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  1. martin974

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    Hi everybody,

    I own a Phantom 4 for 1 month now. The unit was bought specially for a professional project (I'm photo/videographer).

    As I work in the video industry for many years now I quickly identified some major issues concerning footage quality of the P4 camera. And I'm not alone...Many users across internet reported difficulties to achieve constant quality footage in 4k (and other situation but I'll discuss mostly about 4K). There are also many question about D-Log quality and I hope this topic will be the perfect place to sum up issues, solutions, and best of the best, maybe to have official words from DJI.


    Before I start, I would like to precise that I'm used to work with many type of cameras and footage, from dslr, red, alexa, sony's F3 F5 Fs7 Fs5, OZO etc...We also have a post-production unit at our office and we do pro level editing and color grading for TV/Film industry. Moreover I want to mention that my P4 is in perfect condition, no crashs, no shocks, and firmware updated.


    So for almost 1 month now, I'm testing the unit and the footage. My conclusion is pretty simple, the Phantom 4 4k + D-log quality is poor and unconsistant.

    From day one and my first flight I quickly saw some "pulsing" or "flickering" artifact on the footage. Many others users have reported the same issue. It's mostly present in shadow and small detailled area (grass, rocks, water, foliage). It's not related to the aircraft nor camera movements, it can occur on stable shot as well. It's not related to ISO or light condition, I experienced this issue during many different type of flights and places.


    This "flickering/pulsing" problem never appeared on 2k and HD footage.

    I suspect that the problem come from the resolution and I must confess I didn't tested D-log versus others profiles. Simply because as a professional my goal is to shoot D-log to achieve the best quality for post and grading.


    Without any clear answer or clarification from other pilots, DJI or google, I finally decided to do a true comparaison test in the video below.



    WORKFLOW :

    All these shots have been done with the same unit during 2 differents days.

    Always the same camera setting, lights change are naturals, clouds etc.

    ISO 100 - 1/60s @ 29,97fps

    Everything manual - Sunny WB fixed

    3D noise reduction off

    ND8/pl for test 1, ND4/pl for test 2 (porlapro cinema collection)

    D-Log + custom -2;-2;0 (sharpness;contrast;saturation)


    Recorded in P4 MOV

    Transcoded in proRes

    Edited in PremierePro (last version)

    Exported as ProRes Master and youtube H264.


    First of all, as I wanted to compare 3 resolution in the same video so I edited in a timeline with the setting of the smaller one.

    By reducing the 4k and 2k footage to 1080p these artifact/pulsing/flickering are less visible than the original resolution of each one.

    Moreover I just realized that the youtube export and online compression tend to also smooth them. It's more present on the original file than what you see on youtube player.


    Saying that, even in a final 1080p output, my proRes master file is really flickering/pulsing with 4k footage.

    I also exported some segment of 4k 2k and HD in their native resolution. Same results. (video bellow)

    I did the same job using non-transcoded media, editing with native h264 and exporting as is. Same results, as well as exporting as proRes (non senses but I tried).

    I exported graded/ungraded footage, same results.

    I tried anti flickering filter, no success (and not a solution, I want a clean 4k on my 1600$ drone)

    I finally tried on FCPX just to be sure...same results.


    I also see less detail/sharpen in 4k than 2k and less in 2k than HD. 4k < 2k < HQ.


    Keep in mind that everything described in the video is just more clear on masters and original files.

    (I would ike to upload those proRes masters and other original files used, but unfortunatly, for the purpose of the shoot I'm in an area with really slow internet connexion. Giving you this video was already difficult.)


    Conclusion :

    On a big part of my 4k footage I have flickering/pulsing/artifact problem. From original media to edited output. No matter what are my camera setting or light condition, altitude, speed etc.

    I don't think is a D-log problem because D-log is great on 2k and HD. I'll try 4k with other profile in the next days.

    Even if I'm sure it's on the original media, as you can see, I tried a lot of differents things. Differents editing method, different output, video player etc. Same results.

    My biggest regret in this post is the fact that youtube compression minimize a lot what I describe, so please look and read carefully.

    Some people on internet said that 4k is just an electronic blow up of HD footage, if it the case, DJI did misleading advertising IMO.


    4k to 4k segment


    1- I would like to know if it's a problem with my unit, with some or with all P4. (pretty sure i'm not alone, after all the posts I saw accross the web)

    2- I would like to know if there is any tricks that can help or mistakes I maybe do.

    3- What do you think of your 4k footage ?


    Best regards.


    ps: original files will be available for download asap.
     
  2. Chad Nickle

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    The 4k footage sucks for professional use. I suspect it's the codec. Like you, I am a professional and I suppose we should have just spring for the inspire one, we have the X5 for our Osmo but for now I'm just shooting in 2.7k or using the anti flicker plugin from Digital Anarchy.
     
  3. AlexLim

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    It's a consistent issue.

    I've always had some degree of flicker or pulsing from all my DJI models (I've owned a P2, P2 Vision+, two P3P's, and two P4's).

