DJI INSPIRE REVIEW
We take a look at the DJI Inspire 2 and see just what all the hype is about. If you are a professional filmmaker and you don’t yet have this added to your arsenal, then you might want to look away now… or look very closely indeed.
The DJI inspire 2 has been on general sale for just over a year now so we thought it was about time that we got our hands on one for a weekend and put it through its paces for a full review.
With a starting price of just over £3,000 the DJI Inspire 2 is not for the faint hearted and or for the casual drone filmmaker, this is very much at the high end of the professional drone photography scale.
In fact, the starting price will not even come packaged with a camera so you will most likely want to take advantage of one of the combo packs that DJI offers – with 4 to choose from you can spend anything from £4,400 to £21,600 depending on your needs.
DJI Inspire 2 Tech Specs
You can view the full specifications for the Inspire 2 here at DJI – but for the abbreviated specs see below:
Flight Time: Up to 27 minutes (using 2 batteries)
Range: Up to 7KM
Speed: Up to 58MPH
Sensory Range: Up to 30M
Video Resolution: 5.2K (30FPS) or 4K (60FPS)
Live View: 1080p
Operating Temperature: -20C – 40C
Dual User Compatible: Yes – Host and Slave
Video Format: CinemaDNG, Apple ProRes 5.2K, H.265, H.264, 4K Video at 100Mbps
In The Box
The contents of the DJI Inspire 2 packaging will depend on exactly which package you have ordered. The standard Inspire 2 (drone only) package includes the Inspire 2 drone, remote controller, 4 pairs of propellers, 2 intelligent flight batteries, charger, battery charger hub, power and USB cables, 16GB microSD card, vision calibration plate, gimbal damper, propeller mounting plates and a carrying case.
Depending on your needs the following packages are also available:
Standard Combo – Check Latest Price
Probably the best value combination overall and comes with everything listed above but also includes an extra pair of propellers, and extra 4 batteries (6 in total) and the Zenmuse X4S camera. The X4s camera has a 1 inch sensor and offers 20 megapixel photography and can record in 4K HD at 60FPS at 100Mbps bitrate in H.264 and H.265 video output.
For users who require top quality filming and editing but not necessarily true cinematic quality or full lens control then this is a very good value package to opt for.
Professional Combo – Find Out More Here
The professional combo includes the same as the standard combo but with an extra 2 batteries (8 in total), 1 Apple ProRes Activation Licence Key, the Zenmuse X5S instead of the X4S, 2 CrystalSky 7.85 inch displays, 2 x 240GB SSD drives, CINESSD station and the DJI Focus Handwheel 2. The standard remote controller is also swapped out for the Cendence remote controller.
DJI pitch this package to the ‘exacting creatives’ and in essence it is a truly professional package for the most prudent of filmmakers. The upgrade to the Zenmuse X5S along with the CrystalSky Display and the focus handwheel make this a package that has plenty of value for money.
This package is getting close to where you start being able to replace 4 man crews thanks to this technology.
The premium combo is very similar to the professional combo but swaps out the two high brightness CrystalSky displays for two ultra brightness displays and swaps out the 2x240GB CINESSD drives for 2x480GB CINESSD drives. You also get an extra Cendence remote controller.
Camera wise it is exactly the same but with this package you do also get the CinemaDNG and Apple Pro Res Activation Key rather than just the Pro Res licence.
It is harder to justify the price rise from the Inspire 2 Professional Combo to the Inspire 2 Premium Combo as it is very similar, but if you want/need your footage in CinemaDNG and require extra storage for your files then it is probably worth the extra.
Cinema Premium Combo
The cinema premium combo for the Inspire 2 is a full blown professional set up and is the holy grail of aerial photography.
In addition to the Premium Combo you also get:
- An extra 2 batteries (10 in total)
- An extra pair of propellers (6 in total)
- 2 Cendence Remote Controllers
- Zenmuse X7
- DL-S 16mm lens, DL 24mm lens, DL 35mm Lens and DL50mm lens
- 5 480GB CINESSD drives
The significant difference with this package being the Zenmuse X7 which retails for close to £3,000 alone and without a lens. The lenses that come packaged with this offer so much potential for a filmmaker and they bring real value to this package.
The quality that you get from the S35 image sensor along with the ability to output 6K CinemaDNG as RAW files is just phenomenal. You also get a lens mount which means you can switch between the four lenses quickly and easily without the need to manually change them at ground level.
If you are looking to replace your current professional setup or just need something different to your current pro-set up then this is the ultimate in professional aerial filmmaking and photography.
The history of the DJI Inspire 2 dates back to the original Inspire 1 and although the original model has seen many facelifts since its launch in 2014 (and is still available to buy today), it was long overdue to an overhaul to keep the premium and professional end of the drone industry happy.
As DJI do, they have released a drone in the Inspire 2 that will not just keep the corporate filmmakers content but it is also capable of performing in Hollywood blockbusters and keeping the most demanding of directors happy with their work. In fact, some directors are even using the Zenmuse X7 camera for closeups instead of their standard rigs.
The beauty of the Inspire 2 is that it caters to many thanks to the array of customisability it offers. It can be dual piloted, have automated lens changing, comes with a ton of battery life (especially if you go for the combo packages) and put simply, produces some of the most stunning videography and photography that we have ever seen. In addition to that, its simplicity and feature rich software means that you can get professional shots without being professionally trained – although it does help of course.
Who Is The Inspire 2 Designed For?
The fact that the price point starts at £3000+ kind of dictates who the Inspire 2 is aimed at in terms of target market but perceptions may have shifted a bit in this sense since launch in November 2016.
Initially, the Inspire 2 was very much so being pitched at industry professionals and whilst that is still very much the case there has become an increasing consumer demand for pro quality filmmaking for the amateur of hobbyist drone photographer.
Those drone enthusiasts who have been using a Mavic Pro or Phantom 4 Pro and just need/want more will have already been eyeing up the possibilities of upgrading to an Inspire 2. Those who were early adopters of the Inspire 1 may also be considering the jump up to the second in its generation.
However, at the price point, unless you have a decent level of disposable cash to spend or you already have a Zenmuse camera that you want to attach to the entry level Inspire 2 then it is unlikely you are going to want to spend £4k upwards…. but… it is worth every penny in our book.
Inspire 2 – Key Features
The first thing to mention and one of the first questions most people ask is concerning the battery life. DJI have done everything they can to provide you with enough juice to get what you need from the Inspire 2.
The drone ships as standard with 2 intelligent flight batteries which are now the standard in DJI drones of this ilk. The fact that it has two running gives you a flight time of around 25 to 27 minutes on average. But when you consider that the standard combo package includes 6 batteries, that is almost an hour and half of flying time for a single outing with just 2 interruptions to your actual flight required. The only way DJI could improve this is if the batteries were stored on board and automatically replaced in flight.
We found battery life to be pretty consistent and of course the intelligent flight batteries give you all the data you need and will send the drone back to home if battery life is too low to sustain flight.
The design of the Inspire 2 is something to behold. If you are used to operating a smaller drone you will be first blown away by the size and build quality. The magnesium aluminium shell and carbon fibre arms provide a lightweight but incredibly sturdy and solid construction that just oozes quality.
The Inspire 2 is capable of top speeds of 58MPH which is significantly faster than its predecessor and other drones on the market at similar price points. You also don’t need to worry about flying at high speed as there is in built sense and avoid technology that can sense potential collisions at up to 30m away. It is advised that for true protected flight you should maintain a speed of 34MPH or below – so be warned!
Upward facing infrared sensors, terrain detection, and the use of the FPV camera to detect forward facing obstacles means that you are well covered when it comes to avoiding accidents.
Flight wise the Inspire 2 is incredibly easy to control and when flying manually the controller sensitivity is spot on. The gimbal for the camera is about as good as you are going to get and we flew the Inspire 2 at high altitudes in high winds and it performed as though it were the stillest of days.
The flight modes that we have come to expect on DJI drones (using the DJI Flight App) are all here to be found with TapFly, ActiveTrack and Spotlight Pro being amongst our favourites. Using intelligent flight modes you can set the drone to fly to a certain waypoint or track a certain object which leaves you to focus on what’s important – the camerawork.
The FPV camera has 2 axis which means you essentially get two different flight views from the Inspire. The first being the flight view and the second being the main camera view – this is a lot simpler to use than it sounds and provides so much control.
The drone is self heating too which means it can be operated in temperatures as low as -20 degrees centigrade – just perfect for those cold expeditions and aerial snow shots.
The entry level Inspire 2 does not come with a camera so unless you already have a compatible camera you are going to need to opt for at least the standard combo.
The type of camera you need is going to depend on what sort of level of work you need to produce. It would be a crime to label the Zenmuse X4 as entry level as it is far from it and for most the X4S and X5S is going to provide ample quality and flexibility. It is well worth the investment in various lenses and that is where the X7 package comes in to its own, but for most the other packages will be more htna sufficient.
Footage can be stored on the CINESSD drives and the ability of recording and editing in CinemaDNG RAW or Apple ProRes gives added dimensions to what can be created in post-production.
For those who need to broadcast live, the Inspire 2 comes complete with the ability to transmit a live signal via its dedicated 1080i50 and 720p60 live streaming. Again, this is a more advanced function but the facility is there if needed.
We tested the Zenmuse X5S and the footage was simply stunning. Check out this video from DJI showcasing just what can be achieved.
DJI Inspire 2 Accessories
There are a number of accessories available for the DJI Inspire 2 with most of them coming bundled with the various combo packages that you can purchase.
The battery charging station is is one that can charge up to 8 batteries at a time and has total storage space for up to 12 batteries. This is a must have piece of kit for the professionals on the move.
One of the best accessories has to be the DJI Focus remote which gives you the ability to have full focus control from ground level. Compatible with the X5S and X7 it is a very handy piece of tech for getting the absolute best from your shots.
The CrystalSky displays offer excellent outdoor display ability and comes in 5.5inch and 7.85inch variants. They offer a much improved display than the standard smartphone or tablet and can be used in very bright conditions.
The DJI CINESSD and CINESSD Station are excellent pieces of hardware that allow for high speed writing of images and video to storage. The Station is designed to add the CINESSD to (which is an NVMe logical device interface) and provides transfer speeds of up to 4.2Gbps which is astonishing. The Station allows the data to be transferred to a computer quickly so you can be editing before you know it.
The DJI Inspire 2 is a serious piece of kit for the serious filmmakers. Although on the face of it not cheap, the Inspire 2 can be a huge cos saver for the professional and can almost single handedly replace a 4 man aerial crew with just the need for one or two pilots and the drone itself.
In terms of quality, the Inspire 2 nails video and stills in every way possible thanks to the variety of Zenmuse cameras and the quality that they bring. The gimbal is super rock steady, even in the highest of winds and if you need studio quality footage you will get it with this setup.
If you have the need for this level of kit and the budget then it is a no brainer. You get what you pay for when it comes to drone tech, but with the DJI Inspire 2 you get a whole lot more besides. It is hard to see how anything at this price point could offer more.
The DJI Inspire 2 is a premium and professional drone that has been built for professional aerial photographers and filmmakers. That being said, it is completely accessible for amateur filmmakers or those looking to take their first steps in to aerial photography and cinematography thanks to the simple to use interface.
Expect studio quality results, particularly when using the X7 camera.
We love the battery life of the Inspire 2 along with the usual DJI quality software and hardware. You will go a long way (and probably time travel in to the future) to find a better drone than this.