Fall 2016 Camera Drone Slugfest – Karma vs. Mavic vs. Phantom 3 & 4 vs. Yuneec


Fall 2016 Camera Drone Slugfest – Karma vs. Mavic vs. Phantom 3 & 4 vs. Yuneec

With the recent introduction of the DJI Mavic Pro and GoPro Karma, the 2016 Fall and Holiday Season lineup of consumer camera drones has taken shape. The internet chatter, as usual, has built to a crescendo as to “which is the best drone?” and “which company will bury the others?“. We think it’s time for Dronflyers.com to step into the ring as referee and decide which models are contenders for the crown and which should perhaps be sent back to the gym for some additional work. Put another way – which drone should you buy if you want to have one (or gift one) in the 2016 Holiday season?

Are You Serious?

Two small models, both based on Qualcomms Snapdragon drone platform, have hit the market recently. These are the Yuneec Breeze and the Zerotech Dobby. Both are quite small and operated from your smartphone. A similar drone, the Wingsland S6, is also slated for release soon. These models – with the needed extra batteries and case – will cost approx. $500. [Read more…]

DJI Mavic Pro Launched – Headset, Folding, 4K Camera Drone!


Pre-order your DJI Mavic now at this link – Shipping Mid-October!

Images at the bottom of this post.
Here is a PDF with the specs of the Mavic Pro.mavicspec PDF Click Here

Note – we were in NYC for the launch and also had a hands-off (flight time) with the Mavic. Some of our pictures are at the very bottom of this post below the DJI Stock Images.
DJI now has full information and specs at their web site on the Mavic Pro.

Text below from Press Release:
Introducing the Mavic Pro – a portable, powerful, easy-to-use drone featuring DJI’s most innovative camera and flight technology in a sleek, foldable package that enables creative fun wherever you go.

Mavic Pro is DJI’s first personal drone designed to be taken just about anywhere, small enough to toss in a bag and easy enough to launch quickly whenever the time and place are right. Its unique folding design compresses the entire drone to the size of a water bottle, and its intuitive interface can be controlled by a smartphone – making it easy to take aerial selfies or stream live video from the sky.

Mavic Pro is DJI’s first personal drone designed to be taken just about anywhere, small enough to toss in a bag and easy enough to launch quickly whenever the time and place are right. Its unique folding design compresses the entire drone to the size of a water bottle, and its intuitive interface can be controlled by a smartphone – making it easy to take aerial selfies or stream live video from the sky.

Mavic Pro is designed to be portable, with four folding arms and propellers that tuck snugly against its body so it can be easily carried in a purse or backpack. It can be controlled just from a smartphone, can be set up and flying in less than a minute after calibration, and can fly up to 27 minutes on one Intelligent Flight Battery.

Mavic Pro is packed with powerful features despite its small size. DJI’s uncompromising technology now includes our smallest three-axis gimbal for shake-free photos and videos, and a smaller controller that can be used with or without a smartphone attached. The new OcuSync encrypted transmission system has a range up to 4.3 miles (7 km) where it can be done safely and responsibly, and can reach 1080p video resolution for live streaming to Facebook Live, Periscope and YouTube through the DJI GO app.

The redesigned Mavic Pro controller features control sticks that provide tactile feedback to warn of obstacles. Mavic Pro can be operated just from the controller or just from a smartphone – or they can be mounted together with an innovative clamping mechanism to provide a vivid screen view as well as stick controls.
[Read more…]

DJI Phantom – the Drone that Started it All.

Phantom 1 - Credit as Shown - from RCGroups Review

The Drone That Started It All = Phantom 1

The press release was only two paragraphs. “You can fly your Phantom the moment you receive it,” DJI wrote on Jan. 7, 2013. With those words, it announced the release of the product that revolutionized the drone industry. Here is a link to one of the first complete reviews of the Phantom 1 – Feb, 2013.

Phantom 1 - Credit as Shown - from RCGroups Review

Phantom 1 – Credit as Shown – from RCGroups Review

That year, DJI revenue soared to $130 million from about $4 million just two years prior. The market spoke, and the Phantom 1 propelled the company into its place as industry leader. Three three years and several iterations later, the Phantom series remains the most sought-after consumer drone and industry watchers suggest yearly sales of well over a billion dollars (DJI does not release sales numbers).

But what is it about the Phantom that lures all sorts of pilots, from amateur hobbyists to Hollywood film studios? Several analysts, pilots and retailers describe DJI as a forward-looking company that’s constantly pushing the envelope. Not only is the Phantom series affordable, they say, but every version adds significant new features well ahead of the competition.

Put it this way: Brett Velicovich worked with drones in the U.S. military before he moved to retail as managing partner at Expert Drones in Washington, D.C. “The stuff I used in the military for millions of dollars?” he says. “DJI made that look like crap.” [Read more…]

DJI to introduce new Mavic Drone


Another post on Droneflyers.com (here) contains the full press release, pictures as well as prices and specs.

