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 into the sky. Commercial users can also find a drone or two from DJI, ideal for search and rescue or inspection flights.
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.
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I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
What is DJI and where is DJI from?
DJI is the trade name we use for this drone company, it’s short for Dà-Jiāng Innovations, but their full company name is either SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. or Shenzhen DJI Sciences and Technologies Ltd., depending on where they’re registered. They’ve been in operation since 2006, but as you’ll see, they only became a household name around the globe in the mid-2010’s.
As you might have guessed, they are one of many major technology brands based out of Shenzhen, China. Before the great COVID-19 shake-up of 2020, DJI employed over 14,000 people, with divisions in China, Japan, North America, Europe and Chile. We do not have updated numbers of any changes DJI has made since then, but we know they have had to let some people go and adjust some strategy with some global politics at play.
We like to focus on the flying machines that DJI produces, but they also make and sell sophisticated camera mounting systems, they’ve purchased a significant stake in Hasselblad cameras, and also sell a lot of their drone components to help others build flying machines. The DJI A2 Flight Controller is a popular stabilization system that you’ll find in many commercial drones, for example.
After seeing success in their sales, DJI has been lending their time and expertise to help lead and form legislation around the globe. DJI has frequently participated in FAA programs to research the viability of upcoming drone laws.
Where can I buy DJI drones?
We will have plenty of links in this article to help you find DJI drones for sale. Almost all of the links we provide are to Amazon listings, for new condition products that are both under warranty and are eligible for DJI’s extended warranty. If Amazon is not a purchasing option for you, you’ll be able to find DJI drones at most major online retailers, many physical electronics stores, and, of course, directly from the DJI Store.
Some of the latest announcements:
April 2021: The DJI Air 2S is a great update to the Mavic Air line, rocking a 20mp, 1-inch camera with 5.4K video recording.
March 2021: The DJI FPV drone combines the stability of a camera drone with the power and excitement of a racing drone.
November 2020: The DJI Mini 2 is a powerful update to the Mavic Mini, now with 4K video.
In the early days for DJI, the Phantom series enjoyed the status of being the iconic drone design. Many depictions of consumer drones looked like a Phantom drone, at least those not modelled off of military UAV. After the Mavic Pro came to popularity through 2017, the look of a Mavic drone became the new iconic drone design.
In addition to being iconic in design, these drones have been industry leaders in terms of flight performance as well. DJI commands the majority of the consumer drone market, which is not by accident.
DJI Mavic drones
After the success of the DJI Mavic Pro, launched in 2016, DJI has created several other drones in the line. With the exception of the DJI Mavic Air, they all are the same general design – a folding quadcopter with a 3-axis stabilized camera hanging off the front. We’re happy to see DJI continue to improve the machines as they go. We’re sure that some of the design decisions have been in order to capitalize on previous popularity, but we have few complaints about the continued use of a reliable and functional airframe.
In order of newest to oldest, here are the Mavic drones:
- Good camera
- Easy to fly
- Fantastic camera
- 5.1K video
- Huge flight time
- Safe and capable drone
- Class-leading flight range
- Great camera
- Long battery life
- Long transmission range
- Great battery life
- Large camera
- AirSense transponder
- Great camera
- 5.4K video
- 8X zoom
- Compact and easy to use
- Fantastic range
- 4K camera
- Over 85mph!
- Versatile flight modes
- Very fun to fly
- Motion Controller is unique and fun
- 4K camera
- Enhanced obstacle sensors
- Fast data transfer
- Reliable drone
- Solid build
- Powerful zoom on the camera
- Compact size
- Great camera
- Very portable
- 249 grams
- Great 2.7K camera
- Very portable
- 4K camera
- Very portable
- Easy to fly
- 249 grams
Spark and alternative Mavic drones
After the early success of the Mavic Pro, DJI made an Apple exclusive version, simply colored white. After that, DJI launched what looked like another new color, but was actually a significant update to the Mavic series. The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum introduced more efficient propellers, as well as more efficient motors and power utilization, if nothing else. These updates sparked a change for all DJI drones, improving flight time and reducing flight noise for many future drones.
