DJI’s new drone is a totally rad flying camera

DJI released its latest drone today: a totally revamped camera-focused machine that solves the biggest problems photographers had with the company’s older models.

The $2,899 Inspire 1 looks as much like a robot as a drone. When it takes off, its legs lift up to give its camera obstacle-free 360 degree vision; so there’s no more spinning propellers in your shot. Its camera can turn a full 360 degrees around and 125 degrees down on a robotic arm. Sensors on its bottom allow it to fly based on the location of the ground instead of GPS, making it much, much easier to fly indoors.


The drone’s camera can capture 4K video and 12 megapixel stills. Its redesigned controller has dedicated buttons to snap a photo or start filming a video, so you don’t have to grapple with a separate mobile device to grab a shot. The camera can be swapped out or upgraded easily.

Controlling the drone and camera can also be divvied up between two controllers. When I reviewed the Phantom 2 Vision last year, it was extremely difficult to keep control of both the drone and its camera. Shooting anything more complicated than a straight-ahead shot is a two person job, so it is great to see DJI recognize that. The Inspire’s fancy camera controls are pretty useless if you are too busy fumbling with flying the drone to use them.

The Inspire camera.

The Inspire camera.

The Inspire’s battery can handle up to 18 minutes of flight time. That’s not amazing, but is similar to any drone of its size on the market. It is available for preorder now and will ship in December.

DJI also announced the availability of a software development kit. Developers will have access to DJI drones’ flight and camera controls, plus data like speed, battery life and GPS location. People are using drones for everything from monitoring crops to mapping houses, and opening DJI drones up to developers will help the company compete in fields that will explode once drones become widely legal.

Photo by DJI.