The Inspire 1 is going to have two batteries available, the TB48 and the TB47. If you are serious about aerial photography, you should have at least one extra battery. I have ordered 3 extra TB48 batteries because I want to be in the air as long as possible when filming surfing and other dynamic subjects I am not sure how much longer the flight time will be with the TB48, but I expect that it might be an extra 3-5 minutes. The DJI Inspire one comes stock with a TB47 battery that is 4500mah. The upgraded TB48 batteries have 5700mah. I will be doing an extensive review and test of both of these batteries as soon as I get them so be sure to check back often or subscribe via email.
I have pre - ordered the DJI Inspire 1 from DroneFly.com and I will be doing some extensive testing to see if it can handle extreme aerial photography situations that I have put my DJI Phantom through. I will be doing a thorough review of the Inspire 1 as soon as I get it and I will be sure to point out the pros as well as the cons. These are some questions that I will seek to answer with my testing. I have also already identified some cons and I will list those as well to counter the hype that is out there right now.
First of all, I need to know that I can trust this thing to not fall out of the sky during long distance flying. For example, I have a line of sight to the big wave surf spot Jaws but the surfers can be over 600 meters away. Can the lightbridge provide a solid, low latency video feed from this distance and further (They claim that it can).
I am curious which video goggles I will switch too now that the controller has HDMI / USB video out. Maybe I will need to switch to a tablet / smart phone viewing solution. I prefer the precision and focus that video goggles offer but there seems to be many upsides to learning to fly with a monitor (you can control all kinds of adjustments from the DJI App in real time). I might be a bit old school in my preference for video goggles but I am open to switching if I can still fly with the same focus and precision.
If you follow my blog or have studied my books on aerial photography, you know that I love 720 120fps and higher frame rates because they allow for silky smooth slow motion. The new GoPro 4 can even film at 720 240fps which leads to true, cinematic quality slow motion. The DJI cam can only film at 720 60fps but can do 4k at 30. I am not excited about losing my slow motion surfing shots but I would be picking up much more control of the camera while it is flying. You can snap pictures and start / stop the video from the remote control which is a nice feature that I am looking forward too.
If you watch promotional videos of the DJI Inspire you will also notice that there is an unmistakable vibration in the gimbal while the legs go up. I doubt this happens once it has stopped but you can't help but notice DJI has tried to cover this up by putting the camera directly in front of the sun in the promo video.
I like that you can add filters to the camera and also that the camera is modular, but it just means spending more money down the line to swap it out unless they will release software that will allow for some higher frame rate recording. They also want to charge $650 for an extra remote to enable the two man flights. When you take things to the next level, having a dedicated camera operator is really useful but then you have to have someone else who knows how to smoothly operate the camera which is harder than you might think. If you have watched TheVerge.com video of the Inspire, notice at the 33 second mark they show an S800 - that was my S800 at SXSW a year or two back and it was setup as a two man rig.
Another possible upside to the DJI Inspire is the 50mph speed they are claiming in ATTI mode. For me, this is huge because the Phantom can't keep up with the fast moving subjects that I am often trying to film. The decent speed is also double at 4m/s instead of the Phantoms 2m/s.
I am not sure yet if this is going to be able to replace my Phantom for extreme filming but I do think this would be a great rig for a start up aerial photography business or real estate agent looking to capture standard aerial pictures because of the buttons on the remote for starting / stopping video and taking pictures. If you have any questions about this copter, please comment below so everyone can benefit from the discussion.
Be sure to enter your email address and subscribe to the email list to be notified when new DroneAbove.com content is made. I will be putting this through some extreme testing when I get it so be sure to check back often. If you are looking to buy a drone or anything hobby related, be sure to check out DroneFly.com.
Today I woke up and checked my surfline app because I could hear the surf pounding outside and sure enough, Jaws was firing. One of my batteries has been giving me issues so I was a bit nervous to take out my copter because I knew I would be flying up to 600 meters away and if the issue came up it might be hard to get the phantom back. Everything was going smoothly until my last flight. I just got to the left side of the impact zone to film some rights when I noticed in my iOSD that my battery warning was going off. This limits my ability to climb any faster than .1-.3 meters per second which is not ideal when I am already at -25+ meters below where I took off from because I was flying off a cliff then dropping down to film the surf. Anyway, worst case scenario happened when I was about 400 meters away and I still managed to get it back. It took awhile to ascend to the top of the cliff, but my little trusty white stead made it! I got some decent footage of surfing but my favorite clip is actually a wipe out that shows a jet ski grabbing a surfer in the impact zone. You can really see just how insanely powerful and fast these waves are in this clip, so be sure to watch it too. If you want to learn about aerial photography, please visit my books section to start learning how to do this stuff. If you have any questions or comments, let me know below!
The wind was steady and strong and the windsurfers were out today at Ho'okipa. The waves were smaller than yesterday but the swell was still putting up head to slightly overhead surf. All of these windsurfing pictures were taken from a DJI Phantom 2 with a modified GoPro Black 3+ on a timer every 2 seconds so maybe you will understand how lucky I was to capture so many of these guys mid-air. I really enjoy trying to capture windsurfing content because it is so challenging because of all the wind, you really have to pay attention!
We headed to a spot that was getting some huge south swell and got a chance to watch and film Ty Simpson Kane, a 10 year old big wave surfer. This kid defines the term "super grom". Nice work, I hope I get to film him again real soon.
