Quadcopters, drones, and other RC fun


Just bought a Phantom 3 standard with the black friday sale. Had to wait 20 minutes for a system update while waiting at my local school field which had me fidgeting in anticipation. A few issues with the wifi but after I got things worked out, money.

Flies great, in fact way too easy with the GPS and stabilization. I have a few other drones, $100 types which of course are a lot more challenging.

But, spent the one battery charge testing the camera with the drone up high, down low going fast just above the ground. I wish the standard had the 50 or 60p settings for a bit smoother video…but it does not so I have to remember to slowwwwly pan around without too much speed. The RTH feature is invaluable as my iphone died while the drone was a few hundred feet up and quite a ways toward the other end of the field. Amazing feature.

Fun to fly, nice video, I really enjoyed my first flights and tomorrow am planning on a video of my local lake and a waypoint video down near my office which is on a local river.

Kind of wish I had bought the pro version with the looooonger range and the free extra battery but I guess I need to play around with this one for a bit and can always sell it on ebay if I want to upgrade.


Jesus that thing is $700! Is that typical for a decent drone?


It’s actually pretty cheap for an excellent drone with a very nice camera. It’s on sale many places for $600. Seeing as how it’s essentially the same drone as the $1,200 professional but with less range, a bit lower resolution camera, and a few less controls on the remote…it’s a great deal to try out one of these types of machines…very, very nice.


Well, I just took back the Standard and got the Pro!

I love the drone but really want the extended range and stronger connection between receiver and drone.

And, my wife said her construction company hires photographers to go up in planes to take pics of their job sites…I “might” be able to get some of that business as the owner loves to save money…but it’s going to rain here the next 6 months so that’s a crap shoot!


I’m a Civil Engineer and most engineering companies and contractors are now using aerial drones regularly. We have one and use it frequently to great value and effect. In terms of weather, yeah for most site shots they’re out and filming at 6:30 a.m., if it is an action shot you need a two-week window to find a day without wind, and pounce on it.


Isn’t the extended range a feature of the advanced, which is between the pro and the standard?

I really want one of these, but am trying to figure out if I really need the advanced one… the Pro one just seems to have a better camera.


If you don’t need a long range, which a lot of people don’t, get the standard. The differences between the Pro and Advanced are the 4K video vs. 2.7K video and the charger is around twice as fast.

The 2.7K video on my standard was super sharp and very nice.

The Pro and Advanced have the same range.

I was going to get the advanced but Best Buy only had the standard and Pro in stock and since the Pro was 100 dollars off, figured I’d just get that.

After I spent 599 for the standard and flew it a few times, I was very happy with it and didn’t feel like I over spent my fun money…excellent quadcopter to fly around with the bonus of high def video and photos for fun. But, now that I spent double that, I’m a bit more hesitant to feel good about the purchase. If I can use it at all for some drone work to pay off at least half the cost, I will feel a lot better.


Only difference between Advanced and Pro is camera resolution (2.7K vs 4K) and the battery charger. (The Pro includes a quick charger.)


Note that you need permission from the FAA to do any commercial drone work.

Otherwise, you’ll just have to take some fun video of your friend’s location and your friend will have to give you a nice early cash birthday present.


The owner of the company is pretty shady so I can see a shoebox coming my way.


The FAA says you better register those UASs!


I can’t wait until the FAA starts enforcing some kind of licensing and testing program for drone piloting.


Add an element of realism to your Millennium Falcon toys as you “avoid [FAA] entanglements”!


HAHAHAHAHHAAHHA. That made me laugh so hard. And especially combined with the thought of the FAA fining Han Solo.


The Phantom 4 looks pretty, pretty neat.


The Drone market is going to be way more interesting, and way more flexible, by the end of October.

I loved my Phantom 3 Professional. Super-easy to fly, rock-stable, beautiful stills and video footage. The only problem was that it was so big that the backpack I bought for it that would let me take it on a plane didn’t really have room for anything else except a laptop or tablet. So, two trips to Hawaii and one to the east coast and the drone stayed home.

Then GoPro announces the Karma. A folding design that easily fits in a small backpack! Removable gimbal that lets you use an included controller to use the gimbal with your GoPro as a steadycam. And you end up with a nicely improved GoPro as part of your package.

I’m jazzed. GoPro’s not taking preorders, but I already start planning to sell my P3 Pro. Just gonna wait to see what DJI’s announcement the following week is…

Then DJI announces the Mavic Pro. Similar folding design. DJI’s very mature flight software and photographic capabilities. A “tripod mode” that gives super-precise control when shooting. Much better range than the GoPro. Suddenly I’m not so sure.

Then I compare the sizes. The folded Mavic is the size of a water bottle – about 7.8 inches long. The Karma is almost twice the size. The Mavic and controller will both fit in the accessories compartment of my DSLR backpack. I can take the camera and the drone along without carrying anything extra!

I’ll miss the handheld gimbal the Karma would have offered, and a much better GoPro that I might use a couple of times a year. But the flexibility of having a Mavic drone that is that small that offers the same capabilities of my Phantom 3 Pro outweighs the Karma’s advantages. It’s the same reason I upgraded my phone despite having a DLSR and a great compact Sony – the best camera is the one you have with you.

Anyway, I ordered on Day 1 (though not till afternoon), so hopefully I’ll be able to report on the Mavic in a couple of weeks!


That Mavic looks awesome Denny. I’ve been looking at a Phantom 3 recently for field work, but won’t pull the trigger because it’s far too heavy, really, to be taking into remote field sites. A couple of months ago we hiked into escarpment country to do some croc work; 6 hours each day with 20 kg backpacks climbing up steep rocks was hard effing work, and a drone case would have killed me. The Mavic though? It’s perfect. Well, except for the price hike we get in Australia, but I have some budget to cover it for work.

I wonder how its small size affects its stability when it’s windy though? Easier for a gust to toss around, so harder work for the motors to keep it in one spot, I would guess? Do you find this an issue with the Phantom 3 at all?


Their FAQ on their website specifically calls out that the Mavic is more susceptible to wind than the Phantom 4.

The Mavic is smaller, lighter, and easier to carry with you thanks to its foldable design. Its new OcuSync transmission system has a longer transmission range and 1080p resolution. Due to its larger size, the Phantom 4 has a higher maximum speed and can withstand stronger winds.

That said, it’s rated to withstand winds of 29-38 kph:

The Mavic can withstand a level 5 wind, also called a fresh breeze. This is defined as wind speeds of 19–24mph (29–38kph).

…which is about the same as my P3 Pro. I tended to avoid windy days with the P3, but when I went out to shoot pics of the river flooding around our city, the winds that day were running 15-20 mph (about 30 kph) and the footage was rock-steady.

[Edit: I haven’t flow a P4, but it looks like the P3 Pro was only rated for Level 4 winds, so the Mavic is actually more capable in wind than my P3 was, if the specs are accurate.]


I’ve only had a “toy” 8 inch drone so far but have been thinking about getting a more serious one for photography. I was all set to order the Karma but GoPro didn’t allow pre orders. Then the Mavic gets announced and is way better for what I want to do. I ordered one after a couple days of thinking about it. I’m super excited!


Damnit, every time I’m about to get a drone they release some newer version that’s way better.