What’s the best way to test out a new drone? Drive up to a completely frozen lake for some ice-fishing and see how long until my fingers freeze? Probably not, but the possibility of what footage this may bring intrigued me.
I wasn’t in the market for a new drone – was quite happy trekking with my Phantom 3 Pro and travel bag for the better part of a year. Even now, it’s still a very capable drone that can produce incredible footage, and all of its advances over the Phantom 2 are just wicked. I was rather glad to get rid of the P2 truth to be told; it was a headache. I still have a spare H3-3D gimbal sitting around somewhere, and lots of other miscellaneous parts and cables.
My good friends at Advanced Media suggested that I try this one out. Up to that point, I’ve read up a bit on it and was intrigued, but it wasn’t until I saw it in person that I was sold. It was a fraction of the size of my P3. Although I managed fine with it, I would always be limited on what else I could bring with me due to space and weight. In Sept 2015 I shot a pretty epic hooping video with my wife in Goa.
So if I can get the same flight controls and image quality in a more travel-friendly package… sign me up! I didn’t have much time in Canada, as my dog was extremely sick and would be headed to the Rainbow Bridge shortly thereafter (I’ll miss her always). But on one of the days, my father and I took an afternoon, drove up to Lake Simcoe with his snowmobile and spent a few hours on the frozen lake and some trails nearby. For ease of use, and because I haven’t really looked into optimal picture settings, I just left everything in default.
In no particular order, here are some additional thoughts on it:
- This thing is tiny. I don’t think most people really understand how small until they see it in person.
- Definitely get the fly-more combo: you’ll thank me later.
- Battery life surprised me. It was hovering around -10 degrees Celsius, and I was able to get 20-25 minutes per flight.
- The default gimbal settings are far too stiff. I wish I had looked into this and adjusted them.
- ActiveTrack mode is awesome. In the video below, all of the footage with me driving in a field was automated.
- Tripod Mode is extremely useful for more controlled movements, especially if you’re in tighter spaces.
- Compression is a shame and really hurts the footage. I wasn’t able to do much with the grade, and noise reduction was applied on the more problematic shots.
- The FOV is a bit less than what I’m used to on the P3 (28mm vs 21mm) – but interestingly I think this allows for some nicer composition without distortion.
- The way you attach your phone to the remote and the cable just sucks. It’s really finicky, never quite flush, and covers up a part of the home button on an iPhone 7 making usage frustrating.
- I had some horizon drift issues – I don’t know if this was because of the cold or not.
I’ll probably do something similar for the Phantom 4 Pro+ when I get the chance – that integrated screen is awesome!