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Hands-on with DJI's 4K-equipped Phantom 3 drone (pictures)

We take a close look at DJI's new Phantom 3 drone, which shoots 4K video and can stream video live to YouTube.

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Andrew Hoyle
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1 of 11 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Phantom 3 is the latest consumer camera-equipped drone from DJI. It's available in two versions: the Professional, which boasts impressive 4K resolution from its camera; and the Advanced, which shoots at a more standard 1080p.

Both models have ground-scanning sensors to help it fly indoors and both can stream footage live to YouTube.

The Advanced model will set you back £899 or $999, while the Professional model will cost £1,159 or $1,259. Preorders for the drones start today and they're due to ship towards the end of the month.

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The camera is the area that's seen the biggest upgrade from the previous Phantom 2 model. The new image sensor should help improve dynamic range, resulting in more balanced bright skies -- something of an issue for the previous version.

The field of view is slightly narrower too, meaning it suffers less from "fish-eye" distortion.

The Professional model has 4K video resolution, which apart from looking all crisp on a 4K monitor, also gives you room to crop into a scene without losing too much quality.

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DJI's Phantom drones have always been extremely easy to set up and learn to fly. The Phantom 3's setup is much the same so should be just as simple for new users or experienced fliers.

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The camera is attached to a three-axis gimbal which provides extremely smooth video, free of annoying vibration from the propellors.

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Underneath you'll find these two sensors. They scan the ground, allowing the drone to lock onto patterns to help hold its position. This means you can fly with stability indoors.

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With GPS enabled, it'll fly outdoors easily and can automatically return to you when the battery starts to die -- it won't just fall out of the air.

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The controller has been given dedicated camera controls to start and stop recording and change settings while the drone is in the air.

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You can stream 720p video live, directly to YouTube, from the app. There's also a training mode that lets you fly a virtual drone, to learn the basics before testing it on the real one.

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The rotors are easily interchangeable.

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DJI reckons you can get around 20-23 minutes of flight from a single charge.

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