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DJI Phantom 3 Professional review: Stunning 4K aerial footage that doesn't break the bank
With 4K video and easy to learn controls, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional makes a good case for being the go-to drone for serious aerial photographers.
- Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
DJI's Phantom series have become a benchmark for consumer drones -- or quadcopters, if you prefer -- thanks to their simple setup, ease of flying and relatively low price. The current king of the lineup, the Phantom 3 Professional, raises the bar even higher with the addition of 4K video recording from its stabilised camera.
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
The bottom line.
Its design is almost unchanged from the previous Phantom 2 series , with a chunky white plastic body, and it's still incredibly easy to learn to fly. It has improved image sensors too, which provide superior footage than previously available, and ground-scanning sensors to help it fly indoors. If you want to take your home movies to the next level, but don't want to fork out the many thousands for professional-level drones, the Phantom 3 is a superb starting point.
There are currently three versions of the drone available. The Phantom 3 Professional (which I review here) shoots video in 4K (3,820x2,160-pixel) resolution and retails for $1,259, £1,159 or AU$1,950. The Phantom 3 Advanced is functionally identical, but shoots video in 1080p (1,920x1,080); it costs $999, £899 or AU$1,550. Both of those debuted in April, but they were just joined by a third model, the more affordable Phantom 3 Standard ($799, £649 or AU$1,299), which strips away some of the better features of its sibling models and includes the same controller as the older Phantom 2 Vision+ . (Meanwhile, DJI has also scheduled a press conference in Los Angeles later this month, making another new drone announcement likely.)
Ultimately, the Advanced is arguably the sweet spot, given the fact that its 1080p video will more than suffice for most eyes (discerning the extra detail on 4K displays is a challenge, to say the least). But for those who must have 4K, the Phantom 3 Pro delivers best-in-class video for many thousands less than you'll pay for professional drones.
Hands-on with DJI's 4K-equipped Phantom 3 drone (pictures)
The Phantom 3 looks pretty much identical to DJI's previous Phantom models: a stout white plastic body, four rotors and narrow, fixed landing legs slung beneath. It's light enough to carry in one hand and, when you unscrew the rotor blades, it's just about small enough to fit into a decent-sized backpack. It's certainly more portable than the much larger Inspire 1 drone.
It feels as well built as before, with the capacity to survive both the odd bump into a wall or a small crash while you're getting the hang of flying it. I managed to fly it straight into the roof of my house where it plummeted three storeys to the grass below. Aside from a few cosmetic scuffs, it was absolutely fine, and continues to fly without any trouble.
The rotor blades are easily replaceable if you snap a few. Just unscrew them from the motors on each of the drone's four corners. You'll know how to do it already, since the blades are the only parts you need to assemble out of the box.
The controller is roughly similar to previous versions, with two main sticks and a clamp to hold a tablet -- I used my iPad Mini without a problem -- which acts as the display for the drone's camera via the DJI Pilot app. There are small, fold-down brackets to hold a smartphone, with the app optimised for use with the iPhone 5S , 6 and 6 Plus . It was easier, however, to view the footage and use the app's small on-screen buttons on the the tablet's larger screen. Android device support is thin, with just the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3 , Sony Xperia Z3 , Google Nexus 7 II , Google Nexus 9 , Xiaomi Mi 3 and ZTE Nubia Z7 mini listed.
On each top corner of the controller are buttons for starting and stopping recording and quickly changing camera settings like the exposure and angle of view. Using these physical controls is much easier than poking at the tiny on-screen controls while the drone is airborne.
Getting started with the drone is incredibly easy. When you take it out of the box, just start charging the battery and the controller (a supplied lead charges both through one plug), and download the DJI Pilot app onto your iOS or Android device.
Once everything is charged, switch on the controller and the drone, pop your phone or tablet into the bracket and connect your mobile device with its usual charging cable to the controller. Then, after a few simple steps on the app, you're connected and ready to go -- around five minutes of playing around had me up and running.
Before you take off for the first time, you can use the app as a training guide. You pilot a virtual drone around a field on-screen, allowing you to familiarise yourself with the main controls, without risking smashing your new toy into a tree. Even so, the first time you use it should be in a very open space, and you should stick to basic manoeuvres until you get the hang of it.
When you first get your drone, it's worth checking DJI's downloads site for any available firmware updates -- oddly, I didn't see an update notification in the app, even though there was one to download. Updating the camera firmware is a long process, albeit fairly straightforward. You'll need to pop the camera's microSD card into your computer, download the firmware, unzip it and put it on the card. After you insert the card back into the drone and turn it on, it'll take about 20 minutes to install it, bleeping the whole time.
Flying the drone
The DJI 3 is every bit as easy to fly as its predecessors. Even just 10 minutes of casual flying around an open area is sufficient time to learn the basics. It helps that the drone is incredibly responsive and can accelerate -- and, more importantly, decelerate -- extremely quickly. If you see you're getting too close to some trees, a quick movement on the stick will instantly change its course to get you out of trouble or simply return the sticks to neutral to stop it in its tracks.
At close range (up to around 30 metres, or 100 feet) I find it easy to pilot the drone simply by looking at it. Once it gets a bit further away -- or it's above you, visibly lost against the bright sky -- then it's more convenient to use the camera view on your tablet, seeing what it's seeing, to help navigate. It automatically corrects for wind, so slight gusts won't throw it off course, but trying to get closeup footage of a tornado is not a good idea.
New sensors on the bottom of the drone point down and detect patterns on the floor to lock on to, in order to remain stable when flying indoors, where a GPS signal (used for stability outdoors) isn't available. Although you could technically fly any of the previous drones indoors, the new sensors provide better stability, making it able to hover in a fixed location without any control from you. This made a big difference in my testing as I was able to fly the drone from inside my living room out of the window.
Of course, you have to be much more careful than when flying outdoors as there are various factors which make it less stable. Flying above a plain surface, for example, will give the cameras nothing to lock onto, and above about 2 metres (6 feet), it doesn't detect the ground at all and can easily start to drift off course. I managed to crash it inside the CNET office when I flew it about 6 metres (about 20 feet) above the floor and it wasn't able to hold its position. It was, thankfully, unharmed.
