Prolog: I'm Swiss and native german speaking - english is NOT my mother language so please excuse the following english. AND I'm not employed by DJI or getting anything for this. The enthusiasm about the Phantom 4 Pro is real and completely deserved. I'm a professional landscape photographer and 90% of ALL MY PICTURES are taken from the ground or from the kayak. The review is written from the perspective of a landscape photographer - NOT from the perspective of a drone-pilot, drone-fan, drone-enthusiast. I've started with drone photography 3 years ago when I bought a DJI S1000 which including accessoires had a weight of 32 kilogram. As I say I'm not mainly a drone-photographer - so on all my trips to the Antarctica, Patagonia, Iceland, Norway, Färoer Islands, Namibia,... I had to take this 32kg drone equipment in addition to the whole cameragear with me which was extremely complex and expensive. I spent ten thousands of dollars for batteries, spare parts, gimbals,... and every day I hoped that DJI will somewhene announce a small drone which serves ht image quality of the big ones.
As one of few in the world, I had the the opportunity and honor to pretest and help developing the new Phantom 4 Professional camera which today (15.11.2016) was introduced. The gentlemen from Hong Kong already told me during the first concrete discussion that DJI developed the Phantom 4 Pro especially for sophisticated professional photographers. Since I just used any DJI drone to the limit within the last years I took this order seriously and went to Iceland to prove the announcement of DJI...
About three days after the detail discussion and all the contracts has been signed I also already got the package from the prototype of DJI. The thing was still totally full of glue and hand-drawn sketches and it had a striking resemblance to the Phantom 4. Apart from a few striking changes such as the much larger camera and round-the-range sensors, the Phantom 4. After much more than 800 flight hours with various drones like the DJI S1000 / Inspire and Phantom 4 I could not complain about lack of experience, but to fly a unique prototype, was a bit nerve-racking. In the event of a crash, you can not simply go to a store and buy a new one.
According to the statement of DJI, that this drone has been built for demanding photographers, I had great expectations of this small Quadkopter. One day after receiving the Phantom 4 Pro, I departed to Iceland - into the land of the strong winds, rain showers and extreme contrasts.
The climb into the Professional
Already after half a day with the Phantom 4 Pro and the first pictures in Lightroom I was sure for my usage it will never be a Inspire / Inspire 2, S1000, Matrice 600 or anything else again. Of course for professional film teams the Inspire / S1000 / M600 Series are a must, but not for me, who has to carry this drones to the most remote areas of the world. The image quality of the new Phantom 4 Pro camera exceeded everything I've ever seen on the Inspire X5 and all the phantoms until now. The new 20 megapixel Sony Exmor R sensor and the top optics with a wonderful 24mm focal length (35mm standard), in collaboration with a good autofocus system (touch and release button) variable aperture, conjure up a 44 megabyte RAW picture on the memory card, which is in terms of image quality and dynamic range captured with a 4 years old SLR camera.
With ISO 100 you can even get a massive dark image lightened up without strong noise and other artefects. The minimal blured edge of the images should be distorted because of it's small lens and camera size. What I previously with the Phantom 4 only reached with multi-line panorama recordings, I now succeed with a single picture in a warp-free 24mm focal lenght.
I call the Phantom 4 Pro without exaggeration a milestone in the drone technology. The image quality of the camera, combined with this small resistive multicopter housing, packed with sensors is so good that I have to think seriously about how the photographer's work will change when everyone is suddenly running around with a Phantom 4 Pro. At a price, which I think is much too low. For just 1699 euros, you get a flying D-SLR camera. As the first drone in the world, the Phantom 4 Pro now delivers 60 frames per second in 4K (the Inspire 2 now also does), which leads to wonderful slow motion 4K movie shots. For me as a landscape and nature photographer which also earns money from multimedia shows recording videos is a very important step foreward. What is more beautiful than a high-quality 4K film, which shows slow-moving waves in the evening light or a huge waterfall filmed from above in slow motion?
Curse and saviour at the same time
Many photographers, whether professional or hobby-like, including me have always laughed about the Phantom series . A few were already so enthusiastic about the picture quality of the Phantom 4 that they bought it, but for most of them the 12 megapixels, the small sensor and the distorted optics still was too bad. All of these will hardly be able to resist the Phantom 4 Pro. With the P4P, DJI worked its way into the professional league. The sales numbers of these "new" will probably surpass all the others - so the question comes automatically to me; Where will all these drones like the Phantom, Mavic, Inspires will be flying now? When the first fatal crash will happen and the whole world will stop alowing them? How non-drone owners will react when the sky on tourist places is full of drones and the bee sound is always all around?
Over the past 3 years I took my big multikopter DJI S1000 on all my photo trips around the world. 3 years ago I was the only one and peopled loved it - 2 years ago there were few and the first prohibitions came, 1 year ago I could not fly anywere without beeing threatened or banned. So I decided to only fly were no one will see and hear me. Some of my work of the past years. Another 11'000 photographs are waiting on the harddrive for beeing developed. http://stefanforster.com/photography/en/content/octocopter-aerials#/sect...
The global drone ban is probably because of the lost uniqueness of these drones and the extremely negative tide of news that the international press has spread throughout the world over the last years. And yes - we drone pilots are also responsible for this trend, but mainly this idiots who start out on tourist spots in the middle of the crowds and flying close over their heads. I APPEAL TO ALL who will buy this wonderful device now: Note the local rules, DO NOT fly where people are, DO NOT fly over private property, DO NOT fly over wild animals that are in dangerous terrain or come into a shock reaction, DO NOT fly over military buildings or airports. Drones are a sensational invention and so far there have been no fatal accidents. With the rapid increase in the sales however, this can and possibly will change soon. We share the airspace with rescue helicopters, gliders , small aircraft, paragliders and other flying objects endangered by drones. A drone can be replaced, not so the lives of our fellow human beings.
For those who wants to see the drone-trailer of my Iceland-Movie. Please activate the english subtitles by activating the CC on the right buttom.
PICTURE GALLERY PHANTOM 4 PROFESSIONAL - BRAND NEW PICTURES