Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Meet The Phantom 4, DJI’s Newest Drone

DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

Screenshot by author, from YouTube

DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter

This is the first DJI Phantom to come without racing stripes.

Drones are better behind the camera than in front of it. Dronemaker DJI today unveiled the latest in its Phantom series of camera-toting quadcopters, the Phantom 4, and did so with a video that features the quadcopter, but mostly as an incidental feature. It's what the drone is filming, not the drone itself, that is the sales pitch here. The drone is a tool for a filmmaker, an entire aerial crew that frames shots, dodges obstacles, and captures magical moments from above, for up to 28 minutes at a time.

A video, dubbed "Your Creative Sidekick," shows the drone filming people mostly outdoors, in picturesque settings. It has tap-and-go navigation, where a user can point at a location on a map and the drone will fly to it. There are shot framing options, whereby users can use the screen on the controller to select an area for the drone to film. It has auto-tracking, wherein the user selects a person or vehicle to follow, and the drone focuses and flies along filming it. The Phantom 4 also has obstacle avoidance: Its forward-facing cameras detect obstacles at 50 feet, while downward-facing cameras capture "optical and sonar data."

Phantom 4 offers a top speed of 45mph. Consumers can preorder it at DJI's own site or at Apple stores. When they do, they should probably register it with the FAA. It's priced at $1,399.

To announce the launch of the Phantom 4, DJI released 4 videos. There's one about the drone's technology, a profile of a slackliner who films his exploits by drone, and one about a wilderness wildlife rescue in Quebec that uses drones to track down missing animals.

Watch the fourth video, about using the Phantom 4 as a "creative sidekick," below:

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