If you are an enthusiast, or even slightly interested in flying a drone, you’ve probably heard of the popular quadcopter manufacturer DJI. As a pioneer in higher-end consumer drones, DJI’s objective has almost always been to help you put a camera in the sky.
Offering highly stabilized camera gimbals, designed for DJI’s own cameras or to attach your camera of choice, DJI offers a range of products. From your hand to the sky, there’s almost certainly a DJI product for your needs.
Osmo Mobile 3, phone stabilization system.
May 2019: DJI announced the new Osmo Action, a straight-up competitor to the GoPro action cam.
December 2018: DJI added the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual with Infrared camera.
November 2018: DJI Osmo Pocket is a super action camera.
October 2018: Phantom 4 Pro RTK and DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise announced.
August 2018: DJI launched the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
August 2018Release Date
Introduced in August of 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro instantly became the best consumer-class folding drone that DJI had to offer. A marked upgrade over the original Mavic Pro, the Mavic 2 Pro rocks a 1-inch camera sensor for 4K video capture at 100Mbps, multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors for some of the safest drone flight possible, and much more. OcuSync 2.0 enhances connectivity to the remote control and other accessories, now able to transmit 1080p live stream video well beyond the legal line-of-sight.
With an initial launch price of $1449, plus another $319 to get the Fly More kit with extra batteries, there is a barrier to entry with this machine, but if the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is within your budget, we think you will not be disappointed.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
August 2018Release Date
If you run down the spec sheet, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro are the same machine, with one major exception, the camera. The folding quadcopter design offers great portability, the multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors assist in safe flight and the new capabilities of OcuSync 2.0 add versatility for control and accessories. That is true for both of the drones, the Mavic 2 Zoom, on the other hand, rocks a 2x optical zoom lens on top of a 12MP camera. It shoots 4K video at 100Mbps and can digitally double that zoom for an impressive close-up.
DJI Mavic Air
January 2018Release Date
DJI found great success with the Mavic Pro, they followed that up with the far less expensive Spark. The Mavic Air bridges the gap between these two, offering all the fun features from the smaller Spark as well as all the pro flight features of the Mavic Pro. Better yet, the Mavic Air introduced a 100Mbps data rate for video capture on a DJI drone under $1500. That sounds like a mouthful, suffice to say that the Mavic Air instantly took the crown for the best video at the lowest price of any drone on the market.
After the launch of the Mavic 2 series of drones, we had to recommend the newer Mavic line as the best camera on a compact drone, but the Mavic Air still remains our top pick if ultimate portability is your concern. The Mavic Air manages to pack down to almost fit comfortably in your pocket.
Update: DJI Has announced the Phantom 4 Pro RTK. We’ll explain more about this commercial version of the drone, soon. We recently dedicated a massive post to exploring the available DJI Phantom drones in the line, now selling an updated pro version of the Phantom 4, this has been an iconic design, often emulated by the competition.
The short version of the story is that DJI launched the Phantom 1 back in January of 2013. Ten minutes of flight time with a mount for an action-type camera and the world was hooked. By my count, the Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ – as announced November of 2016, with major release to market in January 2017 – is the 11th iteration to the line.
Now packing multi-directional collision avoidance sensors, autonomous flight, 4K cameras and 30 minutes of flight time, the latest Phantom drones are powerful products capturing magnificent video from the sky.
An older Phantom drone can be had for a fairly affordable price, such as the Phantom 3 for around $400, but the Phantom 4 will run you $948 and the latest Phantom 4 Pro starts at $1,149. We think it’s worth the upgrade for the camera enthusiasts, as the Pro comes with an updated 1-inch CMOS sensor, far superior to previous models.
Update Sept. 2017: the latest version of the Phantom line is live. Admitting this is nothing more than a paint job to be found on this one, the new Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian is a slick looking machine. It can’t be much longer before DJI adds a full new machine to this line of drones, but for now, several colors are available to you.
Update April 2019:
In May of 2018, DJI announced the new Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, with Ocusync and more efficient ESCs and propellers to improve the Phantom drone experience. The new version of the drone will fly longer and quieter, plus Ocusync allows it to connect wirelessly to your DJI Goggles or a second remote control. If you were still on the fence, DJI may have made the decision for you, discontinuing production of the initial Phantom 4 Pro series in April of 2019.
