If you asked me what is the best drone on the market right now my response would be the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Sure, there are drones like the Inspire 2 that are better equipped, but they have their own set of downfalls. The Phantom series offers the perfect blend of performance, quality, and portability at a reasonable cost which makes the Phantom 4 Pro my all-time favorite drone to use.
Prosumer aerial imagery
The most compelling reason to buy the Phantom 4 Pro over a smaller drone like the Mavic is the larger camera it carries. With a full 1-inch sensor that shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K video at 60 frames per second, it sits right on the doorstep of professional cameras like the Zenmuse X5S.
This slots the Phantom’s camera in the prosumer category because it is able to yield professional looking results in a less expensive package. Even without color grading, the videos and photos that come straight from this camera impress me each and every time. Take a look at one of the shots I took in my early days of flying this drone, recorded in C4K at 60fps with no color grading done.
To this day, no drone has challenged the Phantom 4 Pro’s camera while staying at the same $1500 price point. Image quality is without a doubt most important to me, which is why this drone has never failed me.
The smoothest drone I have flown
Beyond camera performance, the Phantom 4 Pro excels in every area of flight performance. A top speed in sport mode of 45mph gets you to different shooting locations quickly while also giving you the ability to shoot fast-paced footage. An advertised flight time of 30 minutes makes this one of DJI’s longest flying drones, although I typically get around 24 minutes with my type of fast-paced flying. The icing on the cake is the Lightbridge transmission system which gives you a maximum range of 4.3 miles. The newer Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 uses OcuSync instead which has its own benefits but is still able to crank out long-range flights up to 4.3 miles as well.
Aside from flight specifications, this drone is an absolute joy to fly. I’ve had the opportunity to put some serious flight hours on both the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro but neither can match the smooth flight of the Phantom 4 Pro. Even in high gusts of wind, the Phantom is so agile which makes me feel confident as a pilot. It is by far the smoothest drone I have flown and when coupled with its incredible camera it creates an unbeatable setup.
No folding legs? No problem.
In a world of small, foldable drones, the Phantom series might be overlooked because of its tall, rigid landing gear that protects the camera. This means there’s no breaking this drone down to take up less space in your bag but what many pilots fail to realize is it can, in fact, be carried on your back! I’ve taken the Phantom with me on hikes that are miles long with no problems using two different backpack setups.
One is the PolarPro Drone Trekker that fits everything you need from the remote to spare batteries inside, you can even fit other items like a laptop or DSLR camera.
The second is my Peak Design backpack which has no room for the Phantom on the inside but is instead strapped to the outside with the remote, batteries, and other accessories on the inside. I had seen travelers use this method and I was skeptical, but as of recent it has become my favorite way to cart around the Phantom 4 Pro.
Portability constraints seem to be the biggest turn off of the Phantom 4 Pro, making something like the Mavic Pro a very popular option. The truth is, if aerial imagery is that important to you there is always an easy way to bring along the Phantom. I pack for my travels around the fact that I am carrying a larger drone but am always happy I do once I’m in the air.
The perfect compromise
What I have come to see the Phantom series as is the perfect compromise drone. It blends performance, quality, and portability at a reasonable cost. The camera isn’t able to beat the Zenmuse X5S carried by the Inspire 2, but the difference in portability is major. The case I have for my own Inspire 2 weighs over 75 pounds whereas the Phantom can easily fit in a backpack with extra room for other gear.
Because it can’t fold, it’s not as portable as the Mavic Air or Mavic Pro, but the flight performance and camera alone make me forget about how much extra room it requires. It’s still a portable drone despite the tall landing gear and wide frame, but the solutions I provided above for traveling with your Phantom 4 Pro should make your life easier.
Right now, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the best drone that you can buy. It shoots incredible images, it’s easy to transport, and it’s fast to get into the air. If you’re serious about aerial imagery and need something more practical than the Inspire 2, you can’t go wrong with the Phantom 4 Pro.
If you own a Phantom 4 Pro, how do you like flying it? Let us know in the comments below.
DJI Care Refresh
Tip: when buying a new drone from DJI, check out their DJI Care Refresh program. It allows you to request up to two replacements within the 12 months that your plan is valid. Doing so will require you to pay another fee at the time of request but it is still a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new drone. For instance, when you buy a DJI Mavic 2, you can purchase DJI Care Refresh for an additional $139. If you happen to damage (see terms) your drone, you can request a replacement. For the Mavic 2, the first replacement would cost you $119 and the second $139. It provides you peace of mind when you’re flying and as you can imagine, DJI Care Refresh has been very popular.
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