This past Christmas, I bought a decent sub-$100 drone for my brother-in-law. We’ve enjoyed the progress small RC vehicles have made over the past decade, and our excitement bubbles over in December. Christmases are filled with battery hunts, impatient charging, and destructive crashes. This drone stepped up our excitement. 3-axis controls, 30 meter range, and a 720p video camera. I won’t bore you with our giggly first flight adventures, but the day ended with a fishing pole and some fishing line tied to a glove, which we cast onto a neighbors roof to gently retrieve an inverted, inoperable quadcopter.
Within a day, I ordered one for myself. When it broke, I ordered another. I’ve been flying it weekly ever since. Indoors, outdoors. I even flew it in the snow, got caught in a gust, and buried it in my neighbor’s backyard bushes. Have I mentioned how fun these are?
In any case, after months of practice, I finally decided it was time to upgrade. The sub-$100 drone is great, but it’s limited. The camera is mediocre (as expected). There’s no stabilization, so wind is a constant battle, and video footage is always on the edge of inducing nausea.
Enter the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. I have a GoPro camera, but I really didn’t want the inconvenience of mounting it, charging it, and setting it up every time I wanted to fly. The Phantom 3 Pro has an attached 4k camera and gimbal, which I believe, more than anything else, was the deciding factor. Almost right out of the box, I could capture decent video. The Phantom’s ridiculously long range and real-time first person camera feed didn’t hurt either.
My goal here isn’t to write a review. The video should speak for itself. After six months of moderate practice with a cheap quadcopter, I captured this footage on only my second day of flying the Phantom 3. That should speak for itself. Yes, I’ve got a video background, so I knew how to add a bit of color grading and correction, but that’s not the point. The point is: learn on a cheaper model, and you’ll be astonished how easy the Phantom is to fly once you upgrade.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more awesome toy, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys flying vehicles and/or photography. Yes, it’s even better than the Optimus Prime transformer I had in the 80s.
Also published on Medium.