DJI Mavic Pro
November 2016Release Date
The DJI Mavic Pro is a compact, folding drone that was a pioneer for portability. This quadcopter folds down to fit easily in a backpack, or large pocket, while opening up to take 4K video to over 40mph in the sky. The 3-axis stabilized gimbal offers very smooth footage and OcuSync enables long range and HD live video streaming. The Phantom line of drones may have established DJI as a leader in the consumer drone market, but the Mavic Pro made high-quality aerial photography fun and highly accessible.
DJI Mavic Pro Platinum
September 2017Release Date
The original DJI Mavic Pro was one of our favorite drones, it introduced a new segment to the consumer drone industry, the compact, folding quadcopter. No matter what level of credit you give it for the segment, the is no question that the Mavic Pro Platinum took thing to the next level. Improving the ESCs and adding more efficient propellers made for a quieter flight and more air time. What's not to love in that. Of course, the newer Mavic 2 series overtakes them both.
The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum sells for about $1099 still.
Mavic Pro White Edition
The new DJI Mavic Pro White edition is an exclusive to Apple, it’s the same original Mavic Pro, just with new paint. We worry that a white drone will be easier lost in the sky than the grey Mavic, but having to keep it in closer is a fair trade-off for the lower price tag. You can grab the new white Mavic Pro Fly More combo for $899.
May 2017Release Date
The DJI Spark introduced a brand new segment for the drone company, launching a tiny machine that packs more fun features than powerful specs. This drone had everyone talking about the Jedi mind tricks you can play with the machine, using the front camera and object detection to accept hand gestures for some basic controls. All of these fun flight features made for a focus on two other features, the ability to fly without a remote control in hand and making you the object of the flight.
The DJI Spark is small enough to easily pack around wherever you might like to go. It's powerful enough to combat some decent winds and the 12MP camera can snap some fun photographs. While the camera may have a 4K sensor on the inside, it only records 1080p video. The HD video resolution allows the use of the extra pixels for image stabilization. The Spark mechanically stabilizes two-axis of movement, using the sensor cropping to handle side-to-side image stabilization. Admitting that this makes for some of the worst video capture from a DJI drone in the last 5 years, we can't deny that that is still pretty good, and the compact nature and low price of the drone make it well worth consideration.
Drone legal and safety
Spreading Wings & Flaming Wheel
With the Flaming Wheel being more of an obscure tool for even those in the know, the Spreading Wings drones, in several different models, are the beasts that burden the weight of a Red 8K camera and more. The top model is the S1000+, which is able to take 14lbs of your photography gear into the sky. Consider a Hasselblad camera, now that DJI has bought heavily into the company. They’ve now released a 100MP camera for the sky.
With a machine like the M600 Pro in the air, a Ronin Gimbal hexacopter with six batteries and able to carry a serious payload, some serious photography can be done. Sticking to the basics, you won’t find many of the flight assistant and ease of flight tools on this commercial drone, selling to professionals – the M600 Pro is the $5000+ drone that movie studios likely have a pilot on standby to fly.
There is a smaller duty M100, the new M200 series, as described below, and the large M600, for your serious camera work. Not for the faint of heart, the M600 can be yours for $3,999 on Amazon today.
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
October 2018Release Date
After finding success with the second version of the Mavic Pro, along came the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, using the same platform as the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, but adding mounting points for accessories. The accessories are designed for tasks such as search and rescue, with a spotlight, loud speaker, beacon and more. Available in two versions, the Zoom Edition uses the same camera as the Mavic 2 Zoom, and the Dual Edition adds a thermal camera to the mix, but removes zooming from the visual camera.
DJI did not initially display the purchase price for the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise, we understand it has a starting price of $1999, the accessories are added from there.
Introduced, but not yet released, DJI’s new M200 series, including the M200, M210 and M210 RTK are some of the best built multi-rotor machines we’ve ever seen. Mostly, we are impressed by the multi-camera mounting systems. First off, there is a dedicated FPV camera for the pilot, just like the Inspire 2. From there, the normal hanging mount can hold two cameras side-by-side. In this regard, you can record from three cameras simultaneously. Crazy! The icing on the cake, there is a top mount for your camera. That’s right, if you need to fly under something, looking up at it, this is the DJI drone for you.
