DJI Phantom 4 – First Flights and Rating – Part 2 – Camera, Gimbal and Propulsion System Improvements and Differences over Phantom 3 and earlier models.
Thousands of articles and videos have detailed the features and workings of the Phantom 3 series of Camera Drones. Rather than repeat these details, we will note the improvements in the Phantom 4.
As we often note, the Phantoms are “Flying Cameras”…and so improvements over the existing models should be in the imaging (camera) and flight systems. The Phantom 4 features a completely redesigned Gimbal and camera body – both of which are designed to provide more stability and a better image quality.
The Phantom 3 had the gimbal and the associated electronics mounted below the main body of the quadcopter. The pictures above (L) show that the camera is held in place on one side only – the left when looking at the Phantom from the front. A small metal arm then connects the gimbal/camera assembly to the external gimbal electronics.
The Phantom 4 features a refined design where the gimbal holds the camera on both sides – see the lower right P4 picture above. The gimbal electronics have been moved to inside the Phantom body and are connected by much more robust shaft.
The Phantom 4 camera also has an improved lens.
Improved Propulsion System
The Phantom 4 features new motors and propellers which, in combination, allow for more powerful flight. This includes better ability to withstand acceleration and braking as well as better cooling and more efficient flight. Despite weighing 100 grams more than the Phantom 3, the P4 has longer flight times.
The Phantom 4 also features redundant (dual) compasses and IMUs (Inertial Measurement Unit) which result in a greater reliability.
These improvements clearly make the Phantom 4 a more evolved and polished Drone than earlier models..and, in fact, than any other Camera drone currently on the market (mid-2017). That said, the camera improvements are evolutionary – not revolutionary. Most viewers will not be able to tell the difference between Photos and Videos taken by the Phantom 3 Pro and the Phantom 4. Professionals and “Prosumers” with a good eye will see a difference.
Performance in Wind
To put the Phantom 4 to the test, we brought it to the beach on a windy day and tested how well it held position and how well the resulting video turned out.
The Phantom 4 takes 12MP Photos – 4000 pixels wide by 3000 high. As with the Phantom 3 there are numerous settings and adjustments which can be made through the DJI Go App. Below are a couple sample photographs taken with the P4 – note, these have reduced 50% in resolution (2,000 pixels wide).
The Video below contains some sample clips from the Phantom 4 – all taken with the stock camera (no filters) and no post-processing.
The next installment of our look at the Phantom 4 will discuss the “Computer Vision” (also called OA or Obstacle Avoidance) , a feature which is only available on the Phantom 4.