Topbest visor for Phantom 4

I recently purchased a Topbest sun visor for my iPad (it will work with any tablet less than 9.7") to use my Phantom 4 controller. These visors are a must have, I previously wrote about the 5 items that I considered must have accessories and this is probably second only to extra batteries. When you are outside on a bright and sunny day it is really hard to see the iPad or iPhone screen, this visor helps tremendously with that. There is still some glare on the screen but it increases the visibility to at least 75%. You can still adjust your monitor holder to position it so the visor is shading your screen and sometimes you will need to do that depending where the sun is shining at in relation to where you are standing.

About the Visor:
It is made of a faux leather material and honestly I don't have much faith it will hold up very long in terms of looks, this cheap material will probably fade and start to show the black "rubber-like" material below the white coating. I didn't buy it for the looks so I don't consider it a huge issue. The visor has rubber suction cups where the iPad (tablet) goes and it really helps keep the iPad secure, you could literally flip it in the air and the iPad would not come detached from the visor, it works well.

There are velcro attachments on each side of the visor that connect to the base of the visor to keep the sides from flapping open while using. This visor has a really nice design and honestly I do not have any complaints about it. It folds up neatly for tucking in my bag when I traveling from location to location and fits perfectly on the Phantom 4 controller when using.

There are cutouts for running your Lightning cable through the side of the visor so you can connect it to the Phantom 4 controller. I also did not have any issue with raising the antennas on the back of remote controller, in other words the controller functions as it should when using this visor.

I don't consider this a negative because it is not an issue for me; but, it does make the controller feel more heavy — make that more top heavy. While it only weighs about 6 ounces, you can feel the difference when using it on the controller.

I purchased this visor when it was on sale for $9.99 but they are back to the normal price of $17.99 on Amazon;

Phantom 4 - Carrying Case

I wanted to try to un-box the bag/case on Twitter and it didn't workout so well. The audio was messed up on one video; also, it was a pain to need to record 10+ videos for one first look.

The case is from Pro Craft Cases. It is about $100 on Amazong; I plan on doing a full review of this bag in a few days after I have had a chance to take it out and use it a couple of times. So far though I really like it!

I created a Storify post for this case which can be seen here;

Polar Pro Polarizer Images

Here is a comparison of two images taken with my Phantom 4 — one image with the Polar Pro polarizer, one image without the polarizer. These are RAW images, no editing on either images. Both images were shot in manual mode on the Phantom 4. Looks like some lens flare in both photos, although I might have had a smudge on the actual lens, oops.

With the Polar Pro Circular Polarizer. ISO 100 - f/2.8 - 1/200

Without the Polarizer. ISO 100 - f/2.8 - 1/227

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @iCrizzo.

Polar Pro Circular Polarizer footage

Polor Pro Circular Polarizer from christopher on Vimeo.

Here is some footage with the Circular Polarizer from Polar Pro on my Phantom 4. I was shooting in 1080P 120FPS on a moderately sunny day. I am not the best colorist but the grade looks fairly close to being how it looked in-person. I am hoping for a bright sunny day tomorrow so I can get out there and test all the filters I have purchased recently. Stay tuned.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter @iCrizzo.

The Polar Pro filters are $49.99 on Amazon;

When should you use ND filters on your Phantom 4?

What is a neutral density filter? Here is the Wikipedia entry for an ND filter - "In photography and optics, a neutral-density filter, or ND filter, is a filter that reduces or modifies the intensity of all wavelengths, or colors, of light equally, giving no changes in hue of color rendition. It can be a colorless (clear) or grey filter. The purpose of a standard photographic neutral-density filter is to reduce the amount of light entering the lens."

In other words if you are flying your Phantom 4 for photography or videography purposes; or, any drone for the matter, outside on a sunny day then you should be using a ND filter to get the best results possible. The ND filter will help with rolling shutter; as well as, help create a more natural cinematic motion blur for your videos.

A good rule of thumb to follow when using a ND filter is your shutter speed should double your frame rate. As an example, if you are shooting in 1080P @ 120 FPS then your shutter speed should be set to at least 240. Of course it is all preference but that is the norm that most videographers will tell you to follow to achieve the best results.

