Architecture / Art / Photography

Maiden drone flight over Valletta

It’s certainly tricky – yet great fun once you get to grips with the key controls.

The Phantom 3 Professional is an aircraft with a 4K camera onboard. The controls are via a Remote Control unit and an excellently developed App. The aircraft has an onboard GPS positioning system which gives superb hover control, however the truly impressive part is the 3-axis stabilisation gimbal. I was flying the drone at winds varying from 20 mph to 25 mph in Valletta and the resultant picture is positively stable. Video link is this.

A couple of things I noted during my maiden flight:

  • The pre-flight setup including security check, electronic check and compass re-calibration is critical.
  • If you’re shooting 4K at 25fps the supplied 16Gb SD card isn’t going to take you too far. I plan to expand the memory.
  • Although I consciously tried to avoid sudden movements (e.g. a fast pitch or yaw), this did happen (many times) !
  • As in any media project, planning is as important as execution. I have decided to chart my fly-paths on Google Earth from this point forward so as to get a better understanding of the shot options.
  • Maltese limestone and shimmering sea is bright. The video stutters at high shutter speeds and I just couldn’t limit the aperture further. Next flight I’ll stop down the exposure with a ND filter. DJI sell it here or if you’re in Malta: the uber friendly Dickens.
  • The post-processing part is critical. I plan to invest in some proper colour-grading tools with a view to reduce the sharp digital edges and soften the tones a tad.
  • Battery time in-flight is around 25 minutes. Two batteries are essential.
  • Flying a drone is still somewhat of a novelty – which is not ideal as it attracts kids and onlookers who are all too keen to ask questions (which you can’t answer) while distracting you from flying the thing.
  • It’s great to buy a drone with a buddy. Mine is Edward Sammut :)

Below are some snaps from the footage which I captured at 4K as well as my fly paths.


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