    But I can't say I've identified what conditions/settings it occurs consistently. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. Doesn't seem to be related to specific settings in app, filters, time of day etc. Partly it's hard to identify because you don't really notice the subtle flickering until you're back home reviewing footage in post.

    I can say that I use Digital Anarchy's plugin for FCPX, and it usually can take it out 95% of the time. That is a major pain, since it's a very processor-intensive plugin and adds a lot of render time (or I have to always apply it as a last stage after all other mods). I agree it shouldn't be there and/or there's a problem with how DJI's camera/software consistently produce the flicker/pulsing.

    Until I magically figure it out or DJI fixes the issue, Digital Anarchy's "Flicker Free" plugin is my only savior. Try it if nothing else, it's night and day. (I'd post a before/after corrected but I'm too lazy).

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the way gimbals are stabilized... and dealing with rough flights/wind conditions? Whether earlier P3 models or the P4, the camera is basically suspended via some rubber bumpers to dampen vibration, but I hardly believe it's fool-proof or able to take all the jostling out of flight. Maybe somehow that tiny bobbing up and down/movement of the camera creates it?
     
  4. dave perry

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    I can't speak for others but my 4k quality varies between super sharp but full of moire and aliasing and completely soft and mushy...if I shoot of 50fps and iso anything can happen. If they're all like this then it's a rubbish product.
    My one does not deliver consitant enough quality to be used in a professional envIronman so has been almost a complete waste of money.
     
  5. dave perry

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    I tried to return mine..as part of the process the company gave me another to see if the good one minute, terrible the next compression was unique to mine...the new one was just as bad...the conclusion from my supplier and the new zealand agent...that's obviously what they're like so we won't be helping you get a refund. They wouldn't acknowledge that inconsistent video quality surely violates djis claims of beautiful clear 4k.
     
  6. dave perry

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    The whole process has left me very wary of dji.
     
  7. David Cooke

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    I'm a professional UAV (drone) pilot, not a pro videographer. While it may be an issue for pro 4K I tend to be more practical and focus on the amazing 1080p HD this little machine can produce. I had to re-read your descriptions and then watch your compare video closely 2-3 times to see what you were concerned about. I agree there seems to be an issue with 4K alright when I study it . . but . . for the vast majority of consumable video I think it does not matter. If your player can handle 4K properly without hesitating ( most computers can't . . only 4K TVs really can) . . then maybe a typical viewer might notice. I think most would not. will keep watching this issue for an explanation.

    Thanks for making the video and the compare. . hope dji is listening. . . they don't very often, but I have to give them credit of what they DID produce in the P4 camera and gimbal. . and it's a great tool.
     
  8. AlexLim

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    Dave, I don't expect it to be perfect, considering the pace and accessibility to the skies in such a short time, I'm always happy to tag along with what DJI is producing. It gets better each time, and I think at a pretty reasonable price.

    Hopefully consistency comes in the near future.

    Also scratch my hypothesis that gimbal vibration could have anything to do with the pulse/flicker. I'm in the middle of grading right now and looked at several completely static hover shots in no wind, and the pulse is very present. I'll post a sample before/after (anti-flicker filter) in a sec. It's easier to understand while looking at histograms than just video.
     
  9. Chad Nickle

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    Dave, have to agree, for the most part, the 1080p is amazing.
     
  10. dave perry

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    Hi alex. ..I don't expect perfection...just consistancy of sharpness through footage.
     
  11. dave perry

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    I should have added that staying strictly at 50/s shutter and never going above 100 iso returns a greater number of decent usable takes...sometimes that's not practical in a professional situation.
     
  12. martin974

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    Thanks for your opinion,
    As I said, the youtube compression minimize a lot the problem.
    My original 4k footage are just unusable. I paid for a 4k camera, and IMO what I have in my hand is just "broken" or "unacceptable" if you prefer. The product doesn't deliver what is supposed to...on a small random device I would have said nothing but we are speaking of good $$$ gear. Can you imagine buying a canon/nikon 1600$ and having this kind of difference between technical specs claimed and real life results ?

    For me the vast majority isn't HD. I'm in a pro environment and I need 4k. Actually I bought the P4 for a TV project who is full 4k and it's a requirement. Moreover even if the P4 isn't so expensive, a complete kit to get out the best of it is still expensive. I'm speaking about a 4000$ investment.

    (P4 + 3 extra batteries
    IpadMini 4 + cellular for gps
    Dii care
    charging hub
    memory card
    lowepro backpack
    tablet hood
    remote strap
    PolarPro vivid + cinema serie (best)
    accessories)

    We shoot a documentary about hiking, we need to do aerials shots in 4k, we bought a nice kit to be ready...but guess what, the P4 is not ready...
     
  13. dave perry

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    I totally agree with you. ..dji advertising is extremely misleading..showing all this beautiful footage. .that's why I bought my phantom; directly from what I saw on their website...it didn't say this is the best shot we found amongst a selection of duds!!
     
  14. AlexLim

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    Here's an example. I didn't label anything, but it changes from as-shot to flicker-free filter applied halfway. It's not Totally gone, but I also didn't dial up the sensitivity or threshold either. Makes a clip usable.

