Rodney Campbell's Blog

I Bought a Drone – The Journey Begins…

by on Apr.06, 2016, under Life, Photography

I’d been thinking about getting a drone and specifically a DJI Phantom quadcopter for some time now.

Ever since I’d returned from our great trip through north west Australia I’d been wondering how good it would have been had I had a drone with me during that trip. There were so many fantastic locations we visited that I know I could have used the DJI‘s capabilities to further enhance my photographic experience. The added ability to capture and portray the scene in front of me in new and unique ways was sorely tempting.

Light on Air

Light on Air

FC330, 1/140 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

As a landscape photographer my primary interest lay in the aerial photography aspects (shooting down from above the landscape). I was looking at this as an adjunct, an additional perspective to my existing landscape photography. Obviously video is a strong point with these flying camera drones but it is still imagery that is my passion. Telling the story in a single frame is such a joy. The fact that it takes significantly less storage and processing resources is also a bonus :).

However I knew if I did get a drone that I’d have to learn the art and craft of video storytelling (both the capture and editing) eventually as well.

I’ve had two other very cheap drones before this (the first was a cheap toy, was basically unflyable and crashed and destroyed on the first day and the second was the Syma X5C).

I (not surprisingly) found the first two drones quite hard to control and it required a lot of active concentration to fly the whole time. Much loosing control and crashing was involved.

The Phantom 4 however is a joy to fly and comparing ease of flying is chalk and cheese. You think you’re getting a bit out of control you let go of the sticks and it stops and hovers in place. You then have time to stop and think about what you want to do and move on. Obviously if you’re not careful – especially with objects around – you can crash – so you do need to be mindful.

The Bends

The Bends

FC330, 1/8 sec at f/2.8, ISO 795

A few months ago I started researching drones and the DJI Phantom series specifically. Cheers to Jason Ruth (a good friend who has owned a Phantom for some time) for lots of useful info :).

When the DJI Phantom 3 series recently went on sale I was sorely tempted to jump right in. I was however undecided as to whether I should get the Standard, Advanced or Pro model. For still image capture the differences weren’t as great, but for video the model changes definitely made a difference (e.g. 4K video). As did the controller range and the downstream FPV (first person view) capabilities (e.g. DJI’s Lightbridge) and positioning (e.g. GPS+GLONASS). So many choices…

Fast forward a few weeks and the new DJI Phantom 4 was announced. The new features looked very appealing (especially for a first time user/flyer like me) and with just one model decisions would presumably be easier :).

Sea Scape

Sea Scape

FC330, 1/120 sec at f/2.8, ISO 116

They weren’t going to be available in all the usual drone stores here in Australia till towards the end of April and if I ordered online from the US DJI store I wasn’t sure what the story was with delivery, warranty or accessories… I was walking past an Apple store here in Sydney over Easter and I saw that they were selling the new DJI Phantom 4 and had stock in store.

An impulse buy perhaps, but the rest is history… I’m loving my new aerial camera.

I’m still a newbie operator but I’ve had the chance to take over half a dozen flights now in various locations and have shot both stills and video and made my first little home movie.

There will be more coming, watch this space…

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