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Professional drone comparison

DJI Phantom 4 RTK vs. WingtraOne

DJI is a Chinese tech giant dominating the consumer drone market. The Phantom 4 RTK multicopter is their answer to the professional mapping drone segment. Wingtra is a Swiss-based professional drone company that is focused solely on its high-accuracy survey and mapping drone WingtraOne. Here is your summary followed by the ultimate long-read comparison of the drones.

The summary: Multirotor vs. VTOL

Although they are both marketed as survey and mapping drones, WingtraOne and Phantom 4 RTK have little in common. As a VTOL drone, the WingtraOne is a hybrid between a fixed-wing and a multirotor. It lifts off and lands vertically, but for flight it transitions into a fixed-wing mode. Phantom 4 RTK is a typical multirotor, which behaves in the air like a helicopter. Because of this fundamental difference, WingtraOne delivers much broader coverage required by the majority of mapping projects, while multirotors like Phantom 4 RTK can only cover limited areas.

In fact, according to our test flights for coverage, on a full battery, WingtraOne can cover almost 14 times more than Phantom 4 RTK at the same 1.2 cm (0.5 in)/px GSD. Phantom 4 RTK covered 8 ha (20 ac) and the WingtraOne covered 110 ha (272 ac) in one flight.

1 flight coverage at 1.2 cm (0.5 in)/px GSD

wingtraone coverage - up to 14 times more area in 1 flight than phantom 4 rtk

WingtraOne + Sony RX1R II


Coverage: 110 ha (272 ac)
Altitude: 93 m (305 ft)

fixed wing coverage -- around 40 percent less than wingtraone in 1 flight

eBee X + Aeria / Delair UX11


Coverage: 70 ha (173 ac)
Altitude: 57 m (187 ft)

multicopter coverage - wingtraone covers up to 14 times more area in 1 one flight

DJI Phantom 4 RTK


Coverage: 8 ha (20 ac)
Altitude: 44 m (144 ft)

Results from our test flights at 1.2 cm (0.5 in)/px GSD reveal almost 14x the coverage for WingtraOne with its RX1R II payload option, vs. DJI’s Phantom 4 RTK with its built in payload.

Beyond coverage, WingtraOne outranks the Phantom 4 RTK in terms of image resolution that later determines absolute accuracy measures as well. With its flagship Sony RX1R II 42 MP payload, WingtraOne can achieve more than twice the image resolution as the Phantom 4 RTK. Higher image resolution equals better map quality, which defines the quality of the entire project.

Here is the test image comparison of the best possible GSD for WingtraOne’s RX1R II payload and Phantom 4 RTK’s fixed payload:

wingtraone best gsd - 0.8 cm
a zoomed in gcp - wingtraone best gsd - 0.8 cm

WingtraOne + Sony RX1R II


GSD: 0.8 cm (0.3 in)/px
Altitude: 65 m (213 ft)
Real resolution: 0.9 cm (0.4 in)/px
Coverage: 110 ha (272 ac)

phantom 4 rtk best gsd - 2.55 cm/px

Phantom 4 RTK


GSD: 1.8 cm (0.7 in)/px*
Altitude: 65 m (213 ft)
Real resolution: 2.4 cm (0.9 in)/px
Coverage: 35 ha (86 ac)

Test images at the lowest possible GSD of each drone. The 42MP full-frame sensor of the WingtraOne pays off with more than three times lower GSD and striking resolution lines** for the RX1R II. You can easily compare these lines by looking at the center of the Siemens Stars, which show the degree of clarity or blur. More test images at the same altitude and same GSD are below in the test image section. Note: all coverage figures in this report are theoretical and calculated based on listed coverage unless we list them as tested.

*In theory, Phantom 4 RTK would be able to achieve lower GSDs, however, at the location we conducted the tests, the environment did not allow us to fly lower than 65 m (213 ft), hence the “best GSD” in this situation is 1.8 cm (0.7 in)px.
**Real resolution for all images is based on measurements of the fine-lined Siemens Star, which reduces measurement errors.

