A Picky Photographer’s Perspective on the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K
Yes, I am “one of those guys”, I will freely admit it. I have spent many years honing my craft, learning everything I can about photography and the gear I shoot with. I always want the best possible images and anything that gets in my way of making my images as good as they can be is going to be a negative in my book. While many people love their GoPros, I find the massive fisheye distracting and having to move every single pixel in an image to remove it leads to a degradation in image quality. With this disclaimer in place, I turn my eye one the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K quadcopter to see what kind of aerial platform Yuneec has brought to the table.
Yuneec Typhoon Platform
The Typhoon Q500 quadcopter is Yuneec’s first generation platform that is designed on a 565mm frame size. The size puts it in between a DJI Phantom and DJI Inspire 1. The large size, big motors, and wide landing gear make for a very stable platform. The ST10+ controller has a slide switch on the right side to adjust the speed and flight behavior between Turtle mode and Rabbit mode.
After my initial flights, keeping in mind I generally fly an Inspire 1 Pro or a Phantom 3 Pro, my first thoughts where that the labeling on the proportional speed control needed to be changed to Snail and Turtle mode. For the size of the Q500, I expected a much faster machine. For comparison, if you send a Phantom 3 headed full speed across the street towards a tree, before you can say “I think I am going to hit that tree”, you are in the tree. With the Typhoon Q500 in Turtle mode, you can say “I think I am going to hit that tree”, and almost have time for someone to chop down the tree before you get there. While maybe not entirely accurate, you get the point. But speed is not everything, I will take butter smooth, stable, and controllable over raw speed any day.
Of all of the copters we sell at Multicopter Warehouse, the Typhoon Q500 is the easiest machine to fly. It is rock solid stable, very smooth, and because it isn’t a speed machine, it is far less likely to get someone into trouble.
CGO3 4K Camera
The camera is where Yuneec has made the improvements since the release of the first in the Q500 series. Starting with the early 1080 models that had poor color, contrast, and horrible fisheye, the latest CGO3 sports 4k footage, 12mp stills, very nice color, and claims to have a distortion free lens. This is where the anal photographer in me comes out.
Let’s look at a frame grab from the CGO3 when looking straight forward:
The picture is really nice and has a flat horizon. There isn’t much of anything to complain about. In fact, I was pretty impressed with the quality of the overall image given the price point of the Q500.
Next, let’s angle the camera down a little and see what happens:
All of a sudden you can see the fisheye distortion kick in. Granted, it’s not horrible by any means but it is not “distortion free”. For the sake of being completely technically fair, DJI’s Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 cameras are not perfect either, lens profiles will show a slight bulging effect that is barely perceptible until before and after lens correction filters are applied in post. However, to claim a “non-distortion lens” is misleading.
That all being said the CGO3 is a pretty solid performer with less distortion than a GoPro. The following video was taken with the Typhoon Q500 4k around Colorado one weekend.
Overall I am very impressed with the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K. At the hobbyist level it is difficult to beat. For $1,299 you get the Q500 copter, CGO3 camera/gimbal, SteadyGrip (for ground footage), ST10+ remote control with integrated Android tablet, charger, two batteries, and an aluminum case. The bundled items make the Q500 an amazing value.
Is the average person going to be happy with the image and picture quality? From the reaction in our store to the above video, I would say absolutely. If you are really picky and can’t be bothered to do a little correction in post production, then this might not be the right unit for you. If you had previously been flying a GoPro, the Q500 4K may seem like a nice step up from the massive fisheye from the GoPro.
If you are in the market and are looking at the Phantom 3 line, take a moment and also look at the Yuneec Q500 4k and you just might find it is a better fit for you.