I am currently testing ND filters from Polar Pro with my Phantom 4; but, due to crummy New England weather currently the sun isn't shinning bright enough for me to test all my filters to see the differences with and without the ND filter on my Phantom 4. I have used the Polarizer filter which is great for flying around water or snow; but, it is better suited for bright days as well. The ND4 filter is good for gloomy days when the sun isn't shining as bright, but only being able to test 1 of the 3 filters is sort of meh.

For more information on the Polar Pro ND filters, checkout the Polar Pro website.

Will Phantom 3 ND filters fit the Phantom 4?

I purchased a package of 3 filters that were intended for the Phantom 3, they do indeed fit my Phantom 4. This video is just showing proof that the Phantom 3 filters will indeed fit the Phantom 4 camera. I was worried about them not fitting on the Phantom 4, even though I read several articles stating that they would fit on my Phantom 4.

The filters are from Polar Pro who make all sorts of accessories for drones and GoPro cameras. The three-pack I purchased included 2 ND filters; a ND4 which is a 2-stop filter, and a ND8 which is a 3-stop filter. Also included was a circular polarizer filter as well. Included with the filters were 2 carrying pouches. The filter set retails for $49.99, you can get them from Amazon:

I have not yet had a chance to shoot with these filters to give any sort of opinion on them other than they do indeed fit on a Phantom 4. I will do a separate post and video on the filters after I have tested them, as well as do a comparison video with the filters on versus the filters off.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter;

FIVE must have accessories you should purchase with your Phantom 4

  • Extra battery - I’d recommend two extra batteries but they are expensive so at the minimum at least get one extra battery. The battery last about 25+ minutes or so, depending on what you are doing with your Phantom 4. If you are in Sports mode, flying fast, then the battery will drain quicker or at least it seems that way to me! I currently have three batteries and I am seriously thinking about adding a fourth to my arsenal.
  • Bigger capacity MicroSD card - The Phantom 4 comes with a 16GB memory card which is just not enough storage capacity to be useful for most video shoots, especially if shooting in 4K. I’d opt for at least 64GB. Make sure it is 4K Ultra HD ready, faster write speeds are a bonus too! Currently I have two 64GB cards plus the 16GB card that came with the Phantom 4. I use the 16GB card for still images and the bigger cards for video.
  • Phantom 4 Propellers - If you are new to unmanned ariels / drones then you might not have heard but accidents happen, often. Usually the propellers are the first things to break so I advise stocking up a couple extra propellers from day one. Nothing will ruin your flight time like the lack of a propeller. You can buy a 2-pack for $10-$15, I’d opt for at least three 2-packs. Your Phantom 4 comes with 8 in total, you can never have enough!
  • Remote Controller Monitor Hoods - Flying outside on a bright sunny day makes it nearly impossible to see the screen on an iPad (or most other tablets) or an iPhone (most smart-phones) so this is a must have as well. These are cheap but they are a life saver when flying, especially if you want to capture spectacular video footage or imagery and you are not shooting in auto-mode, your footage will thank you when you are able to see what you’re adjusting.
  • Back Pack Carrying Case - The case that comes with the Phantom 4 is nice but it is very limited. You can only carry 3 batteries. An iPad doesn’t fit in the case. You cannot carry it on your back so depending on the terrain you are shooting from it can be a pain having to carry the bulky case. I live in New England, surrounded by mountains, climbing steep, rocky terrain is a challenge sometimes having to carry both the Phantom 4 case and my iPad. Also, I don’t believe the case that comes with the Phantom 4 will fit in an overhead compartment on an airplane. I ordered my bag a couple of days ago and I hope to have it by this weekend, I will write a separate review on that after I get it. I also have a travel style bag on wheels that is really handy that I use for carrying my Phantom 4 as well.

Bonus Items

  • PhotoFast - Card reader for your iOS device. The DJI Go app only stores 720p video in the app which means if you want to upload the footage you will need to export it from the card to your device, of course you can use the cables to manage that but not buy this device and just pop in the MicroSD card and transfer your footage more quickly?
  • MicFlip Reversible Micro USB cable - If you are using an Android device that uses Micro USB then you will want this cable. Not only is the cable braided so it won’t tangle, but it is also reversible making it more convenient when connecting your device to the remote control.

WinnerGear MicFlip Reversible Micro USB Cable

Do you dislike the way some cables will only plug into your device one way? What if your other tech devices that used Micro USB worked the same way that the iPhone’s Lightning cable worked? What if your Micro USB device cable worked the same way as USB-C ports on some newer devices worked where you can plug the cable into the device either way? Enter the WinnerGear MicFlip reversible Micro USB cable.

