This week we took delivery of our new DJI Inspire 2 from Buzzflyer and managed to find a gap in the weather to put together our DJI Inspire 2 VS DJI Inspire 1 Pro – First Impressions Review. We were keen to find out whether the new Codecs options of ProRes and RAW were going to significantly improve picture quality and our ability to grade the footage. We also wanted to see whether the DJI Inspire 2 was easier to fly. As a single person crew would it’s advanced new features allow us to capture shots like never before?
Here is the video we have put together:
So is the DJI Inspire 2 the answer to our dreams? Maybe not quite but here are my first thoughts:
This is where the money goes in my opinion. The camera upgrade was my sole reason for switching from the Inspire 1 Pro to the Inspire 2 – anything else is a bonus. It’s been difficult to get direct comparisons between the cameras and hence this blog post but I have to say I am not disappointed. In the video you can see a comparison between the Inspire 1 and the Inspire 2 in ProRes and in RAW. The increase in picture quality with the latter two codecs is huge. For me this means that I can cut my aerial footage with my ground footage, shot on the Sony FS5, without a noticeable difference in image quality and colour science. The new camera gives me an extra 5 stops of Dynamic Range and for aerial filming that makes a huge difference. It also allows me to shoot in 5.2K (not useful in itself but gives the ability to crop in post) and at 60 fps in 4K which allows a small degree of slow motion in post. The lack of compression in the new codecs allow much more flexibility with colour grading and cropping. This camera makes the upgrade worth the money on its own.
I am surprised how much I like this feature. I don’t like the cost as it now costs me £360 to buy a pair of batteries for each flight whereas with the Inspire 1 it cost me half that. I actually think its worth it though – the extra flight time on its own is not double (its about 5 minutes extra) but the peace of mind I get from knowing that if I have a battery failure I can still get my flying camera back is worth a lot. I have had several battery failures on Phantoms and Inspires – they do happen.
I like this feature. As a singe operator it brings a small amount of additional peace of mind. That said I have not been brave enough to fly full pelt at a building yet to see what happens! I also wish it would work in reverse – how hard can it be to fit sensors on the back? A lot of my shots are flown backwards. I have mentioned the FPV camera in this section as its prime use is in obstacle avoidance whilst flying with the main camera pointed anywhere other than the front. It is a useful extra and I welcome it – I just need to get used to using it!
The Inspire 2 is quicker to setup than the Inspire 1. I like the fact that I can enter and leave travel mode without having to power up the transmitter. Speed is everything on a professional shoot – we need to look organised and be efficient and this definitely helps with that.
Who doesn’t like more power! Where this seems to come into its own is stability in flight and this leads to better shots – happy days! The increased top speed will also be useful on car shoots – I look forward to my next track day filming session.
The app allows me to record in a log profile on my SSD card (in ProRes or RAW) and any other colour profile on my SD card (in H624). This means that I can record in Log and view in a colour profile making exposing and focusing shots much easier.
OK so those are the good bits. Which bits still need improvement?
For me these features are just not usable yet. As you will see in the video they seem to lose objects mid shot and then the camera swings wildly. In the commercial world we often get one shot – we can’t keep repeating stuff because the camera is playing up. It needs to be right first time and I would not yet trust these features to do that for me – I will be sticking to manual camera operation.
Every time the drone is switched off the ProRes colour setting defaults to “none’. It then records in a horrible colour profile. You have to remember to switch to Log each time. All other camera settings are remembered by the app so I hope this will be improved in a Firmware update.
This is the obvious downside with recording in a codec with less compression. For me its a worthwhile trade – I only mention it because it means data storage is more expensive and it takes longer to download the footage – worth every penny and minute though for me.
The DJI Inspire 2 is a brilliant piece of kit. It will become my “go to” drone and camera setup now. The extra cost and workflow is more than compensated for by the increase in image quality, flight times and flight safety. The active track and spotlight pro features still need improvement but the image quality and the grade-ability of the footage are all that I hoped they would be. Watch this space for more Inspire 2 footage!
UPDATE – March 2017
DJI have released a firmware update that solves the problem of the camera forgetting the settings when switched off and back on again.