DJI reckons you can get around 20-23 minutes of flight time from a full charge of the drone's battery, which I'd say is accurate. It does depend on how vigorously you're flying though, so if you do plan on really hitting top speed at high altitudes, expect a little less time. Although that's pretty standard for this type of drone, it's still very limiting if you want to take it away to a specific location to capture footage.
The batteries are removable, and you can buy spares, but they'll set you back around £125, $149 or AU$205 each. Batteries compatible with previous models are not compatible with the Phantom 3.
A return-to-home function will automatically bring the drone safely back to your location to land when it detects that the batteries are critically low -- it won't simply fall out of the sky. You can also press the return to home button on screen and there's one on the controller too. It will automatically bring the drone back to the location it took off from, which is a handy failsafe option to have if you begin to lose sight of it and want to bring it back to you safely.
As with the predecessor, the camera is slung beneath the drone -- but this time with a bunch of significant upgrades. It has the same 1/2.3-inch sensor, although it's been tweaked to provide better dynamic range. Exposure is generally more balanced. Bright skies are kept under control, while the darker ground is kept easily visible.
The Phantom Vision 2's camera had a habit of either exposing for the bright sky, plunging the ground into shadow, or exposing for the ground, resulting in a washed-out sky. The Phantom 3 does a considerably better job, producing rich, well balanced footage.
The headline feature on the Professional model is its ability to shoot video in Ultra HD 4K resolution. It brings a tonne of detail when viewing the footage on a high resolution monitor, which is particularly noticeable when looking at small details on house roofs far below. The benefit of 4K footage isn't just to look crisp on a 4K monitor, it also gives you a lot of room to crop into the frame, while still maintaining full HD quality or better.
If you're shooting a specific object, this extra resolution allows you to digitally stabilise the footage, smoothing out any slight movements of the drone and ensuring the object stays perfectly central, without sacrificing any quality.
It can do this at frame rates of 24, 25 or 30 frames per second too, the latter of which will be great for long, smooth shots. If your shots require faster motion from the camera and the subject, then shooting at 60fps in Full HD will produce much smoother footage.
With the wheels on each corner of the controller you can tilt the camera up or down, and to pan simply turn the drone on its axis. You can point it exactly down, which gives a really neat view of the landscape, particularly when you take it really high. One of the main differences between this and the pricier DJI Inspire 1 drone is that there's no ability to control the camera using a second controller. If you want to shoot a subject with one person flying the drone past, with a second producer independently controlling the camera (which can pan and tilt in all directions), you'll need to splash more cash for the Inspire.
The lens on the camera has a 90-degree field of view, which is narrower than the previous version. That may seem a step down, but it's actually for a very good reason. The extreme wide angles used by the Phantom 2 caused distortion of the image, particularly at the corners, meaning a lot of digital correction had to be used, if the footage was for a professional purpose. It's particularly noticeable when panning around a horizon, as you can visibly see the horizon curving down at the edge.
The narrower angle does make a huge difference, with considerably less distortion of the image. As well as just producing nicer-looking footage for your Facebook feed, professionals among you will appreciate the time saved by not having to digitally correct it.
The camera is mounted on the same three-axis stabilising gimbal, which automatically corrects for any slight movements of the drone, and smoothing out vibrations from the rotors. It works incredibly well and results in much smoother footage, without the unpleasant jerks and bumps seen from drones that don't use stabilisation -- including DJI's Phantom 2.
Do keep in mind that when flying the drone at high speeds, or turning quickly, the gimbal will have to move the camera at a more extreme upwards angle to the extent that it's possible to see the rotors in the top portion of the image. Smooth motions will therefore produce the best results. You can see some of our test footage in the following video:
A neat new feature on the Phantom 3 is the ability to stream live video from the drone to YouTube. The DJI app makes it easy to set up live streaming -- you also need to enable your YouTube account for live video on the desktop site. It needs a good data connection, so if you're using a tablet or phone that doesn't have a SIM card, you'll need to tether it to your phone.
Streaming video is no easy task for a mobile connection, so you'll want to make sure you're on a fast 4G LTE connection for it to work properly. When I was on 3G, the YouTube stream being watched remotely was extremely jumpy and froze numerous times. On 4G, however, it was much smoother and gave a good view of the action. Its lower quality and lower frame rate means it's far less smooth than video taken directly from the camera, but it's perfectly watchable, particularly when the drone remains fairly still in the air.
It might not be a killer feature for many of you, but it could be handy for news journalists wanting to give a top-down view of an unfolding event. Engineers too may find it useful to be able to fly into a potentially dangerous building and send footage back, without risking injury by entering themselves.
The DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone is simple to set up and incredibly easy to learn to fly, making it an accessible piece of kit even to those with only a vague knowledge of technology. Its drastically improved image quality, addition of 4K resolution and its excellent stabilising gimbal allows it to capture brilliant footage, with none of the jerkiness or exposure issues seen on earlier models.
Ultimately, the stepdown Phantom 3 Advanced -- with all of the same features except a 1080p camera in place of the Pro's 4K one -- is the better choice for most flyers, but anyone who needs the extra resolution (or the comfort of futureproofing) will find the Phantom 3 Pro a solid choice. Either one is a much more affordable entry into aerial videography than any professional drone, and is well worth considering, whether you're an enthusiastic amateur filmmaker or simply want to add cool, creative shots to your home videos.
CNET Senior Editor Josh Goldman contributed to this review.
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Review of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional
- December 27, 2015
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The Phantom 3 is a Big Upgrade
The Phantom 3 was not an incremental upgrade as many predicted. Other than the shell, the aircraft is basically a complete overhaul. This leads me to believe that the Inspire 2 when released will also be a major overhaul. Mark my words on that one. I suspect much of the Phantom 3 tech came from its bigger, yet unreleased brother.
So let’s get started with the review already and I’ll tell you all about those awesome upgrades (and a few gripes).
