DJI didn’t start out as the best entry-level drone maker on the market but, at this point, it’s safe to say that they’ve taken the crown from Parrot and are truly creating flying machines worth flying. The new Phantom 3 Professional is the gold standard for quadcopter and I was amazed at the ease-of-use and quality of the photos and video it took.
The Phantom 3 is essentially a camera platform. It costs about $1,259 thanks to the impressive camera/gimbal combination mounted to the bottom. You control it via both a handheld control box with multi-axis sticks as well as onscreen via a smartphone tethered directly to the remote control. The smartphone sends GPS and other data to the drone and you can see what the drone sees as you fly.
The absolute best part of the new system is that it is almost crash-proof. While you are definitely going to mess things up if you, say, hit a tree, in a wide open space you’re virtually guaranteed a soft landing. The keys are the slide to take off and slide to land buttons. When you want to take off you simply press a button on the phone. The drone preps itself to fly and then takes off and hovers. When you’re ready to bring the drone home you simply press the homing button or the landing button. The drone comes towards you and slowly settles down to earth. Most of our drones suffered multiple fractures thanks to failed landings. That is no longer the case.
Then there’s the camera. This model, the Professional, features a 12.4M camera that can take 4096x2160p video at any height. Best of all, the video is almost shake-free because of the gimbal system. You can take the Phantom into heavy winds – although I wouldn’t recommend it – and the camera would keep up with the angles and remain steady. It’s amazing to behold.
If this sounds like overkill, however, you can look at the Phantom 3 Standard and Advanced, $799 and $999 respectively. As a mobile camera platform and all-around fun thing to fly, I was really impressed with DJI. Drones have come a long way in a short time and DJI has come the farthest. While there are plenty of cheaper drones out there, this was one of the easiest to fly I’ve seen in a long time. It’s well worth checking out.