Drones have been used for serious photography and filmmaking for quite some time, but drone leader DJI has upped the ante with two aerial cameras featuring Micro Four Thirds sensors. Both cameras can take 16 megapixel stills and 4k video on a stabilized 3-axis gimbal integrating with the Inspire Interchangeable lens options with remotely controllable focus and aperture.
The $4,499 Zenmuse X5, including a DJI Inspire 1 and DJI’s MFT 15mm F1.7 ASPH lens, will begin shipping before the end of September. The Zenmuse X5R will be available in Q4 2015 for $7,999. Both can be purchased as stand alone cameras with, or without lens.
DJI claims Zenmuse X5 is the first commercially-available micro four thirds camera designed specifically for aerial use. The camera will capture high-resolution 16 megapixel photos or 4k, 24fps and 30fps videos in complex lighting environments. Zenmuse X5 will support additional lenses and offers full wireless aperture and focus control. At the time of launch, the Zenmuse X5 supports four 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 in flight, pilots can adjust both focus and aperture via the DJI GO app or through DJI’s previously-announced Follow Focus system. The camera’s lightweight 340 gram (0.75 pound) body integrates with DJI’s signature 3-axis Zenmuse gimbal technology, creating effortlessly smooth video and stabilized long-exposure photos (up to 8 seconds).
“The professional applications of the Zenmuse X5 are almost endless,” says Eric Cheng, Director of Aerial Imaging, DJI. “In addition to shooting professional-quality photos and 4K video, the new camera can be used to create high-quality aerial maps and 3D models, and can also help industrial teams get even more detail from their aerial imaging pursuits, for example, in utility inspection using a drone.”
DJI also announced the Zenmuse X5R camera, which shares the same sensor and lens compatibility with the X5, but records video both to an onboard microSD card as well as to a removable 512GB solid state disk (SSD) on the gimbal’s top plate. The Zenmuse X5R records CinemaDNG (RAW) video to the SSD, and opens up lossless 4k video recording in a groundbreaking, compact form factor with video bitrates averaging 1.7Gbps (with a maximum of 2.4Gbps). The Zenmuse X5R also offers a brand-new D-LOG mode that offers a broader array of color correction options in post production. To support the management of Zenmuse X5R Cinema DNG files, DJI will release software to edit and convert RAW camera footage. CineLight, which will be available when the Zenmuse X5R camera is released later this year, simplifies users’ workflows by offering offline proxy editing before converting the CinemaDNG files to ProRes.