By Vernon Felton
DJI Phantom Quadcopter w/GoPro Mount
Drones have earned themselves a bit of a bad name: being used to assassinate people in war-torn countries or violate personal liberties back home can do that for you. We won't even get into the schlock movies that contain the word "drone" in their titles (George Lucas, we're looking at you here). But what if drones could be used for the greater good? Or, at the very least, your own personal good?
That very cool "from above" footage that you see in mountain bike videos? Videographers often turn to drones affixed with video cameras to capture that breathtaking footage. Sure, they are probably using some godawful expensive drone and camera combo, but you can still capture some of that glory for yourself without gouging your bank account too deeply. Enter the DJI Phantom.
At $480 (at B&H Photo) the Phantom allows you to hook a GoPro to its mount and capture stunning, eye-in-the-sky footage. The little drone uses four rotors to achieve a maximum horizontal flight speed of 33 feet per second and ascend and descent at up to 20 feet per second.
Never used a drone before because, you know, you're not an occupying army or a big-brother governmental agency? Never fear, the Phantom uses GPS for navigation and to maintain flight stability. You can operate this thing in full manual mode, but you can also rely on the GPS-enabled autopilot mode to capture the smoothest possible footage. The Phantom is also equipped with a very reassuring return-to-home feature.
There you have it. Do any of us need this? No. Would it be insanely cool to capture some amazing footage with a bird's eye perspective? Oh, yeah….