In true “I got some good news and some bad news…” fashion – here’s what DJI just did for/to the Phantom 4 Pro…
On March 7, 2017, DJI released a bunch of new updates for the Phantom 4 Pro/Pro+. The version number is for the aircraft firmware is 01.03.0418. The remote controller also got an update to 18.104.22.168 for the Pro and 22.214.171.124 for the Pro+. DJI GO also got some recent updates. As of this writing, the current IOS version is 4.0.5 while the Android app is at version 4.0.4. While these updates addressed some issues that seriously needed correcting (the good news), it also broke lots of 3rd party flight software designed to work with the P4P (the bad news).
If you stick to the “DJI Go” flight software for all your piloting, then there really is no bad news for you – except perhaps for the update to the drone’s No-Fly Zone management. I declined that part of the update since I’m not having any issues and, therefore, figured the update could only make things worse for me.
The new features included in this update include:
– Added a Lock Gimbal option in DJI Go settings to fix the gimbal at its current position.
– Added a continuous autofocus (on the center of the field of view) mode to add an additional layer to their suite of focus assistance tools designed to help keep forgetful pilots from spoiling shots due to poor focus.
– Modified how the image processor handles D-Log to extend the dynamic range available in that profile.
Now for the bad news…
Almost immediately after DJI announced this update, my e-mail inbox started dinging with warnings from 3rd party developers warning about “erratic behavior” of the aircraft. Both Litchi and Hangar/AutoFlightLogic/Autopilot told their customers, flat out: “Do NOT use our software with this firmware version (except in some very limited circumstances) until further notice.”
Here’s the e-mail I got from Litchi:
Mar 7 at 12:18PM Dear Litchi Pilots, There is currently an issue with the recently released firmwares for Mavic Pro (v01.03.0500), Inspire 2 (v01.0.0240) and Phantom 4 Pro (v01.03.0418) where the drone will fly erratically in some of Litchi’s flight modes. If you already installed one of these firmwares, we highly recommend not using these flight modes until the issue is fixed with a DJI firmware update. The following flight modes are affected: VR with Immersive/Joystick Head Tracking active, Follow, Focus and Track. All other flight modes (including FPV, Waypoint, Orbit and VR with Immersive/Joystick Head Tracking OFF) are unaffected. The Litchi Team
And here’s what Hangar/Autopilot had to say:
Mar 7 at 2:18PM Current Issues There is currently an issue with the latest DJI firmware for the Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2 which causes erratic flight behavior in Autopilot. We do not recommend* using Autopilot with these aircraft types until a resolution has been found for this issue. If you are using firmware 01.03.0200 or below, you should not see these issues. * It is still possible to safely use Human Flight Control Modes and Waypoint Mode as long as Lost Connection is set to Continue Mission (LCMC). We will send out another correspondence when this issue has been resolved. Thanks for your understanding! The Hangar Team
Needless to say, that’s enough to scare the heck out of someone who uses both of these products regularly!
I made a lengthy post at PhantomPilots.com outlining a theory as to what happened in this case. Someone from Hangar replied and made some corrections to my theory that cast DJI in a less-than-favorable light. Seems the API interface they use is one that DJI is supposed to support… meaning that they’re not supposed to break or change it capriciously.
DJI Go is becoming more sophisticated – but Litchi and especially Hangar/Autopilot bring some absolutely awesome tools to the table for cinematic aerial video. I can create sequences in Autopilot that rival anything I’ve seen in the movies. I’m by no means an expert drone pilot. Having the ability to create complex moves and let Autopilot flawlessly execute them is a fantastic enhancement. So I was not happy to learn that those tools were unavailable – absent a downgrade to a previous firmware version.
I was anxious to see how useful the “fixed” D-Log profile might be. I’ve done some videos on my YouTube Channel in the past where I compared the various camera profiles using the Lumetri scopes in Adobe Premiere Pro. In the past, D-Log has not been a profile I was willing to use – opting for D-Cinelike instead.
Here’s that comparison video:
After updating my P4P, I set out (with the P4P and DJI Go only) to grab some D-Log video. I brought that home and color graded it in Premiere. Take a look below and let me know what you think!
Spring rains are forecast for the next few days, so I can’t say for sure when I’ll be able to fly again. I’m really looking forward to getting some Springtime footage!