So I said a while back I was saving up for a drone. I’m happy to say I finally managed to get one! For years I’ve been looking at fellow travel bloggers with drones, and I’ve not really seen the hype. Mainly because I used to do more photography than video. But since I’ve started getting more into filming, I’ve wanted a drone.
For months, I’ve been researching different drones and deciding which one to get. I didn’t want to rush into buying a cheap one, and then having to pay to upgrade it again in a few months. The most obvious one to get was the DJI Mavic Pro. It’s portable, light, and has some brilliant footage. But this also comes with a hefty price tag. A price tag I didn’t really want to pay when I’d never flown a drone before, and also still wanted to have money to travel around and actually use the drone. So I started looking at other options. DJI Spark was another one I considered, but after reading about all the problems it was having, I was a little put off. It’s smaller than the Mavic, but when I saw it in person, it was so light and tiny, I thought with the slightest bit of wind, it wouldn’t be able to hold its own. The Parrot Bebop 2 was one I had my heart set on around a month ago. I’d read great reviews, it was still small enough to carry around, and had some great footage. I even went to view one to buy it, second hand, that was going for a really good price. It was a fellow traveller, that wanted something better after starting out with the Parrot. It was all looking promising, until I asked to see it in flight to check it worked fine, for him to fly it into a tree and smash into pieces! So basically, don’t fly your drone anywhere near trees. I thought this would be pretty obvious, even to me a non-drone flyer at this point. But apparently not…
That left with the DJI Phantom 3. I wasn’t convinced at first. The size put me off. The fact it’s been released for a few years put me off too, as I expected it to be not as good, and not up there with the latest models. But I was wrong. I researched into it more, and realised it’s actually a pretty decent drone, with a nice cheap-ish price tag. It’s where the Mavic took off from, and I’d go as far as saying the Mavic is a mini Phantom, but with 4k footage. Something I didn’t really need, or wanted to pay an extra $1k for. Fellow bloggers on YouTube were showing how easy it was to travel around with a Phantom, so I began to realise the size wasn’t that big of an issue.
So I bought one. It was brand new, cost around $650 and that came with spare propellers, and controller. Do be warned if you’re looking into buying a drone, a lot of them come without controllers. You have to pay for the controller as an extra. And they aren’t cheap! You can fly it from your phone, but you’re limited on distance and what the drone can really do. So you’re better off saving your money a bit longer, and getting a controller too.
I’ve had the drone just over a week now. I’ve flown it around Brisbane, and also took it on a flight for a mini getaway to Sydney. So here’s what I think so far:
*Video footage – the video footage on the drone is great. The detail is really good, and is up there with some of the best. Realistically you only need 1080p to film great, clear footage. Which is exactly what this drone does. It even does 2k, but be warned, it will drain the battery quicker, and isn’t really needed.
*Stability – Even when windy, the footage is really stable. The drone has looked really shaky a few times I’ve used it, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the footage.
*Ease of use – I’d never flown a drone before so I was quite nervous when I took it out the first couple of times. But it’s so easy to pick up, and easy to build up your confidence with the drone.
*Back to home – Even if the drone gets out of wifi range, it has a back to home feature, which many drones now have. But a few times, this has had to kick in for me and is a lifesaver. And it goes back to my previous point of allowing it to build up your confidence with the drone.
*Battery life – Battery life on drones aren’t great. This is a given. But this one is up there with some of the best. I get around 20-25 minutes out of a full battery. Doesn’t sound much, but when you compare it with the likes of the DJI spark, which is only around 15 minutes, it’s actually pretty decent.
*Weight – Despite the drone being pretty big, I was surprised how light it is. It looks heavy and bulky. It’s bulky, yes, but definitely not heavy. I’ve happily carried it on my back with the rest of my camera gear.
*Size – I’d be lying if I said this thing was small, it isn’t. There are smaller drones to carry around, but then the Phantom 3 being a little bigger is also a pro. It means it’s easier to see when it’s far away, which is handy when trying to direct it back to you. It also means it’s pretty steady, even in high winds.
*Price of a new battery – I mentioned before the battery life is pretty decent. But if you want to buy a spare battery, it’s going to set you back $200. I thought this was a lot for just a battery.
*Video feed cuts out on phone – It’s never happened on my Samsung, but my partner has an iPhone, and if we take the drone quite far out, the footage seems to disappear on his screen. So we’re left having to guide it through looking at it in the sky. This may be a problem if you can’t see the drone, or it’s a bright day. We’ve not worked out yet why it keeps doing it, so may be an easy solution. But it also means we can’t see what footage we’re getting. A few times we’ve got it back, and the footage has been pointless.
So altogether I’m pretty happy with my new drone, and definitely would recommend it to anyone thinking of getting one. They’re actually going pretty cheap right now, as the Phantom 4 has been released. I also recommend getting the Manfrotto D1 Dji backpack. It’s light, but protective. It can hold your drone, controller, accessories, plus all your camera gear and laptop. I’ve used this already on a flight, and you can get away with it as your hand luggage. It makes carrying the drone around pretty easy, despite its bulky size.
Check out the footage on YouTube we got from a recent trip to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.