At the Interbee show in Japan DJI was showing off the sucessor to their popular Phantom 4, the Phantom 4 Pro. From the outside the two drones are almost indistinguishable at first glance, with the only real noticeable differences being the addition of rear and side avoidance sensors.
The Phantom 4 Pro features a new integrated 1 inch, 20 megapixel sensor camera with a claimed ‘almost 12 stops’ of dynamic range. DJI told me that it was best to think of the camera as an aerial version of the Sony RX10. At other global press events DJI representatives have also claimed the image quality of the camera is better than the X3 from the Inspire 1.
The other big upgrade over the Phantom 4 is the addition of both rear and side collision avoidance sensors which will make the drone a lot safer to fly. These coupled together with DJI’s enhanced collision avoidance system, allows the Phantom 4 Pro to build a virtual 3D map of obstacles around it.
The Phantom 4 Pro also gains the mechanical shutter from the new Zenmuse cameras, with the same aim of eliminating rolling shutter artefacts from stills photos. You can shoot in 4K at up to 60fps, encoded in h.265 – although the data rate tops out at 100Mbps (still an upgrade from the Phantom 4’s 60Mbps).
DJI’s enhanced collision avoidance system, that builds a 3D map of obstacles using visual sensors to detect objects in front of, behind and below the drone. Side-mounted infrared sensors also help the system plan and fly routes autonomously. There’s also a new controller, with built-in GPS, compass, Micro-SD card slot, HDMI output port. There will actually be two versions of the Phantom 4 Pro. The Phantom 4 Pro plus model comes with a 1000nit high-brightness monitor on the controller that DJI say is viewable even in direct sunlight. The standard version uses your phone or tablet as the screen.
The new battery has also increased the flight time to 30 minutes. New flight modes include Circle, Profile and Spotlight tracking modes in the drone’s ActiveTrack system, which locks onto shapes it recognizes such as people or bikes and keeps them in shot.
The Phantom 4 Pro certainly looks like a good upgrade to the Phantom 4. With increased flight time, a better camera and recording options, as well as increased safety features it is sure to be very popular at its $1499 US price point for the standard model.