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Is DJI Phantom 4 Drone sensor good enough?

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I have done some serious research and can't find definitive data to just how good the sensor is on the Phantom 4 camera drone.

 

It will produce both still and video images.  My question is will it pass QC?

 

Alamy QC feel free to chime in on this.  Are photographers submitting this form of photography and is it passing QC?

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Go to bhphotovideo.com or other vendor and look at specs. The camera has a 1/2.3" sensor, which is a small point-and-shoot type sensor, and it has 12 megapixels. If it weren't attached to a drone, it most likely wouldn't pass QC. I don't know if there's any kind of special dispensation for drone shots.

 

Edit: In fact, the page you linked to has that spec listed under Specs.

 

In general, best to avoid any sensor less than 1" in this list and chart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format

Edited by Bill Kuta

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If you look around online you can find some RAW samples taken with these cameras. I have played around with some of these files, and while they are fairly decent considering, depending on your needs and skill level you may have some problems getting consistently clean and sharp files. Noise becomes an issue already at relatively low ISO. Also, if you plan to correct for the rather heavy lens distortion, you will lose additional resolution. Still, I would imagine a decent percentage of shots would be 'usable' especially when taken in good light and sized down to Alamy's 17MB minimum (or even 24MB).

 

I did some research a few months back and concluded that while prices have gone down and quality has definitely gone up with each iteration, I wasn't convinced that it was quite good enough for my interests- maybe next round? Still, they offer something unique and at a relatively low entry price, they are definitely capable of making images that stand out. There are a handful of images already on Alamy from the Phantom 4, as well as the similar GoPros, so it is possible to pass QC with one.

 

-Jason

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The footage is fine but the sensor is noisy and the lens is not great. In good contrasty conditions it's not too bad but otherwise the images can be poor when enlarged to 100%. The sensor really needs nice 'sharp' weather to overcome the noise from such a small sensor. I've worked with Mk3 images for clients and images really do vary depending on the scene, much more so than with normal cameras.

Unless the Mark 4 has made a quantum leap, which I doubt, if you are going to use a drone for a lot of work, IME it would be better to invest more money and get one that can carry a gimballed camera such as a GH4. The problem is the drone then becomes a lot bigger and expensive, especially for insurance.

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I believe the sensor is the same size as what is in my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone.  I have had a number of images accepted via the normal submission route at Alamy but don't know if comparing this to the Phantom 4 is the same or even close.  I am looking for an edge to my stock shooting by going airborne but need some assurance that Alamy will consider the source of the image.  I will seek out some raw files and have a look.

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Funny thing you are asking about this drone. I was looking at it, too. But would never spend that kind of money unless Alamy accepted the images.

Would be nice if Alamy opened a Drone category like they did Stockimo. It's the sign of the times, lots of interest, and would be great for stills and video because of the viewpoint.

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I submitted an image taken with a Typhoon H, image quality is certainly no better than a phantom, perhaps a little worse.

I submitted just one image to make sure it was the one checked by QC, I was a little nervous but it went through just fine.

I did reduce the image size a little from Just under 4000px longest side to 3000px

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I submitted an image taken with a Typhoon H, image quality is certainly no better than a phantom, perhaps a little worse.

I submitted just one image to make sure it was the one checked by QC, I was a little nervous but it went through just fine.

I did reduce the image size a little from Just under 4000px longest side to 3000px

That sounds positive!

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I submitted an image taken with a Typhoon H, image quality is certainly no better than a phantom, perhaps a little worse.

I submitted just one image to make sure it was the one checked by QC, I was a little nervous but it went through just fine.

I did reduce the image size a little from Just under 4000px longest side to 3000px

 

This is interesting.  I have not run across the Typhoon H in my research.  I took a quick look at their website and see that I might do more research before making a final decision.  How was it that you came to decide on the Typhoon H?  Was the Phantom 4 out yet?  Any insight you or anyone else could provide would be appreciated.

 

Is there a photo forum specifically for drone photographers?

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I submitted an image taken with a Typhoon H, image quality is certainly no better than a phantom, perhaps a little worse.

I submitted just one image to make sure it was the one checked by QC, I was a little nervous but it went through just fine.

I did reduce the image size a little from Just under 4000px longest side to 3000px

 

This is interesting.  I have not run across the Typhoon H in my research.  I took a quick look at their website and see that I might do more research before making a final decision.  How was it that you came to decide on the Typhoon H?  Was the Phantom 4 out yet?  Any insight you or anyone else could provide would be appreciated.

 

Is there a photo forum specifically for drone photographers?

