New X5 Inspire 1 Cameras from DJI

DJI have been pushing out so many new products lately it’s getting hard to keep track! One of the most interesting for Inspire 1 pilots is this new Zenmuse X5 camera.

The new X5 camera features a micro 4/3 sensor and much like the existing X3 camera on the Inspire 1 comes complete with an integrated 3-axis gimbal.

 

 

dji x5

 

Two versions of the X5 camera have been announced. The standard X5 retains most of the recording specifications of the existing X3 camera but the larger M4/3 sensor which improves stills resolution to 16 MP and has a reported dynamic range increase to 12.8 stops. As with the smaller X3, the X5 records to Micro SD cards and retains similar bitrates which max out at 60 Mbps for 4K (UHD) recording and less for 1080 (HD) recording.

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DJI makes the X5 available either without a lens or with it’s new 15mm f/1.7 Prime. As shown in the image below DJI also recommend two other lenses in the form of the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 and the Panasonic Lumix 15mm f/1.7. Whilst other M4/3 lenses will likely work with the X5 DJI has based these recommendations on weight and balance for the integrated gimbal.

Click here for the latest pricing on the X5 Camera

X5 lenses

The second variant of the X5 camera is the X5R. The R version uses the same gimbal and sensor but the camera uses a different design which removes the recording block from the camera body. The X5R adds the ability to record lossless 4K RAW CinemaDNG files to an SSD drive. Whilst the recording resolutions and frame rates remain the same as the standard X5, it’s capable of recording at bitrates up to 2.4Gbps which is a huge leap from the standard version.

Click here for the latest pricing on the X5R Camera

 

x5r 2

 

So what are the advantages of this new camera over the standard X3 camera? Without testing the camera myself it’s hard to judge how the two compare but in theory the much larger Micro 4/3 sensor should provide a lot more exposure and focusing flexibility than the little X3 camera. The ability to set lens aperture and focal distance from the ‘Go’ app running on the remote means that more creative control can be achieved. Being able to set depth of field and finding correct exposure becomes less about shutter speed manipulation and more about the balance between ISO, aperture and ND filtering as it is with most full size cameras. Here’s a graphic that shows just how much bigger a Micro 4/3 sensor is compared to the one in the X3 camera.

sensor sizes

Early demos and footage releases have revealed that the X5 is certainly capable of improved dynamic range and certainly for stills use it should prove to be a lot more capable than the X3. With video however I’d estimate that it’s likely to be more about gaining control of the image and using that control to achieve the best results from each location. Having proper lenses and aperture control also brings with it a much greater risk of getting bad results so to make the best of the X5 a greater knowledge of shooting will be required than with the little X3 which is very forgiving indeed.

Both of the new X5 cameras require an upgraded vibration absorbing board to be fitted to the Inspire 1 to enable them to be attached. The new mount pushes the dampers further out sideways to provide better lateral support for the camera.

Find out more about the X5 Vibration board here

X5 mountBecause the X5 cameras hang lower than the X3 the Inspire 1 needs to have it’s feet extended to stop the camera hitting the ground. Stick on feet extenders are included with both cameras.

DJI have also announced released a version of the Inspire 1 which can be purchased with an X5 already mounted. Names the Inspire 1 Pro, this new version comes with the new vibrations board and feet extensions as well as a newly developed quick release prop mounting system which as yet is unavailable for existing Inspire 1 Owners.

Inspire 1 Pro

Click here to find out more about the Inspire 1 Pro 

 

Also announced is a new wireless follow focus device called the ‘DJI FOCUS‘.  Allowing focus to be controlled remotely by a dedicated focus puller.

X5 follow focus

As well as working with the X5 camera this new device can also be used with other lens systems both air and ground based and is supplied with various data interconnect cables, the remote focus motor, lens gears and removable marking rings.

Find out more about the DJI Focus here.

 

 

 

 

 

10 things that could save your drone

10 things that could save your drone

Click here for a German translation of this post.

If you’re interested in drones you will have no doubt seen all the spectacular crashes on YouTube and heard about drones flying away by themselves. Drones like the DJI Inspire 1 or Phantom 3 are highly complex devices that rely on various systems to perform properly. While there’s no way to guarantee against a hardware or software problem there are a few things you can do to minimise the chances of crashing. Here are my top tips that could save your DJI drone.

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1. Know when and when NOT to calibrate the compass

A lot of people recommend calibrating the drones compass each time it’s flown at a different location. While this seems to work for some I think it introduces unnecessary risk. Let me explain why…

When you perform a compass calibration you’re letting your drone test its surroundings for magnetic force and once the calibration is complete it stores that data and assumes that those forces are normal for the current location and will be consistent throughout the flight. But what if there’s a large electrical cable or metal pipework buried below the paving you’re standing on? If that were the case then the calibration you’ve just performed will have taken those effects into account and the moment the drone takes off it will be flying with incorrect compass data.

Unless you’ve travelled a long way (hundreds of miles) since your last flight there’s no real need to re-calibrate the compass if you already have a good calibration locked in. If you find yourself in a nice open undeveloped area then it’s a good time to grab a clean compass calibration, otherwise why replace a clean calibration with one from an area where you have no idea what unknown forces are at play.

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Phantom 3 Professional test shots

A series of clips filmed with the DJI Phantom 3 Professional. For more information about my thoughts please check out my Phantom 3 vs Inspire post.

DJI Release the Phantom 3 Standard

DJI have today released another model in their Phantom 3 range of quadcopters, the Phantom 3 Standard. Priced at an amazingly low $799 (£649) this new model brings the entry point into the Phantom 3 range even lower than the Phantom 3 Advanced at $999.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 13.53.48

The Phantom 3 Standard connects to the same DJI ‘GO’ app that’s used by the rest of the Phantom 3 range. The biggest difference between the new standard model and the rest of the Phantom 3 range is that it uses WiFi rather than ‘Lightbridge’ to transmit a live preview to the controller and also to link the controller to the device running the app.

Unlike the Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 3 Advanced models the Phantom 3 Standard does not come with DJI’s Vision Positioning System or the ability to use Russian GLONASS satellites in addition to GPS satellites.

 

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The specs of the built in camera on the Phantom 3 Standard do stir things up a little as the maximum video resolution of 2.7K UHD is higher than that of the Phantom 3 Advanced which can only shoot up to 1080p HD. DJI do not currently state whether the Phantom 3 Standard shares the same Sony EXMOR sensor as the other models however it does share a 40 Mbps bit rate and many other specs with the Advanced model.

The Phantom 3 Advanced does however offer more framerate options than the Standard and the Professional model increases specifications to 4K UHD and 60 Mbps. All three models offer 12 MP stills.

Phantom 3 Standard

  • UHD: 2.7K: 2704 x1520p 30 (29.97)
  • FHD: 1920x1080p 24/25/30
  • HD: 1280x720p 24/25/30/48/50/60
  • Max Video Bitrate: 40 Mbps

Phantom 3 Advanced

  • FHD: 1920x1080p 24/25/30/48/50/60
  • HD: 1280x720p 24/25/30/48/50/60
  • Max Video Bitrate: 40 Mbps

Phantom 3 Professional

  • UHD: 4096x2160p 24/25, 3840x2160p 24/25/30
  • FHD: 1920x1080p 24/25/30/48/50/60
  • HD: 1280x720p 24/25/30/48/50/60
  • Max Video Bitrate: 60 Mbps

 

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The controller supplied with the Phantom 3 Standard has less functionality than the other models although it does still feature a shoulder mounted gimbal control dial and definable S1 and S2 switches on the front of the unit.

The signal transmission distance will vary depending on environmental conditions and local regulations, but the Phantom 3 Standard can reach distances of up to 0.5 miles (1 kilometer) away from the pilot. The Advanced and Professional models in comparison can reach distances up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometres) using DJI’s Lightbridge technology.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 13.54.21

The Phantom 3 Standard uses the same Intelligent Flight Battery as the other Phantom 3 models. DJI have announced that it also features updated motors that are more efficient and allow even longer flight times of up to 25 minutes.

At such a low price point it’s incredible the DJI are able to offer a quadcopter complete with a 3-Axis gimbal, 720P HD live video feed and a 12MP 2.7K HD camera. Whist the connection range may be shorter than the Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 3 Advanced models it’s worth remembering that many countries limit operational range anyway, for instance in the UK the CAA limit the operation to within 500m of the operator, well within the specified range of the Phantom Standard.

The Phantom 3 Standard will begin shipping on August 10th. Click here to order yours direct from DJI with Free Delivery to most locations.

Purchasing Links:
DJI Store 

DJI Phantom 3 Standard
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
DJI Phantom 3 Professional

B&H Photo (USA)
DJI Phantom 3 Standard
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
DJI Phantom 3 Professional

 

DJI Phantom 3 vs Inspire 1 – Which should I buy?

inspire 1 or phantom 3

I’ve owned my Inspire 1 for over a month now and with over 70 flights under my belt I feel like I’m starting to know it well, both from an operational and flight characteristics point of view.  Before i purchased the Inspire I spent a lot of time deciding between it and DJI’s other popular offering, the Phantom 3 Professional as both have 4K cameras and a lot of features in common. I wasn’t able to test either system so I based my purchasing decision on a few factors that could potentially make a difference. The things that really swayed me towards the Inspire was it’s ability to rotate the camera, the removable gimbal allowing for future upgrades and the ability to operate in higher winds.

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Recently I’ve had the chance to spend a few weeks flying the Phantom 3 Professional so I thought I’d share my findings about whether I made the right choice and try to give some advice to anybody trying to decide between  these two platforms. Firstly I’ll describe some differences in the aircraft and then I’ll go on to talk about my findings.

Size, weight & build.
By far the biggest difference between these two drones is the size and weight of each design. Although I’d seen a few Phantoms in the past I’d never actually used one before and after using the Inspire for a few weeks I was quite surprised how much smaller and lighter the Phantom is. The Inspire weights in at 2.93 KG whereas the Phantom 3 is less than half that at a mere 1.28 KG.

inspire-vs-phantom-3  inspire-vs-phantom-1

 

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