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      Reviews — Drones

      Drone Technology Marches On ...

      Drone Technology Marches On ...

      By Dave Estment

      It’s been challenging getting my DJI Inspire booked onto aeroplanes, due to its size and controversial looks, which caused airport security to give me a hard time – as if I were about to highjack the plane or something sinister like that. To address this issue, it was time to look for a smaller drone that could up the game technologically and produce even better imagery.

      The Inspire has served us faithfully for the last three years, producing world class HD video at up to 120 frames per second for amazing slo-mo footage that has blown our clients away. However, in my opinion, the image quality of the photos could be improved, particularly in low light. Don’t get me wrong, the images are more than acceptable for the purposes required, but I’ve been hoping for DJI to provide a new, large sensor camera on a smaller frame that would improve the video quality even more and produce higher grade photographs. Guess what? A couple of weeks ago DJI launched the Phantom 4 Pro. My prayers were answered.

      Just in time, because we are doing a long-term time lapse video of a massive development project by Fortress Income Fund on the old Clairwood Race Course, near Durban. Fortress is one of our esteemed, long term clients who is leading the way in the warehousing and logistics industry, and since this is a 3-year construction project, we’ll be doing quite a few trips in the foreseeable future. Their compelling visual portfolio will include traditional ground based progress photos and videos, as well as regular aerial coverage.

      It was a pleasure to check in at the airport yesterday with my Phantom 4 Pro, which performed perfectly during the morning to capture this early stage of development. Here’s one of the aerial photos that I took, to show you the image quality:

      Aerial View of Fortress Construction Site

      The Phantom range of DJI drones have been the most successful in the short history of stabilised flying film and photo platforms, but they have always been the bridesmaid to the amazing Inspire range of professional DJI drones. That has just changed, as if the engineers at DJI sensed my dilemma and worked overtime to deliver a new Phantom that fully qualifies as a professional filming drone, good enough to be used in Hollywood feature films. 4k video at 50 FPS and a bit rate of 100 Mb/sec! Yes please. It is half the size of the Inspire, ideal for hand luggage in its discreet carry case that holds 4 batteries and all the bits required for shoots.

      The tech specs and smart functionality are mind blowing, enabling even more precise flying and route planning than before. The inspire doesn’t come close – sorry Inspire 🙂 My favourite features on this little powerhouse include a camera sensor (ALMOST 5 X BIGGER than previous ones), manual aperture, shutter, ISO and exposure control, manual and auto focus, plus a host of setting options. The bit rate of 100 Mb/sec ensures that all the data is accurately captured and the new route planning functionality such as Tripod Mode, Draw, Tap Fly and obstacle avoidance will certainly assist me in complicated route planning and camera control.

      Thank you for the new P4 Pro, DJI. And thank you Action Gear team for your support. May technology keep marching on . . . I love it!

      You can check out the rest Dave Estment's blogs here

      DJI Range Specifications Explained

      DJI Range Specifications Explained

      Curious about some of the range specifications for the various DJI products? Search no more.  Here's a bit of useful information from our friend Grant recording the times at Pretoria altitude. 

      In South Africa, we fall within the CE Specifications, the same as Europe, and that means we are limited to half the transmission power as compared to the USA. DJI automatically adjusts the power output of the transmitters depending where the craft is being flown. This is not something that can be bypassed.




      DJI Phantom 4*  up to 3.5 km
      DJI  Phantom 4 Pro  up to 3.5 km
      DJI Mavic Pro  up to 4.0 km
      DJI Inspire 1  to 3.5 km
      DJI Inspire 2   up to 3.5 km

      *It uses Lightbridge for the Control and the Live Video feed to the operator

      Please remember in South Africa the CAA has limited Drone flying to 500 m of the operator, so the figures are academic anyway.


      If you've ever asked the question "How far can I fly my drone from me?", it's highly likely that you've ventured on to DJI and other website for the answers. The other specification on the DJI website that can be confusing is the flight time. All of the Flight Times on the DJI website are for Standard Sea Level, with no wind.

