DJI Phantom 3 Professional Review

Rating:

A white blur zips by with a loud buzz, causing a few heads to turn and some jaws to slack in awe. Its shadow comes to a halt instantly and the whir of its rotors fills the relative quiet of the outdoors.

Hello, it seems to say, my name is Phantom.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Review
(Photo by Sean Sharma)

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is an astounding machine. You’re looking at one of the smartest and most advanced drones available on the market: GPS-assisted flight and hover, auto-follow features, vision positioning system, 4K video camera mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, a super-responsive remote with a maximum distance of 2km, and an app that lets you live stream video from the camera and autopilot.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Review
(Photo by Sean Sharma)

While this sounds like a list of features that come from the world of science fiction, the Phantom 3 Professional manages to fit it all neatly into a drone about the size of a small (and thick) pizza box.

Unboxing & Setup

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Review

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional comes in a rather bulky and sizeable package, which doesn’t seem so bad, given the fact that most of the volume inside the box is occupied by very tight fitting bumpers, allowing the Phantom 3 to be cushioned and sit snugly and comfortably, without any chance of movement. Inside the box, you get the Phantom 3 drone itself, the remote control, a charging cable, two sets of propellers, spare parts, and a wrench. What the box seems to need, in my opinion, are “easy setup” instructions. There’s a getting started guide, which uses some rather hand-wavy instructions that tell your how to start flying with a few steps, but nowhere does it let you know that grey-tipped propellers are for the lighter screws, and black-tipped propellers are counter-screwed into the darker screws.

It seems intuitive now, but I had no idea what was happening with my propeller not being able to be screwed onto the motor. In reality, this is a very minor gripe, as it was only frustrating because I was way too excited to fly the drone, but they really could use better startup guidance for the new user.

Once the Phantom 3 Professional has been unpacked, installed the app onto your phone or tablet, registered your drone, and attached your phone to the remote control, you’re pretty much good to go. The entire unpacking and setup process, once you know what you’re doing, should take about 5-10 minutes from box to flight.

About that Remote

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Remote Control

Aside from the drone itself, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional comes with a pretty hefty remote control. It has a built-in battery that seems to last quite a long time (charged it once for every two drone charges) as well as a pair of antennae that look like it could broadcast for a radio station. It’s solidly built, with a bevy of buttons, knobs, and joysticks that let you control the Phantom 3 and its onboard camera.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Remote Control

There’s also an odd looking pedestal built right into the middle of the remote that took me a few minutes to figure out, but it’s the seat where you can place your phones and tablets. The top part of the seat extends wide enough to accommodate the varying sizes of devices, and also has these little fold-outs for attaching phones.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Remote Control

At the end of the day, the remote control is large, but fits comfortably with both of my hands. It also has well built buttons, knobs, and joysticks that allow for very tight and precise piloting, while being exceptionally pragmatic given its great battery life and range.

Flight Experience

Before flying the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, there are a few things you should know and possibly abide by when it comes to flying this drone and drones in general:

  1. There is a GPS system on board the Phantom 3 to help the drone locate itself, plan flights, and show flight logs. In addition, it will make sure that you can fly in the airspace that you are currently in, and will prevent you from taking off should you be in restricted airspace.
  2. Find a nice open place when you start flying, hopefully with a soft landing, and practice learning to maneuver and control it before doing anything more involved.
  3. Never, ever, ever fly over crowds, streets, or anywhere you can cause mayhem should the drone ever cease responding or crash. Ever.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Review

That said, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional really does help you in many different ways. Using the app, it can automatically take off and land, in the exact same spot. You can plot a course on the map and have the Phantom 3 fly the route. You can have the camera (and drone) follow you automatically. It will hover steadily in place, at the altitude you desire, without having to muck about with the controls and constantly nudge it in a direction. The remote can work up to 2km away from the Phantom, and the app can act as your eyes the whole time. It will provide ample warning should you stray too far or are running low on batteries, and will automatically steer itself home should it lose signal or run low on battery.

Controls are tight and responsive, and while it takes a fair bit of time to become acclimated to how the Phantom 3 moves, it’s incredibly easy to fly once you get the hang of it.

To be honest, flying the DJI Phantom 3 Professional feels like magic. You can take it high, you can take it far, and for both instances you can get front row seats for wherever you take the drone.

4K Camera

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional comes with a high quality 4K video camera. It’s mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, meaning you can smoothly rotate and pan your shots with quite a wide angle of freedom, and boy, does the footage ever look pretty.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

There’s an interesting feature that I saw in the manual that I haven’t been able to try, but supposedly you can connect two remotes to the same Phantom 3 and share piloting and cameraperson duties. Simply put, you can have one person fly the drone, and another person focusing on getting the right angle and shot with the camera.

Crazy cool features aside, the 4K video camera found on the DJI Phantom 3 Professional is top notch. The camera has a great dynamic range, super wide field of view, and can quickly switch between shooting photos and videos, both being stored onto a microSD card. With the DJI GO app, you can easily stream the video of what the camera is viewing live, allowing you to frame the right shots and see how the action is unfolding.

The Bottom Line

Writing down conclusive statements about the DJI Phantom 3 Professional is difficult, because this product falls into the realm between “high end consumer toy” and “professional video equipment”. If you’re considering purchasing the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, and can afford to do so, it’s definitely the brand and product that I would choose. The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is an amazing, state-of-the-art machine, that looks beautiful and performs at an incredibly high level.

This product is perfect for: people who want an incredibly smart drone that shoots beautiful photos and videos, which makes it perfect for outdoors and nature shots.

Key things to be aware of: the DJI Phantom 3 Professional is quite pricy, and also takes a bit of time to set up and become comfortable with. Do not rush becoming comfortable with the controls.

Final review score: 5. The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is an amazing machine, and makes me wish that I could bring it anywhere and everywhere to capture all of the moments in my life.

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Jon Lim

Jon Lim is a professional developer, writer, and an avid technologist. He has written creatively for the past 16 years, and professionally for 4 years.

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1 Comment

  • Anita Shields December 10, 2015 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    My husband would be over the moon with one of these. Not literally! Lol

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