The new DJI Phantom 3 4K drone combines the features of the Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 3 Standard drones
With 4K video starting to become the norm, rather than the exception, drone manufacturer DJI has announced a new affordable drone aimed at video enthusiast. The DJI Phantom 3 4K takes the 4k camera from the DJI Phantom 3 Pro and combines it with the entry-level Phantom 3 Standard, which which comes with a camera capable of recording video at 2.7k resolution. In effect it creates two entry level drones in the Phantom 3 line up the Standard (2.7k) and the 4K.
But what is the difference between the Phantom 3 4K (and Standard) and the Advanced and Professional drones, besides the camera? The most obvious thing is the controller. The two lower end models rely on a wifi connection between your smartphone and the drone for video streaming. Obviously this isn’t the most sustainable of connections and video footage can be a little laggy and prone to dropping frames. It should be noted that this only affects the live first person view from the drone, any recorded video footage is saved to a micro SD card in the drones camera.
The Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Professional use DJI’s Lightbridge controller and technology. Your smartphone is connected to the Lightbridge controller via a wired USB connection. The controller then uses the DJI Lightbridge technology to stream the live video from the Phantom 3 Advanced/Professional drone. What you see on the smartphone is far smoother video that is less lagging and less prone to dropping it.
The Lightbridge controller also allows the drone to fly further from the controller – The Pro and Advanced models can fly up to 3.1 Km or 2.1 miles (in Europe), whilst the wifi limits the 4k and Standard to just 0.3 miles, which is still a reasonable distance for those flying their first drone.
The final difference is that the Phantom 4K has a Vision Positioning system, like the Professional and Advanced. In essence this is a pair of small cameras that are used as rangefinders to calculate the distance between the bottom of the drone and the ground to enable a smooth landing, and also to help fly the drone indoors.
UPDATE: DJI Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 drone has all of the features of the Phantom 3 Professional (Lightrbidge Controller and 4K camera) and adds the Obstacle Sensing technology. It is the same sort of technology as the Vision Position system (which it also has), but rather than being a rangefinder on the bottom to allow for a smooth landing, being in front means it can detect obstacles and even stop the drone to prevent it from flying in to the obstacle and crashing, or it can automatically fly around it.
The Phantom 4 also has a newly designed body that is slightly taller than the Phantom 3 series, with the propellers raised higher from the camera so that they don’t creep in to the top corners of the shot when the drone is flying at speed. This was an issue with the Phantom 3 series. The battery has been improved to allow for 28mins flight time, although there is also a new sports mode that allow the Phantom 4 to fly at upto 40mph, although this will reduce flight time, and teh camera gimbal has also be improved to reduce vibration.