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I am looking for a review of Phantom’s cameras

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Tsyrawe, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. Tsyrawe

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    I am looking for a comprehensive review of Phantom’s cameras. All Phantom 3 models are basically flying cameras, but one could hardly tell this by reading posts and reviews. Before buying P3A or P4k I would like to learn more about theirs cameras: sharpness across the picture, vignette, dynamic range, low contrasts situations, noise (both in stills and video), flare, color fringing, what is the level of video compression, how it differs between 2.7k and 4k, etc

    I guess both cameras are not very sophisticated; they sport fixed focus lenses, they have no aperture settings, but still I would appreciate to find a regular “photographic” review.
     
  2. Tsyrawe

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    I've thought so. Seems nobody cared to test the camera properly. This is what I've gathered so far:
    1. Quite annoying fringing;
    2. Noticeable video compression in the 4k camera (stronger than in 2.7k);
    3. Poor handling of low contrast scenes;
    4. Noise in shadows and in low light conditions.
    5. Distinctive lens distortion -- fortunately the lens' profile is available in Lightroom.

    Anything else that anybody noticed?
     
  3. FASTFJR

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    Its a few hundred dollar camera........its fine for what most of us use it for. I shot this link a few weeks ago in 4K. The only effect was the transition between the first and second clip. Len's Distortion?

     
  4. Tsyrawe

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    I don't expect these cameras would be perfect, but I'd like to know their weak spots in advance. Fringing or lens distortion one can easily repair (and yes, your material shows distinctive lens distortion). As a graphic artist and photographer I am mainly interested in stills, but I use videos more frequently lately. Too much compression is certainly a problem. I'd rather have a 2.7 with lower compression than a 4k with higher -- if this is the case. I have to chose between 2.7k and 4k.
     
  5. Bobby Wig

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    Amazing and I have the standard
     
  6. TheloniousMac

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    A lot of guys crank the sharpness way down to -2 or -3 which completely hides the compression and moire but makes the camera as soft as a GoPro. They then sometimes add sharpness back in post which gives it back some edge but doesn't show the compression artefacts.
    In my tests I've found that for most settings the image looks best when left at 0 sharpness and to shoot at the highest resolution unless you need 60 FPS.
    I've mainly compared 4k to 1080p and also same resolutions of the different cameras and the better camera and higher resolutions always looks best. Shooting 4k captures so much more information and colour details than 2.7k and is noticeably better when downscaled to 1080p.
    I can put up some of my comparisons if you'd like to see for yourself and ages ago Helipal compared 4k to 2.7k directly and the 4k was easily better when downscaled.
    From what I've tested with my birds, getting the most out of these cameras means using ND filters for video, shoot bracketed for photos, don't bother with RAW.
    The tech in these cameras are a few years old but still ahead of the competition. The GoPro 4 Black retails for the same price as the complete Phantom Standard and the Standard has a better camera than the GoPro 4 Black and people are using the GoPro for hollywood films.

    There's plenty of threads discussing wether to get the Adv or the Pro but with an updated model potentially a few months away it would be worth waiting to see if they up the bitrate on the 4k recording.
     
  7. WetDog

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    If you are coming from a DSLR background, you're not going to be impressed. Think of it as a GoPro. It's better as a video camera (especially the Pro). That said, you can take good images with it. If you shoot in DNG format you have a fair amount of headroom for post processing. Adobe has a decent lens correction algorithm in Lightroom / Photoshop.

    I keep harping on this but it's true - the whole thing cost less than most professional level DSLR lenses. You get what you pay for. Supposedly even the Inspires don't have fantastic still performance - you need to go to the big gun UAVs that can pick up a real camera.

    But as Thionious points out - many a professional movie has been done with this or lesser equipment. You can easily pull a double truck spread out a 12 MP camera.
     
  8. Tsyrawe

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    I am not coming from DSLR. I'm too older than that :). I still use "old fashioned" film cameras -- 4x5, 6x9, 35 mm, polaroids, as well as all kind of digital stuff. I always try to adapt my style and expectations to a camera. I am sure both Phantom's cameras can be used to their advantages and that's what I'm planning to do.

    Did anyone tried to mount gradual (half) ND filters? It seems such an obvious solution for many "sky above, ground below" scenes.
     
  9. FASTFJR

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    For under $1000 I'm wondering what you are expecting? Please point out the lens distortion in the video. I think with your expectations you should look at another platform
     
  10. WetDog

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    I've not seen graduated NDs that fit the Phantoms - you could certainly make one but the screw on mount would make aligning it a challenge. Most photographers in the digital age have given up graduated NDs in favor of exposure bracketing or HDR. The DNG format and the Phantom camera gives you at least a 2 EV range and the platform is stable enough for HDR or multiple exposures. The other problem with NDs is that you are often shooting 'down' so you would severely limit your possible exposures via a fixed filter.
     
  11. WetDog

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    There is definitely distortion on the lens (as you mentioned, what do you expect). If you have Lightroom or Photoshop, check the Phantom lens correction algorithm - there is considerable central 'bubble'. It tends not to be visible on a lot of scenes but if you have straight lines, it will show up.
     
    FASTFJR likes this.
  12. FASTFJR

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    Could you tell me a what second mark you see it? I have not really studied my video, I would like to educate myself a little more.

    Thanks