The Phantom 3’s Flight Controller Circuitry is all New
Again, physically the Phantom 3 looks just like its younger sibling with some slight changes that become apparent after looking it over. The first one is the addition of a three sensors in a box, hung directly behind the gimbal. This sensor pack includes a down facing camera and two ultrasonic sensors. Another camera you ask? Yes! This is basically the same technology that is packed into your standard optical mouse, only on steroids! The Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional models include these. This upgrade greatly improves the aircrafts ability to hover in a very tight radius, and enables indoor flight without any GPS whatsoever. That’s right! Indoor flying thats as easy as GPS flying! The sensors are constantly taking imagery of the ground below the aircraft. It uses that data to determine if it has moved, and how far. When outdoors it uses this data to augment the GPS for better hovering lock and low altitudes.
If that wasn’t enough, the Advanced and Professional versions of the Phantom 3 also add GLONAS (Russia’s GPS system) support in addition to GPS! This gives the Phantom a whole new set of 29 positioning satellites to listen to in addition to the American GPS array of 31 birds.
I have to tell you, the Phantom 3 is a dream to fly. It is very responsive, incredibly quick with a top speed of 35 mph and a climb speed of 13 mph. Don’t let those numbers fool you, its almost scary fast when it whizzes by you or takes off full speed.
The Phantom 3’s Remote is All New (Sort of)
The Phantom 3’s new remote is actually the same remote first introduced on DJI’s Inspire 1 aircraft. It has a charging port on the side and two USB ports on the back for secondary charging and connecting to your smart phone or tablet (in my case, an iPad Air). This remote talks to the aircraft via a DJI technology called Lightbridge. It operates over the 2.4Ghz frequency and transmits all of the aircraft’s and operator’s data needs up to 3.5 miles away when conditions are good (many owners have reported achieving further distances, although this is extremely risky since the craft will likely not have enough battery to return at those distances; and it also against the new FAA drone regulations to fly without line of sight to the craft).
Your smart device sits in a cradle on top of the remote and securely locked into place. The iOS/Android application called the DJI GO app is fully capable of running the craft, and includes all kinds of waypoint flight maps, video feeds, etc. I could write a whole article on just the app. From the app you can also do routine maintenance like firmware upgrades. During flight, in addition to the 720p video stream (FPV view), the app shows all of your telemetry including distance, altitude, GPS coords, and other fantastic info.
The back of the remote includes many user programable buttons, in addition to camera control, gimbal control, and flight mode control.
The Phantom 3 Professional’s Camera is Awesome
When I had the Phantom 2, I had no way of seeing what the drone was seeing. There was no Lightbridge or FPV available on the craft without adding some third party devices. However, you could mount a Go-Pro on it and as long as the Go-Pro was in WiFi range you could get some really rudimentary FPV capabilities, but it was so bad I almost never used it.
The camera mounted on the Phantom 3 Professional is a 4K variant. The Standard and Advanced include a 2.7K camera. Both shoot 12 MP still images. With the camera and gimbal included by DJI, and the inclusion of Lightbridge, there’s really no comparison. You’re drone can be 2 miles away and you can realtime see what it sees. It’s a literal dream to fly like this. In fact the only downside is the iPad gets heavy, and there’s a lot screen glare outside. You can of course use your phone and get all the same features in a smaller, lighter weight package.
The quality of the 4K camera is pretty good. There’s some fantastic videos on YouTube in full 4K resolution if you have a 4K playback device such as new iMac or 4K TV to watch them on. I’m very impressed with the low light performance of the 20mm F/2.8 lens. I’ll post some videos and photos soon.
The camera is permanently mounted to the aircraft on DJI’s own gimbal platform, which includes a USB port and MicroSD card slot for storing your photos and videos. You should be aware that with 4K video you’ll need a Class 10 card capable of at least 60 Mb/s in order to record 4K video streams without errors.
Final Thoughts on the Phantom 3 Professional
I’m sure I will update this article over time as I get more flight hours, footage, and pictures to share. For now, I think its safe to say that the Phantom 3 Professional is a fantastic multirotor aircraft. I think you’d be hard pressed to find better features at a similar price point from the competition. As quickly as this market is growing, I expect the Inspire 2 and the Phantom 4 to take even bigger leaps next year.
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DJI Phantom 3 Professional review
Dji's groundbreaking 4k-enabled drone takes to the skies.
The Phantom 3 Professional is incredibly easy to fly, captures stunning 4K video and features a direct live view link between the camera in the air and your mobile device. There's little not to like in this compact, feature-packed drone.
Easy flight control
Excellent video quality
Small and lightweight
Android app is slow
No advanced autopilot
Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
- Introduction and features
- Sample videos
Quadcopter and multirotor drones are rapidly growing in popularity, and it's easy to see why. They're relatively simple to operate, and many come equipped with small high-definition cameras, making aerial photographer accessible and affordable – a few years ago you couldn't have captured such footage without hiring a plane or helicopter, or learning to fly a microlight.
The DJI Phantom has become the consumer drone of choice thanks to its affordable price, small size, ease of use and stylish design, and it's available in many high street stores. We took a look at the original Phantom back in 2013, but there have been big advances in drone technology since then, and despite having almost identical looks the latest incarnation the Phantom 3 is a very different beast to the original.
The Phantom 3 is available in two versions – Professional and Advanced, with the only difference between the two being the camera. The Professional, which we're reviewing here, has a camera capable of shooting 4K movies, whereas the Advanced is limited to Full HD (1080p).
DJI has kept the style of the body visually the same as the Phantom and Phantom 2, but there are some small changes to accommodate the new technology and performance enhancements. These include a new battery, tilted motors, wider landing gear and a smaller remote control handset.
Owners of the Phantom 1 upgrading to the Phantom 2 required new and very different battery packs. The Phantom 3 also sports a new battery pack, which despite looking identical to the Phantom 2's battery is again all new, so if you own spare batteries for a Phantom 2 these won't be compatible with the 3 if you upgrade.
The new pack is rated at 4480mAh at 15.2v, and powers between 15 and 20 minutes of flight depending on how you fly. The new pack is also considerably more expensive, at around £124 (about US$194), as opposed to around £90 (about US$140), which is something to bear in mind as additional batteries are an essential.
The four brushless motors have been reset with a slight tilt to aid stability and smart braking controlled by the new intelligent flight controller. The wider landing gear is also a welcome improvement, and helps to prevent the gear from appearing in footage.
