UPDATED February 6, 2016 – The updated price for the X5R is $3,199. This is a pretty big difference than the originally expected $5,499 when it was first announced.
The DJI Inspire 1 Pro and the Zenmuse X5 series cameras have been through rigorous testing by video and drone experts alike these last few months. There are a fair amount of bugs that need to be worked out for 100% efficiency, but this is to be expected for any new release. DJI released a new firmware upgrade for the X5 series cameras today that is aimed at taking care of many problems that users have been faced.
DJI Inspire 1 Pro Review
DJI debatably makes the best beginner and intermediate quadcopters available. They are extremely intuitive, most requiring no build knowledge, and mostly importantly… they work. The newer Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 series have built in Lightbridge, which far exceeds FPV capabilities of similar manufacturers. They are jammed packed full of features, and features that are extremely handy. We traditionally spent months building a custom quadcopter to hopefully include half these features. Now they are available at a price cheaper than anything you can custom make.
For all the positives involved, there was always a weak link – the camera. Don’t get me wrong, the cameras are great on the Phantom 3 Professional and Inspire 1. But they definitely are not in the “professional” category. The P3 Professional and Inspire 1 shot 4k, had manual settings, but are limited by a fixed lens and small sensor size.
Introducing the DJI Inspire 1 Pro.
That camera “weakness” is exactly what the Inspire 1 Pro fixed. The new Zenmuse X5R and X5 are DJI’s answer to a professional model camera. The X5 and X5R have a 16mp micro four thirds sensors, which is 8 times the size of the X3 camera found in the original Inspire. The X3 is very similar to your sensor found in a GoPro Hero 4 Black, while the X5 series is on par with your newer mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic GH4.
Beyond the larger sensor size, what we are most excited about is the interchangeable lens option. Having interchangeable lenses opens a whole new door for creative cinematography. Lens focus can be remotely adjusted using the DJI Go App or the new Focus Controller plugged into the Inspire transmitter. This is such a game changer for professionals.
Differences between the X5R and X5
Both the X5R and X5 are 16mp micro 4/3 cameras capable of 4k video. The X5R takes it to the next level by offering 4k video in RAW format at an astonishing 1.6gbps bitrate. Shooting lossless(RAW) allows post-production nearly limitless amounts of tweaking and color correcting without image degradation. The X5 shoots 4k as well, just not RAW.
The decision to shoot in RAW has to considered quite a bit. For most of us out there, RAW would never be necessary. We simply cannot rationalize the unreal amounts of hard drive storage needed, along with the man power required in post-production. However, if you are operating an aerial video service, having 4k RAW is a major selling point when you are simply handing the footage off to a producer after the shoot. If you plan on doing any higher budget work, then they are going to require something like a RED or X5R. Producers love anything that can shoot RAW, which is exactly why RED and Blackmagic cameras are so popular.
The X5R also includes a 512gb SSD (solid state drive), in comparison to the micro-SD only option on the X5. Both cameras are removable, so now you finally have the option to use a single camera for both aerial and ground footage.
DJI Inspire 1 Pro Cons
We could talk about the pros all day long, but what about the cons? The new Inspire 1 Pro still does not have a true dual operator setup. There is dual operator of course, but both operators still rely on the same camera. For filmmakers, this is a major issue. True dual operator has a FPV camera for the quadcopter operator, along with a FPV coming from the recording camera. Hopefully they are saving this as a selling point for a potential Inspire 2.
Conclusion – What Should I Buy
The game changer for me with the new Inspire 1 Pro and X5 series cameras is the interchangeable lens. 4k RAW is a huge factor, but that feature is going to cost you an additional $1,500. The pricing for the X5 with an Inspire 1 package is $4,499, while the X5R package is $5,999. The stand-alone price for the X5 is $2,199, while the X5R stand-alone price is $3,599. Both of those prices include a lens.
I believe the larger 16mp, micro 4/3 sensor, along with manual focus and interchangeable lenses is the major selling point. Those are the reasons we bought the Inspire 1 Pro.
Update – with the new pricing of the X5R being $3,599, I have to update my thoughts a little bit. We currently operate a X5 but will have the X5R ordered as soon as it’s readily available. The price difference between the two is only $1,500, compared to the announced pricing difference of $3,500. This makes it much more affordable and we can rationalize that price for added benefit of RAW shooting and the included SSD.
Keep in mind that if you are upgrading your X3 to the X5, you will need to purchase the absorbing board, which is sold separately. The new absorbing board will be compatible with both X3 and X5 cameras.
If you are thinking of purchasing an Inspire 1 Pro or X5 Series camera, we would love if you would use the links below. We get a small affiliate stipend from Amazon that helps keep our doors open!!
Is this upgrade not for you? We have been patiently waiting for the DJI Inspire 2 to be announced with a “hopeful” aresenal of features that have been critically missing in the original Inspire 1 and Inspire 1 Pro. This includes a true dual operator system that has two cameras: one for the pilot, and one for the camera operator. Read our DJI Inspire 2 Wishlist here.