EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW It seems that drones may be set to appeal to photography enthusiasts like never before with news of the upcoming launch of the groundbreaking DJI Phantom 3.
As well as high-quality video, the Phantom 3 shoots 12-million-pixel images and allows users to alter camera settings like ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation – without taking their hands away from the accompanying remote control unit.
There are two versions of the Phantom 3, both due out in the next few weeks.
The Phantom 3 Professional will feature a 4K video camera and cost £1,159, while the Phantom 3 Advanced shoots 1,080p video camera (at 60 frames per second) and will be priced at £899.
Features will include a ‘distortion-free’ lens that is capable of capturing 12MP images at a 94° field of view. A DJI pilot app will allow users to get to grips with the drone before taking it out, as well as enabling them to live stream their flights to YouTube.
To find out more, Amateur Photographer spoke to DJI’s PR manager Michael Perry at yesterday’s launch event, held at the Guildhall in London (VIDEO BELOW INCLUDES PHANTOM 3 IN ACTION)
PHANTOM 3 DRONE SETS SIGHTS ON AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS
See below for a full transcript of the interview with DJI PR manager Michael Perry by AP news editor Chris Cheesman:
AP Talk us through the new Phantom 3
The Phantom 3 is a true landmark in terms of the accessibility of aerial imaging technology.
For the first time you have a wide variety of professional features, available out of the box, in an easy-to-transport package. So we think we will see a lot of adoption of this technology, because it changes not only the way you use drones, but also what kind of image you capture in the sky.
AP Why should photographers be so pleased to have this drone as part of their kit?
One is the amount of control you have over the platform and over the camera. So, obviously it’s got more responsive motors and a downward-facing camera that helps it stabilise in difficult situations. Also, the camera has got an upgraded sensor that provides a lot more sensitivity to light, so with 12 million pixels you are able to take really amazing, full Adobe dng [raw] photos. And ultimately, it’s the ability to see in full HD what the camera is seeing in real time, so you can precisely line up your shot and take a picture.
AP What are the key differences of the Phantom 3 over the Phantom 2 for photographers?
The Phantom 2 Vision is a fantastic out-of-the box tool, but there were a number of challenges for it. One of the great advantages of this new platform is the 94° field of view lens, so you are not going to get the fisheye distortion that you then have to take into Photoshop, remove and then crop the image, which means you lose some of the resolution. We think there’s a lot more amazing out-of-the-box photographs you’ll be able to take using this platform.
AP How big is the imaging sensor in the Phantom 3?
It’s a 1/2.3in CMOS sensor.
AP Does the pilot simulator app have any safety element built in?
The idea with the pilot simulator is that you’ll be able to practise the manoeuvres virtually that you’ll ultimately be using when you fly the Phantom in the real world. So, using the same controller, you just plug your smart device into the controller and you’ll be able to see the Phantom responding to controls in a virtual scenario. Our hope is that this will provide pilots with greater confidence the first time they go out and start taking pictures.
AP DJI recently joined the Micro Four Thirds standard. Is there anything you can tell us about what future DJI products we can expect?
The Micro Four Thirds standard is really exciting and I think the way some of the partners in that space are going forward is exciting for us. I think there are a lot of applications for this technology, but unfortunately we don’t have anything to announce right now.
AP Can you tell us any more about how you are working with authorities to try to help the public understand the safety aspects?
There are a number of things that DJI is doing proactively in order to help raise the awareness of what’s legal, safe and responsible flying behaviours.
One of the key things is that we have built in no-fly zones into the [GPS] firmware of the platform. Using the no-fly zones you’ll know, automatically, when you are close to an airport and you will not be able to take off within a certain distance of the airport… You’ll also be height restricted…
We feel that a lot of first-time pilots might not necessarily know that their flight may interfere with manned [air] traffic.
The other thing we are doing is we’re working with regulators like the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority], which have to establish clear, very specific rules [and we] put pamphlets explaining the rules in the box of every Phantom sold and send these out through our dealership network.
We feel that before people fly, they’ll have a lot more information about what those regulations are.
We have also recently announced the flysafe.dji.com section of our website, which very clearly explains some of the best international safe flying practices. For example, don’t fly at night, don’t fly beyond visual line of sight unless you have very specific permission…
We also have links to different regulatory websites around the world that provide information about what you legally can and cannot do wherever you are.
AP What is the key selling point of the Phantom 3 for photography enthusiasts, as opposed to professional aerial photographers?
I think photography enthusiasts will be amazed at the amount of control they have over the camera.
It’s not just control in terms of setting the aperture, ISO and shutter speed, but also being able to move a camera in three dimensions.
So, rather than just thinking, ‘I can move the camera like this,’ when you walk into a space you [can] suddenly say, ‘I would love a shot of us from up there, in that far corner’.
This opens up the creative possibilities of how you take photos.
• IS THE PHANTOM 3 THE CAMERA YOU DIDN’T REALISE YOU NEEDED? READ THE VIEW OF AP’S TECHNICAL EDITOR ANDY WESTLAKE HERE