DJI Inspire 2 Quadcopter Drone

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Upgrading from the Inspire 1? Or just looking for a bad ass pro-level drone to do your bidding? DJI’s next generation Inspire 2 boasts some pretty amazing features. Andy Willmott gets behind the sticks for this review on DJI’s latest Ready-To-Fly aerial cinematography flagship.

LIKE most professional drone pilots, I’ve been flying the Inspire 1 and Inspire Pro since release a couple of years ago.

It really was a game changer - it simplified and unified so many systems and made working on the simpler jobs so much easier.

One case replaced several cases, heavy batteries, chargers and generators to support the previous much larger solution.

In the last 2 years drone tech has advanced somewhat, and early this year the Inspire 2 was unveiled. Since then we have added a couple of these bad boys to our fleet. Let’s take a look at the upgrades and what makes this evolution so amazing.

So what’s new?

The list of features the Inspire 2 boasts is now quite broad. It packs all the standard features you will find on most modern drones, plus some added upgrades.

I thought in this review I would focus on the top upgrades that make this generation of Inspire the top of its class.

The top 6 reasons you are going to want the inspire 2

6: She’s fast

If you want to track a fast-moving subject such as a car, boat or train then you have come to the right place.

In Sport mode you won’t have access to intelligent flight modes, but you will be able to outpace a lot of subjects.

The motors are stronger and the whole system is a lot more stable both when stationary and in flight.

  • Inspire 2 (sport) - 94kph

  • Inspire 1 - 79kph

  • Mavic Pro (sport) - 65kph

  • Phantom 4 Pro (sport) - 72kph

5: Collision avoidance

The Inspire 2 has proximity sensors (a combination of visual and ultrasonic) facing upward and forward as well as down, but still doesn't have rear or side sensors.

One of the benefits of these extra sensors is in an emergency return-to-home situation. When you professionally fly a drone you generally have (or should have) a pretty good awareness of your surrounds and flight path, but if your aircraft goes into a return-to-home for whatever reason in a tricky location, this feature could save your drone from flying into a tree or building between it and you.

It even detects change s in terrain if, for instance, it has to climb a hill. At times the proximity warnings can interfere with your shooting, as they go into action and start slowing you down when an obstacle is about 15m away.

Often when you fly professionally, you are going to be closer than 15m to some objects, but it is easy to turn off the feature in settings.

It's important to remember that as soon as you put the Inspire 2 into Sport mod e it automatically disables this feature, as it can't reliably save you at high speeds.

4: Intelligent flight modes

The Inspire 2 now supports additional flight mode s such as ActiveTrack, Spotlight Pro and many more. ActiveTrack is my favourite. It allows you to draw a box around a subject such as a person, car or boat on your screen and click GO, letting the drone track a moving subject without any assistance from the pilot.

It also allows the pilot to move the drone in relation to the subject, for instance flying in a perfect circle around the moving subject with ease. A variation on this tracking feature is Spotlight Pro. This is not available on the Phantom 4, it's an Inspire 2 only feature as it needs the camera to operate independently of the drone.

Rather than ensuring the drone autonomously follows a moving subject like ActiveTrack, Spotlight Pro is only worried about keeping the camera locked on the subject, allowing you to fly the drone wherever you like. This enables you to pull off some seriously pro-looking shots even as a solo operator.

DJI INSPIRE 2 HIGHLIGHTS

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  • Shoot Video up to 5.2K

  • Shoot Stills at 20MP

  • Full Motion Tracking

  • Collision Avoidance

  • Extra Long Flight Times

  • Very Fast at 94kph

  • Improved Stability for Smoother Shots

3: Redundant systems

I have to say the Inspire 1 and Pro were reliable drones and DJI sends out regular updates to software and firmware. But none of the Inspire 1's systems including the battery had any redundancy.

The Inspire 2 now comes with:

  • Dual batteries (self heating)

  • Dual barometers

  • Dual IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units)

This all means less chance of errors from motion sensors and less chance of a failure from a faulty battery.

2: Video transmission

The Inspire 1 had a decent digital video transmission, it was certainly better than most of the hobby level 5.8GHz analog systems we were used to, though suffered from about a half a second lag, and was often a little choppy, especially on the second (camera operator's) controller.

With the Inspire 2 we get a sweet upgrade. DJI's latest Lightbridge tech has an effective transmission range of 7km (advertised) offering broadcast-ready live HD output up to 1080p. Best of all, the lag has been reduced to less than 200ms (tested myself).

I haven't tested it out to 7km, as that is kind of illegal, but in line of sight tests it is certainly more solid than the older system, a very welcome upgrade indeed.

1: The camera

There are many significant upgrades in the Inspire 2, but by far my top pick for the reason to upgrade is the camera capabilities.

Firstly, it has a small FPV front facing camera, which appears as a picture-in-picture on your smart device. This means no longer does the pilot need to put the main camera in FPV mode to regain orientation if necessary.

The main camera comes in 2 versions - there is a smaller basic camera called the X4S, but you are going to want the X5S. It allows recording video up to 5.2K at 30fps or 4K at 60fps with bitrates up to 100Mbps.

Cinematographers and colourists will be loving that you can shoot in CinemaDNG (RAW) in 5.2K or Apple ProRes in 4K with optional added license.

You are going to need the optional Solid State Drive to store up to 480GB of all those super large video files, and it takes gorgeous 20MP stills too.

Colour and resolution-wise this camera is exceptional. I have heard people compare the output from this camera to the ARRI Alexa Mini. It truly is that good. BOOM. Well played DJI, sign me up.

DJI INSPIRE 2 FLIGHT REPORT

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PERFORMANCE - HANDLING

Agile, responsive, stable and most of all FAST. The Inspire 2 is a class above everything in DJI's current stable.

FLIGHT TIME

At around 25 minutes, almost 10 minutes longer than the Inspire 1, you will have plenty of time to get your shot. Batteries take about an hour to charge though so you will need a few sets.

FINAL WORD

There really is no incentive for me to rave about this drone. It just works and works very well. Feature wise there is nothing from any competitor in the same league. It may seem on the pricey side, but on a commercial level it is reasonable and honestly it seems fair for such a high end product.

It really is the best off the shelf drone for Aerial Cinematography money can buy right now. For quality of output, reliability and sheer ease of use, as a professional cinematographer you definitely want this drone.

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DJI INSPIRE 2 SPECIFICATIONS
Model Inspire 2
Manufacturer DJI
Type Quadcopter
Width/Length 605mm
Radio Control Type 2.4/5.8GHz Transmitter included
Battery 4280mAh 6S Lipo
Operating Range (advertised) 7km
Flight Time 25-27min
Top Speed 94kph
Price $10,699 (Premium Combo)

DJI Inspire-2 quadcopter drone