About the Author

Chris Monti

Chris is an FAA-certified drone pilot located in the Chicago area. By day he is an engineer who has designed and tested several camera systems and acoustic actuators. Nights and weekends are reserved for flying, testing, designing, and building drones.

Chris Monti's Favorite Gear

December 3

The Phantom 4 RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) is an enterprise version of the popular prosumer DJI Phantom 4 Pro. With a price tag of $6,500, the Phantom 4 RTK may seem expensive to the uninitiated. In reality, this system comes at a price that is about a third of the cost of existing precision drone mapping and surveying solutions. It also looks like the Phantom 4 RTK will outperform existing solutions in many ways. As a result, DJI is poised not only to dominate the drone mapping market. More importantly, the Phantom 4 RTK will accelerate the adoption of drone mapping and the growth of a disruptive technology. The Phantom 4 RTK changes everything and here are the 5 reasons why!

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November 25

At first glance, the Mavic 2 Pro (1,499) seems like the obvious successor to the Phantom 4 (also $1,499). The Mavic 2 has equivalent specifications in almost all areas, but it folds into a fraction of the size of the Phantom 4 Pro. The Mavic 2 Pro also sports 10-bit color on a Hasselblad-branded camera and several new automated flight modes among other improvements. With these upgrades it seems like the Phantom 4 is finished, right? Despite the apparent advantages of the Mavic 2 Pro, the Phantom 4 Pro still has some key features that give it an edge for some pilots. In this comparison, I dive into the specs, discuss the hidden pros and cons of each drone, and tell you which is best for specific applications.

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November 24

Despite positive reviews of the Anafi, sales at the French drone-maker Parrot have dropped by 40% compared to the same quarter last year. The company has reacted by announcing that it will cut 100 jobs. The market responded to the news by cutting the value of the French drone maker in half on the Paris stock exchange. The layoffs are bad news for the once-dominant Parrot, but the company’s troubles could provide a short-term benefit to consumers. The Anafi is now being sold for a fraction of the price that it was a few months ago. The Anafi is on sale for under $550 on both Amazon and Parrot.com.

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November 21

As their latest publicity stunt, the Dubai Police department just took ownership of their first hoverbike. The Hoversurf Hoverbike first showed up on the scene in early 2017, back when Hoversurf was still a Russian outfit. Now they are a “California based company,” in the land where dreams come true and FOMO (fear of missing out) money is plentiful. Not that customers are lining up to buy the human blender. The $150,000 hoverbike had to be gifted to the same Dubai police department that can afford Aston Martin and Bugatti supercars.

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November 15

The Hover Passport Camera received a lot of attention when it was first released in 2016. The drone was safe and easy to use. The Passport’s camera was better than most selfie drones. The Hover Passport ($300) was designed to appeal to customers who might be intimidated by standard drones that have complicated remote controllers and exposed propellers. The new Hover 2 stays close to its roots, with a foldable user-friendly design. The foldable design is where the similarities seem to end. Hidden beneath the black shell of the ZeroZero Hover 2 is a killer drone with upgraded features and some fantastic innovations. I suspect that competitors like DJI, Parrot, and Skydio are starting to worry.

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November 14

The release of the Phantom 5 is imminent and might well happen before the end of this month. We now know that the Phantom 5 is indeed going to have interchangeable lenses. That’s despite statements from DJI stating that the leaked images of a Phantom with interchangeable lenses do not show a predecessor to the Phantom 5. Regardless, we are excited about the upgrade. Interchangeable lenses provide more options for the professional photographer. What Phantom 5 lens alternatives will DJI provide? When can we expect a premium lens offering? Will the Phantom 5 include a zoom lens option? Let’s have a look.

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November 12

Amazon has published an online gift guide for the holiday season and for the first time has also sent a paper toy catalog in the mail. We will take a look at the drones that made the list and some of the drones that didn’t. We also have the inside scoop on how products make it on the list. It turns out that it’s not actually top-reviewed products or editors picks that are selected for the Amazon gift guide. Surprise! There’s money involved.

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October 30

The Mavic 2 Enterprise is one of the first modular professional drones on the market, and probably the only one that matters. Building from the world’s most technologically advanced consumer drone, DJI has provided an open platform for developers to add on to the Mavic 2 Enterprise. However, development of new accessories will take place in close collaboration with DJI as the add-ons might impact the performance and flying ability of the unmanned aircraft. The first three accessories that are available today are likely only a preview. There are countless possibilities for the Mavic 2 Enterprise and developers are probably already working on several new accessories.

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A couple of drones on Amazon have been catching my eye lately, the Holy Stone HS100 (about $250) and HS100G (about $280). It hasn’t been the specifications of these drones that have been grabbing my attention. Rather, it has been the stellar Amazon reviews (4.6 stars) and the number of Amazon reviews (over 1,300) that I have noticed. The question is, “can you trust these reviews?”

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October 23

For almost as long as there have been cameras with lenses, there have been lens filters. Today, polarized filters are a favorite for their ability to cut down glare and improve the color saturation of pictures and video. Another modern favorite, neutral density (ND) filters, are used to cut down the light reaching the camera’s sensor. Reduced light allows for long exposure photographs and smoother, more cinematic, video. Despite the popularity of filters, trusted filter manufacturers like Tiffen, B+W, and Hoya have been slow to enter the drone market. As a result, start-ups like Polar Pro, Skyreat, and a host of Chinese accessory companies have flooded the market with drone lens filters. So what is a buyer to do? Can you trust these startups?

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October 5

The Mavic 2 was released just a few weeks ago, and already there is no shortage of cases on the market for the new Mavic 2 ($1,249~$1499). The Mavic 2 case from Go Professional Cases (GPC) is one of the first available that is fully ruggedized and waterproof. What sets this case apart from the rest? The ability to pack all my Mavic 2 gear in a single case. It is also extremely durable, and can pass a series of US military-specified tests called “Mil-Specs.” My favorite feature? It is waterproof and it floats. I know because I tested it. Let’s take a closer look.

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October 2

After the release of the Breeze in 2016, Yuneec’s small consumer drone was quickly overshadowed by the more capable and more popular DJI Spark. But now it is 2018, and the Yuneec Breeze is a bargain at under $200! I’ve tested countless drones in this price range so I am very familiar with the features and capabilities of drones under $200. Even with its limitations, the Breeze beats the competition. I’ll tell you why.

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September 20

There’s no doubt that the Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro are the two hottest camera drones of the year. Soon after the release of the new Mavic 2 models, DJI announced that the original Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro would be discontinued. The fact that DJI discontinued both of their flagship models show just how popular they expect the new Mavic 2 to be. expand full story

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