The P4 Pro’s new sensors have been
joined by a few new intelligent flight modes.
The TapFly mode now supports backwards
flying. You can now draw out a route on
your DJI Go app and the P4 Pro will fly it at
a level altitude. DJI’s Active Track tracking
functions have also been upgraded with three
new modes: Trace, Profile and Spotlight.
Trace follows a subject from the front or
behind; Profile follows them from the side
and Spotlight keeps the camera on the subject
while the drone flies in any direction.
There are new batteries that tack on
about an extra two minutes worth of flight
time, bringing the advertised duration to a
maximum of 30 minutes.
The remote now features a built-in HD
display, so you’re no longer required to use
your smartphone as part of the remote. The
display is attached via a hinge arm on the
remote and is easy to reorient to get the best
viewing position possible.
For all the changes under the hood and in
the camera, DJI stuck with its conventional
design for the P4 Pro. It’s compact and
sleek, weighing in at 3 pounds. Having
seen retractable landing gear on several
other drones, we’re now hoping that future
Phantoms will offer that feature as well.
The new Pro remote is now much improved
with the integrated display, Patiño says. It’s easier
to read in bright sunlight than a smartphone and
folds down neatly so it’s not adding any ungainly
bulk to the compact remote. Unfortunately, it’s
still saddled with a non-removable battery.
IMAGE QUALITY & PERFORMANCE
Patiño tells us there’s a notable improvement in
still and video quality from the P4 Pro compared
to the older P4 and the Mavic Pro. “There’s
no longer much of a trade-off between getting
an aerial image and getting a quality one,” he
says. Patiño says the camera’s performance in
low light is notably much improved.
While not many camera vendors
have jumped on the H.265 compression
bandwagon, considerable progress has
been made on both computer hardware and
software support to make working with H.265
files easier. On balance, H.265 footage looked
richer and more colorful than H.264 footage,
but even the older codec showed considerable
improvement over footage from the Mavic
Pro or P4. The bit rate on the P4 Pro is higher,
which unquestionably helps.
DJI’s drones have always been at the
forefront of intelligent flying and the P4 Pro
is unquestionably the easiest to fly of all the
Phantom models. Active Track can reliably lock
hold of a subject (a person, in our case) and
keep them in frame even if they’re moving fairly
rapidly and unpredictably. We didn’t fly the
P4 Pro through very tight spaces, but it passed
through trees that were about 8 feet apart with
no difficulty. Patiño tells that, like the P4, the
camera stays remarkably steady even during
fast flight—and the P4 Pro is very fast, hitting
45MPH in sport mode.
The pace of DJI’s drone launches is so frenetic,
you could be forgiven for waiting out the
P4 Pro to see what a P5 will bring. But if
you spring for the P4 Pro, you’re getting the
best image quality from the Phantom series
combined with the easiest, most intuitive and
arguably safest flying experience from the
line yet. That’s hard to pass up.
Unlike other 50-megapixel medium-format
cameras on the market, the GFX 50S uses
a sensor of Fuji’s own design. It delivers
14 stops of dynamic range and 14-bit RAW
files—slightly lower than the 16-bit files
pumped out by the 50-megapixel Sony
sensor used in its rivals. Where it trails in
bit depth, it leads in ISO. The camera has
a native ISO of 100-12,800 with extension
settings pushing the range from 50-102,400.
Another eye-opener is the number of
AF points. Where medium-format cameras
are parsimonious with AF points, the 50S
has them in abundance. There are 425
available in AF-S mode and 117 in one of
the zone modes. The camera supports
continuous autofocusing and also offers
face and eye detection.
You’ll enjoy a maximum shutter speed
of 1/4000 sec. with an electronic shutter
option to boost speeds to 1/16,000 sec.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro
PROS: Improved camera and lens; better
low-light performance; object avoidance
and autonomous flight modes more nimble.
CONS: Fixed landing gear; non-removable
battery in remote.
FUJI GFX ;;S
When we sat down with Fujifilm
executives at PhotoPlus Expo in New
York City last year, they said they took
a hard look at the photography market
and passed on building a full-frame
mirrorless camera. The reasoning: Fuji’s
APS-C camera line was close enough in
image quality and features to a full-frame
camera that the move wasn’t justified.
What was justified, they said, was a bigger
leap: from APS-C to medium format.
And so the GFX 50S was born. At a
price of $6,500 for the body alone, the
camera marks an aggressive entry into a
category that had been almost exclusively
dominated by pricey back-and-camera
systems (the Pentax 645Z and more recent
Hasselblad X1D being notable exceptions).
Does Fuji have a winner on its hands?
We turned the GFX 50S over to N.J.
photographer and director David Patino
( www.davidpatino.com) to find out.
GEAR & TECHNIQUES PRODUCT REVIEWS
With sensors on all sides, the Phantom 4 Pro is vastly better at automated object avoidance.