The remote control handset has gone through a more major overhaul than the drone itself. It has been reduced slightly in size compared to the one that shipped with the Phantom 2, and it features a built-in rechargeable battery rather than using AAs.
On the front of the handset is a line of LEDs that indicate the unit's power level – one charge should last for a good ten or more flights, although it's sensible to charge the unit after each session. On the back is a USB connection for your phone to enable Live View from the camera to the DJI Pilot app, which is a major improvement on the Wi-Fi connection used with the Phantom 2 Vision+ and uses DJI's own Lightbridge technology.
Lightbridge enables iOS or Android devices to connect directly through USB to the Phantom 2.4Ghz handset, and transmits the footage from the camera to the mobile device. This live stream comes through at HD (720p) and has a workable range of up to 1.2 miles, although in our tests using an iPhone 6 we were unable to test this distance in flight.
The handset also features direct control buttons to start and stop recording, take photos, adjust camera settings and tilt the camera; some of these buttons can be customised using the app, but even without the app you'll still have plenty of control over the camera.
The DJI Pilot app is the same one used by DJI's prosumer quadcopter, the Inspire 1. It's compatible with iOS and Android devices, gives you access to all of the Phantom 3's settings and features. When you launch the app you're presented with four options: Camera, Director, Store and User Centre.
The Camera section of the app enables you to control the camera to shoot video, take photos, and adjust the gimbal and camera settings such as exposure compensation, shutter speed and sensitivity.
The app's interface is initially a little daunting, with the live view feed surrounded by icons and settings that can be adjusted. It takes a few minutes to check out the basic features that the app offers, and it's well worth familiarising yourself with it before you venture out for a flight.
The app is the window into the Phantom's settings and features, and is roughly split into GPS, Phantom diagnostic, direct control and camera.
Once calibrated, the GPS settings enable the Phantom to pinpoint its location, and has handy features such as the ability to set your location as the home point, so if you lose sight of the Phantom, or more commonly lose all depth perception, you can hit the home button on the interface or handset and the craft will come back to you.
There's also a handy take off button on the interface which helps you to launch if you're new to flying. The interface features a map that can be enlarged and shows the location of the quadcopter.
The app's General settings enable you to configure the customisable buttons, check battery charge and (more importantly) flight time, adjust the gimbal and setup advanced features such as YouTube Live streaming.
The 4K camera is the big selling point of the Professional, and DJI has really addressed the needs of both the videographer and photographer with the scope of settings and adjustments.
At the heart of this camera is the Sony 1/2.3-inch Exmor sensor, from a sensor family that has already proved itself with many action cameras. The small camera features an f/2.8 lens with a 94 degree field of view, which equates to a 35mm equivalent of 20mm. Unlike an action camera, the Phantom's camera controls distortion well, and avoids the usual fish-eye look that you would associate with the likes of the GoPro Hero4, a camera often used with quadcopters.
This small camera is mounted under the body of the craft and is suspended from a motorised gimbal. Although known for its quadcopters, DJI is also in the camera market, and produces motorised gimbals for the broadcast and the film industry. This expertise is evident in this very small and impressive gimbal.
The job of the gimbal is to keep footage as level and steady as possible, and it does an impressive job. Panning footage is level, and looks like the camera is on runners rather than mounted on a flying craft. Launching the Phantom above the tree line shows the steadiness of the camera, capturing footage that would usually require a telescopic camera pole.
Current page: Introduction and features
Ali Jennings is the imaging lab manager for Future Publishing's Photography portfolio. Using Imatest Master and DxO Analyser he produces the image quality tests for all new cameras and lenses review in TechRadar's cameras channel. Ali has been shooting digital since the early nineties and joined Future's Photography portfolio back in 2003.
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Dji phantom 3 standard vs advanced vs professional : what's the difference.
DJI drones are some of the best known available right now, they're also some of the best full stop. The Phantom series are now in their third generation and have split off into three levels. But which is right for you?
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is the latest addition to the family, offering a more affordable entry-level drone for hobbyists. Then there's a step up to the Advanced and Professional models.
- The best drones 2018: Top rated quadcopters to buy, whatever your budget
For most, non-professional users, the Standard drone may offer enough. But others may need slightly more options. We've compared the three Phantom drones so you can find the best one for you.
So, which DJI Phantom drone is your next air bound companion?
READ: DJI Phantom 3 Professional review: 4K high-flier excels
DJI Phantom 4 Pro preview: Smarter, longer-lasting pro-level drone
DJI Phantom 3 cameras
One of the biggest differences across the range of Phantom drones is the cameras. This is an area where the price can change drastically but one where many people won't really need to splash out for the top end.
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard features a 12-megapixel sensor for up to 2.7K resolution video at up to 30 frames per second, carried at 40Mbps.
Jump up to the Phantom 3 Advanced and you get a Sony Exmor 12.4-megapixel sensor and video of up to 2.7K and 30fps also with 40Mbps bitrate.
Then when you hit the top end with the Phantom 3 Professional you also get that Sony sensor but with the ability to record up to 4K resolution also at 30fps but with a bitrate of 60Mbps.
All three offer single shot, burst mode, auto exposure, bracketed frames and time-lapse shooting.
READ: DJI Phantom 3 Standard: The affordable 2.7k camera-toting drone, in pictures
DJI Phantom 3 flight range
Another area where there's variation across the models is flight range.
The Standard model can manage up to 1,000m in distance using the supplied controller. But this is the FCC rated number, when outdoors and unobstructed.
The Advanced and Professional models both have the same range as each other which is also based on outdoor, unobstructed use. These can go up to 2,000m away from the flier using the supplied remote controller.
DJI Phantom 3 battery
Battery charging is a big part of drone use. Since drones only fly in the air for a limited time it's ideal to have a charger that can get you back up right away, ideally with two batteries on cycle.
The Phantom 3 Standard and Advanced both feature 15.2v, 4,480mAh batteries that charge at 57W. The Professional has the same sized battery but charges at up to 100W.
But it's the Standard that wins out here, for flight time, presumably partly thanks to it's different camera sensor. It can manage a 25-minute flight time where the Advanced and Professional top out at 23 minutes. Not a huge difference, true, but a win for the Standard at least.
DJI Phantom 3 flight abilities
The flying abilities for the three Phantoms doesn't vary massively, but there are difference.
