First look at the DJI Inspire 3 cinematic drone

Apr 19, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

First look at the DJI Inspire 3 cinematic drone

Apr 19, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

YouTube video

DJI recently announced the new DJI Inspire 3 drone (buy here). While we are at NAB 2023, we couldn’t pass the chance to see it in person and find out more about it. So, we spoke with Creative Director and senior product manager for DJI Europe, Ferdinand Wolf on the DJI booth to find out more about it.

Although the Inspire 3 looks a lot like its predecessors in general design, it definitely has some differences, and DJI says that a lot of things have changed under the hood. For a start, it shoots 8K video with a full-frame sensor. That’s something the Inspire series never did before. Also, it transforms its shape in the air to give you better camera clearance.

DJI Inspire 3 – Full-frame 8K 75fps

One of the biggest upgrades in the Inspire 3 over the Inspire 2 is its new full-frame Zenmuse X9 8K Air gimbal camera. DJI says that the sensor has been specially designed and purpose-built for the Inspire 3 and isn’t just an off-the-shelf sensor that we might’ve seen in other 8K cameras like the Canon EOS R5 or Nikon Z9. With the ability to shoot this resolution at a high 75fps frame rate, I would’ve been a little disappointed in mirrorless camera manufacturers if it were a sensor we were all already familiar with.

It boasts up to 14.7 stops of dynamic range, keeping pace with many high-end cinema cameras. It also shoots your standard 10-bit ProRes 4:2:2, as well as CinemaDNG and ProRes RAW (although that raw output is an optional $979 extra addon). So, if you’re planning to mix aerial footage from the Inspire 3 with your ground-based cinema cameras, it should be able to handle the task without issue.

New FPV Camera

As well as the new main camera module, the DJI Inspire 3 also sports a new FPV camera. DJI says that the sensor is larger than that of the Inspire 2’s FPV camera, allowing it to see better in lower light levels. In fact, in our chat, we were told that “it can basically fly at night” while still being “very safe to navigate”. As well as the sensor itself being larger, so is the field of view. The FOV of the new Inspire 3 FPV camera is a whopping 161º – twice as wide as the Insire 2’s FPV cam. This means you have a much greater view of your surroundings while navigating the air.

One other advantage the new FPV camera offers, DJI says, is that now that it has a typically wider FPV field of view, you can actually fly the Inspire 3 FPV style. Exactly how extreme of a flight they mean by “fly FPV” I’m not sure, but I can’t imagine people flying an Inspire 3 around like it’s being piloted by Nurk FPV. I’d quite like to see somebody try, though.

Best of all, there’s no stabilisation on the FPV camera other than the tilt axis. This allows you to get a more accurate representation of how the drone is actually moving while viewing through FPV goggles. That means you can respond much more quickly as you fly, leading to safer flights and more consistent results.

Pilot and camera op stand separately

DJI has implemented its latest O3 Pro system, which allows for ultra-low-latency video transmission and remote camera control from up to 20,000 feet away. It also allows the drone pilot and the camera operator to work independently of each other on two separate controllers without having to stand side-by-side to each other. You can have your pilot standing where it’s safe to fly the drone and the camera operator sitting half a mile away with full control over the camera.

YouTube video

This works because the new O3 Pro system provides separate individual links to each user from the drone. It no longer needs to route itself through the drone’s controller, so the camera operator no longer needs to be standing next to the drone pilot. This is invaluable when the pilot needs to move around with the drone. The camera operator doesn’t need to try to follow them while keeping an eye on the camera’s view.

1TB Removable SSD storage

When it comes to storage, there are no memory cards to deal with. The DJI Inspire 3 comes with a 1TB removable SSD as standard. It’s the same 1TB PRoSSD modules that are used with the Ronin 4D. So, if you’re a Ronin 4D owner with a bunch of SSDs already, you won’t have to buy a bunch more – at $800 each. The ability to use SSD storage rather than standard memory cards isn’t just a generous addition on DJI’s part. It’s a simple matter of practicality.

Shooting 8K footage at 75 frames per second at the maximum bitrate, most memory cards – even CFexpress – just aren’t going to be able to keep up. So, the only option that’s fast enough is an SSD. The DJI ProSSD also have the advantage that you don’t need to mess around with card readers. Just plug a USB-C cable straight into it with the other end going to your computer and you can copy everything straight over.

More than meets the eye

One of the great new features of the DJI Inspire 3 is that it’s able to transform its shape. Sure, the Inspire 2 did this as well, and so did the original Inspire. But Inspire 3’s transformation isn’t just a case of retracting the landing gear. The Inspire 3’s design introduces a new feature to the landing gear called “Tilt Boost”.

This feature allows the legs to raise and lower depending on your current needs. You can fly it in the traditional way, where the legs lift up out of the way after takeoff, giving you a view unhindered by the drone’s propellers or legs. Or, you can actually lower the legs during flight, raising your camera up and in front of the propellers for when you want to point the camera upwards – and it’ll point up to an angle of 80º.

This will be an invaluable feature for many cinematographer pilots. If you’re flying through buildings, under tunnels or exploring building exteriors, no longer do you need to choose whether to mount the camera on top of or underneath the drone. You can toggle between the two modes at the flick of a switch. Literally.

As for the “boost” bit of the name, DJI says the Inspire 3’s landing gear is designed this way to allow for more efficiency when generally flying through the air. This means you’re able to use less battery power and get faster speeds.

Price and Availability

The DJI Inspire 3 is available to pre-order now for $16,499 and begins shipping in June.

DIYP’s coverage of NAB 2023 is sponsored by Sennheiser, Zhiyun, B&H, and SmallRig

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *