May 8, 2018

DJI Refreshes Phantom 4 Pro With Improved Video and Obstacle Avoidance

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Version 2
 DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro v2.0 is more of a mid-cycle refresh than a brand new product.

DJI has named its latest release the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 and that seems fitting considering the improvements are incremental and not groundbreaking new features. While we don't think the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 will leave current Phantom 4 Pro owners with FOMO, it is an incredibly well-made drone capable of safe, intelligent flights and of producing beautiful imagery. 

Like the previous version, the V2 boasts a 1" CMOS sensor capable of capturing 20MP Adobe DNG RAW still photos and DCI 4k footage. Also, like its predecessor, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has a maximum video recording resolution of 4K 60p, can be flown autonomously with DJI's Intelligent Flight Modes and it works with the DJI Goggles. New with version 2.0 is h.265 video encoding at 100Mbps. It also features an improved lens, improved obstacle sensing and some other improvements listed below. So what does the Phantom 4 Pro 2.0 have that the Phantom 4 Pro doesn't? 

These improvements don't leave the previous model looking long in the tooth.

Mechanical Shutter

DJI has equipped the Phantom 4 Pro v2 with a mechanical shutter in order to make the drone better at filming fast motion scenes since the mechanical shutter will work to reduce rolling shutter distortion. The electronic shutter has also been overhauled allowing users to shoot 14 fps bursts of 20MP still images. 

High-Resolution Lens

Featuring eight lens elements in seven groups, a maximum aperture of 2.8 and a 24mm focal length equivalent, DJI claims that images will be "detailed with low distortion and low dispersion, ensuring that photos and videos are sharp and vivid." 

OcuSync Video Transmission

DJI has implemented its new OcuSync video transmission system with version 2.0 which, in addition to clearer video transmission, will allow DJI Goggles owners to connect their headsets to the remote wirelessly for unfettered FPV experiences. Of course, this means that the version 2.0 remote controls are not backwards-compatible and will not work with first-generation Phantom 4 Pro models. 

Improved Obstacle Sensing

The new infrared sensors can provide obstacle avoidance more reliably than previous models. For the first time in a DJI aircraft, infrared sensors placed on the sides of the aircraft will help the Phantom 4 Pro v2.0 sense large obstacles from up to 23ft (7m) away. By comparison, ultrasonic sensors have a detection range of up to about 15ft and can be affected by vibrations from the propellers. 

6-Camera Navigation

Three sets of cameras comprise a new 6-camera navigation system that faces forward, backward, and downward and allows the Phantom 4 Pro v2.0 to maintain its relative position indoors and in other situations where GPS lock is unattainable. DJI claims this new sensor system will work at speeds up to 31mph. Additionally, "Narrow Sensing Mode" will allow the drone to more safely fly through small spaces.

"Production Optimized"4K

To be fair, we're not quite sure what DJI means by "production optimized". If that's a way of saying "the footage you record will look more detailed" then, yes that's true because h.265 renders video files with great detail and tiny file sizes. However, h.265 (like h.264) is a delivery codec and it is not the optimal codec for use in post production especially since h.265 requires exponentially more compute power to unpack than does h.264. Increasing the data rate from 60Mbps to 100Mbps will also be sure to render files with much more information and detail and so I would expect that the footage out of the "version 2" Phantom 4 Pro will have an edge over the older model.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Version 2 New Remote
Credit: DJI

New Remote With Integrated Screen

As an upgrade option, you can get a remote with a high-resolution, very bright screen built into the remote. The screen comes pre-loaded with the DJI Go app which means you won't have to bring your own device. DJI claims that the screen is twice as bright as typical smart-device screens making it well suited for daylight use. With a claimed run-time of 5 hours between charges, it seems like it could be nice to have but if you're someone who likes to use a variety of apps with your DJI drone or who has already purchased a smart device specifically for drone flying, this may not be a selling point. 

Should you buy one?

There's no question that the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has some improvements over the previous Phantom 4 Pro but they're not improvements that leave the previous model looking long in the tooth. If you're someone who has been looking to upgrade from a Mavic or an older Phantom model, this is a wonderful drone that you'll be very happy with. Also, if you're coming from a consumer drone or an older Phantom, you'll be just as impressed with the Phantom 4 Pro version 1 (which will now almost certainly drop in price). In addition, the rumor mill has been hard at work teasing the release of a Phantom 5 that could be in stores by the end of the year.

