DJI Phantom 3 drone - purchase, first flight and impressions

I recently bought a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced drone and was bombarded with questions about where I bought it, how it flies, why, when will there be videos from it, etc. Therefore, as promised, I will tell you about everything in a couple of posts. It is unlikely that there will be more. Today about the purchase and first impressions, next time something else is already based on personal experience of flights, since so far there is very little experience.

The content of the article

Buying a copter

Where to buy a quadcopter with a camera

On Aliexpress, copters are sold at the time of this writing at a price of 50-55 thousand, if we are talking about Advanced. For example, this one for $ 800. There is a little bit cheaper, but there are no orders and it would be dumb to buy. Accordingly, more eminent sellers are already selling somewhere at a price closer to 60 thousand.

I decided not to wait 2-3 weeks for delivery and buy a quadcopter right away. I ordered it not from an official dealer for 70 thousand, but for 60 thousand in the Online Trade store (by link 150 rubles as a gift). In principle, this is not a very big difference compared to Ali, but there is no need to wait and you can check everything right away. Moreover, I have been buying in Online Trade for a long time and I have a VIP status there (just for it the price was 60 thousand).

However, a week later, I realized that the copter was sold to me already activated (it did not request activation when the DJI Go app was launched for the first time), and also DJI technical support does not know the serial numbers of my copter, they are not in the database. Therefore, I gave my copter to the service of the official dealer of DJI quadrocopters in Russia Skymec (there are no complaints about OnlineTrade, it was only resold). And do you know what they answered me from Skymec? That everything is fine and the serials are fine. Why the manufacturer DJI does not know them, they did not answer me. These are the copters that are officially sold in Russia..

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter

Why do you need a quadcopter

Having plunged into the forums, I found out that many people buy themselves a quadcopter as a hobby. Indeed, an interesting and exciting toy. It can be upgraded, set records for range, shown to friends. Sometimes even filming the video itself is not as important (there are drones without a camera) as the pleasure of flying. The second category of people is those who shoot from copters to order. They do both just separate shooting from the air (for example, shooting plots in a cottage community for a presentation), and as only part of a video (weddings, events, etc.).

Why do I need it? Yes, I do not do video, but I like the video blogging format, I just still have not come up with a suitable topic for myself. Naturally, you can shoot anything, including your trips, but it doesn't pay off. The one who made the video knows how much time and effort it takes, so I have no motivation yet (since there is no worthwhile idea, then there are no prospects). I even wrote a post about this (What video to shoot for a blog).

Nevertheless, I still continue to think about the video format and the drone can give me thoughts, all the more you have to keep up with the times, you cannot lag behind in such a thing as blogging. In addition, I will need a copter sometimes in my work, for example, to review a particular beach in Thailand. It is much faster for me to do this with the help of a copter, and for the reader of the blog it will turn out to be more informative than ordinary photos..

And there is one more useful function when traveling around the country - you can simply look at something «around the corner». I repeatedly came across the fact that I wanted to know where this or that path leads, or what is behind that cape, but there was no time to check.

DJI - Standard, Advanced or Professoinal

It was initially obvious to me that I only needed to take DJI and the Phantom 3 series, so I did not even consider other options. Considering that I do not plan to make a hobby out of flights, I needed something that could fly and take off right out of the box and without unnecessary complications. After reviewing the versions, I realized that I should not take Standart. Standarta initially has a shorter range, especially in the city, Wifi is used for video transmission, and not a lightbridge, an old-generation remote control, Glonass is not caught, the camera does not shoot 60 frames, there is no sonar (visual positioning with an ultrasonic sensor).

Now let's compare the 2 older versions. On the forums, people believe that in Professional pseudo 4k and if you make a crop from it to FullHD, then it will turn out worse than the original FullHD. Pro / Adv cameras and matrices are the same, it just looks like Adv has programmatically reduced the resolution. If we compare 4k in Professional and FullHD in Advanced, then the bitrate is more than 1.5 times, and not 4, as in theory it should be. True, someone writes that if you do not just crop to FullHD from 4k, but resize with a normal codec, then they say you get a good picture, better original FullHD. But in any case, it is more important for me personally to shoot in FullHD at 60 frames per second than 4k. Unfortunately, the camera in Pro does not write 4k at 60 fps, so I don't see any point in it, especially since it is most likely really pseudo 4k.

