DJI has been a leader in camera drones for years, but its best models might be a little pricey and overwhelming for the fledgling pilot. For those who are just getting started with shooting from the sky, the company is launching the cheaper, simpler Phantom 3 Standard.
“Phantom 3 Standard” is a confusing name, admittedly. It costs $800, compared to $1260 for the Phantom 3 Professional and $1000 for the Phantom 3 Advanced. The confusion doesn’t stop there: Whereas the Pro has a 4K capable camera, and the Advanced has a 1080p capable camera, the Standard splits the difference with a 2.7K camera. Got all that?
The main story on the Phantom 3 Standard is what you give up by not upgrading to the fancier models. The camera features a simpler remote, which resembles the controller from the Phantom 2 Vision+. It also doesn’t have the new super-precise stabilization system introduced in the Inspire 1 and pricier Phantom 3 models. It also doesn’t have the integrated Lightbridge Wi-Fi module, so you won’t have quite as much range flexibility.
The camera drone handles like many others before it: You monitor the footage on a smartphone or tablet via a 720p feed from the drone. The drone is equipped with beginner-friendly features that keep it from flying too far away or too high. And it uses GPS to keep itself steady automatically. You should be able to get some damn professional-looking results without thinking too hard. What about the camera itself? The 94-degree cam is optimized for the sky—it’s less wide-angle than a GoPro so your aerial footage won’t look so disorienting and fisheyed. Meanwhile, a single battery charge will get you 25 minutes of flight time.
In the end, the Phantom 3 looks a lot like an evolution of the older Phantom 2 Vision+. Which is to say that if you don’t have the cheddar to buy the latest most powerful camera drone in DJI’s arsenal, this one will treat you just fine.