Speaking of sparking a change, DJI launched the DJI Spark as well, a smaller craft that came in at a relatively lower price point, and had a fun party trick of hand-gesture controls.
- Small drone
- Fun hand gestures
Update: DJI Has announced the Phantom 4 Pro RTK. We’ll explain more about this commercial version of the drone, soon. 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 $948 and the latest Phantom 4 Pro starts at $1,149. 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.
- Iconic drone
- The original large consumer drone
- Multi-direction obstacle avoidance
- Large and powerful airframe
- Reliable and safe
- Extreme GPS precision
- Stable and reliable airframe
Did you know? There are important drone laws you should know before you fly
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 Hasselblad camera, now that DJI has bought heavily into the company. They’ve now released a 100MP camera for the sky.
The most capable commercial drone from DJI is the Matrice 300 RTK. This drone offers multiple payloads, with multiple mounting points, extreme GPS precision, and more. The 300 series is the successor to the M200 series, which came in three models with varying capabilities.
- Versatile commercial platform
- Capable payloads
- Versatile commercial platform
- Precise and reliable
In the early days, DJI offered the M600 Pro. A massive and powerful drone that hauled a Ronin camera Gimbal, offered the flexibility and reliability of a hexacopter design with six batteries. A tool for some serious photography.
There is a smaller duty M100 as well, with the large M600, for your serious camera work. Not for the faint of heart, the M600 can be yours for $3,999 on Amazon today.
Professional camera drone – DJI Inspire
A leading product from DJI, the DJI Inspire line became iconic for its aggressive design and motorized landing gear. The Inspire 2 may be getting a little older, but it still offers some of the best flight features, reliability and one of the best cameras around for a drone under $10,000.
DJI proved the Inspire 2 was viable for consumers and professionals alike, and the drone continues to offer value to pilots.
- Powerful camera drone
- Interchangeable cameras
- Powerful professional drone
- Interchangeable cameras
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.
Osmo Mobile series
DJI has a line of camera equipment for use on the ground, this includes that Ronin full DSLR gimbal as used with the Spreading Wings above, and a series of Osmo hand-held units made to work with your smartphone.
The Osmo Mobile 1 and 2 both offered a solid stabilization system to keep your phone videography silky smooth, they also had fun rotating functions that you either controlled by thumb knob, or with the active tracking from within the connected app on your smartphone.
The Osmo 3 and just announced OM 4 offer much of the same base functionality, with iterative improvements, but they also finally managed to figure out a better transportation method. That is, the newest Osmo Mobile devices fold down to a reasonable compact size when not in use.
The OM 4 takes things to a new level. Instead of a heavy, clunky clip system, the OM 4 has a magnet. You either use a clip or more permanently stick a magnetic ring holder to your phone, making it effortless to attach your phone to your OM 4 without having to fight with alignment and balance issues every time you connect. This really is one of the best tools a mobile videography should consider.
- The DJI Osmo Mobile for $150 on Amazon today.
- The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is $107 now.
- The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 for $98 base package, upgrade to the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Combo for $119 to add a case and tripod.
- The DJI OM 4 is $149 on Amazon today.
Osmo Pocket and Pocket 2
We all have different uses for cameras, while the trend of mobile photography continues to rise, DJI is expanding their offerings with a compact camera that fits in your pocket. The Osmo Pocket series are small cameras that have 4K shooters mounted on full 3-axis stabilization. The original Osmo Pocket rocked a 1/2.3-inch sensor, the newer DJI Pocket 2 has a 1/1.7-inch sensor. Both shoot 4K video, and have fun ActiveTrack features for automated object tracking.
DJI Pocket 2 review on Android Authority
DJI Osmo Pocket review
We put Osmo Pocket on a drone, it worked pretty good
While the Osmo Pocket may offer similar image quality as most high-end phones on the market, there are no phones that come close to matching the stability when that 3-axis gimbal goes to work.
