. DJI introduced professional aerial video recording for the masses and enabled anyone who owned a “Phantom” to venture into mainstream cinematography. The successful “Phantom” series of camera-equipped drones have made it possible for anyone to make impressive aerial footage with ease. Chances are that most of the videos you’ve watched on popular video sharing sites, included in some parts, footage made by a Phantom series quadcopter. Let us explore what new improvements DJI introduced with the third model of their iconic camera quadcopter series.
Drone size: 22 x 16.5 x 9.4 inches
Drone weight: 2.5 pounds
4k UHD video recording with fully stabilised 3-axis gimbal
Vision Positioning system allows stable flight indoors
GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation system
Lightbridge digital streaming allows live viewing of 720p video (full resolution video is simultaneously recorded on the internal microSD card)
Included flight battery and rechargeable remote controller means this system is ready to fly out of the box
DJI Pilot app for iOS and Android allows live viewing and complete camera control (phone/tablet sold separately; see DJI’s website for compatible models)
Comes with a hardback carry case
The Retail Package Includes:
- Phantom 3 Professional 4K quadcopter
- 3-Axis Camera Gimbal
- Remote Controller
- 4 x Propeller Pair
- 2 x Intelligent Flight Battery
- Battery Charger
- Power Cable
- Safety Guidelines
- Quick Start Guide
- Gimbal Clamp
- 4x Vibration Absorber
- 16GB Micro-SD Card
- Micro-USB Cable
- 2x Anti-Drop Kit
- 4x Landing Pad
- Hardshell Backpack
- User manual
- DJI USA Warranty
The most expensive and the latest of the Phantom series introduces small yet valuable improvements. This is a familiar tried-and-tested approach of incremental upgrades we are used to seeing in DJI made products. As a true professional grade product, the Phantom 3 is equipped with all the latest tech that will benefit both professional and novice drone users.
The 4K camera is improved compared to the previous models and it is mounted on a fully stabilised 3-axis gimbal which has smooth and jitter free movement. We found that the footage quality is impeccable and not even in stronger winds were there any signs of stutters or motion related artefacts. The videos are recorded in Ultra HD resolution and there are lower video resolutions to choose from if needed.
Video resolutions that are available include:
- 4K Ultra HD: 4096x2160p at 24/25 fps,
- 4K Ultra HD: 3840x2160p at 24/25/30 fps,
- 1080p Full HD: 1920x1080p at 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps and
- HD: 1280x720p at 24/25/30/48/50/60 frames per second.
The photography is also a strong point of the improved camera module. The 12 Megapixel resolution photos look sharp and resolve plenty of details. Both video and photo modes include full manual settings for complete quality customization.
Even though the camera performs great for both videos and photos it did struggle when it came to low light scenario recording. In the absence of light, the camera shows its weakness since there is plenty of noise in both video and photo modes. Sunrise and sunset time made recordings are just fine and exhibit no noise whatsoever. Without a doubt, this is the best 4K drone camera at this price range.
The Phantom 3 quadcopter flying prowess is excellent although it is what we are used to by now when it comes to any DJI made drone. The flight range has been upgraded to an impressive figure of 5 kilometres range on unobstructed skies although we only tested it as far as 3 km which is more than enough to the majority of users. Most of the drone operators use their Phantoms within the visual range so these range figures are mostly useful for exploring hostile and out of reach environments.
The aerial performance is stable and reliable and the speed and climb rates are very impressive. We found it easy to control the Phantom 3 and when we gave it to our family members, who are beginner flyers, they were surprised how easy it was to operate it with no prior experience. Yes, the Phantom 3 is very newbie friendly and it can take off and land by itself and as soon as the controls are left alone, it stabilises in hover mode exactly where you left it.
The included Beginner Mode can even limit the area the Phantom can operate in and keep it in a safe confinement of a predefined space. The GPS and GLONASS dual positioning mode enables these autonomous functions and it also enables setting waypoints that the Phantom can follow so that the operators can focus on making great videos without needing to do the flying part at the same time.
Ease of Use
The included Lightbridge Video Downlink offers a useful 720p HD live video transmission of what the camera is seeing and it is nice as both an FPV feature and for those who would like to fly the drone with greater precision. The remote controller is as good as in the previous models and very comfortable to use. The mobile application works great and also serves as a remote controller too and the users operate the drone using the touchscreen controls. The mobile app offers complete customization of both drone and the camera settings and adjustments on the fly.
The Intelligent batteries lasted around 20 minutes during our testing and since there are spares included in the package, swapping them is easy for extending the filming session time with ease. Using the included charger they can be refilled back to full capacity in just under an hour.
What we don’t like, overall, is the higher price of additional accessories which you may find useful and even necessary. Also, the customer support doesn’t seem all that responsive to the customer’s dissatisfaction and critique. The online forums and shopping sites are filled with plenty of unsatisfied and angry customers.
What can’t be ignored is the fact that this is the best quadcopter drone at this price and seeing how it is so popular among video making pro’s – the Phantom 3 series is a complete success. The Phantom 3 Professional model we tested here proved to be an almost perfect camera quadcopter drone and we can highly recommend it as being an incredible quality and feature packed product with a great value overall.