All three Phantom 3 drones fly at 16 metres per second, ascend at 5 m/s and descend at 3 m/s with a max above sea level altitude of 6,000m.
The Phantom Standard uses GPS while the Advanced and Professional models also feature GLONASS. The Standard weighs in at 1216g while the other two top the scales at 1280g.
DJI Phantom 3 app smarts
Controlling all of the Phantom 3 drones is easy enough with the accompanying app. The phone or tablet slips into the controller to boost signal and everything else is easy enough even for first-time fliers.
Some new additions that work across the range include Follow Me, to keep the drone locked onto your phone; Point of Interest, to keep locked onto one thing while flying around it; Waypoints, to fly a set path automatically while you focus on camera controls, and Intelligent Orientation Control, to help customise how you control the drone.
DJI Phantom 3 pricing
This is the area where the variations between the drones really becomes a point of importance. Do you need the extras for that price jump?
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is currently £620. The Phantom 3 Advanced is £900 and the Phantom 3 Professional is £1,160.
There are also other pricing options for the drones with extra batteries and a hard shell backpack to carry it all, but the jump is more than £100.
READ: 8 best drone quadcopters to buy now: Parrot, DJI, Hubsan and more
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Phantom 3 vs. Mavic Air: The Evolution of DJI Drones
In today’s fierce global marketplace, companies need to adapt quickly and innovate to survive. DJI products have come an incredibly long way in a few short years, helping the company stay ahead of the competition.
In April of 2015, DJI released the first two drones in their Phantom 3 series, the Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional. Less than three years later, the company unveiled the Mavic Air , a powerful, foldable, 4K drone that’s a fraction of the Phantom 3’s size with even more smart features and advanced hardware.
To get an idea of just how much DJI technology has improved, let’s take a closer look at some key features of the Mavic Air and Phantom 3 Pro.
Like with most technology, drones are getting smaller and smaller. Not long ago, the only UAVs for hobbyists were colossal and unwieldy fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. DJI broke new ground with the Phantom, which was small enough to fit into a dedicated backpack, along with a couple of extra batteries and a controller. Drones like the Phantom 3 Pro are great, but they still take up a good deal of space, they weigh quite a bit, and traveling with one is certainly a commitment.
Conversely, the Mavic Air isn’t much larger than a smartphone when folded, so it’s easy to throw into any backpack along with a laptop, snacks, or whatever else you may need. Its compact design makes it highly suitable for taking on vacations and outdoor excursions.
High-quality stabilized cameras are one of the things that set DJI drones apart from the pack. In the past, if you wanted a camera on a quadcopter, you’d need some technical know-how to install it yourself.
DJI was the first company to include both a built-in camera and a video transmission system into a ready-to-fly drone with the Phantom 2 Vision, followed up by the Phantom 3 series. The Phantom 3 Professional set new standards for camera drones with its 3-axis 4K gimbal camera featuring a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor.
Amazingly, the Mavic Air’s 3-axis gimbal camera features a sensor of the same size in a much more compact, recessed casing. For video, the Mavic Air’s camera is even better than the Phantom 3 Pro’s, since it records 4K footage at 100 Mbps, as opposed to 60 Mbps. That means every shot contains much more detail.
Apart from a primary camera used to capture photos and videos, DJI drones also feature smaller cameras known as vision sensors. These allow the drone to hover precisely in place and detect potential obstacles. Over time, DJI has added more and more of them to their drones.
The Phantom 3 Pro only featured a single downward facing vision sensor for stabilization. The Mavic Air, on the other hand, features two downward facing cameras, which allow the drone to more accurately detect movements in the ground below and stabilize accordingly using visual inertial odometry .
And that’s not all! The Mavic Air has binocular vision sensors on its front and back as well. These allow the drone to detect obstacles and even fly around them with a new feature called APAS. Just push the control stick forward or backward, and you’ll fly right around detected obstructions! All of the Mavic Air’s sensors bundled together into a system DJI calls FlightAutonomy 2.0. Learn more about FlightAutonomy 2.0 on the Mavic Air’s official website .
The Mavic Air doesn’t fly quite as long as the Phantom 3 Pro (21 mins vs. 23 mins) and its max transmission distance is slightly less (4 km vs. 5 km when FCC compliant), but that’s understandable given how much information it’s processing and its significantly reduced size. Plus, the Mavic Air is faster than the Phantom 3 Pro, with a max speed of 68.4 kph compared to the Phantom 3 Pro’s 57.6 kph. The Mavic Air also has Sport mode, which is a great way to experience the thrill of flight to the fullest.
Along with APAS, the Mavic Air has a whole suite of smart features that make it a significant upgrade from the Phantom 3 Pro. While the Phantom 3 Pro featured relatively simple Intelligent Flight Modes, such as Course Lock and Home Lock, the Mavic Air blows the Phantom 3 Pro out of the water with modes like QuickShot, ActiveTrack, SmartCapture, and more. Learn more about each of these cool new modes in our Mavic Air tutorial series !
So which is better?
Both are great drones, but you just can’t beat the combination of power and portability that the Mavic Air offers. If you’re often out and about and want to capture the world from above wherever your adventures take you, get yourself a Mavic Air today!
Want to find out how the Mavic Air compares to other DJI drones? Check out our drone comparison page .
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What Is DJI Phantom 3
- Technology & Innovation
- Emerging Tech
Welcome to the world of DJI Phantom 3, a revolutionary drone that has taken the market by storm. If you’re fascinated by aerial photography or just love the idea of flying a drone, then the DJI Phantom 3 is the perfect choice for you. With its advanced features and impressive capabilities, this drone has become a favorite among hobbyists and professionals alike.
But what exactly is DJI Phantom 3? In simple terms, it is a high-performance drone manufactured by DJI, a renowned company in the drone industry. DJI is known for producing top-quality drones, and the Phantom 3 is no exception. It is packed with cutting-edge technology and boasts a plethora of features that set it apart from its competitors.
Whether you’re a first-time drone user or an experienced pilot, the DJI Phantom 3 offers an unparalleled flying experience. Equipped with a powerful camera, intuitive controls, and smart navigation systems, it allows you to capture stunning aerial footage with ease. The Phantom 3 is designed to provide stability, maneuverability, and reliability, making it a versatile tool for various applications.