Download original images

WingtraOne pros

  • Almost 14x tested broader coverage for same GSD—WingtraOne covered 110 ha (272 ac) vs. Phantom 4 RTK’s 8 ha (20 ac), both set at 1.2 cm (0.47 in)/px GSD
  • Twice the flight time
  • Subcentimeter level GSD
  • Swappable high-end payloads covering RGB and multispectral—one drone, many applications
  • Absolute accuracy down to 1 cm (0.4 in)/ px
  • Terrain following feature allows mapping different altitudes with the same GSD in one flight
  • Composite airframe
  • The color, if you like orange

WingtraOne cons

  • Larger to transport—hard case fits in the back or trunk of a small car
  • Costs more for higher-quality frame, payloads and results
  • Telemetry is not integrated in tablet of ground station

Phantom 4 RTK pros

  • Lightweight, easy-to-transport
  • Real-time in-flight view on the app
  • Obstacle detection feature helps to avoid collisions
  • Remote control over camera position in-flight
  • Telemetry integrated into ground station
  • Good flight controls—user-friendly
  • RTK receiver and redundant GNSS module enable real-time location correction in ideal conditions

Phantom 4 RTK cons

  • Half the flight time and coverage only suitable for small scale projects (35 ha (86 ac) in a flight at 1.8 cm (0.7 in) GSD)
  • 20MP 1” sensor limits resolution and prevents good images above 100 m (328 ft)
  • Fixed payload for RGB and video
  • No terrain following
  • RTK option depends on several working signals that can fail if blocked or dropped

The verdict

If you need reliably high image quality and accuracy on medium to large-scale survey and mapping projects across industries, go for the WingtraOne. If you are on a tight budget and need an entry-level drone for smaller projects with reasonable resolution and absolute accuracy, the Phantom 4 RTK is worth a closer look. If you are new to drones, you can do what many people do and get this entry-level solution as a proof-of-concept for basic project needs. When you need to cover more area with better-quality images, you can switch to a more expensive system.


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The long read: Review of WingtraOne vs. Phantom 4 RTK

Here is our in-depth analysis of features, detailed test pictures and the most important specs.      

wingtraone and dji phantom 4 drone comparison
Key differences between WingtraOne and Phantom 4 RTK include different coverage areas, payload options, camera quality, and resultant image resolution and accuracy.

Contents

wingtraone vs dji phantom rtk pros and cons
While WingtraOne and Phantom 4 RTK are both survey and mapping drones, their coverage, image quality and payload options set them well apart.

Transport and handling

The Phantom 4 RTK case is about the size of a small carry-on suitcase. Light and compact, it’s easy to manage and contains all that you need for your flight. Even though the case is made from foam, it works quite well and has a nice product feel.

The WingtraOne hard case fits into a small car, and the soft-shell backpack option lets one person carry it easily and safely on their back practically anywhere while carrying a pilot box in one hand.

wingtraone and phantom 4 rtk transport and handling

Product and quality

The WingtraOne has a high-quality glass fiber airframe featuring replaceable side stands and a middle stand. As a ground station, you get a Samsung Tab Active 2, which passed military spec testing for 21 environmental conditions, including temperature, dust, shock/vibration and extreme pressures. WingtraPilot comes preloaded on the tablet. The base station also includes a charging station and two sets of batteries, as well as a remote control, telemetry module, and an anemometer to gauge wind.

WingtraOne gallery

The Phantom 4 RTK is a light-weight quadcopter with detachable propellers. Its “intelligent flight” battery and charging station are in the box. The ground station features a remote control and telemetry console with integrated tablet. This integration gives a consistent product feel as well as the convenience of charging both remote control and tablet at the same time. The GS RTK app comes preloaded on the tablet and runs right away when you power up.

Phantom 4 RTK gallery

Flight planning and settings

At first, the Phantom 4 RTK pre-flight setup might not be as intuitive to manage as with other android tablets, because DJI has customized functions. Still, with a bit of exploration and a read of their freely available online manuals, you will get your mission in order. The GS RTK app runs automatically and offers two planning modes—photogrammetry and waypoint flight— in addition to “traditional flight.”

For our tests, we flew in photogrammetry mode: You select the flight area, image overlap, altitude, speed and camera settings for an autonomous flight that captures images over your flight area in a zig-zag pattern. To take control, you switch into manual mode. You can change the camera angle in flight with the remote control. The app also features a shutter priority mode to keep exposure consistent over all the images in a flight, as well as a wind alarm for extreme conditions.

