As lovers of the Inspire 2 system, and all that it offers, we were really excited to hear that the X7 was announced. As all of our ground cameras are Super 35, it seemed like a perfect match to how we like to shoot. Unfortunately, those stats on paper didn’t lead up to the kind of results we need in the air. This post explains our thoughts on the matter.
A larger sensor increases the depth within an image. On the ground this serves to help isolate a subject from its background, in the air, it increases the complexity of achieving critical focus. This was experienced firsthand on set when the director called for a long dolly out over a lake, with the camera focused on the subject on the shore. Even when removing the NDs, putting the aperture at its max of F16, there was no way to keep the subject in focus without a dedicated puller.
This was the first thing we had against the X7, the X7-specific DL Mount lenses. The Inspire 2 already suffers from being a complex, expensive (our kit pushing around $12k), and proprietary system. The X7 takes propriety one step further with lenses that can only be used on this one single camera. But, where the propriety of the system once resulted in having an extremely cohesive system that allowed you to focus on image-making, this addition stifles creativity by locking you into a very small amount of lens choices. Adding in the cost of a larger camera, and a full set of DL mount lenses, would drive up the price of our kit up to nearly $20k all in.
Having a respectable number of shows under our belt, we know how drone shots are used in most productions. Adding the X7 adds another crew member to the aerial team, and almost doubles the value of the gear hovering in the air. Ultimately, this would require us to nearly double our daily rate while only offering a very small increment of improved quality.
Admittedly it’s hard to say no to new gear. We always want to bring the newest and best tools to set. This is why passing on the X7 is a choice we don’t make lightly, and that we keep revisiting. Now that the camera has come down in price, and 3rd parties like Laowa have started releasing lenses for the DL mount, we’re keeping our minds open to the idea of picking one up. In the meantime, we are more than willing to rent and fly the X7 if requested for your project.