I finally had a chance to test out my new 5.4mm Lens that I put onto my GoPro Black+. The results are interesting! First of all, it makes flying FPV way more difficult because you lose all of your peripheral vision, so be careful if you are flying low. It also ampliifies the effects of wind (I was flying the video below in about 15-20 mph winds). It also amplifies every little movement that you make with the drone and the gimbal. Despite these limitations and drawbacks, the output is pretty good and opens up lots of new opportunities for filming stuff that would not look good with a fish eye lens. I only have the 2 axis gimbal but I think the 3 axis one would make this fly better in the wind, so you might consider upgrading to that as well if you want to use this as your primary lens.
The still pictures are going to be much better for showing off the views and things in the distance. This is something I covered in my book on aerial photography and this might just be the inexpensive solution for those shots! Use the stock fish eye for shooting the actual structures and switch to this lens if you need to show the structure and the view. This way you do not need to fly a huge hexacopter or larger camera drone to get the different shots - you just have two GoPros that you swap out. Note that the horizon is NOT curved or fish eye, just a nice normal looking picture.
If you want to modify your GoPro Black + (this is the only one that seems to work easily with this mod) you need to know that you will void your warranty. I would recommend having two different cameras, a stock one and the modified one for serious aerial work. For most people the regular GoPro will be fine, but if you really want to add to your photo toolbox, it is so much easier to just add another GoPro than to build a different copter to fly a different camera. This is a great solution for me because although I might actually need an S900, I really want to avoid getting one if the phantom can get the job done. It is cheaper, simpler, and safer.
I bought the actual 5.4mm lens from here OSTRC.COM for $155
I also bought a dust ring cover and hood from PeauProductions.com who also sells the same lens. The dust ring cover fits over the lens when you screw it in and covers all the electronics underneath. I really needed this because I can fly in some pretty dusty and wet climates and I did not want my GoPro black+ to get all that gunk inside. The lens hood prevents lens flairs and I would recommend it. Both parts are very inexpensive and worth the extra trouble to get them.
Installing the lens is pretty straightforward, just watch a few different videos on Youtube to get up to speed. The focusing of the lens is critical and you should watch this video as well as some others before you try it. The GoPro LCD backpack is a great tool to help with focusing .
If you need more specific information or you have questions, please ask in the comment section of this blog post so others can benefit.
The contest has ended and there were 4 submissions. I was hoping for more but I got some good ones. The winning video is from Ethan at HI-Flight. This video demonstrates some serious RC skill, he shoots his Hubsan X4 through a 45 degree slanted opening about 3 inches thick among other cool stunts. He also had the best production quality and put together a really fun video. I really liked the FPV Quadcopter powered Hubsan balloon that Ian from DroneMaui.com submitted. That was a really creative hack for the Hubsan and I think others will be interested in building something similar. The "Drone Impossible" video from Jared Apperson shows the onboard camera perspective from the camera equipped version of the Hubsan X4 as he flies through an enclosed slide and around his son inside the slide. Nice flying skills through one of the best nano drone arenas - the playground! The final video features a dual view / picture in picture as Joel Liebeskind flies out of his balcony window over what looks to be a difficult to recover if crashed area. It reminds me of the time I flew it out of a condo window on the 6th floor and crash landed on a neighbors deck who was not around. I had to put my tail between my legs and go get the front desk to let me in to get it back!
I really appreciate you guys testing out your skills and taking the time to make a video showing off your skills. Ethan wins the contest, but the 3 runner ups are all going to get brand new Hubsan X4s shipped to them for entering the contest! Please shoot me your mailing address at the contact page!
The surf was big and heavy. I was having a hard time keeping up with the waves even when I was flying at full stick - these waves were fast. There was a 10 year old named Ty Simpson Kane who was riding some of these big waves. It was amazing seeing such a young man out there enjoying some serious waves. He had a huge support network helping him and making sure he was safe and I am sure they play a huge part in his success.
I did not have my new 5.4mm lens on the GoPro black yet, but I am really looking forward to trying this out. I am hoping I do not have to get so close to the waves and riders to get good footage with this new lens. There were some close calls with the waves but somehow the Phantom will live to fly another day!
A big south swell was pounding the southern coast of Maui, especially La Perouse Bay. Ekolu Kalama told me he was going out so we packed up and cruised down there. I did not nail this shot but it still turned out great. After this wipe out, Ekolu described the following beating he took as violent and said there was nothing to do while you are being held under but sing church songs to yourself. He also said "There are no atheists in the impact zone" and it really stuck in my head. These waves have some serious power! More pictures and video coming soon!
Ekolu Kalama catches a big wave at La Perouse Bay. After I filmed this he was describing what it was like and what stuck in my head was "There are no atheists in the impact zone." The wave before this one, before I was flying, was even bigger and he nailed it. I have been bummed all day that I missed it. These waves are moving really fast and I can't get my Phantom to keep up. It was flying full bore 11 m/s and was falling behind. Not a shining example of drone flying, but I still think it is interesting.
Some friends of mine decided last minute to head over to Lanai because there was some south swell coming in. We loaded up on the ferry and headed over to camp and surf. The reef was really shallow and rocks stuck up near the peak and I managed to ding my surfboard within the first 5 minutes. After that, I started being really careful and didn't catch too many waves. After surfing alone with my friends for many hours, I came back to the beach and pulled out the DJI Phantom to try and get some surf and beach footage. These guys got lots of waves that were way better than the ones that I captured here but the long time between sets made it difficult to get the best waves.
Lanai is a beautiful place and it was not crowded. Surfing with only a few friends was a new experience for me as the breaks around Maui are always crowded. Below is a short clip that hopefully shows how cool Manele Bay is and what it is like to surf there.