If you are an enthusiast, or even slightly interested in flying a drone, you’ve probably heard of the popular quadcopter manufacturer DJI. As a pioneer in higher-end consumer drones, DJI’s objective has almost always been to help you put a camera in the sky.
Offering highly stabilized camera gimbals, designed for DJI’s own cameras or to attach your camera of choice, DJI offers a range of products. From your hand to the sky, there’s almost certainly a DJI product for your needs.
May 2018: The new DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 adds Ocusync and more to the Phantom line.
Sept. 2017: The new DJI Mavic Pro Platinum and Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian are here! Read on to see what these new drones are all about.
Nov. 2017: The new DJI Mavic Pro White Edition is available at Apple stores.
Jan. 2018: The new DJI Mavic Air takes the best of the Spark and Mavic Pro and improves on it.
DJI Mavic Air
We’ve only just unboxed it ourselves, but the new DJI Mavic Air is shaping up to be one of the best drones out of the company. This is a compact, folding drone with 4K video recording and 12 MP photos. It’s a fast flying drone that is surprisingly stable and pleasantly nimble for its size. It fits perfectly in between the Spark and Mavic Pro in terms of both size and price, but it also takes the best features from each, expands on them and makes them better.
The DJI Mavic Air will never replace your Phantom 4 Pro or larger drone, but as far as the consumer friendly, highly portable machines go, I think we have a winner on our hands.
We recently dedicated a massive post to exploring the available DJI Phantom drones in the line, now selling an updated pro version of the Phantom 4, this has been an iconic design, often emulated by the competition.
The short version of the story is that DJI launched the Phantom 1 back in January of 2013. Ten minutes of flight time with a mount for an action-type camera and the world was hooked. By my count, the Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ – as announced November of 2016, with major release to market in January 2017 – is the 11th iteration to the line.
Now packing multi-directional collision avoidance sensors, autonomous flight, 4K cameras and 30 minutes of flight time, the latest Phantom drones are powerful products capturing magnificent video from the sky.
An older Phantom drone can be had for a fairly affordable price, such as the Phantom 3 for around $400, but the Phantom 4 will run you $774 and the latest Phantom 4 Pro starts at $1385. We think it’s worth the upgrade for the camera enthusiasts, as the Pro comes with an updated 1-inch CMOS sensor, far superior to previous models.
Update Sept. 2017: the latest version of the Phantom line is live. Admitting this is nothing more than a paint job to be found on this one, the new Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian is a slick looking machine. It can’t be much longer before DJI adds a full new machine to this line of drones, but for now, several colors are available to you.
Update May 2018: The new Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 adds Ocusync and more efficient ESCs and propellers to improve the Phantom drone experience. The new version of the drone will fly longer and quieter, plus Ocusync allows it to connect wirelessly to your DJI Goggles or a second remote control.
Mavic Pro White Edition
The new DJI Mavic Pro White edition is an exclusive to Apple, it’s the same original Mavic Pro, just with new paint. We worry that a white drone will be easier lost in the sky than the grey Mavic, but having to keep it in closer is a fair trade-off for the lower price tag. You can grab the new white Mavic Pro Fly More combo for $999.
Mavic Pro Platinum
Unlike the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian update, the new Mavic Pro Platinum is more than just a slick paint job. You’re looking at a similar machine on the outside, but this Platinum version will remain airborne for longer on a charge and is quieter as it goes.
I’ll point you toward the Mavic Pro listing below for the rest of the details on the drone, they’re all the same. I’ll also mention that you can put the new propellers for the Platinum onto your original Mavic Pro, for a slight boost in efficiency.
As the newest unique design, and most compact drone that DJI manufactures, the Mavic Pro is a favorite around here. Admitting that it is perhaps the least capable camera on all current generation DJI drones, and that most of those quadcopters also out-perform the Mavic Pro in the air, the convenience, versatility and ease of use make the difference.
If you are looking for a balance of flight capabilities and camera quality with affordability, and the plain and simple ability to actually take your drone with you on the go, the Mavic Pro proves in a class its own.
Upwards of 27 minutes of battery life on the drone, with nearly triple that in the rechargeable remote, mean you can get well over an hour in the air with the Fly More bundle (three batteries). The remote is compact, feature-packed and easy to use, and you can connect your smartphone for FPV video, extra camera controls and autonomous flight settings.
Capable of over 30 mph maintaining stabilized video capture and over 4 miles in range, the Mavic Pro still able to slide into a side pouch on your backpack when folded down. It’s so compelling, it’s the first major drone I’ve purchased for myself, instead of just using loaners or review units.
You may not have come here looking for a selfie camera, but DJI delivers anyhow. The DJI Spark is a compact quadcopter that packs similar flight tools to the Mavic Pro, but takes portable to an entirely new level. Spark will be shipping starting in mid-June of 2017, so we have not taken it for a real spin just yet, but we did go hands-on with it at the launch event in New York.
Small enough to fit in a large pocket, or a purse, but with enough power and smarts to tackle your basic aerial photography needs, Spark has a neat trick, gesture control. From start to finish, you can fly the DJI Spark without a controller! Hand gestures control the machine, including activating the camera. Spark is easy to control, has better options for when you want to step it up and fly like a normal drone and along with it comes several cool new flight modes. Quickshots automate several popular video techniques, so all you have to do is wave and smile.
