I have been practicing with my new DJI Inspire1 UAV (Drone). This is the third generation of these quadcopters from the Chinese company DJI.
Each generation has advanced the technology. This model bridges between their entry level Phantom series and their professional level S-1000 series.
I have owned a couple of the Phantoms and now own the Inspire. Here are the features that I value enough to upgrade from a $1,500 investment to a $3,000 investment.
This is a more serious photography/videography tool. It has a built-in camera that can record 4k video and 12 megapixel still images.
The controller has been redesigned and now includes most of the controls that you need for a photography flight.
The DJI Lightbridge technology that transmits high definition video from the camera to the controller and then is displayed on a smartphone or pad, is built in. This makes flying it much easier as well as composing the images.
The flight characteristics are superior. The camera is dedicated and the design integrated with the copter. The DJI gimbal technology insures a steady image, even in quite windy conditions.
The landing gear retracts, which allows the camera to rotate 360 degrees of unobstructed views.
The copter is much heavier, consequently has more powerful motors, larger propellers and a larger battery. The good news is the larger battery provides for between 15 and 20 minutes of flight time. This may not seem like much, but when the drone is in the air it is quite a long time. When you couple the fact that you can control the making of images and videos from the controller with a real time view of what the camera is seeing, you get a more than adequate flight experience. For folks who fly them for commercial jobs it may be a negative, but for the small videos I expect to be making it will work fine.
I am using an iPad mini for the monitor. It took some time after the Inspire was shipping for the iOS app to become available, but it is fully featured, providing all the information you need to configure the equipment, monitor the flights and manage the photography.
One of the things I don't like is that the camera is a fixed aperture. I'm sure this made for a simpler design, but it is f/2.8 which means to get smooth video during bright days you need to screw on an ND filter. One is supplied, but I would have preferred having the option to adjust the aperture.
All in all, this generation of DJI UAV's fulfills all the issues I used to think about when flying the earlier generations.
The videos below were recorded in 4k, rendered in 4k (very big files!) and uploaded to my site. Zenfolio reformats them to regular HD so they aren't as awesome in this blog as they are on my monitor.