When we reviewed the DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone in June, we were impressed by both its ease of flight and video quality. Less exciting? The $1,259 price tag. Fortunately, there’s now a DJI Phantom for the rest of us. Well, for more of us, anyway.
The newly available DJI Phantom 3 Standard may not boast specs quite as gaudy as its high-class cousin, but at $799 it’s quite a bit more affordable. You’re also not giving up as much as you might think, given the $400-plus discount.
“We wanted to create a new drone that addresses people who are curious about aerial imaging,” said DJI founder and CEO Frank Wang in a statement, “but not quite ready to commit to a more professional system.”
That step-down appears primarily to mean no 4K video, which should only be a disappointment for the most future-proof focused professionals. Instead, you get 2.7k HD video at 30 frames per second video, 1080p at up to 30fps, and 720p at up to 60fps. Stills are 12MP (both raw and JPG), same as the Professional model, so it’s really just video where you’re taking the hit. And even then, in a weird twist, the Phantom 3 Standard offers superior video specs to the $999 Phantom 3 Advanced. Go figure?
Other bells and whistles remain as well, including GPS-based stabilization, Wi-Fi, and a robust 25 minutes of flight time. Software features like “Follow Me” (the drone follows the user like a flying metal puppy), “Waypoint Navigation (you can set a predetermined route for the drone so that you can focus on camera tilt and pan instead of course correction), and “Point of Interest” (the drone will fly around in a circle centered by an object of your choosing) have trickled down from the more pro-focused model as well. As with other Phantom drones, you can share your camera’s point of view through a smartphone or tablet as long as you’ve downloaded the DJI Go app.
What makes the Phantom 3 Standard so beginner-oriented, though, seems to be the controller, a variation on that which accompanied DJI’s Phantom 2 Vision+. Essentially, it’s smaller, simpler, and stripped down compared to the controller paired with the Phantom 3 Professional. Presumably, that makes it harder to accidentally find your pricey aerial stuck in a dogwood’s embrace.
The Phantom 3 Standard still isn’t cheap by any means, but DJI remains the most reliable name in high-end home dronery. If you’re interested in aerial video that doesn’t look like jittery junk, you can at least find some comfort that it no doesn’t take a four-digit purchase to dabble.
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