By comparison, the WingtraOne pre-flight checklist is drone-responsive, i.e., the WingtraPilot flight planning app pairs with the drone to give you feedback about where you are in the flight-prep process. Functions that have not been prepared on the drone are then highlighted on a list on the WingtraPilot. Once you have tapped all the points on that list, you are ready to fly. When downloading offline maps, you can also choose to include elevation data and activate WingtraPilot’s Terrain Following feature in areas of the flight where mapping along a slope is required. Overall, the app is intuitive—you see and choose the settings that apply to your stage of flight prep.

Flying the drones

WingtraOne takes off and lands vertically like the Phantom 4 RTK, but transitions into fixed-wing flight for the mission. An orange drone icon moves on the WingtraPilot as it flies according to plan. Everything happens autonomously, from take-off to landing. If the altitude or transition angles need to be adjusted, you simply change to manual mode and easily control its flight with the remote control. If your landing area should become blocked by a vehicle or other equipment, landing in manual mode is secure and easy. Return to home automatically activates on low battery, or you can activate it at any time during the flight.

A quadcopter, the Phantom 4 RTK maneuvers smoothly during take-off, flight and landing. Once you’ve planned your mission, the flight is autonomous unless you choose to control manually. You can adjust the camera position manually at any time. You can choose between map view and in-flight camera view—a nice feature that works within a 7 km (4.3 mi) range.

Batteries and coverage

Phantom 4 RTK’s intelligent flight battery is listed to manage its charge in cases of inactivity, extreme temperatures or incompatible voltage. It’s easy to check the state of charge in flight and in the charger.

The WingtraOne’s UN-certified Li-ion smart batteries can transmit their state of health and charge to the WingtraPilot. Wingtra advertises a flight time of 55 minutes, and this has been tested repeatedly.

According to our test flights for coverage, on a full battery, WingtraOne can cover almost 14 times more than Phantom 4 RTK at the same 1.2 cm (0.5 in)/px GSD. Phantom 4 RTK covered 8 ha (20 ac) and the WingtraOne covered 110 ha (272 ac) in one flight.

Note that for either drone, you will observe reduced flight times in heavy winds and when flying at higher altitudes above sea.

Camera options

The Phantom 4 RTK has one built-in camera option: a 24 mm, 20MP sensor with a one-inch sensor and a mechanical shutter to reduce blur.

Wingtra features three interchangeable payload options, flown one at a time, for a range of applications—from 3D mapping along mixed elevations to highest precision maps for resource and cadastral studies. The MicaSense RedEdge-MX offers best-in-class multispectral imagery.

However, the most outstanding camera option with the WingtraOne is the Sony RX1RII 42 MP full-frame. This payload’s sensor size improves light sensitivity and reduces the noise in resulting images. The 42 MP resolution with this WingtraOne payload means that both your GSD is best-in-class, and so is your absolute accuracy, which we discuss in the following section.

drone camera sensor size comparison
Sensor size affects the amount of light let into the image. Larger sensors mean better light sensitivity. Full-frame also captures a wider field of view with every shot. In cases where you need a lot of images, and a high overlap, this difference adds up.

PPK vs. RTK and accuracy

Phantom 4 RTK has an RTK receiver with a second GNSS module tucked beneath to improve signal stability in areas where the signal could drop or get blocked. As an additional purchase, DJI sells a D-RTK 2 Mobile Station that is compatible with the drone and offers storage for satellite correction data to use later as a post-processed kinematic (PPK) option.

Important to note—Phantom 4 RTK is not compatible with third-party base stations, only with that of DJI. Satellite observation data can be saved in the drone to later conduct post processed kinematics (PPK), but to our knowledge, it might come with some extra hidden costs.

As a rule of thumb, absolute accuracy can range from 1 to 3x the GSD value, which is impacted by the quality of the camera and drone.

Phantom 4 RTK lists its GSD as (H/36.5) cm/px, with H as the aircraft altitude (in meters) above the target. Its accuracy is not listed. Instead, they say accuracy depends on lighting, patterns, aircraft altitude and software used to process the imagery. As a rule of thumb, absolute accuracy can range range from 1 to 3x the GSD value and is influenced by the quality of the camera and drone.

