Drone. Quadcopter. Flying camera. The monikers attached to DJI’s Phantom line are endless. For the Phantom 4, the company firmly embraced the idea of a flying camera.
Just a few years ago, the average hobbyist dreamed of getting shots only possible with a helicopter or one seriously expensive drone. Today? Those shots are in crisp 4K, and our dreams are about the perfect shot or where we would go if given the chance.
What can we create? The consumer drone industry has opened up the world to creatives and hobbyists alike.
For Alex and me? It’s dropping our Phantom 3 Pro down a waterfall near Leesburg, AL. Pushing it through a fog bank near Lookout Mountain (I knew there would be an advantage of living in a rural area).
YouTube collections, amazing Vimeo shorts. The list is endless. But, they also focus on the ‘what I shot’ mentality.
What about DJI? They built the Phantom series. How do the company’s employees enjoy the Phantom 4?
Ferdinand Wolf Airborne With DJI’s Phantom 4
How long have you been involved with DJI?
I have been flying unmanned aerial vehicles for a long time and co-founded a company, Skynamic, that specializes in close-range aerial action filming for video production. We found DJI products had the flexibility to deliver rock-solid images while maneuvering in tight spaces at high speeds. I became a content partner and evangelist for DJI, and in December, I began managing DJI Studio Europe, which produces high-impact aerial video across the continent.
How do you see yourself using the Phantom 4?
The Phantom 4’s new ActiveTrack function is a major step forward. This is the first flying camera that allows me to get complex shots and camera moves that used to require two operators controlling a larger drone. Right out of the box, I can deliver a shot that I used to only imagine. And of course, in Sport mode, it’s a lot of fun to just buzz around and show off the Phantom 4’s agility and speed.
What’s your dream shot with the Phantom 4?
I want to use the Phantom 4’s new ActiveTrack function to capture myself doing some of my favorite hobbies — snowboarding, wakeboarding and kiteboarding. They’re all fluid sports that lend themselves to beautiful imagery, but until now, I could only follow someone else having all the fun. Now I can’t wait to try out the Phantom 4’s tracking functions to get a shot of myself wakeboarding.
Even as an experienced pilot, do you appreciate the object avoidance system?
I really believe the Phantom 4’s object avoidance technology is a huge step to make flying safer for everyone. Even as an expert, I still need to be able to fly close to objects without risking my copter. Now I can make that shot with much more confidence and much less risk.
The Phantom 4 has a need for speed. Be honest — how soon did you test out the 45 mph top speed?
As soon as I could, of course! I had the chance to test the Phantom 4’s Sport mode early on a prototype last year, and I was hooked instantly. I begged the developers to keep the function in the final product, and now everyone can see how amazing this function is.
What are your go-to image and video settings in the DJI Go app?
For still photography, I always make sure to enable the RAW picture mode to have more flexibility in post-production. I always use the auto-exposure function on still photos, but I manually control the exposure on videos to ensure a consistent look.
What’s your favorite new feature on the Phantom 4?
The Phantom 4 is the first drone with an ActiveTrack function that actually works.
What experience do you think new and old users can both enjoy with the Phantom 4?
The key point of the Phantom 4 platform is to enable everybody to experience the excitement of flying a drone. It’s so accessible and so easy to use that newcomers are able to make amazing images quickly, and the new collision avoidance system makes the learning curve even easier. At the same time, the Phantom 4 is such a robust and powerful imaging platform that it will give expert flyers new ideas to try and new visions to achieve.
A Phantom 4, and a day anywhere you want. What’s your destination?
I am fascinated by beautiful landscapes, so I would take the Phantom 4 to New Zealand. The country has such a range of scenery and such vivid landscapes that every vista would be a new challenge — how to use the Phantom 4 to capture breathtaking images that capture the full experience of being there.
New Zealand tops my list. Actually, I’m not sure what list I have that New Zealand isn’t near the top. I blame the photography blogs for showing off the gorgeous landscapes.
It is good to know I’m not the only person that unboxes a new gadget and immediately push it to the limits. 45 mph you say? Let’s test that…
How much fun does Ferdinand have? Here’s a demo reel from Skynamic:
I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us while he’s at DJI.
Look for our review of the Phantom 4 in the near future and more interviews with DJI and other companies in the consumer drone industry.
Special thanks to Ferdinand Wolf for taking the time and Adam Najberg (DJI’s Global Director of Communications) and Adam Lisberg (DJI’s North American Communications Director) for setting up the interview.