There is another plus for the Pro - faster charging at 100W, instead of charging at 57W in the Adv. But IMHO it's easier to buy such a charge on Ali or even score it and just wait half an hour more until the battery is charged. Thus, I did not see any advantages for myself in Pro, but it costs 10-20 thousand more, it is better to buy another battery or something else for this money.

What of the additional to buy for the copter

I will list the various little things and not quite the little things that, in my opinion, are necessary. Some I have already bought, some are still coming to me from Aliexpress. Order from more needed to less needed.

I specifically indicate dollars, since the exchange rate is changing. And also, if you are not aware, then it is advisable to pay for purchases on Ali in dollars. I wrote more in the post - how to save up to 11% on Ali.

  • Neutral gray filter or filter set: ND4, ND8, ND16. We need the video not to ghost when shooting in the bright sun. The point is that Shutter speed = 1 / 2x Frame rate. That is, if we shoot 60 frames per second, then the shutter speed should be 1/120 sec, if 30 fps - 1/60 sec. Without a filter, in bright sun, the shutter speed is somewhere around 1/1000 or so. The filter allows you to reduce the luminous flux. I ordered myself an ND8 for $ 13, as something in between. I have the same filter for my mirrorless camera..
  • Sun blinds. When I flew for the first time, I realized that at 12 noon I can hardly see anything on the screen, although I turned the brightness to maximum. We need sun blinds. While I made them out of the phone box, it fits exactly in size, which is logical, isn't it? But she does not have very high sides, so I ordered these for $ 6.89.
  • Additional battery. The flight time on one battery is about 20 minutes and they fly by instantly. At least one more battery is needed. And if you shoot professionally, then 3-4. It is not recommended to take non-original batteries, after all, the copter is quite expensive to risk it, and if something happens to the battery during the flight, the copter will simply collapse to the ground. I took it here for $ 139.
  • Remote control strap. I do not understand why it is not included in the kit initially, it is a very necessary piece. It is convenient when the remote control hangs on the neck and you can separate your hands, for example, when you put the copter in your hands. I took a little more expensive for $ 9.40, an analogue of the original one, it is much more convenient than the usual strap for $ 1.69, which then it would have been easier to make yourself.
  • Soft backpack or hard carrying case. Probably, if you do not plan to go anywhere with a quadrocopter, then you can get by with a box. But if you move, then it's difficult without carrying. I chose the first one, this backpack for $ 61.30, the cases cost about the same (for example, for $ 55). I reasoned like this - it would be dumb for me to take the copter into my luggage, I'd rather take it with me in my hand luggage along with a laptop. As a last resort, I already have a large plastic suitcase where I can put my backpack with a copter and my things. I could go shopping and buy any camera backpack that fits, but I found an inexpensive quadcopter backpack on Ali. I assume that this is also a photo backpack, just the seller positions it differently. The only thing I didn't take into account is that there is no laptop compartment. When he arrives, I will check the internal dimensions, perhaps it will be possible to put the laptop inside just in a case.
  • Camera cover and gimbal lock. Anyway, you need to take a cover on the camera so that the lens does not get splattered. But there is an even more practical solution, the lid and the suspension lock for $ 1.6 at the same time. The latch is needed so that the camera on the gimbal does not dangle, it is quite delicate. There is already a latch in the kit, but it is less convenient, and flies off during movement.
  • Auto charging and other additional charging. If you travel by car and shoot from a drone, then it is very important to have an auto charger (for example, for $ 9.26). I have a 220V inverter in my car, so I didn't buy it. You can also buy a regular charger for the home, but which will immediately charge 2-3-4 batteries at the same time, such as this for $ 5.36.
  • Bracket for phone / tablet holder. An optional thing, but the plastic one that comes with the kit wobbles, this is especially noticeable on the tablet, it is heavier. Therefore, you can take an aluminum one for $ 5.56 or something like that..
  • Signal reflectors. To increase the range by 1.5 times and get a more stable signal in the city, ordinary reflectors for $ 6, which are hung on the antennas, help. They will be especially useful for Standart owners’a, but for those who have Advanced or Professional they will not be superfluous. There is a more radical option - replacing the antennas with others (DBS), then you can fly 5-6 km away. But I personally do not need to increase the range so much, and it will be more expensive, not to mention the need to disassemble the remote control and most likely hammer on the guarantee.
Additional accessories for quadcopter