WingtraOne features a PPK option and is compatible with third-party base stations. PPK has been proven as the most consistent way to get high absolute location accuracy with as few as three ground control points to verify it. Combining this with the image resolution of the 42MP Sony RX1R II payload—as well as a full-frame sensor offering better light sensitivity—the WingtraOne achieves a well-tested GSD down to 0.7 cm (0.3 in)/px, and proven absolute accuracy down to 1 cm (0.4 in).  

how absolute accuracy depends on gsd in the photogrammetry world
This illustration is to scale based on the distance of the 1 cm (0.4 in) bar. As you can see, an absolute accuracy between 1 and 3 x the GSD can mean a big difference when your GSD is almost twice as big.

Post-processing

With both Phantom 4 RTK and WingtraOne, you have the choice of any image-processing software like Pix4D, 3DR Sitescan, Agisoft or Propeller, to run your results. While you do need to invest in your own system, you can choose what suits you best. And if you already have a system, you are ready to go.

Test images and image quality

Test Setup

As a test image we used a custom reference poster you can download here. The Siemens Stars allow us to calculate real optical resolution, which we then compared to the GSD according to specs.

reference poster to measure real resolution of drone imagery
The reference poster measures 2 m (6.6 ft)  x 3 m (9.8 ft). To assess image quality, we show GCPs and two Siemens Stars. For scale, we printed a black and white ruler, a footlong sandwich, a banana, a Swiss 5 Franc coin and a Leica GST20s tripod.

We flew both drones to take three comparison test images based on: lowest possible GSD, same altitude and same GSD.

Best possible GSD

From our tests for lowest GSD, we can clearly see the fixed payload and limited resolution are a disadvantage compared to the WingtraOne’s high-quality payload options. Phantom 4 RTK has one payload, which allows it to achieve a minimum GSD of 1.8 cm (1 in)/px*. The WingtraOne can fly with a range of payloads, and with its flagship RX1R II achieve a GSD of nearly half the value with more than 2x better optical resolution.

The 42MP full-frame sensor of the WingtraOne pays off with striking resolution lines for the RX1R II. In contrast, the limitations of Phantom 4 RTK’s payload reveal exposure issues: you can hardly see the banana, the sandwich or the coin, and the rest of the image is generally washed out.

These results becomes even more significant when we consider that absolute accuracy can be up to three times the GSD. This is all not to mention nearly 3x more coverage by WingtraOne in this setup.

*In theory, Phantom 4 RTK would be able to achieve lower GSDs, however, at the location we conducted the tests, the environment did not allow us to fly lower than 65 m (213 ft), hence the “best GSD” in this situation is 1.8 cm (0.7 in)px.

wingtraone best gsd - 0.8 cm
a zoomed in gcp - wingtraone best gsd - 0.8 cm

WingtraOne + Sony RX1R II


GSD: 0.8 cm (0.3 in)/px
Altitude: 65 m (213 ft)
Real resolution: 0.9 cm (0.4 in)/px
Coverage: 110 ha (272 ac)

phantom 4 rtk best gsd - 2.55 cm/px

Phantom 4 RTK


GSD: 1.8 cm (0.7 in)/px
Altitude: 65 m (213 ft)
Real resolution: 2.4 cm (0.9 in)/px
Coverage: 35 ha (86 ac)

Download original images

Same altitude—110 m (328 ft)

While flying the drones at the same 110 m (361 ft) altitude, Phantom 4 RTK achieved 3 cm (1.2 in)/px GSD, with a 3.4 cm (1.3 in) real resolution, while WingtraOne’s RX1R II payload achieved the following: 1.5 cm (0.6 cm)/px GSD, with a 1.5 cm (0.6 in) real resolution.

You can also see obvious camera quality differences at the same distance from the target—the real resolution is 2x better for the RX1R II.

WingtraOne + Sony RX1R II


GSD: 1.5 cm (0.6 in)/px
Real resolution: 1.5 cm (0.6 in)/px
Coverage: 190 ha (470 ac)

Phantom 4 RTK


GSD: 3 cm (1.2 in)/px
Real resolution: 3.4 cm (1.3 in)/px
Coverage: 60 ha (148 ac)

Download original images

Same GSD—1.8 cm (0.7 in)/px

To compare the data outcome with the same image GSD of 1.8 cm (0.7 in)/px, we flew the Phantom 4 RTK at 65 m (213 ft) and the WingtraOne RX1RII at 133 m (436 ft) altitude.