So, should you buy one? If you were upgrading to a Phantom 4 anyway and don't mind the couple to several hundred dollar price difference between version 2 and version 1, go for it. You'll love it. If you've been on the fence and are waiting to see what comes out next, maybe wait it out till the end of the year and see if a Phantom 5 comes out before deciding.

Tech Specs:

  • Weight : 1375g (props & battery included)
  • Max Flight Time: Approx 30 minutes
  • Vision System
    • Forward Vision System
    • Backward Vision System
    • Downward Vision System
  • Obstacle Sensing: Front & Rear Obstacle Avoidance
  • Camera Sensor: 1" CMOS
  • Effective pixels: 20M
  • Max Video Recording Resolution: 4K 60P
  • Video Transmission System: OcuSync

For full technical specs visit DJI    

Your Comment

8 Comments

So in regards to the codec, are they going from 60mb/s h.264 to 100mb/s h.265? That's a big step up, h.265 is already supposed to be 2x better than h.264 as far as quality/space ratio. If my math is right, that's a 233% improvement on codec quality.

May 8, 2018 at 9:27PM

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Reply

That is correct. My camera, an NX1 records video to h.265 or HEVC and your calculations are generally in that ball park. This being said, it's still a distribution codec, and my guess in the case of this particular Phantom update probably in 8bit.

What the above means in practical terms is that you should get a better image than with h.264, with little gain in file size, if any, which is generally a good thing. As long as you don't push the grade too far. You will also need a hefty computer to decode in real-time the files in any NLE that can accept the format, which is limited. Thankfully the two most popular one do.

The codec shows a lot of potential, but in the shadow of something like Prores, and now Prores RAW, it gets far less development or attention. In fact, even though its made gains recently, it was a major problem when my camera was first released in 2014. No one supported it then.

I have to question why these manufactures continue to only offer distribution codecs fully knowing most of their product consumers are working professionals who would much prefer recording to aquisition formats. My guess is it comes down to liscencing fees. Seems Apple doesn't play nice with everyone.

May 9, 2018 at 3:59AM, Edited May 9, 3:59AM

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A fellow NX1 owner! How ahead of the time was this camera!? As a GH5 and Ursa Mini Pro owner, I still find myself reaching for this camera often. It's a shame they never released an NX2.

Okay, sorry....not on topic. Yes, the addition of h.265 is actually really exciting for those of us who've been using it for years. I'm amazed at how long I can shoot and how little space I use up on my media. Even at 8bit, I often find myself preferring my h.265 footage over my h.264 GH5 footage. However, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this already added with the Phantom 4 Pro?

May 11, 2018 at 5:30PM

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Ian Mora
Writer, Director, Editor, Camera Operator
162

not quite... the P4P did the exact same thing h.265 & h.264 @100mbps. The statement is only true if you are going from a Phantom 3 or Phantom 4 (non pro)

May 11, 2018 at 3:55AM, Edited May 11, 4:07AM

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J.M. Anderson
Director of Photography
289

How do you downvote FACTS. Go to DJI.com if you don’t believe someone who has owned a Phantom 4 Pro since launch day as well as the Phantom 4 preceding it. After all, wouldn’t you like to be given the correct info?

May 16, 2018 at 9:23PM, Edited May 16, 9:25PM

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J.M. Anderson
Director of Photography
289

Here are the facts for the old model, nothing new here with h265:
https://www.dji.com/phantom-4-pro/info#specs
"Video Recording Modes H.265
C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
4K:3840×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps"

August 16, 2018 at 9:29AM

1
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"DJI has equipped the Phantom 4 Pro v2 with a mechanical shutter in order to make the drone better at filming fast motion scenes since the mechanical shutter will work to reduce rolling shutter distortion."

That's not true, mechanical shutter is used only in stills mode. It's like 3rd time that you (NFS) make this mistake.

May 9, 2018 at 7:08AM, Edited May 9, 7:08AM

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May 10, 2018 at 2:07AM

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Reply

Sooo.... the new Phantom 4 Pro V2 is now capable of 100mbps h.265... which is a huge step up from the video quality of my current Phantom 4 Pro which only clocks in at a modest 100mbps h.265 & 100mbps h.264? It seems you're information would be correct if you framed it in terms of upgrading from a Phantom 4, but even so it's not "new for 2.0" it's carried over from the original Phantom 4 Pro.

May 11, 2018 at 3:52AM, Edited May 11, 4:07AM

0
Reply
J.M. Anderson
Director of Photography
289