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.
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. In the latest news, DJI has released the Phantom 4 Advanced, it is a slightly stripped down Phantom 4 Pro – same camera, same body, lesser capabilities with a lower price.
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 about $860 and the latest Phantom 4 Pro starts at $1429. 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.
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.
NEW! DJI Spark
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.
DJI Spark announced
Hands-on with the DJI Spark
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.
Pre-order DJI Spark today for $499 from DJI, or pick up the Fly More bundle with controller, extra battery, case and more for $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, and they’ve jointly released a whopping 100MP shooter 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 $4000 on Amazon today.
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.
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.
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 $285 on Amazon today.
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?