DJI Phantom quadcopter

unmanned aerial vehicle

It has been more than 10 years since surfing enthusiast Nick Woodman created a camera he could strap to his wrist and tested his early makeshift models while on a surfing trip to Australia and Indonesia.

These days, GoPro cameras have become popular among all kinds of action enthusiasts and athletes.

These cameras, which are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, are the perfect tool to capture videos and photos of adventure activities. But you don’t have to be a kite boarder or skydiver to film like a professional.

As a travel writer, photographer and video blogger team, we’ve used our GoPro Hero 3 while kayaking, dog sledding, snow shoeing, skiing and snorkelling.

Of all the ways we’ve experimented with our GoPro, I’d have to say that the most impressive so far has been mounting our GoPro Hero 3 beneath a remote-controlled quadcopter.

The images from the air are simply stunning.

dji phantom 03 DJI Phantom quadcopter

The video was filmed using two cameras, one with a high definition Canon handycam operated by me standing on the beach at Point Cartwright, and the other from a GoPro Hero 3 mounted beneath a DJI Phantom quadcopter remotely controlled by my husband, Roger.

dji phantom 2 DJI Phantom quadcopter

The DJI Phantom is an affordable quadcopter that allows professionals and enthusiasts to capture amazing footage from the sky, but it doesn’t come with all the equipment necessary to stabilize the footage or to see what you are shooting in real time.

Extra equipment is available for both these functions but it comes at extra cost and will further reduce battery life.

Without a return vision system installed, it requires quite a lot of skill to judge where to position the quadcopter in relation to the subject.

For stabilisation, we used an Airy Brushless Motor Gimbal.

dji phantom 41 DJI Phantom quadcopter

Stabilisation technology is commonly used in the television production and movie industry to ensure the camera remains level and the footage is stable. A typical example of its use is a camera person following an actor up a flight of stairs.

We filmed this footage on a gusty day, which is obvious from the way the quadcopter is being tossed around. And we were pleased with the results.

dji phantom 11 DJI Phantom quadcopter

When watching the video, you’ll notice the propellers moving in and out of shot due to the gusty wind conditions. It’s amazing how stable the captured footage of the surf and surfers turned out.

One of the limitations of the equipment is the relatively short battery life. When the quadcopter is fully loaded with camera and gimbal, our experience of the battery life was seven minutes at best.

It meant that we had to return the quadcopter back to the beach to change batteries, which is disruptive and means you could miss a key shot while the quadcopter is having its battery changed back on shore. The battery can run down a lot faster in windy conditions, as the motors have to work harder.

dji phantom 5 DJI Phantom quadcopter

Point Cartwright is a headland at the southern end of Mooloolaba beach, where the Mooloolah River meets the Coral Sea. Its located on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, which is about 100km north of Brisbane.

Point Cartwright is popular for its surfing point break and high cliffs with spectacular views of Mooloolaba, the Mooloolah River and Mount Coolum. On a clear day, from the coastal headland reserve, there are views south to Caloundra and north to Noosa.

dji phantom 6 DJI Phantom quadcopter

The beach in the video faces the open ocean in a north east direction. At low tide, there are picturesque rock shelves and pools.

Watch our video here: