DJI Inspire 1 4K Camera Quadcopter Review

I’m a pretty big fan of the Transformer’s franchise (I even watched the Michael Bay movies) and, man, does the Inspire 1 V2 scratch that particular itch. This is the coolest robot-looking, insectile drone I’ve ever seen. The Phantom series of drones are pretty much flying Apple products now in the looks department, but this thing is straight from a dystopian Big Brother video game.

At just over $3000 we are talking about a serious flier, but can the Inspire really be worth that much? Alternatively, would you be better off putting another grand or two up for the Inspire Pro?

Upgrade Complete

The V2 version of the Inspire brings about a few improvements compared to the first version.

The propeller systems have been redesigned to improve their service life, which is good because they aren’t cheap at this end of the market. The motors have also been upgraded to improve performance and control. It’s a ready-to-fly package too, but at 3K it better be!

Batteries Included

So what’s in the box? You get the aircraft itself, the gimbal kit, the Zenmuse X3 camera, one flight battery, a charger, the transmitter, and the tablet holder for your mobile device. Though it is a ready-to-fly package, you’ll probably want to order a few extra batteries if you plan on being very productive with it.

Girls On Film

The camera that comes with the V2 is the Zenmuse X3. It isn’t the most capable snapper in the Zenmuse range, but it is no slouch. It has a 12.4 megapixel CMOS sensor and an ISO range of 100 to 3200. It has a 35mm equivalent lens and a FOV of 94 degrees. The iris is an acceptable F/2.8.

The camera has a 7fps burst mode at full resolution, and support for time lapse modes.

There a pretty decent range of supported video resolutions too. For a pro product, it’s great that the cinematic DCI 4K resolution at 25fps is supported. It means that this model of the Inspire should be welcome on professional film sets.

Have a look at this footage taken with the Zenmuse X3 attached to an Inspire:

That’s pretty fantastic I’d say.

More Than Meets They Eye

The Inspire’s major party trick is the moving arms that switch it between landing and flight mode. One of the big issues you have with other drones is the fact that you can sometimes see the rotors and landing struts in the video frame. This is an obvious no-no, so the Inspire solves this by lifting them out of the way.

Apart from having very practical functions and making the whole craft lighter, it’s also just damn cool.

Air Controller

The DJI can fly in some rough conditions, at least compared to many other drones on the market. It automatically adjusts the rotor speed and camera gimbal to ensure smooth footage. You can control the Inspire directly, too, but of course there are semi-autonomous and “come home” features that help make sure your $3000 investment doesn’t smash into the ground the first time you lose concentration.

Auto takeoff and landing are a must with the whole transformation thing, and there’s a ultrasonic vision positioning system that lets you automatically fly indoors without the need for a GPS signal. Pretty well-rounded I’d say.

The Inspire uses the DJI C1 remote, which is a very nice unit in my opinion. It has a range of 3.1 miles under FCC rules and 2.1 miles under CE rules. There a holder for a tablet or phone to act as your live video feed.

The flight abilities of the Inspire also show how powerful those motors are.

The Inspire weights 2935g, almost three times as much as a Phantom 3, so that gives you an idea of the size of the thing. It has a maximum service ceiling of 4500 meters or 2.8 miles. By default it won’t go above about 400 feet though. It can resist winds of up to about 30 feet per second, which is quite brisk. Flight times are about 15-18 minutes, pretty impressive given how heavy the Inspire is.

APPly Yourself

The apps that go with the Inspire are of course what makes it and other camera drones so useful. While you can control everything yourself, with a second controller you can hand camera control duties to a friend or let them pilot while you take the pictures. The Zenmuse camera also lets you control all sort of photography-geek stuff, such as the exposure and aperture size.

Pro or Go?

Whether you sink another thousand-plus dollars into the Inspire Pro will largely depend on how much you need the RAW 4K recording ability of that drone. In my book, the Zenmuse X3 equipped Inspire 1 V2.0 is already “pro” equipment, but if your project demands that extra lick of quality then you’ll know if the extra money is worth it.

Final Words

The Inspire is probably one of the most impressive civilian camera drones on the market today. The design is just brilliant. The flight control system makes the barrier to entry pretty low, and that footage is just gorgeous. The Zenmuse sensor is more than competent in this price class, but I have to say that seeing the test footage really brings home how well-made the gimbal is too. Don’t take my word for it either; hit up YouTube, and if you have a 4K screen make sure to watch those videos at that quality.

The Inspire is a market leader in my opinion, and I recommend it highly.