Upping the ante in the aerial market: DJI launches bigger, better, more powerful drones
posted Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 6:19 PM EDT
DJI announced two additions to their lineup of professional imaging tools: The Inspire 2 and the Phantom 4 Pro. DJI CEO and founder Frank Wang said of the Inspire 2 and Phantom 4, "Professional filmmakers and photographers always push to create images that have never been seen before, and DJI never stops trying to give them the tools to achieve their vision. Our newest flight platforms and stabilized aerial cameras are smarter, faster and more powerful than ever before. We can’t wait to see how creators use Inspire 2 and Phantom 4 Pro to capture dazzling images.”
DJI Inpsire 2: Faster, lighter and better imaging
The Inspire 2 is designed to be powerful, yet easy to operate. It is constructed with a magnesium-aluminum alloy body which is stiffer yet lighter than its predecessor. It has a top speed of 67 miles per hour and can go from 0 to 50 mph in a mere four seconds. Powered by dual batteries, the Inspire 2 offers up to 27 minutes of flight time. To help the pilot guide the nimble drone, the Inspire 2 has a new forward-facing camera while the camera operator receives a separate feed directly from the Zenmuse camera mounted on the primary gimbal.
Speaking of the new Zenmuse camera, the Inspire 2 supports both Zenmuse X4S and X5S cameras, which join the existing lineup of interchangeable Zenmuse cameras. The X4S has a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor with 11.6 stops of dynamic range and a 24mm equivalent focal length. Aperture is adjustable between f/2.8 and f/11 and the camera uses a mechanical shutter to negate the effects of rolling shutter distortion. The X5S instead uses a larger Micro Four Thirds sensor with 20.8 megapixels of resolving power and 12.8 stops of dynamic range. The X5S supports eight lenses covering wide angles all the way to zooms and can capture DNG RAW images at up to 20 frames per second at full resolution. There'll be a handheld mount available for the X4S and X5S down the road, so that they can be used on the ground as well.
The Inspire 2 has a new image processing system dubbed CineCore 2.0. This system is embedded in the airframe, allowing faster file processing. The Inpsire 2 captures 5.2K video at 4.2Gbps for Adobe CinemaDNG RAW videos and uses a new CINESSD storage system. CineCore 2.0 supports a variety of video compression formats, including Adobe CinemaDNG, Apple ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 4444 XQ, H.264 and H.265. When recording 4K video in the latter two formats, the bitrate is up to 100Mbps.
By leveraging a dual-battery system, if one of the batteries fails during flight, the second battery will kick on and ensure safe travels back to the ground for your Inspire 2 drone. It has stereo vision sensors on the front and bottom of the device for obstacle detection and upward facing infrared sensors on the top for increased safety when flying in enclosed areas (such as large indoor spaces).
The DJI Inspire 2's propulsion system offers users ascension speeds of nearly 20 feet per second and descent speeds nearing 30 feet per second. You can control the drone from up to 328 feet using either 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz frequencies. Regarding flight, there's a new suite of intelligent flight modes, including Pro Mode, which locks onto a moving subject, even when flying in a different direction. If the gimbal can't rotate enough to stay on your subject, the aircraft itself will automatically rotate to maintain a lock on the subject. You can use TapFly, which allows you to fly the Inpsire 2 to any point on the screen while intelligently avoiding any obstacles which may be in the way. ActiveTrack is designed to recognize common subjects, including people, cars and animals and it controls the Inpsire 2 such that it follows behind, leads in front or circles above or alongside the recognized subject.
DJI has also introduced new accessories for the Inpsire 2, including a battery charging station, CINESSD station and more. There's an optional Crystalsky high-brightness IPS monitor which has a screen designed for use in bright outdoor shooting conditions that comes in either 5.5 or 7.85-inch sizes with max brightness specs of 1,000 cd/m2 and 2,000 cd/m2 respectively. The screens include dual MicroSD card slots for backing up and transferring files in the field.
The DJI Inspire 2 starts at just under US$3,000 and is available for preorder now. If purchasing the camera and aircraft separately, orders will start shipping in January. If you instead opt for a combo package, which includes the Inspire 2 aircraft, a Zenmuse X5S camera, CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes License keys, they will start shipping in December for just under $6,200, but if you order before January 1, 2017, the price is under $6,000.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro: Improved imaging and video performance
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro includes a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor to offer improved image quality performance. It has nearly 12 stops of dynamic range and improved low-light performance. The Phantom 4 Pro can capture slow-motion 4K video up to 60fps with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps. It also now offers H.265 video compression, which provides users with better video quality at the same bitrate as H.264 compression.
Obstacle avoidance has been improved with the "Pro" edition as well with the new FlightAutonomy system. FlightAutonomy "can position, navigate and plan routes for Phantom 4 Pro, enabling it to avoid obstacles in a sensing range up to 98 feet at front and rear, even in complex 3D environments." There are also new intelligent flight modes which DJI claims make the Phantom 4 Pro the "smartest flying camera of its size," which they hope opens the door for more creative uses of the drone. The new Draw Mode allows the user to draw a route on their controller display, which the Phantom 4 Pro then follows. There are new modes for ActiveTrack, including New Circle, Profile and Spotlight. There's also an enhanced return to home function, which guides the craft to a safe landing from up to 984 feet away, including obstacle avoidance along the way.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is available for under $1,500 with a standard controller. There is also a Pro+ package which includes an improved, high luminance display controller. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ is available for preorder now for around $1,800. Both packages will start shipping in about a week. You can also order the DJI Phantom 4 Pro without a charger or controller for $1,060.
If you're interested in either of the new DJI aircraft, you can help support our site by preordering through the links below (additional links will be added as they become available).