DJI Osmo Action
The competition between GoPro and DJI has seen ups and downs over the years. GoPro was the leading camera for drones for a while, DJI launched drones with better and smaller cameras built-in. GoPro launched a drone, it failed, which is too bad in a way, we liked it. DJI announced the Osmo Pocket, a solid mobile camera, and now the Osmo Action in May of 2019.
The Osmo Action can only be described as a direct competitor to the GoPro camera, it’s shaped similarly, works with similar accessories, offers many of the same features and is targeted to the same people.
We’re hoping to do a little in-house testing of the new Osmo camera, but for now, if you are looking for a GoPro-type camera, it is absolutely worth looking into the DJI Osmo Action for $349.
Robomasters robotics program
Robomasters S1 robot
DJI is involved in a growing robotics program for education, Robomasters allows students to build robots and compete in various obstacle courses and races. The Robomasters S1 is a machine that comes in parts, it’ll take you a few hours to build it, but you get to learn what all the bits are, how they work, and how they all work together. This becomes important when you realize that S1 may have an intended design, but it’s expandable, so you use the core of the S1 as your brain, then build nearly any robot on top.
Check out the DJI Robomasters S1 for $498 today.
Robomaster Tello Talent
The original Tello, from Ryze, was a fun little toy drone that happened to have some educational value to it, then DJI got involved and turned Tello into a full robotics platform. The DJI Robomaster TT, short for Tello Talent, is basically the same small drone, but now with dedicated accessory ports and a more accessible software, to code your own flight controls.
The TT is ready for home use, but watch for it in your local college’s robotics programs and competitions in the future.
Fun from CES 2020
As one of the most established, popular, and iconic players in the drone space, DJI does more than just make things that fly, they dabble in other camera and video tools as well. For example, the large commercial drones above 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 series, is made to handle your phone.
We appreciate that DJI is keen on offering excellent camera gear, even more excited to see them stepping up their own cameras, it’s just icing on the cake that they happen to make some of those cameras fly.
Frequently Asked Questions
In terms of raw sales numbers, indeed, DJI is the largest manufacturer around. In terms of quality, we’ve found DJI drones to be above average for build quality and reliability, they have become our first choice when we need to grab a consumer drone and trust that everything will go smooth with the operation. DJI’s R&D is unmatched in the consumer market as well, evident in the improvements you’ll see in any iterative update of their drones.
There are higher quality drones on the market, particularly in the high-end professional and commercial markets, but for you and I to fly at home, with a budget under $25K, it’s hard to beat a DJI drone.
There are currently no bans on DJI drones. The U.S. Government has decided they will not be using DJI drones for their operations, but DJI drones are still up for sale, fully supported, and ready to fly in the United States. Update: DJI has been added to a U.S. commerce entity list. This simply means that American parts manufacturers are not allowed to sell components to DJI.
DJI drones have never used many U.S. parts, so this may have surprisingly little impact on their business. You can still buy DJI drones at your local store.
In the United States, and similarly in other countries, your need for a license is determined by your flight, not by your drone. In short, if you will be paid to fly, or will make money off of the photos or videos you capture, then that is a commercial flight and you will need your Part 107 certification. If you are legitimately flying just for fun, any drone under 55lbs is good to go with the basic registration and hobby guidelines.
DJI Air Sense is a system in newer DJI drones that includes an ADS-B receiver in the drone. This allows you to see manned aircraft operating in your area from within the DJI Fly app on your connected smart device.
Extended warranty programs are a mixed blessing: when you need them, they are priceless, but if nothing every goes wrong, they feel like wasted money. Your DJI drone comes with a 1-year warranty with standard repair and replacement policies. Care Refresh adds in some accident forgiveness, plus rapid repairs and replacements for a longer period of time.
Truth is, we’ve purchased Care Refresh for a couple drones, but have never had to use it, our drones have never failed, and our crashes have been minor or easily repaired with basic tools at home. We did have a battery go bad on us from the original Mavic Pro, but that was well after any warranty would have helped us.
All drones that launch in late 2022 and on will comply with Remote ID guidance, however, as we write this in March 2022, we still do not know if the existing broadcast techniques in current DJI drones will be approved by the FAA. Stay tuned.
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