The drone world is abuzz with talk and speculation about an upcoming DJI drone, reportedly called the Mavic Pro. Leaked images along with a scheduled DJI Event in NYC (Droneflyers.com will be there!) indicate the introduction of a new product line which is foldable and compact – and yet has advanced features.

Launch Day – We will know all in a few hours. Here  is a videos shared on RCgroups – we have no idea of the source of this video (if it works at all).

Pre-order your DJI Mavic now at this link – Shipping Mid-October!

Here is a youtube “official” release video (but not from DJI, so not official in that way!)

———below posted in advance of launch——-
Some of the “leaked” images and renderings are below. We could make some guesses as to the price and capabilities but, at this point, Tuesday is coming soon so we will simply update this article when we get our hands on the Real Thing. A discussion thread in our forums will allow for a continuous back and forth for those who buy, fly or have questions about this model.


Pre-order your DJI Mavic now at this link – Shipping Mid-October!

eBook – Buying and Flying DJI Phantom 3 and 4 Quadcopters – Chapter 8


Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4  – Part 5Part 6Part 7 – Part 8 (this page)

The Phantom Camera

Taking pictures and videos from a new perspective is the main function of the Phantom drone. It functions as a tripod in the sky with its own built-in high quality video and still camera.

The Heart of the Phantom - Gimbal and Camera (Phantom 3 Pro shown)

The Heart of the Phantom – Gimbal and Camera (Phantom 3 Pro shown)

In this section we will describe both the hardware and the software which comprise the Phantom photography system. Following this chapter we provide a number of hints and tips which may help those new to Aerial Photography and Video produce better images.

Camera Hardware and Basic Specs

All models of the Phantom  use a similar looking camera – but there are some internal differences. The Professional model can shoot up to 4K video. The usefulness of 4K for the casual user is questionable as mentioned earlier in this book. The Standard model has less processing horsepower and uses a different sensor than the Advanced and Pro.

Basic Camera Specs:
Video: up to 1080P 60fps (Pro model has 4K 30fps mode, Standard 1080P 30fps).
12 MP still photos -JPG or DNG (RAW)Photo Capability
F2.8 lens with 94 degree FOV (Field of View)
High quality Sony camera sensor and lens (Advanced and Pro only)
DJI 3-axis stabilizing gimbal and controller
MicroSD slot and included card for image storage [Read more…]

GoPro releases Karma Drone Package

After many delays, GoPro today announced their Karma Drone. Here is a great post on RCG which shows the basics – the beauty of this drone is that it comes with a full package including a backpack and a hand-held camera stabilizer (mount for gimbal)….so the GoPro fan or owner can have a complete setup for both ground and aerial photography.

GoPro also introduced two new cameras – the hero5 and the Session5.

Here is the complete launch video:

Karma is slated to ship Oct 23rd.

As usual, we caution most drone shoppers to wait until the unit is shipping for a month (or 3) before deciding on a purchase. This will also allow you to read the various reviews that follow the initial launch.

We will update this article with opinions, reviews and links.

Note – DJI is slated to release a new Drone next Tuesday (9/27) in New York City. Rumor has it that it will also be a compact and foldable model – named the Mavic. Droneflyers.com will be at the launch event and report on the new DJI model ASAP.

eBook – Buying and Flying DJI Phantom 3 and 4 Quadcopters – Chapter 7

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4  – Part 5Part 6 – Part 7 (this page)

Phantom Modifications and Additions

There are many useful and decorative modifications you can make to your Phantom. A large aftermarket has sprung up online to satisfy the demand for various accessories.

Note: We advise using only DJI brand OEM propellers for your Phantom. These are specially designed and DJI has developed very high standards for both the shape and the materials used.

Here are some popular add-ons for the Phantom:
Backpacks and cases – these are available in hard or soft shell designs. DJI offers their own and other brands such as Thinktank, Mofrotto and GPC offers others. Cases are available from as low as $40 to $400+
ND and Polarizing Lens Filters (DJI, PolarPro, Taco, Snake River, etc.)
Lens Caps and Lens Hoods (petals)
Car charger (DJI) and Multiple Battery Chargers
Sunshades (hoods) for your smartphone or tablet
HDMI out module (sold by DJI for the Pro and Advanced) allows the video output of the Phantom to be shown on large screens (monitors, TV, etc.) and also on certain headset goggles.

Links to popular Phantom accessories and add-ons can be found on the popular site Phantominfo.com

Some Phantom add-ons are 3D printed and available from the popular site Shapeways.

Be sure to consider the added weight when adding accessories to your Phantom. A digital postal scale is part of the quadcopter pilot’s toolbox.

