Formidable camera drone manufacturer DJI makes pretty much the best kit you can get in the category these days. But just in case you want even better image quality from your camera in the sky, the company is releasing two new little 4K resolution, interchangeable-lens shooters that open up new options.
The new DJI Zenmuse X5 and X5R are interchangeable-lens cameras designed to work with DJI's awesome Inspire 1 prosumer drone. They're basically the same and we'll get to the difference below.
The cameras both have a 16-megapixel micro-four-thirds image sensor. That's the same sensor format used by Olympus and Panasonic for their excellent interchangeable-lens cameras. And like those cameras, the Zenmuse duo each have a mft mount so you can swap lenses. The cameras hook to the drone on DJI's 3-axis gimbal, which keeps the image nice and steady. The cameras are capable of shooting at up to 4k resolution at either 24 or 30 frames per second.
Why do you need a special new mft camera when so many already exist? Because with the X5s you can adjust focus and aperture from DJI's remote controllers as well as from the company's slick iPad app. Since this is the case, support needs to be added for each camera, and so only a handful of lenses work with the camera. From the release:
At the time of launch, the Zenmuse X5 will support 4 interchangeable lenses, including the DJI MFT 15mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, Panasonic Lumix 15mm G Leica DG Summilux f/1.7 ASPH lens, Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12mm f/2.0 lens, and Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 lens. While the Zenmuse X5 is in flight, pilots can adjust both focus and aperture via the DJI GO app or through DJI's previously-announced Follow Focus system.
That gives you a range from wide-angle to a more natural field of view. (Double the mm numbers above to get the 35mm equivalent numbers.) It's worth noting that there are no super-wide fisheye type lenses or anything telephoto. And obviously nothing zooms, either.
The difference between the X5 and X5R models is that the latter is capable of recording lossless CinemaDNG RAW video to either microSD or the 512GB SSD. In this mode, the camera records at a whopping average rate of 1.7Gbps — the standard X5 records at a maximum rate of 60Mbps.
Now, the interchangeable lens rigs won't be cheap. The X5 and X5R will cost $US4500 and $US8000 respectively when bundled with the Inspire 1 and DJI's MFT 15mm f/1.7 lens. Considering the Inspire 1 with the standard camera costs $US2900, that's a pretty big jump in either case. That said, the Inspire 1 was never really intended for regular consumers like the dope Phantom series is. Still, the new shooters are a pretty crazy indication of how fast the drone market is expanding. DJI's been killing it. Let's hope the price comes down on some interchangeable lens options?