DJI's Inspire One was kind of like a Phantom drone for pilots with a bit of extra cash. But the Inspire 2 is a whole new ball game, with a distinct focus on industrial grade professional cinematography. And DJI has commissioned a short film, shot using only the Inspire 2, to prove the point.
There are some things a hobbyist user would probably enjoy a lot about the Inspire 2; its new top speed of 67 mph (108 km/h) would make for exhilarating flying, and could start to keep up with quick cars and motorcycles on vehicle shoots, for example.
Spotlight Pro is another pretty cool idea; it automatically tracks a subject even beyond the rotation range of the 360-degree camera gimbal by rotating the drone and reconfiguring the control inputs so the flight isn't interrupted. And in Composition mode, you can optically track a subject while keeping it locked to a non-central point of the screen, so you can set up a shot that makes more visual sense than your average tracking shot.
Also, some of the obstacle avoidance gear has come across from the Phantom 4 Pro, meaning limited forward facing sensors can stop you from running into things at up to 34 mph (55 km/h). Upward facing sensors assist with indoor flight, downward facing sensors assist in stable hovering while also detecting whether the terrain below is suitable for landing, and all these sensors build up a 3D map of the area you're flying in so the aircraft can safely return to home while steering clear of trouble.
But most of the toys added in the first major update of this flying camera platform are squarely aimed at video professionals.
An added front FPV camera with 2-axis stabilization means that in multiple operator scenarios, the pilot can still see straight ahead while the cinema camera is being pointed in any direction.
Dual batteries offer 98 watt-hours of capacity and a maximum 27 minute flight time with battery failure redundancy. They also self-heat to cope with icy environments for high altitude winter shoots. Further system redundancy comes in the form of dual inertial measurement units (IMUs), compasses and barometers, which are constantly monitored for faults.
Advanced image processing capabilities let the Inspire 2 handle 5.2K RAW video recording at 4.2 Gbps, which gives you plenty of room to cut an image down to 4K ultra HD. Built-in CINESSD allows super-quick data transfer on set. There's options, at extra cost, to record straight into CinemaDNG or ProRes 5.2K if that suits your workflow better.
There's simultaneous recording to both CINESSD and a MicroSD card, although at lower H.264/265 quality, that lets you do very quick 1080p previews of what you've shot without needing to trawl through the huge 5.2K files.
The upgraded Lightbridge video transmission system can now send high quality 1080p feeds back home from both the FPV and cinema camera, over a range up to 4.3 miles (7 km). Like the Phantom 4 Pro, you've now got the ability to switch between 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz if one delivers a stronger signal than the other in a given environment.
In Broadcast mode, you can live-stream in 1080i or 720p direct to TV by plugging the remote controller into a satellite broadcast truck.
To demonstrate the Inspire 2's filmmaking chops, DJI hired Life of Pi, Tomorrowland and Benjamin Button Director of Photography Claudio Miranda to shoot a short film using the drone with a top of the line DJI X5S camera. The film itself is … pretty ordinary. But it looks good, and it's fun to watch how Miranda and his team used the drone as an aerial camera, a steadicam, and in a few other fun ways during the shoot. Check out the behind the scenes video below.
As for the price tag for this monster of a thing? Well, you can pre-order it now for US$2,999 – that's just the airframe. A "premium combo" that includes the X5S camera and the CinemaDNG and Prores license keys will set you back $5,999. 480G CINESSD cards will set you back another $899, and the quick CINESSD reader for your PC will be another $149. If you want to use a separate focus puller, you're up for a further $1028.
It's not small bikkies. But considering the capabilities of this thing are approaching pro-level, and more than enough to make compelling content in the right hands, it's not outrageously expensive, either.
Take a look at the promo video below: