DJI brings 4K recording to its Phantom 3 drone

by on April 10, 2015

Stephan Jukic – April 10, 2015

DJI and its line of Phantom series out-of-the-box quadracopter drones have been some of the most popular mainstream consumer market machines of their kind since they started selling to an international consumer base.

Particularly popular has been the Phantom 2 Vision+, which gave remote pilots the luxury of a deliciously smooth auto-stabilized video straight out of the box with no assembly required, and this was quite an innovation when it arrived.

Now, DJI has gotten even more innovative and released two additional drones: the Phantom 3 Professional and the Phantom 3 Advanced. Best of all, both come with the same silky smooth stable camera built into them, and one even offers that smoothness in 4K ultra HD resolution.

Previously, the makers of DJI’s Phantom drone line offered one of their quadracopters without a built-in camera and then gave the premium (extra cost) option of getting one built into the copter of your choice along with its stabilizing gimbal. Now, with the two new Phantom 3s, the camera and gimbal come by default and if you buy the “Professional” edition of the two drones, as mentioned above, that camera offers ultra HD 4K at 30 frames per second and with photo taking resolution at 12 megapixels. The “Advanced” Phantom 3 on the other hand offers a more regular 1080p HD cam that can shoot video at 60 frames per second and grab photos at the same 12 megapixels.

When asked about a camera-less Phantom 3 by tech website Engadget, DJI director of Communications, Michael Perry explained that the only things the company is announcing for now are these two Phantom 3s but that there is scope for a lot more. Thus, at least at a later date, a camera-free Phantom 3 seems likely, though it would be a decidedly inferior product.

In addition to the HD/4K cameras, depending on which of the two new Phantom drones you choose, the machines have both also been designed to include indoor positioning sensors for crash reduction, GPS augmentation with added support from GLONASS and auto take-off and landing features for inexperience pilots to use for smoother flying. Aside from these changes, the Phantom 3’s two new versions are little different from the wildly popular Phantom 2.

Even cooler is the fact that DJI has now also introduced its own new “Lightbridge” technology to the Phantom 3 and its controller. This means is that there is no more having to deal with a WiFi dongle that also needs to regularly be charged after hanging off your controller for a time. Instead, you can now connect your phone or tablet (Android or iOS) to the controller via USB and stream a 720p live feed of the flight straight to your mobile device with its DJI app and right to a YouTube video feed. The WiFi streaming can be done from as far as a mile away to boot!

Assuming you have the proper bandwidth going to your mobile device, maybe over a 4K network, you can let friends and audiences view your Phantom 3 flights live and in real time, though not in 4K UHD resolution of course, at least not quite yet.

Furthermore, the 30 fps frame rate of the Phantom 3 “Professional’s” 4K camera is more then decent for some excellent and reasonably smooth video shooting in crystal clear UHD. This is the same frame rate as that available in many name brand 4K action cameras and DLSRs, even in a number of consumer 4K camcorders.

Want to see just how good the phantoms aerial videos can be? Check out this little demo video from DJI itself:

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