DJI makes a whole lot of drones, and many of them are feature-packed, easy to use, and generally are priced for casual or enthusiast buyers. But the company’s newly announced drone, the DJI Inspire 3, is not for the general populace — rather — it’s a commercial-level 8K-movie-making mega drone that’s packaged with a slew of accessories for a whopping $16,499.
The Inspire 3 is the successor to DJI’s longstanding big and professional Inspire 2 drone that was released way back in 2016. The new Inspire 3 is 20 percent more aerodynamic, and can operate for 28 minutes, according to DJI. That’s compared to 25 minutes runtime on the Inspire 2. Both drones have an arachnid-like design when on the ground — but upon liftoff the landing gear, along with its four propellers, swing upward and let hang its gimbal and camera combo.
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 just the cinema camera, while another pilots the drone using a front first-person view (FPV) camera, for example. The FPV lens is a 161-degree ultrawide that sits in front of a 1/1.8-inch night vision sensor — and it can transmit to the RC Plus’ 7-inch 1,200 nits screen with only a 90ms delay.
The technology transmitting the video stream is DJI’s latest proprietary “Occusync” tech, the O3 Pro. It enables streaming 1080p at 60fps at up to 15km away, which could be great for live streamers, who can capture footage out of the RC Plus’ HDMI port. Unique to the Inspire 3 is also the ability to stream 4K at 30fps at a 5km range.
The main cinema camera for the Inspire 3 is one of the drone’s biggest upgrades. DJI says the camera, known as the Zenmuse X9-8K Air, is its lightest ever full-frame system. It uses CineCore 3.0 — DJI’s new image processing system — and supports 8K CinemaDNG video recording at 25fps.
And in a first for DJI, it can record in Apple ProRes RAW format, 8K at 75fps. DJI’s smaller pro-video drone, the Mavic 3 Cine, supports only ProRes 422 LT — but is cheaper at $4,999. However, both 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 120fps in ProRes RAW, and it won’t require cropping to work. The unit delivers dual native ISO: 800 / 4000 for 30fps and below, and 320 / 1600 for higher frame rates. Plus, it has more than 14 stops of dynamic range to really fine tune shots in all horizon lighting situations. The gimbal enables the camera to have 80 degrees tilting and full 360 degrees of rotation — with no sight obstructions.
Like professional cameras, and the Inspire 2, the 3 supports interchangeable lenses. DJI has a lineup of its DL-mount lenses that works with the camera, including new telephotos and full-frames that come in 18mm F2.8, 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm options. It will also have an option to support Sony E-mount lenses — though it probably can’t support large ones.
DJI’s Waypoint Pro is another pro-feature of the Inspire 3. It uses DJI’s real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning tech to accurately locate and repeat movements within centimeters of accuracy. This means movie-makers can film multiple takes of the same scene, and be sure that the shot will look the same every time.
It’s clear that the DJI Inspire 3 is meant for cinematic production houses in terms of features and price. There’s a whole slew of accessories you can buy for the drone, but you’re getting a good amount in the initial “combo” package, including the RC plus remote with strap, Air Gimbal Camera, six batteries, charging hub, 1TB SSD, trolley case, three quick release propellers, lens carrying 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 comes with everything you need to film cinematic 5.2K video in CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes. It even supports microSD cards, which the Inspire 3 seems to be dropping in favor of their own SSD cartridges — which costs $799 for a 1TB one.