DJI, the maker of quadcopters, has announced two new versions of its Phantom 3 “drone”.
The Phantom 3 Professional is a quadcopter with a 4K-capable camera. The Phantom 3 Advanced is based on a similar aircraft design, but with an HD-only camera unit. The camera unit is similar in design to those fitted to DJI’s high-end Inspire models, and comes with a three-axis gimbal, although this is not detachable.
The camera on both models records a 12 megapixel image, with a 94 degree field of view. The Professional camera shoots 4K at up to 30fps, whilst the HD version can record at up to 60fps in full HD, opening the door to slo-mo filming. DJI claims that its current-generation camera sensor performs better in low light than the unit fitted to the Phantom 2.
DJI has also made significant improvements to both flight and safety features on its drones. A new system, called Visual Positioning, allows the Phantom 3s to hold their position indoors, even when there is no GPS signal available. This also supports push-button take off and landing. The Phantom 3 also has ultrasonic positioning, which improves its ability to fly indoors and in confined spaces, as well as making it easier to fly.
To support this, the manufacturer has upgraded both the Phantom controller, and its app. The remote control has a 2km range – well in excess of the practical permitted operating range in countries such as the UK, where the Civil Aviation Authority requires drone pilots to maintain visual contact with their aircraft – and includes most of the core commands for filming, as well as flight controls.
DJI’s Lightbridge control technology handles communications with the controller, but most drone users interested in photography and video will also want to use a tablet to control video functions, and provide a live preview feed.
The latest version of the app has both camera controls and a built-in video editor, for fast turnaround projects, as well as a flight simulator. But perhaps the most interesting new feature is the ability to stream video directly to YouTube Live. The streaming function operates at up to a mile’s distance (1.6km) and supports 720p, HD video.
The Phantom 3 Advanced costs $US995, or £899, and the Professional model, $1,259 or £1159.