As you can see, even with same GSD, the images vary based on the amount of noise. However, the biggest difference in this case is that, while flying the WingtraOne with the RX1R II 42MP camera, the coverage is much, much broader—230 ha (568 ac) compared to 35 ha (86 ac). Practically, this means if you fly WingtraOne with the same 1.8 cm (0.7 in)px GSD as Phantom 4RTK, you are able to finish projects 7x faster.

As well, we can see an obvious difference in camera quality. The Phantom 4 RTK image is overexposed and washed out. The calculated real resolution suffers with this, bringing the GSD value into question altogether.

WingtraOne + Sony RX1R II


Altitude: 133 m (436 ft)
Real resolution: 2 cm (0.8 in)/px
Coverage: 230 ha (568 ac)

Phantom 4 RTK


Altitude: 65 m (213 ft)
Real resolution: 2.4 cm (0.8 in)/px
Coverage: 35 ha (86 ac)

Download original images

Specs

DJI Phantom 4 RTKWingtraOne
HardwareHardware
Weight: 1.4 kg (3.1 lbs)Weight: 3.7 kg (8.1 lb) empty +
max payload weight of 800 g (1.8 lb)
Cameras: one, of 20MP one-inch sensor for RGB images and video
Cameras: RGB: Sony RX1RII 42 MP full-frame; Sony QX1 20 MP, 20 mm Voigtländer lens; Sony QX1 20 MP, 15 mm APS-C sensor Multispectral: Micasense RedEdge-MX / 5.5 mm lens, 5 individual custom sensors, multispectral
SoftwareSoftware
Flight planning and navigation: DJI GS RTK app, offers flight modes, mission planning, RTK signal fix status, camera and map view, detailed battery strength readings, obstacle detectionFlight planning and navigation: WingtraPilot, intuitive interface with flexible flight plan options, telemetry module, and software with free updates
Image processing: Agnostic—your preferenceImage processing: Agnostic—your preference
In-flightIn-flight
Max speed*: 31 mph (50 kph)(P-mode)
36 mph (58 kph)(A-mode)
*Usually flown at lower speed e.g. 15 mph (24 kph)
Cruise speed: 36 mph (58 kph)
Wind resistance: advertises not to operate craft in wind speeds above 10 m/s (22 mph/ 35 kph)Wind resistance: Up to 45 km/h (12 m/s, 28 mph) in cruise, up to 30 kph (8 m/s, 18 mph) for landing
Max flight time: approx. 30 minsMax flight time: 55 mins
Automation: Full automation with manual takeover at any pointAutomation: Full automation with option for manual takeover at any point
ResultsResults
PPK/RTK option: RTK and PPK processing with RTKLIB availablePPK/RTK option: PPK
Absolute accuracy: not listedAbsolute accuracy: down to 1 cm (0.4 in)/px GSD
Minimum GSD: 2.74 cm (1.1 in)/px GSDMinimum GSD: .7 cm (.3 in)
Listed coverage: Approximately 100 ha (247 ac) for a single flight (at an altitude of 182 m (597 ft), i.e., GSD is approx. 5 cm (2 in)/pxCoverage at 110 m (361 ft): 240 ha (593 ac) with a GSD of 1.5 cm (0.6 in)/px

Why WingtraOne?

Compared to DJI Phantom 4 RTK, the WingtraOne is an upgrade that can handle much larger projects and produce significantly better image and accuracy results. While it is more of an investment, it is a powerful solution that can boil a project that used to take days down to hours. Wingtra focuses a good percent of its efforts on research and development to keep its WingtraOne at the front edge of what is possible for professional survey and mapping solutions.

Why Phantom 4 RTK?

If you have a very limited budget and have never worked with drones before, Phantom 4 RTK is a good  solution for a small-scale project that does not demand high-precision accuracy. It provides proof of concept on how drones can change your workflow, and it’s a highly-portable and well-industrialized solution for such cases. However, it’s limitations will become obvious when you approach projects demanding large coverage along with higher image quality and accuracy.


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Take test images with your own drone

Let us know if you’d like to take a test image with your drone and share it, and we might be able to send you a test poster free of charge.

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Wingtra
Wingtra

Wingtra develops, produces and commercializes high precision VTOL drones that collect survey-grade aerial data.

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