DJI’S PHANTOM LINE of consumer drones is the 800-pound gorilla of the industry. And now, the company’s latest flying machine, the Phantom 4 Pro, looks like it’s poised to be the new king of the skies.
The Phantom 4 Pro is an upgrade from last year’s Phantom 4. You can now fly a full 31 miles per hour while obstacle avoidance is engaged. Previously, if you wanted to go that fast, you had to put the drone into Sport Mode, which disengaged crash avoidance. It has rear sensors now, too, so you have obstacle avoidance even when you’re backing up. A new return-to-home feature retraces the path it originally took (more or less), so there’s even less chance of it crashing if you lose you connection with the remote (plus, obstacle avoidance will be engaged). It’s debuting infrared sensors, too, and even more angles—basically, you now have to try pretty hard to actually crash the thing. All of this, plus the flight time has been bumped to a generous 30 minutes.
The onboard camera now has an upgraded 1-inch sensor with 20-megapixel still photo capabilities. That larger sensor gives it 11.6 stops of dynamic range, which should keep your shots looking great even when your subject backlit (think sunset landscape). It can shoot 4K at speeds of up to 60 frames per second and bitrates of up to 100Mbps.
There’s an option for a more advanced remote with a built-in 5.5 inch touch display, which is all kinds of awesome. DJI promises lower latency of the video streaming from the video. (The touchscreen remote is one of the things I loved about the GoPro Karma remote—I’ve always hated dealing with pairing a device with the remote.) You can draw a path on the touchscreen, and the drone will follow that path like it’s on a rail. You can repeat that again and again, too. The TapFly feature can now go forward or backward (thanks to those rear obstacle sensors) so you can do automatic reveal shots.
Pre-orders begin today. The Phantom 4 Pro will go for $1,500 will require you to attach your own phone or tablet to the remote to use as a screen. If you want build-in display then get the Phantom 4 Pro+ for $1,800. Pricey on both counts, but dang they look sweet. DJI says orders will begin shipping next week.
DJI upgraded another one of its flagship drones today. The Inspire 2 is the new DJI drone meant to appeal to professional filmmakers. The Inspire 2 is roughly the same size as the original. It still does the very cool (and kind of creepy) midair Klingon Bird of Prey transforming bit, which keeps the rotors out of the way of your shot.
The new drone can stay aloft for up to 27 minutes—up from roughly 18 minutes on the original. DJI also borrowed from its own Phantom 4 and put obstacle avoidance sensors on the Inspire 2, which is reassuring considering how big it is and how fast it can go: top speed is now 67 mph, and it go from zero to 50 in four seconds.
Camera options have been upgraded too. There’s the Zenmuse X5S, which is an upgraded Micro Four Thirds sensor capable of 20.8 megapixles. It can shoot 4K 60fps, and it has 12.8 stops of dynamic range. It can shoot RAW photos at 20 shots per second, which is extremely impressive. It has more than half a dozen swappable lenses, too, so you have a lot of options for angles. Another option is the Zenmuse X4S which is a 1-inch sensor that shoots 20-megapixel stills, but it can crank shutter speeds nice and high.
Preorders for the Inspire 2 start today for $3,000, and it will ship in December. Spendy! But if you’re an indie production company with some cash burning a hole in your pocket, this will probably be the standard-bearer for prosumer drones going forward.