Not all drones were created equal. Even though DJI has launched the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro in recent weeks, the new DJI Inspire 2 will, for many professional aerial photographers, be the most significant industry news they’ve heard in a while.
And it isn’t hard to see why. The Inspire 2 looks like a massive step forward for DJI’s range of prosumer drones. The original Inspire, launched in 2014, remains a popular choice for aerial photography professionals. But things have moved on a lot since then, both in terms of hardware and software. While there’s no doubt that the first Inspire was groundbreaking in its own right and is still miles ahead of plenty of the competition out there, the next generation looks set to take aerial photography to the next level (again).
To take you back, the Inspire 1 was, as far as we can recall, the first filmmaking drone to bring together HD video transmission, a 360° rotating gimbal, a 4K camera and simple app control. Despite DJI saying back then that it was all you’d ever need for aerial photography, the Chinese market leader has since developed a range of solutions to make complicated flights and incredible footage even more accessible to the average Joe.
Better, faster, stronger – Why the DJI Inspire 2 is the best aerial photography drone there’s ever been
Alright, maybe it’s not saying much to label the DJI Inspire 2 as the “best ever”. This is, after all, a relatively new industry and DJI is way ahead of the competition. You might also argue say that any drone bundle coming in at well over $3,000 better be nothing short of spectacular. Well, the good thing is that it looks like you’ll get your money’s worth with the Inspire 2.
Professional aerial photography – Supercharged
We know that drones are going to keep advancing in terms of capability, but sometimes it’s difficult to see where improvements can realistically be made. With the Inspire 2, DJI started with the basics. Power. The new drone’s body is made from a magnesium-aluminum alloy, and so managed to be both stronger and lighter than the original. Less weight and a new battery system take the Inspire 2’s top speed to a mighty 58mph – a figure that had to be dropped down from 67mph when DJI decided the drone was too fast. The Inspire 2 can hit 50 mph in just 4 seconds.
Speed isn’t essential for great aerial photography, but plenty of professionals will appreciate the added variety it can bring to projects, especially when tied in with some of the Inspire 2’s tracking features.
Despite having considerably more power than the original Inspire, the flight time is anywhere up to 27 minutes – if you choose to use it with the Zenmuse X4S camera, anyway. The Inspire 2also has a fancy new propulsion system, which can help pilots take on another level of vertical camera moves, climbing at nearly 20 feet/second and descending even faster.
Oh, and one final thing: If you’re planning on scaling Mount Everest anytime soon, the Inspire 2 can be bought with special high altitude propellers. And in case things get too cold, the self-heating dual battery redundancy system maintains performance to -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vision can mean a whole bunch of things. First of all, we have to mention the Inspire 2’s built-in forward-facing camera, which offers the pilot the best view for flying while using the master controller. A second camera operator can receive a separate feed direct from the camera mounted on the main gimbal. These are the not too shabby Zenmuse X4S and X5S cameras – additional cameras are expected in the near future. If you choose the X5S, you can expect to be shooting video in 5.2K, leaving plenty of room for post-production and ending up with mind-numbingly clear images.
And the vision side of things get’s cleverer. The Inspire 2 has been brought up to speed with DJI’s latest drones in more ways than one. It’s been kitted out with stereo vision sensors on its front and bottom for obstacle detection, while there are also upward facing infrared sensors on top of the aircraft to protect the drone when flying in tight spaces.
It’s too valuable (and smart) to just fall out of the sky
There’s a statement we hope doesn’t come back to bite us. According to the engineers at DJI, the Inspire 2’s dual-battery system will kick in during low power to make sure the Inspire 2 never falls out of the sky. If one battery fails during a flight, the other will be able to provide power for a safe return.
Pilots can also cut through the noise to get as clear a stream as possible, switching between 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequencies for greater signal stability.
Upgraded flight modes
DJI’s latest drones all have a bunch of smart flight modes for autonomous flight, allowing the pilot to sit back and concentrate on the photography if need be. Aside from that, they bring new creative elements to standard shoots. First of all there’s Spotlight Pro Mode, which allows you to lock onto a subject while the aircraft flies off in another direction. If the gimbal reaches its rotational limit, the Inspire 2 will respond automatically to keep your subject in view. Nice.
Remember that camera that shows the view directly out of the front of the drone? It’s also the foundation of TapFly, another new mode that directs the drone to any point ‘tapped’ on the screen while avoiding obstacles along the way.
The more familiar ActiveTrack mode, as seen in the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro, identifies common subjects like people and cars, and can follow, facing forwards to ensure that the forward-facing obstacle sensing system keeps your new favorite gadget Inspire 2 in one piece.
Squeezing the most out of your aerial photography
The DJI Inspire 2 comes with a revamped image processing system called CineCore 2.0. This onboard supercomputer is your new best friend, processing huge, high-quality video files faster than ever before. And thank God. After all, the DJI Inspire 2 can captures 5.2K video at 4.2 Gbps. A variety of video compression formats are supported by CineCore 2.0, including Adobe CinemaDNG, Apple ProRes 422 HQ (5.2K, 4K) and ProRes 4444 XQ (4K), H.264, and H.265. When recording 4K video in H.264 and H.265, the bitrate goes up to 100Mbps.
Here’s a short film shot entirely with a DJI Inspire 2: