Just 2 days ago, DJI announced the Mavic Pro Platinum and the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian. The much anticipated additional obstacle avoidance for Mavic Pro Platinum did not happen. DJI only improved the ESC and the propellers of the Mavic Pro. With that the flight time has been increased by additional 3mins and the noise level cut down by 4 decibels.
The new propeller is also compatible with the older Mavic, and the additional 3 mins of flight time doesn’t seem much in real world application. Hence, personally, if you already owned the original Mavic Pro, there is really not much point upgrading. If you have not invested in the Mavic yet, It is really up to you to see if you want to spend the additional US$100 for the slight improvement.
As for the P4P Obsidian, it does look good. But I think that’s about it. It is similar to the Inspire 1 black and the original Inspire 1, it is identical except for color. Personally, I feel it may be easier to spot while on flight. But in a hot country, white makes more sense. As it reflects heat a lot better. For those who have not bought the P4P, the Obsidian might be a good choice just for the “cool” factor.
I suspect something else is cooking at DJI. We should see a new generation of ESC and Drones that will have a flight time of about 45min soon.
Recently, DJI released a new firmware update to add/enhance the features of Spark.
Added features are:
1) Gesture mode photos is upgraded from 2 megapixels to 8 megapixels.
2) A new 180 panoramic mode.
3) Starting and stopping video recording in gesture mode.
In my opinion, these are very good features and it made the Spark a lot more appealing now. Personally, I love the 180 panoramic shots. When selected, on the click of the button, Spark takes 21 photos starting from center and for 7 columns. One column in the middle, and 3 more columns on the left and on the right. Each column is made up of 3 photos, slightly tilted up(still avoiding the propellers), straight & level and slightly silted down. During the downloading process, the DJI GO 4 app will automatically stitch all 21 photos together to give you a high res panoramic shots with little distortion when compare to iPhone panoramic shots.
So what is in it for photographers? Spark is small in foot print, it takes half the time to setup as compared to Mavic Pro, and the ability to take the 180 Panoramic shots just gave the spark a slight advantage over Mavic Pro if taking still photos is the main priority. Spark will offer the photographer a new perspective in the kind of shots he can get.
I have always wanted to test out how Good the Active Tracking of the Mavic Pro is in the 3 dimensional space using another drone. Today I had the chance to try out with my buddy on a 550 size hexacopter.
I had some difficulty trying to get the Mavic to recognise the hexacopter as it is rather small if I keep a safe distance. After a few trial and error, I managed to move in close enough to let the Mavic lock on. Tracking is generally smooth, and the obstacle avoidance system ensures the Mavic is kept at a safe distance from the subject. I could observed the Mavic did some emergency braking when the subject made a sudden slow down in speed. However, the Mavic will lose track when the subject makes a change in altitude to disappear from the screen.
In conclusion, I will say the Active Tracking is usable, but not in all situation. Especially, if the subject moves very randomly or moves up and down beyond the vision range.
Had another window today to do quick flight with a friend. She wanted to try out the Mavic Pro before deciding whether the Spark is more suitable or the Mavic Pro is better.
Today’s wind condition was moderate, and Mavic was able to hold position really well. The test went on smooth and I did a quick flight on mode 2 stick configuration. I am a mode 1 flyer, but trying to get myself to be able to fly in both modes. Doing point of interest flight in mode 2 manually was a bit more challenging, but I think I manage it.
Had the privilege to go to Melbourne’s famous Great Ocean Road Trip. Together with my wife and a little helper “Mavic” we had some amazing holiday. Mavic was small and light and almost un-noticed when I bring it along. I did not encounter any issues when I pass through custom check at airports and etc. The batteries were all kept in a fire-safe battery bag while in transit.
At the coast of Melbourne, the wind conditions were very high and I need to fly with extreme caution. Mavic can still handle it, but it will always complain that the wind speed is too high and must fly with caution. So I normally fly out to the max of 25% to 30% battery utilization, reserving 70% battery life to fly back, just in case Mavic needs to fight against strong head wind. If you encounter strong head wind and Mavic is not making much progress, try either flying lower or higher to see if there is a change in wind direction at different altitude. I did encounter in one occasion when Mavic complain that the battery is too cold as well. If that happens, you can either takeoff and hover at 2 meter height for a short while to allow the battery to warm up by itself or remove the battery and warm it up with your body heat.
