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DJI Phantom 4 review: Video quality

4K footage from the camera is impressive. It isn't the last word in UHD quality, of course, but for a lightweight, small camera, it's great. And considering that only a couple of years back, all you got for this kind of money was a 1080p camera shooting at 12Mb/s, 60Mb/s 4K is very usable indeed.

It's sharp (but benefits from extra sharpening which can be added in the Style menu in the app) and colours are natural. Obviously it would be nice to have the option of 4K60 but that is almost unheard of in 2016. 30fps is smooth enough, but you can shoot at 1080p60 if you prefer.

If you want to get the best possible quality, check out our pro tips guide.

Note: The video below has been exported via iMovie to YouTube at 1440p. We're in the process of adding new footage and exporting it from Final Cut at 4K, so watch this space. The section in slo-mo is included to show how bad the quality is at present.

Of course, the Phantom 3 Advanced and Pro can also shoot at 1080p60, so it's not unique to the Phantom 4. In fact, it's hard to say if 4K quality is better on the updated camera. There is certainly less purple fringing, and no discernible barrel distortion, something which was terrible on the Phantom 2 Vision+.

DJI says the new U-shaped gimbal which holds the camera on two sides rather than one eliminates unwnated movement, and it certainly works: leave the Phantom 4 hovering and then watch the footage - you'll think it's paused or not playing.

The slo-mo mode which runs at 120fps in 1080p is – unfortunately - broken. Footage is blurry and gives the impression of being standard definition. DJI is fully aware of the problem and is working on a fix. What we can say is that the video is recorded at 20Mb/s and that that the field of view is reduced to 47 degrees in this mode.

Usefully, video and photos are automatically saved to your device and you can even edit movies using an iMovie-style editor within the app. You can easily cut highlights from the original clips, change their speed, apply filters and colour correction, then add music to fill the silence (the Phantom doesn't record audio - you'd only hear the motors and propellers).

The finished edit can be uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and various other sites, but oddly not YouTube or Vimeo. For the best quality, you'll have to copy the video files from the SD card to your PC or Mac and use 'proper' editing software which won't compress the video too much.

DJI Phantom 4 review: Screenshots

DJI Phantom 4

DJI Phantom 4

DJI Phantom 4

DJI Phantom 4

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Specs

DJI Phantom 4: Specs

  • Flight time: Up to 28 mins
  • Charging time: 1 hour
  • Spare battery cost: £125
  • Battery capacity: 5350mAh
  • Obstacle sensing system: Yes
  • Vision positioning system range: 0-10m Camera resolution: 4K (up to 4096x2160p/30fps/60Mb/s) Slo-motion: 1920x1080 @ 120fps Stills resolution: 12Mp Photo functions: Single Shot, Burst Shooting 3/5/7 shots, Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) 3/5 frames, Bracketed Frames at 0.7EV Bias, Time-lapse Max ascent / descent: 6m/sec / 4m/sec (Sport mode) Max speed: 20m/sec (Sport mode)
  • Weight: 1.38kg

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