Additional accessories for quadcopter

The first flight

First impressions

Out of habit, instead of going to the fields for testing, I sat and studied the forums in order to grasp the topic as quickly as possible: how to control, what functions are in the application, how to calibrate the gimbal (many have a camera horizon filled up), what is the flight range and the maximum height that you need to buy additionally. Probably, most people first read in a relaxed mode for several months, then make a decision and buy. It's the other way around for me 🙂 Therefore, I even abandoned my work in order to assimilate the entire amount of information.

First impressions? He is flying! In reality, technology has advanced so much. I will not be surprised that in another 10 years there will be something that is difficult to imagine now. If as a child I was insanely happy with a typewriter with wired (not even radio) control, now a copter is almost a common thing..

I had few flights, literally a couple of flights, just in the field, in order to get used to it more or less. In fact, if you do not make sudden movements, do not wait until the battery is less than 10%, then it is quite difficult to kill him. He does everything himself: he can take off or land; if you release the control levers (sticks), then it will simply hang in the air; if the connection is lost, then he himself returns to the starting point. Also, in the latest versions, very convenient Follow me and Point of Interest functions have appeared. I tried to circle around the tree on my own, but it turns out very jerky, another thing is to turn on Point of Interest.

I specially watched various videos taken from a quadrocopter and in all of them no one describes any complex figures. Hovering in the air, fixing the camera and the copter in the desired position, and you fly for a few seconds, which just then go into the video. To shoot in this format, skill is practically not needed, despite the fact that such inserts in the video look very good and practically «do» video clip.

Satisfied after the first flight on the quadcopter

Satisfied after the first flight on the quadcopter

Any aerial photos and videos look more interesting

Any aerial photos and videos look more interesting

To be honest, flying is pretty dumb at first. I don’t want to go up too high or fly far away. Although what could I have done even if the copter was closer ?! 🙂 I also noticed that in line of sight in a field in the Moscow region, a maximum of 600-700 meters flies away, then the connection is broken and an automatic return home (RTH) occurs. They say that this is not enough for Advanced. Either the problem of my particular specimen, or I chose the wrong place (it all depends on interference, or DJI is gradually reducing the power of the transmitters in the new modifications (I have a GL300C remote control, which is considered the least powerful).


The range can be increased by using reflectors, replacing antennas with more powerful ones, and by unlocking the channels. The default channel range is 13-20. Since these channels are quite clogged, it makes sense to get the opportunity to use channels up to 32, especially when it comes to a city or country / cottage villages where there are a lot of Wifi routers. Most likely, this is not entirely legal, but nevertheless they do it. I haven't tested it myself yet, but it's easy.

The video is transferred to the phone in HD quality (1280 × 720), and is saved immediately on the phone. But this video has a rather low bitrate (2 Mbps) and is only suitable for previewing. I know, they write that this can be configured, but the latest version of the DJI GO app does not have this setting. On the copter itself, the video is written on a USB flash drive as it should. For example, 2.7k is written at 45 Mbps. Although the quality of the Phantom 3 cameras is about the same as that of Action Camera Xiaomi.

Screenshot of video 1280x720 with 2 Mbps bitrate

Screenshot of video 1280x720 with 2 Mbps bitrate

The camera takes photos at a resolution of 4000x3000 (12 Mp), which is enough for most tasks. But certainly not a DSLR / mirrorless.

The sticks control the aircraft quite sharply, but they can be configured in Advanced Settings / EXP. The default is 0.4. For example, you can set 0.2 for turns (Rudder right / Rudder left), and 0.3 for up / down (Throttle up / Throttle down). Or you can set 0.2 for all settings. You just don't need to move the charts, you just need to enter the numbers manually (put not a comma, but a period).

P.S. I will supplement the post as new accessories come or new info appears. If you are interested in all this at all, write in the comments, then I will know that it generally makes sense to continue this topic..