For me I always fly within line of sight(LOS). It is always tempting to have a “One take” shot, but flying beyond line of sight is extremely risky especially when you do not know the place well. There are also some rocks in Melbourne that cause magnetic interference. So be sure not to just fly high too quickly, always allow Mavic to takeoff and hover at a low altitude for a while to observe the flying behaviour. Some how, in Melbourne I also encounter the GPS switching to alternate / backup GPS a few times. So if such incident happen, start bringing the Mavic back and don’t risk flying too far.
Melbourne seems to be a drone friendly place, and some people even applaud me when I landed Mavic. There are some places with helicopter flying around. Be sure to check if that area is a no fly zone for UAVs before flying.
One last tip, please have a few memory cards. Each time the Mavic returns safely, swap out the card and put in a blank card before flying out again. Why? In case the mavic never return, at least you still have some footages captured. Not all is lost.
The much rumoured mini drone from DJI is being launched on 24th May (25th May in Singapore).
My first impression of this drone is “Oh it is so cute and pretty!”. Then came the question of “Who is the target customers?”. From the specs of very short setup time, 2 axis gimbal, 1080p video and ultra portability, I guess it is aimed at people who does loads of selfie photos and videos for social media that do not requires very high quality video.
At this point, a close contender to this drone is the Hover Camera sold by Apple. The price point is similar (US$499), flight time is similar, weight is similar, but comes with dual battery and 4K video in a very safe cage not guard. The down side of the Hover camera is the lack of 2 axis gimbal and the option to have a dedicated remote controller. Both drones are targeting at the same group of consumer.
Overall, I think the SPARK might have a slight advantage over the Hover Camera in terms of overall video usability for social media due to the 2 axis gimbal and the obstacle avoidance ability. But each drone has it own advantage over the other. If you are a first time drone user, spark might be a good entry point due to it’s portability and the ease of control via gesture. However, if you want a higher quality video, then start with at least the Mavic Pro.
Since DJI bought over Hasselblad, they have integrated the best of both world into one. The m600 from DJI with the Ronin MX can now have full control over the Hasselblad H6D-100c(53.4mm by 40mm sensor) via the DJI GO 4 app.
One may think that this is nothing great or new, but to have full integration and full control is something that most fine art photographer is dreaming about.
DJI has once again set the bar higher for their competitors!
Yesterday, DJI announced the new Matrice 200 series. The smaller brother of the m600 who is meant for a different purpose, but possessing the same robustness.
The m200 uses the Zenmuse X series of camera which is lighter and more compact. This leads the the question of whether m200 will canibalise the Inspire 2? For now, based on the specs, m200 and I2 although shares the same camera, but the recording capability is very different. For industrial use, they will not require ProRes or RAW recoding.
For the details of m200 please visit: http://www.dji.com/mobile/matrice-200-series
22 Feb 2017, Inspire Pilots Singapore finally see her Inspire 2 landed in her Airbase. Till date, her Airbase have the following :
1) Phantom 3 pro
2) Phantom 4
3) Mavic Pro
4) Inspire 1 with X5 and X3
5) Inspire 2 with X5s
With a brief moment of test flight, we could feel that the Inspire 2 has packed more power as compared to the Inspire 1. Video quality between X5 and X5s has yet to be compared. Hope to be able to do that soon. With a dual battery system, it definitely gives the pilot more confident that this baby is going to come back even when one battery is down. Inspire 2 also have a better mechanism to secure the props.
On the 22 of Feb, DJI drop a teaser on their Twitter account showing the image above. What could this new drone be?
DJI has been the leader for consumer UAV, and have pretty much dominated the market. Recently, DJI also acquired Hasselblad who is known to dominate the medium format camera arena. Will this new UAV combine the technology from the recent acquisition?
Some people are guessing that it might be an update of the Mavic Pro. DJI has just ironed out the production of Mavic Pro, will they so quickly move on to another new model? Looking at the image the propeller does not look foldable. Hence, I feel it is unlikely to be a Mavic Pro replacement. Some are guessing it is a racing quad, but DJI has just only launch their racing quad with the Snail motor. So it is unlikely to be a racing quad. Then what could it be? I do feel that it is unlikely to be Inspire 3 as well, because they have not produced the Inspire 2 in full steam yet. Then could it be the Phantom 4 Pro Black? The question is hard to answer at this point. May be, DJI might be defining a new category of consumer UAV.
Lets all wait for 2nd March 2017 for the mystery to be unveiled.
Could this new drone be an inspire 2 “light”? Running single battery, smaller size and props?