When you can call Hollywood movie director JJ Abrams a fan you know you’re doing something special in the photography world.  

Trey Ratcliff is a renowned photographer whose images show the beauty of exotic travel locations.  He runs the world’s number one travel photography blog and has even had his work displayed in the world’s biggest museum, the Smithsonian.  All this has been achieved despite what some may perceive as an obstacle- Ratcliff grew up blind in one eye.

This blindness, Ratcliff writes, gives him a unique perspective on the world as a story-teller. The Phantom 4, which Racliff reviewed, extends Ratcliff’s exceptional abilities to the sky.  

“Man, I love this machine” Ratcliff remarks as he flies the aircraft through another remarkable New Zealand landscape.

He has been flying DJI aerial products for 3 years starting with the Phantom 1 through to the Phantom 4 and is an avid and experienced pilot.

One particular feature Ratcliff was excited about is the obstacle avoidance system. “It’s got this obstacle avoidance system…to keep it from crashing into things!”

The Phantom 4’s ‘Obstacle Sensing System’ is always scanning for obstacles in its path. The system is composed of two special cameras at the front of the aircraft which help it avoid collisions by either hovering, going around, or going over the obstacle.

Ratcliff continues “it’s so fun and easy to fly. That’s the other big surprise that most people encounter when I hand over the controls to them…if you ever feel that you’re losing control just let go of the sticks and the Phantom 4 will hover there and will remain totally steady.”

The Phantom 4 uses multiple satellites for positioning, relying on both GPS and GLONASS. This allows the aircraft to connect to satellites more quickly and position itself accurately in the air. “Even in a crosswind…the Phantom 4 will stay steady” Ratcliff observes.

When affected by such wind, the Phantom 4’s integrated 3-axis gimbal removes unwanted vibration and movement. This means the camera can continue to capture butter-smooth and fluid footage.

A further feature of the Phantom 4 is that the intelligent battery lasts 25 minutes which Ratcliff advises is plenty of time to take the shots you need. Additionally, the battery has informative status indicator lights and auto-discharges to protect it if stored unused for 10 days.

Finally, Ratcliff offers a little bit of insight into his technique when he’s out with the Phantom 4.

As soon as he launches the aircraft, he begins taking video and views the live stream on his tablet. When he sees a shot that he wants to take, he stops recording, takes the photograph then resumes recording. He suggests that the Phantom 4 is so stable that he does not need to do any post-production stabilisation.

With drone technology, there are more possibilities than ever for anyone with an interest in photography.

As Ratcliff says, “forever, photographers have been tethered to where their camera and lens happens to be which is a completely arbitrary location, right beside the head. But now the camera can be literally anywhere, which is incredibly exciting!”

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