I am being serious when I say I really like the fact that the cables are reversible, it just takes something simple in life and further simplifies it. There are many devices in the world that use Micro USB and some that I personally use daily, some of those devices include; Xbox controller, PS4 controller, external hard drives, cameras, smartphones, tablets, etc., just to name a few. I am constantly moving my external HDD between my iMac and my MacBook Air, so it is nice to have a cable that is smart enough to work in either position. I have been using this MicFlip cable for a week now and honestly I didn’t even realize that reversible Micro USB cables existed until I got my hands on this one. I shoot a lot of video so I am constantly moving files from my cameras to external drives to my iMac so having this cable just makes my work easier, a true plug and play device if you will.

There are a lot of things in this world that make me ask myself “why do things work this way?” Then there are things in this world that make me say “why do more things not work a certain way?” The MicFlip happens to be the latter! Although I am seeing more devices that support reversible cables such as USB-C supported devices or Lightning (Apple devices) cables, I still own way more devices that use cables that are not reversible

So if you want a nice looking cable, that does not tangle and you can connect it to any device that supports Micro USB in either orientation then checkout the MicFlip from WinnerGear. Especially if you are into photography or even videography, this is something every photog should have in their bag. The MicFlip is a well designed and hassle-free Micro USB solution, and I highly recommended it!

Who is WinnerGear? Well, they are a company who ran a successful Indiegogo campaign for this very cable. How successful? This cable raised almost $150,000. That is some serious cheddar for a reversible cable, but it also shows that others in the world feel the same way about the ease of use with plugging cables into their devices as I do.

A bit about the MicFlip reversible cable;
  • Braided cable - Which means it is tangle-free
  • It features an aluminum shell
  • Gold coating - Which means it is corrosion resistance
  • Comes in 3 different colors - silver, gold, red/black
  • Comes in 3 sizes - 20cm (8 inches), 100cm (3 ft+), 200cm (6ft+)
  • Price - $19.99 (usd)

Buy from WinnerGear:

Phantom 4 - First opinion

Today I decided to splurge and buy a DJI Phantom 4 from Best Buy. I also bought a second battery as well as an additional pack of propellers, which came with two propellers in the pack. This isn't a full review as I have not had enough time to play with it yet, this is just a few of my thoughts on it after a few hours of toying with it and trying to learn how to use it.

Initial thoughts, just know I am super happy with it so far. It hovers really great and the 4K output is excellent (I did notice some rolling shutter) and the clips I did get look fantastic. This thing has a decent learning curve though as you have to control it with both the controller as well as a mobile device, I am using an iPad Air 2 but it also works with the iPhone and my Nexus 5X.

Setup was a pain, the documentation that comes with it is useless. Firmware updates, controller updates, drone updates, app updates... I had to do them all. So out of the box it took me a couple of hours to get everything setup and ready for flight. 

I spent about 2 hours today just trying to get used to it and learn how to use the tracking (Active Track) which basically will track an object on the ground, the only downside I noticed was that it was limited to under 30 feet from the ground and as long as drone doesn't lose sight of whatever it is tracking. I followed a dog at the park by my house today, the dog was going nuts, but in a playful way.

Battery charing was slow, I am not sure how what percentage of battery charge was in the batteries (I have 2) but it took over an hour to charge them both, I assume they were around 35% charged out of the box? Same with the controller which took longer than both batteries and I am not sure it was even fully charged when I took it outside to play with it! I did get about 25 minutes or so of flight time out of each battery, and I landed the drone each time the battery got to about 20-%-25% or so. Also, the first time you set up your Phantom 4 you are going to need to activate and register your drone in the iOS / Android mobile app. Expect setup to take about an hour, or more than an hour if you factor in battery and controller charging times. 

My best advice for anyone who is new to drones is once you get this or even before you purchase the Phantom 4, go to YouTube and watch as many videos on setting it up, connecting it to a mobile device, etc. I sort of wished I had done that to help alleviate some of the headache from trying to figure things out without reading the frigging manual first! Which as I mentioned above, the manual sucks! 

This is a huge win, I can't wait to shoot video footage with this. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @crizzonet, where I plan to share footage as well as private links to my Vimeo page with drone footage as well. If you have any question fill free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter.