DJI makes a lot of drones, and many of them are feature-rich, easy to use, and generally offered to casual or enthusiast buyers. But the company’s recently announced drone, the DJI Inspire 3, isn’t aimed at the general public – it’s more of a commercial-grade 8K movie-making mega drone that comes with a slew of accessories. for the modest sum of $16,499.
The Inspire 3 is the successor to DJI’s large and professional Inspire 2 drone, released in 2016. The new Inspire 3 is 20% more aerodynamic and can run for 28 minutes, according to DJI. That’s compared to 25 minutes of battery life on the Inspire 2. Both drones have an arachnid-like design when on the ground – but when taking off, the landing gear, with its four propellers , swings up and lets his gimbal and camera combo dangle.
DJI’s latest remote control hardware, the RC Plus, comes with the Inspire 3 with support for its dual control mode where one person can control only the cinema camera, while another pilots the drone using a first-person (FPV) front-facing camera, for example. The FPV lens is an ultra-wide 161-degree that sits in front of a 1/1.8-inch night vision sensor – and it can transmit the RC Plus’ 1200 nits to the 7-inch display with just 90 lag. ms.
The technology transmitting the video stream is DJI’s latest proprietary “Occusync” technology, the O3 Pro. It allows 1080p streaming at 60 fps from up to 15 km away, which could be ideal for live streamers, who can capture footage from the RC Plus’ HDMI port. Unique to the Inspire 3 is also the ability to stream 4K at 30fps from a distance of 5km.
The Inspire 3’s main cinema camera is one of the drone’s biggest upgrades. DJI claims the camera, known as the Zenmuse X9-8K Air, is its lightest full-frame system ever. It uses CineCore 3.0 – DJI’s new image processing system – and supports 8K CinemaDNG video recording at 25 fps.
And in a first for DJI, it can record Apple ProRes RAW, 8K at 75fps. DJI’s smaller professional video drone, the Mavic 3 Cine, only supports ProRes 422 LT, but it’s cheaper at $4,999. However, CinemaDNG and ProRes RAW recording modes only work in the Inspire 3 after purchasing a $979 license key to unlock them.
The X9-8K Air is also capable of recording 4K at 120 fps in ProRes RAW, and it won’t require cropping to work. The unit offers dual native ISO: 800/4000 for 30 fps and below, and 320/1600 for higher frame rates. Plus, it has over 14 stops of dynamic range to fine-tune shots in all horizon lighting situations. The gimbal allows the camera to have 80 degree tilt and full 360 degree rotation – without any obstruction to view.
Like the pro cameras and the Inspire 2, the 3 supports interchangeable lenses. DJI offers a range of DL-mount lenses that work with the camera, including new telephoto and full-frame lenses available in 18mm F2.8, 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm. It will also have an option to support Sony E-mount lenses, although it probably won’t be able to support large ones.
Another professional feature of the Inspire 3 is DJI’s Waypoint Pro. It uses DJI’s real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning technology to precisely locate and repeat movements with centimeter accuracy. This means filmmakers can shoot multiple takes of the same scene and be sure the shot will look the same every time.
It’s clear that the DJI Inspire 3 is aimed at film production houses in terms of features and price. There’s a whole slew of accessories you can buy for the drone, but you get a fair amount in the initial “combo” package, including the RC plus remote control with strap, Air Gimbal camera, six batteries, a hub charging station, a 1 TB SSD, wheeled suitcase, three quick-release propellers, lens transport box, “and more”. The kit will be available “by the end of June,” according to DJI’s press release.
Some outlets are still selling the older DJI Inspire 2, including a $7,099.00 Advanced Bundle that includes everything you need to shoot cinematic 5.2K video in CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes. It even supports microSD cards, which the Inspire 3 seems to be ditching in favor of its own SSD cartridges, which cost $799 for a 1TB cartridge.
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