We’ve been using DJI products from the very start. We nearly started building a Flamewheel, but were a bit gun shy. Fortunately it was only weeks later that the Phantom line was announced and we jumped aboard the DJI ship that has taken this entire industry so very far. During these years we’ve flown most of what DJI has brought to market, and crashed a few. To date, every crash, but a few times where we were just being a bit too rowdy, has been due to product system failure and everyone of those times, DJI has refused to accept responsibility, or support their product. And even in one case, refused to support their own failed repair after the craft returned still broken. Without turning this into a long rant about DJI poor follow up support, We’d like talk about a post-DJI future.
Currently, the bang for the buck champ is the Inspire 2 system. For the money, it offers more in quality imagery, and aerial capability than any other drone on the market. The Battery Station can charge 8 batteries faster than you can drain them while flying, leading to an unprecedented 100% contiguous flight time. All while shooting up to 6k RAW. It’s simply an impressive system that hits way above it’s price range. To outdo what it’s capable of requires a heavy lift drone system, gimbal, and camera that starts above where a maxed out I2 system tops out at. This has placed it as the go-to system for most commercial drone operators working in TV/Film.
The drone is a force to be reckoned with. But, one of the things that makes it so successful, we think is it’s Achille’s Heel: propriety. The integration of the camera’s processor into the craft itself allows for less wait and greater efficiency of the gimbal. The gimbal only has to hold what it really needs, which the camera’s sensor and lens. The processor and media are just extra weight that don’t require to be stabilized. This is where DJI’s brilliance was shown, they thought through exactly what would make for the most efficient system possible. This level of integration between drone and camera comes at the cost of modularity. The only third party options on the Inspire 2, is the choice of smart device, a list of compatible M43 lenses for the X5S and appropriate filters, and lastly which size and brand of MicroSD card to use.
Everything is not only specific to DJI, but proprietary to the Inspire 2 system. This is exemplified by the X7 and it’s X7 specific lenses. A $4700 set of lenses that have no other application other than this proprietary camera, that has no other use than on this drone. This means that you have little to no options for other cameras, and that you’re going to have massive depreciation towards the end of the product’s life cycle as every component is proprietary.
Sony has entered the segment, looking right at this segment of the market. The Airpeak is capable of carrying one of several Sony mirrorless cameras, and given the weight limits of the Gremsy gimbal that accompanies it, should be able to carry other small cameras such as the Blackmagic Pocket 6k or even the Red Komodo. This is where Sony comes in swinging right at DJI’s weak spot. Even if the Sony was limited to only carry Sony cameras, the lens options of the E Mount will put the DJI X5S/X7 lens options to shame.
Having a camera full un-integrated from the drone does mean that there is a large amount of unneeded weight being stabilized, and thus power wasted, but this also means that the imaging system, camera processor is upgradable. At the time of this writing, the Sony A1 is capable of shooting 50mb stills, and capture 10 bit 8k footage, and will fit on the Airpeak. That swings way over the I2’s head, and only costs a little north of $17,000 compared to our I2’s kit that costs just a little north of that as assembled.
DJI offered up an easy solution to getting beautiful footage, but within the walled garden ecosystem, removed all freedom of choice for camera and lenses. Sony seems firmly aimed at giving those in the garden a ladder out without charging a ransom. At this very moment, we’re prepping for the change over to Sony once it becomes available.