Payload Capacities [Read more…]

Best Selling Camera Drones on Amazon, Sept. 2016

The following list does not include closeouts or units which have been out of production for many months. It is is approx. order of sales rank – with a note as to the ranking in Camera and Photo.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard – #42
DJI Phantom 4 – #70
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced – #72
DJI Phantom 3 Pro – #204
DJI Phantom 3 4K – #668 (note – DJI is discontinuing this model)
Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K – #880
Autel X-star Premium – #947
Yuneec Typhoon H (base) – #1500
DJI Inspire – #1,560
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro (Realsense) – #1800

Takeaway – DJI is still well at the top of the heap with all of their consumer models in the top 10 and most of them well ahead (the top 200 or so in Cam and Photo are BIG sellers). Autel has slipped a bit and their lower priced model is no longer in the top 10. The Phantom 4 is moving up the chart – it seems there is a good esmarket for the more expensive and full featured models. The Yuneec equipment is doing OK, but not setting the world on fire or eating heavily into DJI sales.

A number of new models will hit the streets in the next 60 days making for some possible changes in this list.

eBook – Buying and Flying DJI Phantom 3 and 4 Quadcopters – Chapter 6

3-Way Switch Phantom 3 (except Standard)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4  – Part 5 – Part 6 (this page)

Advanced Flight Modes and Features

Return to Home (RTH) and failsafe – are functions built into all Phantom models. These functions work in various ways to assure recovery of your drone w

hen it has low battery or lost connection between your Phantom and the Remote.

RTH is an emergency function – it can save your machine however it can also kick into gear when you least expect it and could cause your Phantom to fly into a tree or other obstacle. The best advice I can give is:
1. Take some time to fully understand the failsafe and RTH functions. Read the manual section and try some of the RTH modes in a large open field.
2. ALWAYS start up your Phantom in an open area and not underneath or near trees or buildings. This will assure a safe return to home (RTH) if the mode is triggered.
3. Don’t take your Phantom to the limit – use LOS (line of sight) flying and your own piloting skills to bring your craft home with some juice left in the battery whenever possible.

There are various types of failsafes – out of range and low battery as well as user-initiated (smart).
1. Out of Range failsafe will automatically kick in the return to home….or land- depending on YOUR setting in the MC Settings –> Advanced Settings
2. Low Battery failsafes – this works differently and depends on user adjusted settings in the Aircraft Battery Screen of the DJI Go App settings.
There are two settings – Low Battery Warning and Critical Battery Warning. At the low battery warning the DJI Go App will give you a warning and the option to cancel out the RTH – but if you do not cancel it, it will initiate.
At the Critical battery warning level the Phantom will not RTH – but just descend and land immediately. With either you can still control the Phantom to a degree with the sticks in order to avoid obstacles.
3. Pressing the RTH button ( a switch on P3 Standard Model) on the Remote and in the DJI Go App will always initiate RTH – hitting it again should turn RTH off again.

If you are an experienced pilot and flying mostly over open land and close-in, you can probably set the low battery at 20% and critical at 10%.

The Phantom 4 will attempt to avoid obstacles on its RTH path if the OA system is turned on. However, the best course of action is to set your RTH altitude high enough to avoid any trees, buildings, power lines or other obstructions in your flying area.  [Read more…]

eBook – Buying and Flying DJI Phantom 3 and 4 Quadcopters – Chapter 5

CSC - Start - Stop Motors

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4  – Part 5(this page)

Your First Flights- Orientation and Startup

New pilots will find it easier to learn by facing in the same direction as the Phantom while standing behind it. Using this orientation, the controls on the transmitter will feel more natural – that is, if you move the right stick forward, the Phantom will travel forward, etc.
If you have no familiarity at all with Quadcopters it is usually suggested that you fly some of the toy models first…just to get the basic idea of how things work. You can find more information in our beginners section.

Assuming you have calibrated the compass earlier, place the Phantom 3 on the ground in front of you with the nose facing away and go through the startup process of turning on the transmitter FIRST and then turning on the smart battery. The Phantom will sing a startup tune. Make certain the 3-way mode switch on your Transmitter is set to the right (P mode).

Open the DJI Go App (see: DJI Go App info for more) on your smart device (it should already be connected via USB to your Remote) and hit the Camera icon. This screen should display a yellow banner on the top which says Aircraft Warming Up. Within about 2 minutes it should turn green and display Ready to Fly (GPS). Check the map screen to make certain that your Phantom knows where it is – the triangle representing the aircraft should be at your current location. This is often referred to as the Home Point since it’s where your Phantom will fly back to if the RTH function becomes activated.

Starting and Stopping the Motors – IMPORTANT

Note – it it the author’s opinion that budding pilots should learn how to take off and land manually rather than using the automatic features. This will allow you to become a safer and more capable operator. [Read more…]