We were shooting at Park Hill in Sheffield on Thursday with our TBS Discovery UAV when suddenly a rotor stalled and our drone spiraled from around 50 feet onto the hard floor.
Luckily; Paul was able to slow the descent just enough to minimise the damage so the "Disco" should be able to fly again after minor repairs are made and we recreate the 3D Printed gimbal.
However; having lost our drone and in need of aerial footage we had to pick something up quickly and relatively cheaply.
We dismissed the Phantom 4 due to cost and we're not shooting 4K.
DJI Phantom 3
We decided to pick up a DJI Phantom 3 as they're relatively cheap, ready to fly and should be easy to pick up quickly.
Looking around online it was actually difficult to get a UAV delivered or be able to pick one up quickly due to low stock but then we found a DJI Phantom 3 Standard available from Argos immediately.
We also managed to order a second battery from Amazon which arrived the following morning.
After installing the DJI Go app on an iPhone 7+, the next thing was to extend the controller sticks; this is done easily by unscrewing the top section and then bringing up the bottom threaded section to secure. In doing this; you're able to more easily move the sticks with more precision which allows for smoother control of the UAV.
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard comes with a 2.7K capable camera on a 3-axis gimbal and apparently uses the same sensor as the GoPro Hero 4.
You can also see the gimbal guard that we 3D Printed and fitted.
The camera had an SanDisk Ultra 8GB Micro SD Card installed which is very nice to see included but we swapped it out for one of our SanDisk Ultra 32GB cards.
We setup the camera to shoot in 2.7K at 25fps and adjusted the settings for a much more cinematic feel (more on that later).
After getting the UAV and camera ready; we headed back up to Park Hill.
Taking the Phantom 3 to the spot where the Disco crashed we set everything up and used the "take off" feature in the DJI GO app to get the UAV into the air.
This worked remarkably well and the UAV climbed to around 1.5m and sat there; steady as a rock.
We flew the Phantom around with the first battery to get used to the characteristics of it and tested the range a little; standing deep within Park Hill wasn't the best spot for range and it was quickly noted that the Phantom 3 Standard is vastly limited compared to what we've been used to with our custom built TBS Discovery but adequate for simple aerial shots.
The Phantom 3 managed to fly incredibly well and very stable, even when the wind picked up and it was hit with sudden and pretty strong gusts of wind.
With the spare battery installed it was time to take to the skies once more and capture some footage.
Basic tests from our first flight were recreated more accurately and some stunning shots were captured.
We would have liked to climb to a higher altitude but the standard 100m (328 feet) was in force (configurable up to 500m or 1,640 feet) and the wind was pretty strong so we were happy with it at 100m.
Back up to Park Hill again for some different shots and from a much better spot for range as standing within the site limits signal range due to the buildings all around you.
We notice that the range is still rather limited but not terrible; in built up areas you really should be able to see where your UAV is without looking at your screen and the range limitations only really kept us within visual range anyway.
It may end up with a modification to the antennas in the future for greater range but as the Phantom 3 isn't destined to be our main UAV it may just suffice for where and when we need it.
Overall, and thanks to the Phantom 4 now being available; the DJI Phantom 3 Standard at £449 is an absolute bargain and you could possibly pick it up cheaper if you shop around.
When you consider that the GoPro Hero 4 Silver (which pretty much has the same video capabilities) originally retailed at £329 and still fetches £249.99 - the Phantom 3 Standard really shows it's worth.
It offers extremely easy flight controls and excellent camera control; the range is its main limiting factor but if this is to be your hobby UAV then you'll no doubt be very happy - for this to be a main UAV for aerial video or photography you'd be better with the Phantom 3 Advanced or Professional for their better out of the box range.
For our backup or second UAV; we're very happy with the Phantom 3 Standard and for the price it's impossible to beat.
We're tempted to try the Inspire now as the gimbal control must be incredible to use and with a second operator; even better.