In this article, we will delve into the key features of the DJI Phantom 3, explore its camera and video quality, flight performance and controls, GPS and navigation features, as well as the battery life and charging capabilities. We will also provide you with a guide on how to fly the DJI Phantom 3, and discuss the pros and cons of this remarkable drone. So, let’s strap in and get ready to explore the exciting world of the DJI Phantom 3!
What is DJI Phantom 3?
The DJI Phantom 3 is a cutting-edge drone that has revolutionized the world of aerial photography and videography. It is a ready-to-fly quadcopter that offers exceptional flight performance, stunning camera capabilities, and an array of advanced features.
At its core, the DJI Phantom 3 is built with precision and durability. Its sleek design and robust construction make it ideal for both recreational and professional use. With its intelligent flight modes and stable flight controls, the Phantom 3 allows pilots to capture breathtaking images and videos from a unique perspective.
One of the standout features of the DJI Phantom 3 is its camera system. Equipped with a high-quality camera and a 3-axis gimbal stabilization system, it enables users to capture smooth and crystal-clear footage. The camera can shoot 12-megapixel photos and record videos in up to 4K resolution, delivering stunning visuals with every capture.
Furthermore, the DJI Phantom 3 boasts a range of intelligent flight modes that make flying as easy as a breeze. It features GPS-assisted hover, allowing the drone to maintain its position and altitude without the need for constant manual control. The Phantom 3 also introduces the Follow Me mode, which enables the drone to automatically track and film a designated subject, whether it’s a moving vehicle or a person.
In addition to its impressive camera and flight capabilities, the DJI Phantom 3 offers a live HD view through a dedicated mobile app. Using the DJI Go app on a smartphone or tablet, pilots can see exactly what the drone’s camera sees in real-time, enhancing the overall flying experience and ensuring precise framing of shots.
The DJI Phantom 3 is designed with safety in mind. It features an advanced flight control system that incorporates built-in sensors to detect obstacles and avoid collisions. This system provides pilots with peace of mind, knowing that their drone is equipped with the necessary technology to prevent accidents and ensure a safe and enjoyable flight experience.
In summary, the DJI Phantom 3 is a state-of-the-art drone that combines exceptional craftsmanship, advanced technology, and stunning camera capabilities. Whether you’re an aerial photography enthusiast, a content creator, or simply someone who wants to explore the world from above, the DJI Phantom 3 is a reliable and impressive companion that will take your flying adventures to new heights.
Key Features of DJI Phantom 3
The DJI Phantom 3 is packed with an array of impressive features that make it a standout drone in the market. Let’s explore some of its key features:
- Advanced Camera System: The DJI Phantom 3 is equipped with a high-quality camera that can capture stunning 12-megapixel photos and record videos in up to 4K resolution. The camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal stabilization system, ensuring smooth and stable footage even during flight.
- Intelligent Flight Modes: The Phantom 3 offers a range of intelligent flight modes that enhance the flying experience. These include GPS-assisted hover, Follow Me mode, Waypoint navigation, and more. These modes allow the drone to autonomously perform complex flight maneuvers, making it easier for pilots to capture incredible shots.
- Live HD View: With the DJI Go app, pilots can enjoy a live HD view of what the drone’s camera sees in real-time on their smartphones or tablets. This feature provides precise framing of shots and enhances the overall flying experience.
- Intuitive Controls: The Phantom 3 features an easy-to-use remote controller that allows pilots to control the drone with precision. It has customizable buttons and dials, making it convenient to access specific functions during flight.
- Obstacle Avoidance: The Phantom 3 incorporates an advanced flight control system with built-in sensors that detect obstacles in its path. This system helps the drone avoid collisions and ensures a safe flying experience.
- Extended Flight Time: With a powerful battery, the DJI Phantom 3 offers an impressive flight time of up to 25 minutes. This allows pilots to capture more footage without worrying about running out of power during flights.
- Easy to Fly: Despite its advanced features, the DJI Phantom 3 is designed to be user-friendly. It comes with a built-in flight simulator that allows beginners to practice flying in a virtual environment before taking to the skies.
These are just a few of the many notable features that make the DJI Phantom 3 an exceptional drone. Whether you’re an experienced pilot or a beginner, the Phantom 3’s advanced technology and intuitive design will elevate your aerial photography and videography to new heights.
Camera and Video Quality
The camera system of the DJI Phantom 3 is undoubtedly one of its standout features. It is equipped with a high-quality camera capable of capturing stunning photos and recording videos in breathtaking detail. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist looking to capture impressive aerial shots, the Phantom 3’s camera will not disappoint.
The Phantom 3’s camera boasts an impressive 12-megapixel sensor, allowing you to capture rich and vibrant photos with stunning clarity. The camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal stabilization system, which ensures that your footage remains smooth and stable even during fast and dynamic flight maneuvers.
When it comes to video quality, the DJI Phantom 3 goes above and beyond. It can record videos in up to 4K resolution, delivering exceptional detail and sharpness. Whether you’re capturing landscapes, action shots, or cinematic sequences, the Phantom 3’s camera will produce stunning footage that will impress even the most discerning viewers.
In addition to its impressive resolution, the camera also offers various video recording modes. You can shoot in standard 1080p Full HD at up to 60 frames per second, allowing for smooth and fluid playback. The Phantom 3 also supports slow-motion recording, enabling you to create captivating slow-motion sequences that add drama and impact to your videos.
Furthermore, the Phantom 3’s camera features a wide-angle lens, which provides a broad field of view, allowing you to capture more of the surroundings in your shots. This wide-angle perspective is especially useful for capturing aerial landscapes, cityscapes, and group shots.
When it comes to photography, the Phantom 3 offers a variety of shooting modes to cater to different preferences and scenarios. You can choose from options like single shot mode, burst mode, and even time-lapse mode, allowing you to unleash your creativity and capture stunning still images from a unique perspective.
Overall, the camera system of the DJI Phantom 3 is exceptional, delivering outstanding photo and video quality. Whether you’re capturing breathtaking landscapes, documenting your adventures, or creating professional-level content, the Phantom 3’s camera will elevate the quality of your aerial photography and videography.
