DJI Phantom FC40 Review
The DJI Phantom FC40 quadcopter with Wi-Fi FPV video camera is yet another in the increasingly popular Phantom line. The FC40 stands out from others in the line due to it’s onboard camera which delivers remarkably high quality video. Also, this quadcopter is essentially ready to fly out of the box — simply attach the rotors, charge it up and you’re ready to go.
Just how good is the video? Check this out:
- 5.8 gHz remote control
- 2.4 gHz Wi-Fi enabled camera
- 720p HD video
- 10x digital zoom
- LiPo 700 mAh battery
- 15 minute flight time per charge
- Self tightening propellers
- Advanced GPS, including return-to-home mode
- Up to 12 minutes of flight time per charge
- Range of approximately 500 meters
Why you want it
The Phantom FC40 was designed to be the drone for anyone and everyone interested in getting a started with quadcopters and video. This is essentially the best of earlier Phantom models put together in one package and topped off with an excellent camera.
It is very easy to learn to fly the Phantom FC40, which means you can focus on using the camera to capture awesome video with eye-popping quality. Newcomers will appreciate features like auto-hover and return-to-home, easing fears of losing your drone to a “fly away” or a sudden plummet from the sky.
Take a look at this cool video from a first time Phantom FC 40 flyer to see just how great this quadcopter is:
Design & Build
As always, DJI has produced a thoughtfully designed and built quadcopter. The trademark white and red color scheme stands out immediately and gives it a pretty sporty and smart look. But beneath the good looks what you’ve really got is a very rugged and durable body. In fact, the Phantom FC40 is made from the same materials as much more expensive DJI quadcopters.
Where this drone differs from others is that the onboard camera is purpose built for the quadcopter. This gives you a more seamless and foolproof experience when taking photos or making a video with the drone. Therefore, you could make an argument that this is one of the best quadcopters with video because that’s exactly what it was designed to be.
Unlike many other RC airplanes and copters, the Phantom FC40 only requires very basic assembly – just attach the rotors, skids and a few other small external parts and you’re ready to go.
Of course, you will have to put a few AA batteries into the controller and charge the Phantom’s battery, but overall this is probably one of the simplest and quickest drone setups you can find. The controller is already tuned to work with the quadcopter, and GPS is pre-tuned as well. Additional tuning is performed automatically once you start up the FC40.
The controller is a snap to learn. The left stick controls the throttle – think of this as up and down – and the yaw, or rotation. The right stick controls the tilt of the quadcopter. Tilt control is essential for banking and turning while in flight, but also for grabbing great photos and video with your quadcopter.
As with other DJI Phantom models the FC40 handles intuitively and responsively. The throttle is not too sensitive. This allows for smoother take-offs and and landings, thus prolonging the life of the quadcopter. On a similar note, the tilt control is forgiving but not too loose. This makes it easy to learn to navigate and soon you can fly the FC40 like an expert.
You can also attach your smartphone to the controller. This feature is really useful when you activate the camera’s Wi-Fi. This allows you to see what the quadcopter camera sees. You can use this to ensure you get the video you want. Also, as you gain experience, you can learn to pilot the Phantom FC40 out of your line of sight by using the streaming video.
Like other Phantom models, the FC40’s brain is the Naza-M flight system, which is now in its second version. This offers you three main flying modes: GPS mode, Attitude mode and Intelligent Orientation Control.
GPS mode is the most automatic flight mode. In this mode the quadcopter will hover in a position that is level with the horizon when the controls are released. This flight mode is best when learning to fly and get a feel for the controls. This can also be useful for capturing video in a fixed position.
Here’s what we mean by “hovering”:
Attitude mode is more of a manual mode. In this mode the quadcopter will not maintain a fixed position when the controls are released. Instead, it will drift in the last direction it was flying or that it’s momentum will carry it. In this flight mode the FC40 can be easily blown about by wind. However, this is not a fully manual mode – the GPS navigation system is still in operation and can be used to guide the quadcopter home or to regain control.
This video will show you the differences between these two modes:
Intelligent Orientation Control is intended to make flying more intuitive. Because of the unusual nature of the quadcopters design it can difficult to discern which end is the nose and which is the tail. This is especially true after maneuvering, banking and turning at higher altitudes; it is easy to get the controls mixed up. Therefore, Intelligent Orientation Control works to prevent this by keeping the tail pointed at the controller. This useful feature can be activated using the Naza software.
- Easy to get started with
- Controller included
- Flight modes accommodate experience levels
- Minimal set up
- Failsafe Autopilot
- Excellent range
- High quality design and build
- Camera app is easy to use
- Battery life is shorter than other Phantom models
- Firmware upgrades for Mac require Windows emulator
- Micro-SD card not included
There’s a lot to like about the DJI Phantom FC40. If you’re looking for the best quadcopter with a camera for a good price you can’t go wrong here. DJI has put together a very stable and easy to fly machine that delivers great video and still images. It’s well built and durable and easy to fly. All in all, this is a great value.
Comes with everything you need to enter the quadcopter world and get up and running very quickly.