      If we look at the Phantom 4 specification, we see the following:

      Max Flight Time Approx. 28 minutes

      On the Highveld, in Pretoria or Johannesburg, we are over 1 km above sea level, and generally we are much hotter than the standard sea level specification, so we experience reduced flight times.

      So, how long does the Phantom battery last? My Phantom 4 consistently produces flights of 18 minutes, with the flight battery down to 30%.

      Please take note of this.

      DJI Phantom 4 Pro / Pro+ Specifications

      DJI Phantom 4 Pro / Pro+ Specifications

      Written by Daryl-Leigh Preuss

      The DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Pro +, the ideal drones for hobbyists and professionals alike! Take a closer look at these incredible aircraft's.

      What's the difference between the DJI Phantom 4 Pro & Pro +:
      The difference between the Pro and Pro+ drones, is that the Pro+ unit has a built in screen on the remote (there is thus no need to connect to your phone or tablet). The drones, themselves, are exactly the same.



      • 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor
      • Shoots 4K/60fps video
      • Burst Mode stills at 14fps
      • Airframe made from titanium and magnesium reducing weight
      • Five-directions of obstacle sensing
      • Four-directions of obstacle avoidance

      Camera with 1-inch 20MP CMOS Sensor

      • Eliminates rolling shutter distortion when taking a photo of fast moving objects
      • Supports H.264 4K videos at 60fps or H.265 4K at 30fps (Both with a 100Mps bitrate)
      • Advanced sensors and processors enable more image detail and image data

      Five-Directions of Obstacle Sensing

      • High resolution stereo vision sensors placed at the front and rear
      • Infrared sensing systems placed on the left and right sides
      • Protected from obstacles allowing you to achieve more complex shots

      Remote Controller

      Phantom 4 Pro:

      • Upgraded Lightbridge HD video transmission system
      • Added 5.8 GHz transmission support
      • Choice between 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz
      • Maximum video transmission range of 7km

      Phantom 4 Pro +:

      • BUILT-IN 5.5in 1080p screen
      • 1000cd/m2 brightness (More than twice as bright as conventional smart devices)
      • Vivid colours easily visible in direct sunlight
      • No mobile device required
      • DJI GO app included (Hardware and software can be fully optimized reducing video lag)
      • Share images almost instantly using the DJI GO app
      • Integrated HDMI port, Micro-SD card slot, microphone, embedded loudspeaker and Wifi connection
      • 5 hour battery life
      *Unobstructed, free of interference, when FCC compliant



        • Waypoint control!
        • Draw the route on screen and the Phantom 4 Pro will move in that direction without changing altitude.

        Draw Modes:

        • Standard: The aircraft follows the route at a constant speed with the camera facing in the direction of flight.
        • Manual: The aircraft only moves along the route when instructed. The camera can face any direction in this mode.


        • The Phantom 4 Pro automatically recognizes, follows and captures subjects as they move
        • Advanced image recognition algorithms allow it to track fast moving objects while keeping it in the frame for a smooth shot.


        • Fly in any direction visible on-screen with a simple tap
        • Automatically avoids obstacles
        • Tap the screen again or use control sticks to change direction
        • TapFly allows you to turn and tilt the gimbal of the Phantom 4 Pro without changing the direction of flight.

        TapFly Modes:

        • TapFly Forward - Tap to fly in the selected direction
        • TapFly Backward - Tap to fly in the opposite direction of the tap
        • I.e. Tap in the bottom right corner of the screen to fly backward towards the top left
        • TapFly Free - Lock the forward direction of the Phantom without locking the camera direction allowing it to turn as it flies.

        *Obstacle Avoidance is not available with TapFly Free!!!

        Return to Home

        • The Phantom 4 Pro automatically chooses the best route home depending on environmental conditions
        • It records its route as it flies, allowing it to return along the same route avoiding obstacles even if the control signal is disconnected
        • At takeoff, the Phantom 4 Pro will record the scene below and compare its recording with what it sees as it returns, ensuring a precise landing
        • It will alert the pilot and hover at the appropriate height if it senses any water or obstacles below


        Gesture Mode

        • Selfies can be captured using gestures instead of the remote conroller
        • The Phantom 4 Pro will recognize the gesture then lock and centre the subject in the frame
        • Hold your arms out to signal the aircraft, a three second countdown will begin giving you time to strike a pose!

        Sensor Redundancy

        • The Phantom 4 Pro features dual compass modules and dual IMU units
        • Ensures a stable flight
        • Constantly compares the data received through both pairs
        • Any inaccurate data is simply discarded without affecting flight keeping flight steady and reliable

        Intelligent Batteries

        • Maximum flight time of 30mins
        • DJI GO app shows battery lifetime and calculates remaining flight times according to distance traveled and more
        • It will alert when it reaches a minimum safe amount required for a safe journey home
        • It also has an advanced battery management system to prevent overcharging and over draining
        • When placed in longer term storage, batteries will discharge to maintain good health

        DJI GO

        • There are a large number of Intelligent Flight modes available on this app
        • Provides access to full manuel camera controls (ISO; aperture; shutter speed; image formats etc.)
        • All changes appear instantly on-screen

        The Parrot Disco: Review

        The Parrot Disco: Review

        By Luke Maximo Bell

        The Parrot Disco is one of Parrot's latest drones. What makes the Disco unique from the rest is the fact that it’s a fixed wing drone. You’re probably wondering what the benefit of using a fixed wing drone is, and the answer to that question is speed and battery life. 

        Battery Life And Speed:

        The Disco claims to reach speeds of up to 80km/h or 50mp/h, which is faster than any mass produced drone on the market today. In my testing I actually got up to 100km/h or 70mp/h which is very impressive!

        The other benefit of a fixed wing drone is the battery life. Parrot claims that the battery life is up to 45 minutes, which is also longer than any other mass produced drone on the market today. In my testing I found that the Disco will do about 45 minutes of flight time if it’s in loitering mode. As soon as you start to pick up the speed you’ll start seeing battery life times of around 35 minutes, which is still very good in drone terms.



        Like all drones today, the Disco comes installed with a camera. It adopts digital stabilization which means the camera uses only a part of the sensor while cropping and rotating the image to get smoother video. This also allows you to pan up and down with the camera without any moving parts.

        The benefit of this is this is that the camera is lighter and there are less moving parts which can potentially break. The downside is that using only a part of the camera sensor drops the quality a fair amount.

        The video is still pretty good and suitable for a bit of fun flying and FPV, but it’s not going to match up to the 4K cameras on the DJI drones. It records at a maximum of 1080P at 30 FPS.


        Ease Of Use:

        The Disco is extremely easy to use. The wings clip on quickly and the controller is simple to set up. Just connect a smartphone or a iPad and the Freeflight Pro app automatically opens. From there the app is very intuitive. It even starts recording video for as you take off.

        The drone takes off and lands automatically. You simply push the takeoff button and throw the drone to launch. When you want to land you fly close to the ground and push the takeoff/land button again. As soon as the Disco leaves your hand it rises to a set altitude and loiters in a circle until you take control. It also features a return to home feature which works just as it should when the drone loses signal from the controller. Another cool feature of the Disco is that it’s actually impossible to fly into the ground as the drone will not let you fly below 5m unless you’re landing. The Disco has simply been made as easy to fly as possible. Anybody who has never flown a drone or plane before will have no problem learning.

        One disappointing thing about the ease of use of the Disco is that it uses internal storage instead of an SD card. This means you have to connect it to a computer using a USB cable. The storage is good at 32GB and will store almost 3 hours of footage.


        Controller And FPV:

        The Disco uses the Skycontroller 2 which is a welcomed addition. Unlike any drone controller I've ever used, it actually charges the device plugged in while in use. This is very helpful as these apps drain smartphone battery life very quickly. The controller is very ergonomic and houses dials for camera tilt, buttons for video recording and basically everything you need. The range is advertised at 2km, and in my testing I found this to be pretty accurate. 