     
    #14 AlexLim, Jul 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  15. Sim597

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    I'm a regular guy, who ownes a new curved 4K JS series TV. My mac cannot do 4K editing, too old, but when plugged in via the USB3 connection the 4K footage is remarkable, from me, to any guest I've had over to watch the videos.
    This is just a layman talking, you guys who are looking at footage for hours at a time, like game programmers will certainly find fault with any, ANY 4K camera this small and light with this size lens, but especially at the appealing bitrate DJI imposes. Can you really expect that good of a picture when 50mbps? I see the Pro X5 is nominally 1.9GBPS, now, that's a hell of a jump, and I am sure you guys get this more then I do.

    All I am saying, for the vast majority of users, the P4 wouldn't be the choice for me if I was a pro, the OP stated "his $1600 drone" well, my $1400 P4 gives me exactly what I want, the 50mbps is useful due to size restraints, if I were a "Pro" I'd be using a Pro machine, not A HOBBIEST UAV!

    So it isn't up to the high standards of the professional elite? Wasn't meant to be, that's why there is an Inspire for us hobbiest, then one for the guy who wants a slightly better experience, then there is the X5R for guys like you all who don't complain about 1.9gbps but embrace those specs
     
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  16. AlexLim

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    The thread/issue is about flickering/pulsing, not value of the cost or whether it's suitable for 'professional' use.

    Irregular flickering isn't a symptom of pro/consumer level gear.
     
  17. Fallguy

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    Novice flyer and aerial photographer here. I am not trying to say whats best , but whats best for me and my use at this time with the technology available. There are some valid points so far in this thread about the gimbal causing some problems and how most computers cant handle 4K anyway.
    I was having all kinds of problems at first using DLOG and got as far away from it as I could and glad I did. It was the root of my problems. I dont care if it is SUPPOSED to give you the best video quality for post grading. I can do just fine filming in Vivid 1080P 60fps and still be able to get a cleaner , crisper look in post with that.
    I did do a small clip in 4K finally the other day (Vivid) it came out fairly good . Just put it in my 4K TV and it looks better than I thought it would , but thats the only thing with 4K, you need a compatible device, program to play it on, the video froze 3 quarters of the way through. I havent even tried to upload a 4K video yet to YT , but interested to see how long it would take.
     
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  18. martin974

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    I have do disagree with you, I'm not looking the footage to find any problem like a programmer...I'm looking precisely the footage BECAUSE I clearly see a problem.

    Trust me I wish that everything could came out perfect right of the box (like it supposed to be when you buy a camera) and avoid me to do all this tests. These hours of looking at my footage were done just to clearly identify the problem and give some answers. Having a methodical way of working is the only way.

    Again I repeat the point is not "should we use P4 at a pro or consumer level" or "what do we expect for the money" etc. The point is the camera have 4k native resolution in the specs, but in real life we have a problem with quality.

    I showed my 4k clips to some friends and random people that are just regular consumers/viewers. They all pointed the "flickering effect" on 4k.

    For me the good comparaison will be a dslr product. You buy a 1500$ Canon/Nikon claiming 20mp RAW capabilities, but when you shoot with the best setting you end up with half of your frame having poor quality, unusable or in the need of intense post production and third party plugin to achieve something OK, not good just OK...Anyway again I don't think we should discuss about it, I wanted to do 4k, I bought something that supposed to deliver it, I'm expecting to have it...

    To finish, this thread have been started not to create a war between fanboys vs haters of DJI. It was done to identify limitations of the product, share experiences and find solution to bypass these limitations.

    For the people who just shoot regular HD with embed profile and camera in auto, yes, this thread don't have any interest. So please don't troll :).

    But if you're a 4k user, please give the feedback about your footage and experiences. Don't tell me I should have buy another drone...

    Best, M.
     
  19. Helihover

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    Your not really looking for the P4 to fit into your professional 4K video arsenal are you? The complete quad cost 1/4 of a decent camera right? I'm totally diving into this "commercial" operation with a service company and a few P4's. There is no way in hell (even with 10 plus years of flying) that I would be able to compete with any professional cinephotographers. The camera just isn't there. It shoots really nice 1080 and takes wonderful pictures for 1400 bucks. It's the perfect entry level platform. When my goals transpire, and I feel the need to get into cine, I wouldn't look any lower that an inspire with an X5r.

    This is just my opinion on hardware. I have no professional video experience, but I do know that the P4 isn't going to shoot movie quality 4K vid. I feel that would be over expecting. They make one hell of a you tube vid though:)
     
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  20. SoundByte

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    I agree, I bought my drone as a hobby. I live in Canada and with our currency rate, paid over $2,000can. However, I'm not going to try and delude myself into thinking I bought anything more than a $150 camera strapped to a $1,900 drone. Most of the problems are caused by lossy compression. DJI makes a full line of drones and accessories and the phantom series is entry level. I for one am not going to complain because my Fiat doesn't corner like a Ferrari. If I wanted to play with the big boys, I would have bought a big boy toy.
     
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