 

There are a few things that influenced my decisision. I am completely new to UAV's.

DJI make some great copters but their customer service and support has a terrible reputation whilst Yuneed have an excellent track record.

The Typhoon H is a Hexacopter and can still fly if you lose a rotor.

It has retracting landing gear and has a 360 rotating gimbal allowing for very smooth panning.

CCC mode allows you to fly a route and enter points and then fly that route autonomously allowing you to focus on the camera

The price point.

 

The Typhoon H flies amazingly and handles well in fairly strong winds I was on a ridge the other evening and it was gusting 20 knots, the H just hovered steady as a rock and is very easy to land.

 

However, the H does have it's issues, the camera in all honesty is not up to scratch and there are some focus issues, it was supposed to be a Phantom killer but the phantom 4 images are a little better. However they are supposed to be working on this, it may mean a new lens and it definitely needs a firmware update as it is having wifi disconnect issues, Hopefully this will be addressed shortly.

 

All in all it is a good UAV that will be great if they can sort the problems.

 

If you ask me I would not rush out and buy right now, wait for the fixes or alternatively there will probably be some great new drone out later this year

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I submitted an image taken with a Typhoon H, image quality is certainly no better than a phantom, perhaps a little worse.

I submitted just one image to make sure it was the one checked by QC, I was a little nervous but it went through just fine.

I did reduce the image size a little from Just under 4000px longest side to 3000px

 

This is interesting.  I have not run across the Typhoon H in my research.  I took a quick look at their website and see that I might do more research before making a final decision.  How was it that you came to decide on the Typhoon H?  Was the Phantom 4 out yet?  Any insight you or anyone else could provide would be appreciated.

 

Is there a photo forum specifically for drone photographers?

 

There are a few things that influenced my decisision. I am completely new to UAV's.

DJI make some great copters but their customer service and support has a terrible reputation whilst Yuneed have an excellent track record.

The Typhoon H is a Hexacopter and can still fly if you lose a rotor.

It has retracting landing gear and has a 360 rotating gimbal allowing for very smooth panning.

CCC mode allows you to fly a route and enter points and then fly that route autonomously allowing you to focus on the camera

The price point.

 

The Typhoon H flies amazingly and handles well in fairly strong winds I was on a ridge the other evening and it was gusting 20 knots, the H just hovered steady as a rock and is very easy to land.

 

However, the H does have it's issues, the camera in all honesty is not up to scratch and there are some focus issues, it was supposed to be a Phantom killer but the phantom 4 images are a little better. However they are supposed to be working on this, it may mean a new lens and it definitely needs a firmware update as it is having wifi disconnect issues, Hopefully this will be addressed shortly.

 

All in all it is a good UAV that will be great if they can sort the problems.

 

If you ask me I would not rush out and buy right now, wait for the fixes or alternatively there will probably be some great new drone out later this year

 

Do you have a CAA licence and public liability insurance Steve?

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Public liability yes, CAA I wanted to submit the one image as a test before booking a course which I will now be arranging. Yes I do understand and abide by the law.

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If you ask me I would not rush out and buy right now, wait for the fixes or alternatively there will probably be some great new drone out later this year

 

 

I now have done even more research and am finding a lot of negative comment on the image quality of the small sensor.  I will do as you suggest and wait for something with better image quality.  I plan to do some serious stock shooting and patience would seem to be the best course of action at this point.  Flying a drone appears to be quite easy with these advanced drones so  that's not the problem.

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If you ask me I would not rush out and buy right now, wait for the fixes or alternatively there will probably be some great new drone out later this year

 

 

I now have done even more research and am finding a lot of negative comment on the image quality of the small sensor.  I will do as you suggest and wait for something with better image quality.  I plan to do some serious stock shooting and patience would seem to be the best course of action at this point.  Flying a drone appears to be quite easy with these advanced drones so  that's not the problem.

 

Indeed, I am hoping that Yuneec will sort the Typhoon H camera out, it is such a good platform it would be a shame to let it fail for a poor camera. I will give it some time and if nothing happens will look at a pro level aircraft. The Yuneec Tornado looks good and has three versions, one of these has a zoom camera and the other can take a Sony A7. However for the price it needs an update to allow waypoint flying.

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Public liability yes, CAA I wanted to submit the one image as a test before booking a course which I will now be arranging. Yes I do understand and abide by the law.

Just curious Steve, my mate has both and shoots video, but is seeing lots of 'cowboy' flying, which may affect the regulation of UAV's in the future. It's also something I've considered using for stock, but the way things are going, I'm not sure that it's feasible (for me).