Flight Performance and Controls
The DJI Phantom 3 excels in both flight performance and intuitive controls, making it a joy to fly for pilots of all skill levels. With its advanced technology and stability features, the Phantom 3 offers a smooth and reliable flying experience.
One of the standout features of the Phantom 3 is its GPS-assisted hover capability. This allows the drone to maintain its position and altitude without the need for constant manual control. The GPS system also enables the drone to return to its takeoff point with the press of a button, ensuring a safe and stress-free landing.
The Phantom 3 features a powerful propulsion system, equipping it with the ability to soar through the skies at impressive speeds. It can reach a maximum speed of up to 35 miles per hour, allowing you to capture dynamic shots and cover a larger area during flights.
Controlling the Phantom 3 is a breeze thanks to its intuitive remote controller. The remote features dedicated buttons for takeoff, landing, and return to home, allowing for easy and precise command execution. The controller also has customizable buttons and dials, giving you convenient access to specific functions during flight.
In addition to the remote controller, you can also control the Phantom 3 using your smartphone or tablet. By downloading the DJI Go app, you can have a live HD view of what the drone’s camera sees in real-time. This provides you with precise framing of shots and enhances your overall flying experience.
The Phantom 3 offers multiple flight modes to cater to different flying preferences and scenarios. In addition to the standard mode, there are also intelligent flight modes such as Follow Me, Waypoint navigation, and Point of Interest. These modes allow the drone to autonomously perform complex flight maneuvers, making it easier for pilots to capture incredible shots without the need for advanced piloting skills.
The Phantom 3 incorporates an advanced flight control system that includes built-in sensors for obstacle detection. This system helps the drone detect and avoid obstacles in its path, ensuring a safe and collision-free flight. This feature gives pilots peace of mind, knowing that their drone is equipped with technology that prioritizes safety.
In summary, the DJI Phantom 3 offers impressive flight performance and intuitive controls. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pilot, the Phantom 3’s stability, speed, and ease of use will elevate your drone flying experience to new heights.
GPS and Navigation Features
The DJI Phantom 3 is equipped with advanced GPS and navigation features that enhance its flight capabilities and provide a seamless and effortless flying experience for users.
One of the key GPS-assisted features of the Phantom 3 is its ability to hover and maintain its position in the air. This feature ensures stability during flight, allowing you to capture steady and smooth footage. The drone uses GPS coordinates to accurately hold its position, eliminating the need for constant manual adjustments.
The GPS system also enables the drone to return to its takeoff point automatically. With the push of a button or in case of low battery or lost connection, the Phantom 3 will activate the Return to Home feature. It will use GPS navigation to calculate the most efficient and safe route back to the takeoff location, ensuring a smooth and safe landing.
In addition to its GPS capabilities, the Phantom 3 offers intelligent flight modes that leverage GPS for advanced navigation. One of these modes is the Follow Me mode. By activating this mode, the drone will lock onto a subject and automatically follow it, keeping it in the frame while maintaining a safe distance. This is particularly useful for capturing action shots or filming outdoor activities.
Another notable GPS feature of the Phantom 3 is Waypoint navigation. With this feature, you can pre-plan a flight route by specifying waypoints on a map in the DJI Go app. The drone will then fly autonomously along the designated route, allowing you to focus on capturing footage instead of controlling the drone manually.
Furthermore, the Phantom 3 offers a Point of Interest mode, where you can select an object or location as the center of interest. The drone will then orbit around the subject, capturing cinematic shots with a captivating and dynamic perspective.
Overall, the GPS and navigation features of the DJI Phantom 3 add a level of precision and ease to your flying experience. Whether you’re using the drone for aerial photography, videography, or simply exploring new horizons, these features ensure smooth flights, accurate positioning, and the ability to capture stunning shots with minimal effort.
Battery Life and Charging
The DJI Phantom 3 comes with a powerful and reliable battery that provides an impressive flight time, allowing you to enjoy longer flights and capture more footage without interruption.
The Phantom 3 is equipped with an intelligent flight battery that offers a maximum flight time of up to 25 minutes on a full charge. This extended flight time is ideal for capturing breathtaking aerial shots, exploring new locations, or simply enjoying an immersive flying experience.
The battery of the Phantom 3 is designed to be easily removable, allowing you to carry spare batteries for extended flight sessions. With extra batteries on hand, you can quickly swap out the drained battery and continue flying without significant downtime.
Charging the Phantom 3 battery is a straightforward process. The package includes a dedicated charger that is designed to efficiently charge the battery while ensuring its longevity. Simply connect the battery to the charger and plug it into a power source. The charger’s LED indicators will show the charging progress, allowing you to monitor the battery’s status.
The charging time of the Phantom 3 battery depends on the remaining power in the battery and the charging conditions. Typically, it takes approximately 60-90 minutes to fully charge the battery from empty. It is important to note that using third-party chargers or batteries may impact performance and safety, so it is recommended to use the official charger provided by DJI.
In addition to the charger, the DJI Phantom 3 also supports charging via a third-party car charger or a portable power bank. This flexibility allows you to charge the battery on the go, ensuring that you have sufficient power for your flying adventures even when you’re away from a traditional power source.
To maximize the battery life and ensure its longevity, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper battery care. This includes avoiding extreme temperatures, storing the battery at an appropriate charge level, and regularly updating the firmware of the drone and battery.
In summary, the DJI Phantom 3 offers an impressive flight time of up to 25 minutes per battery charge. The convenient removable battery design and various charging options make it easy to extend your flight time and capture more footage. With proper battery care and adherence to charging guidelines, you can enjoy long-lasting and reliable performance from the Phantom 3’s battery.
How to Fly DJI Phantom 3
Flying the DJI Phantom 3 is an exhilarating experience, whether you’re a seasoned pilot or a beginner. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to fly the Phantom 3:
- Pre-flight Preparation: Before taking off, make sure that the drone’s battery is fully charged and properly installed. Check the propellers for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure that the remote controller is also fully charged and connected to the drone.
- Find an Open and Safe Area: Choose an open area away from people, buildings, and obstacles. This will provide ample space for maneuvering the drone and minimize the risk of accidents.
