Product Review Part 1: DJI Phantom 3 Professional, Advanced and Standard
When DJI first announced the new Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced models, we were all eager to get our hands on them for testing and reviewing. I had only a brief moment flying one before the official release and knew if was going to be a real game changer. Now that I’ve also got the Phantom 3 Standard in hand, plus the latest Firmware updates for all the new DJI quadcopters that run on the DJI Go app, it’s the right time to start my new product series here on Drone Coalition, outlining the features and user experience with these new Phantom 3s.
This first installment is more of an overview and introduction to the Phantom 3 product line, thanks to the help from the folks at Multicopter Warehouse. I’ll be following up in subsequent articles with hands-on examples, videos and camera comparisons.
I first got to do a test flight with my friend and colleague, Eric Cheng during the beta testing phase and I was astonished at the way this thing not only handled and performed as a quadcopter, but the image quality and ease of shooting from the enhanced UI and additional Lightbridge.
I could now fly farther, safer and with more confidence and get some amazing imagery because the FPV video signal is is strong and clear back to your tablet – plus the app’s UI is designed to keep you informed of your telemetry data, battery condition and flight path/orientation.
Nothing really brought this realization home more than when I recently used my Phantom 2 Vision+ to use for training after flying the Phantom 3 Pro for awhile. It almost just flies itself – incredibly stable and a pleasure to fly… with so many fine-tuning adjustments to flight behavior from the DJI Go app on your smart device, you can make adjustments even during flight. So – let’s take a closer look at all three models.
With the assistance of the guys at Multicopter Warehouse, they’ve provided me with demo units to test and review, so I’ll be sharing comparisons, updates and tips & tricks, real-world video production footage, and comparisons between the models, so you can decide what might work best for your needs. To best compare the different models to determine which may be best for you, visit the DJI comparison page here.
Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced
Both the Phantom 3 Professional and the Advanced are nearly identical, with the exception of the video recording capabilities. The P3 Professional (MSRP USD $1259) will record a maximum 4K/24p or 4K/30p and 12MP still images in either/both JPG and DNG (RAW) format. The P3 Advanced(MSRP USD $999) will record a maximum 2.7K/30p and 12MP still images in either/both JPG and DNG format. Both cameras will record FHD: 1920x1080p 24/25/30/48/50/60 and HD: 1280x720p 24/25/30/48/50/60. The P3 Pro and Advanced also include DJI’s Lightbridge technology which is a multichannel radio transmitter/receiver that carries the control signal and the HD video signal for FPV. This makes a HUGE difference in flying and shooting as you can really see what you’re doing even at long ranges and crystal clear video with very low latency.
- Included 4K Video / 12 Megapixel Photo Camera (Pro) 2.7K / 12 Megapixel Camera (Adv)
- Integrated 3-Axis Stabilization Gimbal
- Easy to Fly, Intelligent Flight System
- Live HD View (FPV)
- Dedicated Multifunction Remote Controller
- Powerful Mobile App w/ Auto Video Editor
- Vision Positioning for Indoor Flight
All of the Phantom 3 series utilize the same DJI Go app (iOS/Android) that give you sharp FPV monitoring with excellent data overlays, maps, camera controls and even the ability to change gain controls during the flight. I’ll be covering more of these options and details in my next installment.
I will be also providing a detailed comparison review with video examples in the coming weeks, but for those interested in detailed product specs, check out the product pages on DJI’s site here.
Phantom 3 Standard
DJI recently released their entry-level Phantom 3 Standard (MSRP USD $799) which is probably best compared to it’s predecessor, the Phantom 2 Vision+. While it shares many of the same airframe and flight controls of the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced, it’s a streamlined model with fewer features and options, but is perfect for beginners learning to fly. The Phantom airframe has proven to be robust and the Phantom 3 flight systems makes it safer and easier to fly than any previous models to date. Even with fewer controls and camera options and shorter transmission range, the Phantom 3 Standard still gets an impressive 20-25 minutes of solid flight time.
There’s no Lightbridge and the camera is lower-quality, but it’s a big leap from the Phantom 2 Vision+
- Easy to Fly: An intelligent flight system automatically keeps your Phantom 3 Standard in the air and under your control.
- Amazing Images: Take stunning 2.7K HD videos and 12 Megapixel photos with the integrated aerial camera.
- Stable Footage: DJI’s advanced gimbal stabilization technology gives you movie-quality results no matter how you fly.
- Enjoy the View: A live video feed gives you a 720p HD real-time view of what your camera sees right on your mobile device.
- Peace of Mind: Fly up to 25 minutes on a single charge, and the Intelligent Flight Battery will automatically remind you when power is running low.
There are still plenty of options through the app to control your camera and flight controls, as with the other Phantom 3 models through the DJI Go app, but it’s designed to work best with a smartphone with the WiFi booster built-into the radio controller. Compared to the Phantom 2 Vision+, the FPV image quality is easily 10x better and on a smartphone, it looks like HD.
My only real negative on the design/functionality is that they replaced a metal bracket for the smartphone base with plastic, so the phone is constantly wobbling around. It definitely feels cheap compared to the previous Phantom 2 model… but it’s really a minor complaint in the scheme of things!
I will be doing a complete side-by-side comparison of just the Phantom 3 Standard and the Phantom 2 Vision+ so stay tuned…
New Phantom 3 Intelligent Flight Modes
DJI just released firmware updates for their Phantom 3 products that allow autonomous flight options. This is a huge leap forward in cinematic shooting technology and will help users garner more professional looking video moves with smoother motion.
Record a flight path, then tell your Phantom 3 or Inspire 1 to fly along the same path repeatedly while you control the camera and orientation. Save your favorite missions, customize speed, and more.
Point of Interest
Tell your Phantom 3 or Inspire 1 to automatically revolve around a designated object, person, or place in a perfect circle. Automatic and customizable, get shots that only experts could before.
Tell your Phantom 3 to follow you, and it automatically flies and keeps you in the camera’s view you wherever you go.
Customize your flight controls to be relative to you at all times. Flick a switch, and forward/backward and left/right flight will be set in relation to the Home Point.
Easily fly along a set path by putting your platform into Course Lock, which sets all flight controls to directions relative to its current heading.
Note: Intelligent Flight Modes are only available when sufficient GPS signal is available. Always fly safely and with your hands on the controller at all times, even when using these automatic functions.
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon… more field testing is on the way!