Last Saturday I had my first experience shooting D-Log on my Phantom 4 Advanced during sunrise at Otmoor Reserve near Oxford, England. It’s basically a big swamp. Since D-Log profile is locked at 500 ISO my main concern was obviously the noise. I as per many recommendations I was shooting with +2.0 EV, following ETTR method – exposure to the right – in reference to the histogram, where you try to expose footage in such a way where most of the data is stored towards the highlights. The theory is that D-Log is optimised for preserving highlights more than shadows, i.e. the profile allocates more bits for highlights. So by overexposing you shift shadows towards midtones.
Now as you see from the screen grabs (not yet properly colour graded) I got absolutely stunning footage.
Continue reading Shotting with D-Log on Phantom 4 Pro/Adv
Got up at 3am today to take the new drone for a spin. Went to a lake, canal, mountain drawing, windmill and a hill.
Had a really close call first thing in the morning when the drone went into the brunches of a tree. No way did I think it would be able to survive that and I thought it would plummet into the canal under the tree. To my surprise the drone came unscathed! No propeller damage, just dirt from the tree. Phew! Great job DJI!
Again the collision avoidance just made things worse! It is now permanently turned off.
The parabolic reflectors seem to decrease the range rather than increase it, so they are going to the bin.
Positives: managed to clock about 2 hours of flight. Phantom 4 Advanced seems to get along very well with Phantom 4 Ver 2 propellers and I’m averaging 29-30 minutes of flight time with 10% to spear!
Got a lot of great footage, which needs to be cut, edited, colour graded etc.
Some photos from today:
Still can’t believe how great the camera is. UHD footage looks awesome!
Just two days ago I bought myself Phantom 4 Advanced. I debated within myself whether I needed all the features of Phantom 4 Pro and decided that the extra pair of anti collision sensors plus the ability to use 5.8Ghz spectrum wasn’t worth it. I noticed in all the screenshot from Phantom 4 Pro that everyone still uses 2.4GHz. 5.8GHz is designed to be used in built up areas. Due to the fact that the whole area where I live use the same ISP, which provides 5.8Ghz routers as standard it wouldn’t have helped me. Out in the open you would still want to use 2.4GHz as it provides a superior range. In the end the deciding factor was the deal that I managed to get on eBay – I got a brand new Phantom 4 Advanced for a mere £700. How and why would someone want to sell a brand new Phantom 4 Advanced for almost half the price is beyond me. It came in a sealed box, all the stickers were still in place, controller wrapped and the battery showing 0 number of charges.
The main reason I decided to move on to Phantom 4 Advanced/Pro is the 30 minutes flight time and its camera. 20 megapixels is nice but what is more impressive is the full sensor size and the ability to change the aperture! Now when shooting a video it is much easier to follow 180 degree rule. Yes I might still need one ND4 filter on a very sunny day, since for the most part I should be able to adjust the shutter speed with the aperture alone. The camera even gives you an aperture or shutter speed priority. I haven’t tried those yet, but in theory, in case of shutter speed priority it will keep the constant shutter speed by adjusting the aperture and the ISO. The ISO has been bumped up all the way up to 25K (with a small hack or 12K without it). Still, most of my photos and videos are going to be at 100 ISO.
What I like about Phantom 4 Advanced
- Its camera. The UHD videos and the photos are awesome. Especially on my new 43″ UHD screen.
- The build quality – DJI have learnt from the past and this time use much better materials for the body. The gimbal is now attached to the camera from both sides, rather than just one. Props are now easier to put on. Attaching the gimbal holder/fixing mechanism is no longer comparable to solving a rubik’s cube. Prop are also easier to attach: just press then twist and they are securely attached.
- Intelligent flight modes: I haven’t tried them all yet, but the tripod mode is great and yet so simple.
- Flight characteristics: it hovers much better, no movement whatsoever. The flight speed has also increased (that is if you disable obstacle avoidance or switch to the sports mode) 45mph is no joke. I also had a mini collision on its maiden flight at about 2m in height. I clipped a propeller by getting too close to a lamppost. To my surprise a bit of the propeller flew off, the drone shook for a second and the carried on on hovering like nothing happened. Upon inspection 1.5 cm of one of its propellers was missing. I very much doubt that Phantom 3 would have been able to stay in the air. I think it’s due to the material that the propellers are made of and a better IMU. The plastic is quite hard but brittle at the time. I was really impressed, as it looked like the drone would crash.
- The box that it comes with is very nice and saves you from buying a separate carrier bag. It’s probably not as durable but still much better than simply a box
Things I didn’t like so much
- Obstacle avoidance is useless. It didn’t save me from hitting a lamppost nor did it recognise a small tree as something that needs avoiding. In addition when obstacle avoidance is on the flight speed is restricted. In the Pro version the side sensors work only in the tripod mode (what was DJI thinking?) . I seriously wouldn’t trust it and have turned it off on my drone. So I’m glad I didn’t go for the Pro version. Looking at the forums the majority keep the collision avoidance permanently switched off.
- The batteries are very expensive. The new one £169!
Overall I’m very impressed with the camera, its build quality and the flight time. And how it saved itself after colliding with a lapmpost. Worthy upgrade, especially for £700.
Took me a while to edit this one! Had over 40 mins of footage which got compressed into 1 minute. Still not quite happy about the result. But hey, I’m learning.
Shot with 16 ND filter, 29.97 FPS with the shutter speed of 60
Well, it’s not National Geographic, but having your work featured on the cover of local magazine feels good!
Finally, after almost 2 months from ordering the product I have received it. It got stuck in customs and I had to pay an additional £12 import duty to get it released on top of $269 I paid for the booster itself.
The box contains the booster with the built in antennas, bunch of wires for modifying the controller (which I don’t need as mine is already modified), a set of tools and a battery charger together with 2 x 3.7v batteries.
The initial thoughts on the product are quite mixed. First I have ordered the white version and the plastic that it’s made of looks like it’s dirty. The build quality doesn’t seem to be that great either, as an example the battery lid is very difficult to close and there was some hot glue residue in some places. The design and the layout is quite good and should be convenient to use, plus the booster is much lighter than I expected even with batteries inside.
All of which won’t matter if the product lives or doesn’t live to its expectations. Now, my records with “Cool Making” antennas is just over 3 km in semi-rural area. If I get anything above 5km I will be impressed
The device is essentially 2 x 2.4GHz 4 Watt amplifiers paired with 2 x 7dBi directional antennas.
Hopefully I get to test the device sometime next week. I will post a detailed flight log and map annotated with signal quality plus tons of pictures of the booster and a recording of the video from the controller.