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Phantom 3 Standard Review

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Product Review

The ready-to-fly Phantom 3 Standard drone is an excellent choice for starters or amateurs. As an entry level device, it has less features than the other Phantom devices, but its low price makes it a real bargain. Yes, you may find a quadcopter with similar features on the market, but it won't be as polished and easy to take to the skies as the Phantom 3 Standard.

The Standard quadcopter has a built-in camera that captures good 2.7K-resolution video. It's very stable thanks to an excellent integrated three-axis gimbal. It has the Intelligent Flight Modes found on the company's higher-end models.

The Standard doesn't have the Visual Positioning System which makes it possible to fly it indoors. But if you don't plan flying inside your home or a stadium, you don't need it. The Standard uses only GPS for positioning outdoors, without the powerful GLONASS, a secondary satellite system for faster and more accurate positioning.

Yet the more significant difference between the Standard and the higher-end drones is in the controller. The higher-end controllers come with Lightbridge technology, which enables better video image transmission between the sky and ground as well as longer range of up to 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). Instead, the Standard's controller uses a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi range extender for transmitting the live views to a mobile device, so the potential for a delay or loss of signal in the video downlink is greater. Plus, transmission range is cut down to a maximum 1,000 meters (0.62 mile).

In addition, the more complex controllers have camera controls like buttons for starting and stopping recordings or taking snapshots, and they are programmable. The Standard's controller is limited to an adjustment wheel for tilting the camera up and down with all other camera settings and controls handled via the Go app for iOS and Android. And, you have no discrete Return-to-Home button to bring your drone back automatically.

The Standard's high quality camera uses a similar distortion-free, 94-degree, wide-angle f2.8 lens to the Pro and Advanced, but it has a maximum recording resolution of 2.7K HD video at 30 frames per second. The Standard can also snap 12-megapixel photos in both Adobe DNG raw and JPEG formats. The Go app also lets you manually change shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO and you can set it to do burst shooting, exposure bracketing and time-lapse photography.

The Standard uses the Intelligent Flight batteries, which allow you to check the health of its individual cells via the Go app. Old batteries won't work on the Standard and the flight times top out at 25 minutes.

The Standard has Intelligent Flight features including waypoint navigation, point of interest (POI) flight planning and a Follow Me function. Waypoint navigation lets you set up a multipoint path for the drone to follow while you control the camera, and POI flight planning allows you to autonomously fly in a circle around a subject, keeping it centered. Follow Me sets the drone to track your movement based on your orientation when holding the remote controller.

The Video quality of the Phantom 3 Standard is fine. The gimbal keeps the camera very stable even in high winds. The only drawback is the fact that there is no option to upgrade it or to remove it for handheld use.

The Standard's Go app includes a built in editor that can improve your clips. The recorded videos are stored as compressed 720p versions and the editor can cut up clips, gather them up and then combine them into one movie.

In conclusion, although the Standard's intelligent flying modes may not be the easiest to use, they do allow you to get smooth shots. And the Go app is definitely a huge advantage. Given its very low price, the Standard is a great choice if you are not an ambitious film maker or if you can compromise on photo and video quality.

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