Order the DJI Spark today for $300, or pick up the Fly More bundle with controller, extra battery, case and more for $530. Regular price is $499 and $699.
Spreading Wings & Flaming Wheel
With the Flaming Wheel being more of an obscure tool for even those in the know, the Spreading Wings drones, in several different models, are the beasts that burden the weight of a Red 8K camera and more. The top model is the S1000+, which is able to take 14lbs of your photography gear into the sky. Consider a Hassleblad camera, now that DJI has bought heavily into the company. They’ve now released a 100MP camera for the sky.
With a machine like the M600 Pro in the air, a Ronin Gimbal hexa-copter with six batteries and able to carry a serious payload, some serious photography can be done. Sticking to the basics, you won’t find many of the flight assistant and ease of flight tools on this commercial drone, selling to professionals – the M600 Pro is the $5000+ drone that movie studios likely have a pilot on stand-by to fly.
There is a smaller duty M100, the new M200 series, as described below, and the large M600, for your serious camera work. Not for the feint of heart, the M600 can be yours for $3999 on Amazon today.
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
Introduced, but not yet released, DJI’s new M200 series, including the M200, M210 and M210 RTK are some of the best built multi-rotor machines we’ve ever seen. Mostly, we are impressed by the multi-camera mounting systems. First off, there is a dedicated FPV camera for the pilot, just like the Inspire 2. From there, the normal hanging mount can hold two cameras side-by-side. In this regard, you can record from three cameras simultaneously. Crazy! The icing on the cake, there is a top mount for your camera. That’s right, if you need to fly under something, looking up at it, this is the DJI drone for you.
For more info on this commercial focused drone, see our announcement piece for the new DJI M200 series here.
Announced at AUVSI Xponential in May, 2018, the new XT2 infrared camera adds powerful abilities for search and rescue, inspections and so much more.
With some experience in the matter, DJI has created one of the most capable drones we’ve ever seen. The original Inspire was a hugely capable device itself, but pales in comparison to the new Inspire 2. We know we keep saying this, but we were on hand for the official announcement back in November, 2016 – ever since then, we’ve been dreaming of some airtime with the machine.
58 mph of stable image flight, faster if you aren’t filming, up to 5.2K resolution with the top model’s 1-inch CMOS sensor, micro 4/3 camera, dual pilot capable with secondary FPV camera and autonomous modes with advanced collision detection and prevention, it is hard to imagine what you cannot do with this beast.
27 minutes in the air via dual hot-swappable batteries and some serious onboard data storage options mean you can film a lot before having to quit for the day. A powerful drone that is fast, has a great camera and offers the best in DJI’s flight capabilities, what’s not to love? I can answer that, actually, the $6200+ price tag is not to love, but still a bargain considering all you can do with the drone in a professional sense. Update: Prices have come down a lot, you can get the Inspire 2 with Zenmuse X5S camera for $5749.
Update: New camera – Zenmuse X7
DJI has added a camera to their line, designed to attach to the Inspire 2, the Zenmuse X7 is a 6K shooter with some staggering specs for a drone that a consumer might consider. Professionals looking to shoot the best aerial images and video are in for a treat. This new camera is a step up from the 5.2K shooter X5s, which launched with the Inspire 2 last year.
DJI has a small line of camera equipment for use on the ground, this includes that Ronin full DSLR gimbal as used with the Spreading Wings above, and the Osmo hand-held that we took for a spin at CES 2017. They announced the new Silver edition of the Osmo Mobile at the show, and we used it to do a full booth tour. The Osmo Mobile carries your smartphone, while the Osmo, Osmo+ and Osmo Pro all house different DJI cameras.
Check out the DJI Osmo Mobile for $199 on Amazon today.
Osmo Mobile 2
DJI went back to the drawing board with the Osmo Mobile to create the second iteration of the device. Osmo Mobile 2 is a more capable hand-held gimbal for your smartphone, with great battery life, the ability to shoot in landscape or portrait mode and more. We are particularly fans of the zoom control right at your fingertips. The cameras on our smartphones are getting better and better every year, this gimbal will help you take those shots to new levels.
Best of all, the new DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is $129.95 now. It’s exclusive to the Apple Store for a little while longer, but will land on Amazon and other soon.
As one of the most established, popular and iconic players in the drone space, DJI does more than just things that fly, they dabble in other camera and video tools as well. For example, the large commercial drones above, particularly the Matrice, are designed to haul the Ronin, a camera gimbal that can be held in hand or mounted to a moving object, like a drone.
They also produce smaller sized handheld gimbal systems in the Osmo line. The top end Osmo houses DJI’s best cameras, while the lowest end version, the Osmo Mobile, is made to handle your phone. I’m sure you’ve seen our footage already, we did a full walkthrough of the DJI booth at CES using the Osmo Mobile Silver.
That’s going to do it. We are always excited to see where DJI goes next with their products, we do hope that they offer a wider array of more portable drones, like the Mavic Pro, but for now we can safely say that no matter which DJI drone you purchase, we’re confident it will serve you well.
Do you own any DJI products? What’s your favorite?
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