With much anticipation, DJI announced in a worldwide live streaming event today, the newest version of their most popular quadcopter airframe, the Phantom 3, with features and options that prosumers have been waiting for and 2 different models priced to accommodate most budgets – including a new 4K camera and lightbridge FPV along with a new remote controller that many features are shared by it’s big brother, the Inspire 1.
DJI Introduces the Phantom 3
In today’s live streaming event, DJI’s Eric Cheng tells a bit about DJI’s historyand innovation before the formal announcement of the new Phantom 3, while the world was waiting in anticipation for the details…
There will be two models of the new DJI Phantom 3: Professional $1250 and Advanced $999. DJI says both will start shipping by the end of April. Other than different colored bands and nameplate, it looks pretty much the same. There are several critical updates to the hardware and software, however, that make the Phantom 3 a serious upgrade.
DJI has added a downward-facing camera and optical flow sensors (similar to the Inspire 1) to give the craft a visual positioning system. That lets the Phantom 3 hold its position without a GPS signal – especially indoors.
The Phantom 3’s new Main flight control system has also been updated to work with GLONASS, a Russian, satellite-based navigation system that works in parallel to GPS. Combining both those systems allows the Phantom 3 to more quickly and reliably find a satellite signal, and to more precisely understand its location.
The Phantom 3 also includes the Auto Take Off and Landing features that the Inspire 1 is known for, as well as the Auto Return to Home should you lose connection with the remote. The landing gear are also set wider to provide more stability when landing and avoid getting in the view of the camera in strong winds or quick maneuvers. The digital compass and antennae are aslo integrated better into the landing gear so there are no loose wires to bump or get caught as with previous Phantom models.
The Phantom 3 also comes bundled with DJI’s Lightbridge system with a similar controller to the Inspire 1 that utilizes a hardwired portable device/tablet for FPV and controls. It utilizes the same DJI Pilot app that works on both iOS and Android devices and is a free download from iTunes or the Playstore.
The Phantom Professional gets a 4K camera while the Advanced gets a 1080p HD. Both can capture 12 megapixel still photos. Compared to the camera on the DJI Phantom Vision 2+, this new unit has a larger sensor (1/2.3″) and a flatter field of view (94 degrees). The Phantom 2 Vision+ shot 1080i at 60fps, but not 1080p at 60fps like this new model.
The new Phantom 3 remote controller takes its design from the Inspire 1 as well – incorporating manual controls at your fingertips for camera tilt and recording/preview funtions, so you can keep both hands on the controller at all times and not busy tapping the touchscreen of your mobile device!
Here is the official Phantom 3 video shown at today’s launch event:
Technical Specs and Features:
• Phantom 3 Professional: New 4K camera
• Phantom 3 Advanced: New 1080P HD camera
• Lightweight, compact
• Easy to fly
• Live HD view
• Dedicated mobile app with automatic video editor, instant sharing, YouTube livestreaming capabilities, full camera controls, live map, flight simulator, and flight logs
• Customizable, ergonomic remote controller with buttons for camera and gimbal control
• Rechargeable Intelligent Flight Battery with sensors for full battery and cell diagnostics
• Auto-takeoff, auto-landing, and auto-return to home functionality
• Vision Positioning system
• Enhanced GPS (with GLONASS)
• Built-in 3-axis camera stabilization gimbal
• 94⁰ FOV lens for reduced distortion
• SDK compatible
• Video Resolution:
Phantom 3 Professional: Up to 4K @ 30fps (4096x2160p 24/25, 3840x2160p 24/25/30)
Phantom 3 Advanced: Up to 1080p @ 60fps (1920x1080p 24/25/30/48/50/60)
• Photo Resolution: 12 Megapixel
• Video Format: MP4 or MOV
• Photo Format: Adobe DNG RAW and JPEG
• Lens: FOV 94° 20 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.8, focus at ∞
• Sensor Size: 1/2.3″
• Features: Adjustable White Balance, ISO, Exposure, Shutter Speed, and Color Filters
• Photo Burst Mode: 3/5/7 shots
• SD Card: 64GB max capacity. Class 10 or UHS-1 rating required
• Gimbal controllable range: Pitch -90° to +30°
• Battery: Rechargeable 4S LiPo, 4480mAh
• Max Flight Time: Approx. 23 minutes
• Max Ascent Speed: 6 m/s
• Max Descent Speed: 2 m/s
• Max Speed: 16 m/s (ATTI mode, no wind)
• Max Altitude Above Sea Level: 6000m
• Hover Accuracy: Vertical: +/- 10cm
Horizontal: +/- 1m
• Operating Temperature: 0°C to 40°C
• Weight: 1280g (2.8 pounds)
• Diagonal Size (including propellers): 689mm (2.2 feet)
• Operating Temperature: 0°C to 40°C
• Operating Frequency: 2.400 GHz-2.483 GHz
• Max Distance (open area): 2km (1.2 miles)
• Transmitter Power: 20 dBm
• Working Voltage: 1.2 A @7.4 V
• Battery: Rechargeable 2S LiPo, 6000mAh
• Mobile device holder for tablet or phone
• USB output
DJI PILOT APP / LIVE VIEW
• Max FPV Preview Quality: 720P @ 30fps
• Low Latency: 220ms depending on conditions
• Required Operating Systems: iOS 8.0 or later, Android 4.1.2 or later
• Recommended Devices:
iOS: iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Air 2, iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 3 Wi-Fi + Cellular. This app is optimized for iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus
Android: Samsung S5, Note 3, Sony Z3 EXPERIA, Google Nexus 7 II, Google Nexus 9, Mi 3, Nubia Z7 mini
1st hands-on Experience Test-Flying the Phantom 3:
I had the pleasure of being one of the first (non-beta testers) to get a chance to fly the new Phantom 3 while out filming a training video with my friend and colleague, Eric Cheng with DJI earlier last month. He brought 2 different models with him that day – the 4K and the HD.
Since at this time I still hadn’t had a chance to spend much time with the Inspire 1, the Pilot App and Lightbridge FPV were captivating! I am very familiar with the way the Phantom flies in general, but using the new radio controllers (same as the Inspire 1 controllers) I found it so comfortable and intuitive to hold and control. I’ve been using upgraded radio controllers like the Futaba with a Black Pearl diversity receiver/monitor in my upgraded copters and you really need a neck strap if you’re flying for awhile. But with an iPad mini and the new controller with the Phantom 3, I can easily go for an hour or two without fatigue or strain (your mileage may vary).
I was really impressed with the overall performance and of course the ability to start/stop recording or fire off a photo with the touch of your finger on the remote is awesome. So is the camera tilt wheel and the exposure wheel. They just become part of your flying/shooting process and second nature as you’re in the air. Like I said, very intuitive. DJI has really thought this one out!
photos ©2015 Romeo Durscher
I’m hoping to get a production unit soon to provide a full hands-on review soon, so stay tuned…
Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com