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Im not sure it is financially viable for stock alone when you consider the costs of everything, I do some construction photography and it may have its uses, just now it is just for fun really, I did take some drone shots the other day during a commercial job as I got permission to do so but all I did was show them what was possible and did not allow the shots to be used.

 

With amateur use being virtually un-regulated there are sure to be cowboys coming in attracted by cheap drones but not sure what impact they will have.

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 I have done further research on drones for photography and have found tha DJI makes a 4/3'rds sensor chip model drone.  Problem is that it is close to $4,000 with a few extras.

 

I also found a review of the Phantom 4 on the B&H Review site from a professional photographer.................copy below.

 

7/7/2016

Exceeded every expectation!
By Photoman
 
"I'm a professional photographer/videographer in the midwest with 25 years of experience. After trying out all the latest drones through friends and contacts in the field, I can honestly say the Phantom 4 is by far and away a level above anything on the market around this price. I've been wanting to jump into aerial photography for a few years but couldn't find anything that would give me professional quality shots at this price until the Phantom 4. Not only is the 4K camera amazing but the drones stability and intelligent flight features help even the most rookie (me) drone pilot capture professional images. I've already had huge success when telling clients that I now have a 4K drone and paid this off in one shoot! If you're into aerial photography and don't want to spend an arm and a leg the Phantom 4 is a sure bet!"
 
Generally the reviews are very positive for this unit.  It looks like, under favorable lighting conditions, that this could give me an advantage with stock photography.  For now low flying aerials could provide a somewhat exciting view to some very old but saleable subjects that most have already shot.
 
In the next week or so I will pull the trigger on one of these units and for go the Fuji XT2 for now.
 
Thank you all for some interesting thoughts and if I get this program off of the ground (did I just make a pun?) I will post some images here.

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I don't know anything about drones but how about one big enough to fly a small DSLR or mirrorless.  I have two cameras that might work Nikon D3300 and Sony a5000.  Not sure if anybody is doing this or how well it would work.  I guess you would have to work out the framing and how to fire the camera.   I guess it would depend on if you wanted to just get an aerial view or wanted to fly around and have a view from the drone.

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My son-in-law has built small drones, and is currently working on the design of a much larger one that will be able to deliver first aid packages. This is being done for Wichita State University.

I'm sure he could design one for a small DSLR.

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One of the features that you want in a drone used for photography is FPV (first person view), the ability to control the tilt of the camera at the remote controller and the ability to see the composition that the camera is seeing from the remote controller. Otherwise, you will be shooting blind. Additionally, you want the camera mounted on a gamble to minimize or eliminate vibration.

 

One of the technical hurdles to making a drone capable of carrying a dslr is flight time. Heavier drones require larger batteries. Larger batteries make for heavier drones. The flight time of a DJI Phantom 4 is a little more than 20 minutes, which is considered pretty good.

 

There exist systems capable of carrying a dslr. They are also very expensive, even before you add the dslr. One of the best aspects of a DJI drone is not the hardware but is IMO the software.

 

TC

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It appears the DJI is finally figuring out that there is a market for a less expensive way for professional photographer to get into the aerial photograph game by announcing a new camera with a zoom lens.  For now I will probably go with the Phantom 4.  None the less it is coming our way.

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It should go without saying though that a camera with a sensor the same size as that in a mobile phone will not be adequate.

 

I hate to say it but rather than spending time uploading more and more images, sort out existing keywording and incorrect licensing first, for ALL our sakes.

 

Geoff.

 

This is no longer the case Geoff.  The first 13 images (fall colors) on my collection page are from a Galaxy S6 cellphone with a tiny sensor.  I ran these through REGULAR Alamy upload channels.  Not Stockimo.  I have since added similar images at Getty, AGE, and PhotoEdit all through regular upload channels   I have already had a couple of sales.  The point of this thread is about Drone photography, not keywording, and finding and producing images with a new PERSPECTIVE.  Lord knows that few of us are able to shoot something for stock that has not already been taken.  We must find a way to present ordinary people, places and things in a different manner with a different perspective.  Drone aerial photography is one of those avenues.  After doing more research I find that the camera in the Phantom 4 has 9 elements while my Galaxy S6 has 6.  It is not what I want but it is a fair start.

 

**Betty**  it is for the above reasons that I have purchased the Phantom 4 and have bypassed on the Fuji XT2 for now.  I will trust my Fuji X Pro 1 for now for every day stock.  When and if I get images online at Alamy I will let you all know.

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