        The Disco also comes with FPV goggles which work with most smartphones and are comfortable and easy to use. The FPV experience with the Disco is very cool, and a welcomed addition. It's fun and a much more immersive way of flying.



        The Parrot Disco FPV is a very unique drone experience unlike any other currently available. It’s fun and easy to use and FPV offers a very immersive way of flying. While the camera quality isn’t as great as some other drones on the market, it’s still good for sharing your experiences! I can honestly say the Disco is the most fun drone I’ve ever flown and fixed wings are a welcomed addition to the world of drones.

        Check out it's flight in Cape Town (Noordhoek beach)


        The DJI Phantom 4 versus DJI Mavic Pro

        The DJI Phantom 4 versus DJI Mavic Pro

        [Update] When did the Mavic Pro stock arrive?

        By Bernice van der Westhuizen 


        The Mavic Pro was launched on the 27th of September 2016 and in only a few short hours, has taken the world by storm. Already comparisons, debates and discussions are taking place to determine whether this drone is the ruler of them all.

        Before we even dive into the debate between the GoPro Karma and the DJI Mavic Pro, let’s first take a look at how the launch of the DJI Mavic Pro will influence the popularity and relevance of its predecessor, the DJI Phantom 4.



        DJI Phantom 4

        DJI Mavic Pro

        Battery Life

        28 Minutes

        27 Minutes



        Tap to focus

        Speed (Sport Mode)

        72 kph

        65 kph


        1380 g

        734 g

        Flight Distance (Standard Mode)

        5 km

        7 km


        12 MP

        12 MP

        Slow Motion



        Image Max Size




        4K UHD

        4K HD




        Follow Me



        Visual tracking






        Obstacle Avoidance







        Similar in features, but different in size.

        Well almost. The Phantom 4 is still superior when it comes to the quality of the camera, speed and that extra minute of battery life. But this compact drone sure is making a good impression on us and the rest of the world. In my opinion, the Mavic Pro is not meant to be a replacement for the DJI Phantom 4 … it would have been called the Phantom 5 in that case. So what exactly is the difference?

        The Mavic Pro is essentially compact and easy to carry or transport. It’s great, that’s for sure - you can read about it more on our Mavic Pro blog. Being so compact with it’s range of features, it’s basically a drone with the convenience of a large mobile device. It’s not as portable as a mobile device but sure as heck more than some other drones and equipment nowadays.

        Being able to use the Mavic Pro without a remote is also driving some dronies mad, others however enjoy using the remote and even their tablet rather than their phones. Let’s not forget that a working professional would consider and experience the difference in screen size differently to a hobbyist.

        Because of its shape (and location of the legs and propellers), catching it with your hands become a bit risky, although possible. This essentially rules in favour of landing it on the ground, which if you’re on grass can be a bit destructive. This is also an advantage to the Phantom 4 as you’re able to land or catch it respectively.

        The major benefit of the Mavic Pro is essentially the fact that it is compact in size with a world of features still at your disposal. If you are smart enough, you’ll realise that the convenience of the smaller drone is also a disadvantage when this copter takes flight. Being so small and light it does not handle stronger winds or weather with the same stability or power as the Phantom 4 (let’s not forget the bigger propellers). 

        Essentially if you are using the drone for more professional or business purposes, the quality of the camera and stability of the Phantom 4 would be best suited. On the other hand if you are backpacking and have limited space, the Mavic Pro is the ideal drone companion.

        At the end of day we have to be realistic here. You cannot simply compare features alone, it is truly dependent on the usage of the drone itself and the gap between professional and hobbyist is one that needs to be taken into account when choosing between the two. Rather than a replacement to the Phantom 4, I feel it has it’s own unique place in the drone industry, namely for hobbyists.

        On a separate note, why on earth is it called the Mavic Pro? (and do we say “Mah-vick or May-vick”)


        Let's not forget the hassle of trying to get our hands on some Mavic stock. Seriously. The delay from November 2016 until March 2017 was an unbearable one. Nonetheless, we are glad to finally have stock of this bad boy. (see Mavic Pro & Fly More Combo)