A friendly Italian woman, probably in her mid-fifties, looked over my shoulder at the live feed from my mobile device and stopped dead in her tracks. Her transfixed gaze slowly lifted from the screen to meet my eyes and she said, “I was born in Florence and I’ve lived here all of my life, but I’ve never seen my city look as beautiful as this.” It was then that I noticed that her eyes were filled with tears. Smiling, wrapped up in the emotional moment and honestly becoming a bit teary eyed myself, I didn’t know what to say except, “thank you.”
This encounter was a turning point for me. I was already a huge fan and avid user of DJI Quadcopter / Drone technology, but these few simple words from a complete stranger solidified my perception of the sheer potential of personal aerial photography and videography devices. This statement may seem strange to some, but let’s dive into together as I share my perspective as photographer integrating these new tools for capturing the world.
Since I started traveling full-time as a photographer in 2009, I’ve consistently gone out of my way to find the most awesome vantage points possible for my photography. I’ve literally climbed mountains, paddled kayaks, ridden pack mules, contracted helicopters, you name it and I’ve done it. Whether it’s a 50 hour airline travel itinerary, a simple 25 meter rocky climb, or even multiple days sleeping in a car, or any number of other uncomfortable conditions for that matter, whatever it’s taken to get the shot I have considered well worth the effort. I often feel like most of my job is working to arrive in the best possible place to take a photo, because the location and framing of my subjects are the core of my unique style of travel photography.
At first this seems great. It means that you’re always a safe distance away, right? No, not exactly, because eventually you test the limits in order to get the perfect shot…
Let’s just say that learning to judge and compensate this optical depth perception issue is not without its casualties and flying in complex environments can be costly when you make a mistake. With my case in particular, a run-in with a tree, the cost of learning on the job was a new Gimbal and GoPro 4 Black. Thankfully the Phantom 2 itself came out with just a few minor scratches and still functions perfectly. Considering how mangled everything else was, that really speaks highly of the Phantom 2’s durability.
[wpsm_column size=”one-half”][wpsm_pros title=”PROS:”]
- Upgradable camera system since GoPro makes regular model updates
- Ability to use ProTune function to capture a higher bitrate for more control in post-processing
- The GoPro can be removed and used in other environments
- Flying blind can teach you a solid foundation of flying skills based on fully understanding your environment and real-time spatial relationships.
- The remote is smaller, more lightweight, and doesn’t have the bulky smart device attachment.
- You can add Lightbridge and have the same visual feedback as the Phantom 2 Vision+ with the GoPro but it’s a costly upgrade
[/wpsm_pros][/wpsm_column][wpsm_column size=”one-half” position=”last”][wpsm_cons title=”CONS:”]
- Flying without a first person view can be very difficult when you’re a beginner to cinematography techniques.
- GoPro Wifi upsets the flight controls and is only suitable for very short distances. This makes the built in GoPro video transmission useless when flying.
- Registering true depth can be very difficult without live visual feedback
- GoPro camera distortion which can be intense when shooting at ultra wide and wide settings. (Note that this can be corrected fairly easily in most editing packages)
- Cannot remotely trigger recording, still / video capture, or change settings during flight without returning the drone home.
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter Drone with 1080p HD Video Camera
3 used from $ 849.95
- 1080p full HD video recording with fully stabilized 3-axis gimbal
- Lightbridge digital streaming allows live viewing of 720p video (full resolution video is simultaneously recorded on the internal micro SD card)
- Vision Positioning system allows stable flight indoors
- Included flight battery and rechargeable remote controller means this system is ready to fly out of the box
- DJI Pilot app for iOS and Android allows live viewing and complete camera control (phone/tablet separately; see DJI's website for compatible models)
DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter 4K UHD Video Camera Drone
10 used from $ 599.00
- 4k UHD video recording with fully stabilized 3-axis gimbal; Vision Positioning system allows stable flight indoors
- Lightbridge digital streaming allows live viewing of 720p video (full resolution video is simultaneously recorded on the internal microSD card)
- Included flight battery and rechargable remote controller means this system is ready to fly out of the box
- DJI Pilot app for iOS and Android allows live viewing and complete camera control (phone/tablet sold separately; see DJI's website for compatible models)
- Fying this product is restricted within 15 miles radius of the White House
[wpsm_tab title=”Specification “] [wpsm_colortable color=”grey”]
|Maximum Speed|| Ascent: 16.4′ fps / 5 m/s
Descent: 9.8′ / 3 m
|Hover Accuracy|| Vertical: ±3.9″ / 10 cm
Horizontal: ±3.3′ / 1 m
|Maximum Altitude||Above Sea Level: 19,685′ / 6000 m|
|Flight Time||23 minutes (depending on conditions)|
|Flight Control System|
|GPS Mode||GPS / GLONASS|
|Vision Positioning||Frequency: 50 Hz
Velocity Range: Below 26.2 fps / 8 m/s (6.6′ / 2 m above the ground)
Altitude Range: 11.8″ to 118.1″ / 30 cm to 300 cm
Operating Range: 11.8″ to 118.1″ / 30 cm to 300 cm
Operating Environment: Surface with clear pattern and adequate lighting (> 15 lux)
|Frequency||2.400 to 2.483 GHz|
|Communication Distance||6561.7′ / 2000 m (outdoors and unobstructed)|
|Receiver Sensitivity||1%PER: 101 dBm ±2 dBm|
|Transmitter Power||EIRP: 20 dBm|
|Working Current||1.2 A at 7.4 V|
|Connectivity|| 1 x USB type A female for mobile device interface
1 x Micro-USB female for firmware updates / assistant software 1 x Charge port
|Lightbridge Support||Yes; compatible iOS or Android mobile device with USB required|
|Mobile Device Holder||Compatibility: Tablet or smartphone|
|Operating Temperature||32 to 104°F / 0 to 40°C|