When DJI announced the 4th Generation Phantom Drone which was basically a modest upgrade with “fins.” Sure, there’s some cool software upgrades, but one professional drone operator has taken a long look and asks … is that all? And is it worth buying?
“I feel like DJI is becoming the Apple of Drones. Every year they add a few features and come out with the latest and greatest thing. Is this bad? Not necessarily. Is it cool? Yes. Is the Phantom 4 drone worth the extra money to purchase? Depends… ” – Chris Newman
Chris Newman is a professional drone pilot and the founder of CineChopper University, where he teaches people how to fly drones and get the best cinematic video with them. If you want to learn how to pilot a drone in order to make a living with it, CineChopper U is the place to start. So when DJI announced the new Phantom 4 drone, it didn’t take long for Chris to chime in with his first impressions, and it doesn’t seem that it inspires him all that much. (pardon the pun)
“I’ve had a lot of my students ask me, “Should I get the Phantom 4?”
It’s not that Chris isn’t impressed. He likes the new obstacle avoidance system, the long overdue auto follow feature, and the additional 3 minutes of battery life for flight time. That’s all well and good, and Newman says that they do justify buying the Phantom 4 if you’ve never bought one and money is no object. Although if money really was no object, wouldn’t people go towards the Inspire 1? Anyway, I digress.
Newman also outlines some legitimate reasons to not buy the Phantom 4, not only for existing Phantom drivers, but also someone who’s looking to invest in their first drone. Mainly, this centers around image quality. Even though DJI has upgraded the lens in their camera, Newman points out that the sensor is the same as the one driving the Phantom 3 camera.
“In my experience the bit-rate of the sensor of the camera is just as important as the lens,” Newman says. “If you care more about the camera quality then the features then you might be better off buying a new or used Phantom 3.”
That’s a key point. Newman says that Phantom 3 drones and their accessories are downright cheap these days, as users caught up in the hype look to sell off their old model in order to afford the new platform. Additionally, DJI has discounted the price of the Phantom 3 to as low as $500. So from a standpoint of buying, one has to consider if the incremental improvements for the Phantom 4 justify its $1400 price tag.
The argument is even stronger considering a recent firmware update brought ‘follow me’ technology to the Phantom 3. Now sure, you don’t get the amazing collision avoidance feature, and if you’re like me and tend to crash into a tree a lot (my son is much better, since he grew up on video games), that could be worth while. But if you’ve practiced with the Phantom 2 or 3 to the point that you’re making a living with it, do you really REALLY need a Phantom 4? And if you’re not, well, Chris can help with that as well.
So what do you guys think? Is the DJI Phantom 4 worth buying?