- Power on the Drone: Power on the drone by pressing the power button. Ensure that the drone is connected to the GPS satellites by waiting for the remote controller to beep and the LED indicators on the drone to turn green.
- Calibrate the Compass: Use the DJI Go app to calibrate the compass. Follow the on-screen instructions to rotate the drone in a specific pattern. This will ensure accurate GPS positioning and stable flight performance.
- Takeoff: Push both control sticks on the remote controller downwards and towards the center. This will start the motors. Once the motors are running, slowly push the left control stick upwards to increase the throttle and lift the drone off the ground.
- Flight Controls: The left control stick controls the throttle (up and down movement) and yaw (rotation). The right control stick controls the movement of the drone: pushing it forward/backward for pitch movement and left/right for roll movement. Familiarize yourself with these controls and practice controlling the drone’s movements.
- Camera and Gimbal Control: Use the dedicated buttons on the remote controller to control the camera’s tilt and capture photos or start/stop video recording. You can also use the DJI Go app to access additional camera settings and view a live feed from the drone’s camera.
- Landing: Once you’re ready to land, locate a suitable landing area and slowly reduce the throttle to descend. Use the control sticks to smoothly control the drone’s descent. Once the drone is close to the ground, cut the throttle to power off the motors and gently land.
- Post-flight Inspection: After landing, inspect the drone for any damage and ensure that all parts are in good condition. Check the battery level and if necessary, replace it with a fully charged battery for your next flight.
It is important to note that these steps are just a basic guide. Familiarize yourself with the DJI Phantom 3’s user manual for detailed instructions on all the features and flight modes offered by the drone. Practice in open areas before attempting more complex flight maneuvers, and always fly responsibly and within legal regulations.
With time and practice, you’ll become more comfortable and confident in flying the DJI Phantom 3, and unlock the full potential of this remarkable drone.
Pros and Cons of DJI Phantom 3
The DJI Phantom 3 is a feature-packed and versatile drone that offers an exceptional flying experience. Like any product, it has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the DJI Phantom 3:
- Superior Camera Quality: The DJI Phantom 3 is equipped with a high-quality camera capable of capturing stunning photos and videos in impressive detail and resolution.
- Intuitive Controls: The remote controller of the Phantom 3 provides precise and responsive control, while the DJI Go app offers a user-friendly interface for accessing important settings and monitoring the live camera feed.
- Stable Flight Performance: The Phantom 3’s GPS-assisted hover feature and advanced flight control system ensure stability and smooth flight performance, allowing for steady and shake-free footage.
- Intelligent Flight Modes: The Phantom 3 offers a range of intelligent flight modes, including GPS-assisted hover, Follow Me mode, Waypoint navigation, and more. These modes make it easier to capture complex shots and perform advanced flight maneuvers.
- Obstacle Avoidance: The built-in sensors of the Phantom 3 help detect obstacles and navigate around them, minimizing the risk of collisions and ensuring a safe flight.
- Extended Flight Time: With a maximum flight time of up to 25 minutes, the Phantom 3 allows pilots to enjoy longer flights and capture more footage without the need for frequent battery changes.
- Sturdy Build Quality: The DJI Phantom 3 is built with durability in mind, featuring a robust construction that can withstand mild impacts and withstand outdoor conditions.
- Higher Price Tag: Compared to entry-level drones, the DJI Phantom 3 is on the expensive side, making it less accessible to budget-conscious buyers.
- Limited Range: Although the Phantom 3 has a respectable transmission range, it is not as far-reaching as some higher-end drones, which may limit the exploration capabilities of the drone in certain scenarios.
- Proprietary Battery: The Phantom 3 uses a proprietary battery, meaning replacements and spare batteries need to be purchased from DJI directly. This can be a constraint if additional batteries are required for extended flight sessions.
- Software Compatibility: The DJI Phantom 3 is not compatible with all mobile devices, so it is important to ensure that your smartphone or tablet meets the necessary specifications and is compatible with the DJI Go app.
- Steep Learning Curve: While the DJI Phantom 3 is user-friendly, mastering all of its features and flight modes may require some time and practice for beginners who are new to drones.
It is important to consider these pros and cons when deciding whether the DJI Phantom 3 is the right drone for you. Despite the limitations, the Phantom 3 offers a wealth of features, top-notch camera quality, and exceptional flight performance that make it a top choice for drone enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
The DJI Phantom 3 is undoubtedly a powerhouse in the world of drones, offering a remarkable combination of advanced features, exceptional camera quality, and an intuitive flying experience. Whether you’re an aerial photography enthusiast, videographer, or simply someone who wants to explore the world from a unique perspective, the Phantom 3 delivers on all fronts.
With its high-quality camera and 3-axis gimbal stabilization system, the Phantom 3 allows you to capture stunning aerial photos and videos with impressive detail and resolution. The intelligent flight modes, GPS-assisted hover, and obstacle avoidance features make flying the Phantom 3 a pleasure, while the intuitive controls and live HD view provide an immersive and seamless piloting experience.
While the Phantom 3 does come with a higher price tag and has some limitations in terms of range and compatibility, its advantages far outweigh the cons. The solid build quality, extended battery life, and range of intelligent flight modes make the Phantom 3 a reliable and versatile companion for capturing breathtaking aerial footage.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pilot, the DJI Phantom 3 is sure to impress with its stunning camera capabilities, stable flight performance, and user-friendly controls. It allows you to unleash your creativity and explore new perspectives, capturing moments in a way that was once only possible in dreams.
So, if you’re ready to take your flying adventures to new heights, venture into the world of aerial photography, and capture awe-inspiring footage, the DJI Phantom 3 is the perfect choice for you. Strap in, power up, and let the Phantom 3 elevate your drone flying experience to new and extraordinary levels.
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DJI Phantom 3 series
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- DJI Phantom 3 Professional
The Phantom 3 series is the third generation of Phantom drones by DJI .
The series includes:
- DJI Phantom 3 Standard
- DJI Phantom 3 4K
- DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
See also [ ]
- Tutorials for Phantom 3 series
- 1 Tutorials/Phantom 2 series
- 2 Phantom 3 series firmware updates
- 3 DJI Phantom 3 Standard