For more info on this commercial focused drone, see our announcement piece for the new DJI M200 series here.
Announced at AUVSI Xponential in May, 2018, the new XT2 infrared camera adds powerful abilities for search and rescue, inspections and so much more.
DJI Inspire 2
November 2016Release Date
The original DJI Inspire may have set a tone for what a professional drone should look like, but the newer DJI Inspire 2 set the tone for what it should be able to accomplish. At launch, the Inspire 2 was equipped with the Zenmuse X5, a 5.2K camera with interchangeable lenses, ready to take on tasks in Hollywood. Since then, DJI has added the Zenmuse X7 camera, a 6K shooter even more capable of professional filming tasks.
November 2014Release Date
Few drones captured the reputation of being a monster of a drone quite like the DJI Inspire. We call it now the Inspire 1, to differentiate it from the newer Inspire 2, but it's still that same killer drone that got people excited. The retractable landing gear, 360 articulating camera gimbal and design captured imaginations. Sadly, the drone gained popularity through a bunch of drone crash videos, but in the industry, it marked the beginning of being able to access a superb drone for a price that a consumer can handle.
High speeds, superb cameras, a unique drone design and more sold for a price well above double what you can snag it for today. Check out the DJI Inspire 1 for about $1229 today. As a discontinued drone, stock and prices may fluctuate.
New camera – Zenmuse X7
DJI has added a camera to their line, designed to attach to the Inspire 2, the Zenmuse X7 is a 6K shooter with some staggering specs for a drone that a consumer might consider. Professionals looking to shoot the best aerial images and video are in for a treat. This new camera is a step up from the 5.2K shooter X5s, which launched with the Inspire 2 last year.
DJI has a small line of camera equipment for use on the ground, this includes that Ronin full DSLR gimbal as used with the Spreading Wings above, and the Osmo hand-held that we took for a spin at CES 2017. They announced the new Silver edition of the Osmo Mobile at the show, and we used it to do a full booth tour. The Osmo Mobile carries your smartphone, while the Osmo, Osmo+ and Osmo Pro all house different DJI cameras.
Check out the DJI Osmo Mobile for $147 on Amazon today.
Osmo Mobile 2
DJI went back to the drawing board with the Osmo Mobile to create the second iteration of the device. Osmo Mobile 2 is a more capable hand-held gimbal for your smartphone, with great battery life, the ability to shoot in landscape or portrait mode and more. We are particularly fans of the zoom control right at your fingertips. The cameras on our smartphones are getting better and better every year, this gimbal will help you take those shots to new levels.
Best of all, the new DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is $128 now. It was exclusive to the Apple Store at first, but landed on Amazon and other retailers not long after launch.
New: Osmo Mobile 3
Launched in August of 2019, the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 is a sleek take on the popular phone gimbal. The new system offers an improved mounting system, with more usable angles and fewer bumps against itself. The grip angle should be a little more comfortable on longer shoots and the best part, the Osmo Mobile 3 folds for transport. Our partners at Android Authority were on-site for the product launch, they had good things to say about this new gimbal system.
We all have different uses for cameras, while the trend of mobile photography continues to rise, DJI is expanding their offerings with a compact camera that fits in your pocket. The Osmo Pocket is a 4K shooter with full 3-axis stabilization. We are still making educated guesses, but we think this is the same camera sensor as the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, with a 1/2.3-inch 12MP layout and 100Mbps data rate for the 4K recording. The Osmo Pocket does bump up to 60 frames per second recording.
While the Osmo Pocket may offer similar image quality as most high-end phones on the market, there are no phones that come close to matching the stability when that 3-axis gimbal goes to work.
The DJI Osmo Pocket is $341 at launch and will begin shipping on December 15th.
DJI Osmo Action
The competition between GoPro and DJI has seen ups and downs over the years. GoPro was the leading camera for drones for a while, DJI launched drones with better and smaller cameras built-in. GoPro launched a drone, it failed, which is too bad in a way, we liked it. DJI announced the Osmo Pocket, a solid mobile camera, and now the Osmo Action in May of 2019. The Osmo Action can only be described as a direct competitor to the GoPro camera, it’s shaped similarly, works with similar accessories, offers many of the same features and is targeted to the same people.
We’re hoping to do a little in-house testing of the new Osmo camera, but for now, if you are looking for a GoPro-type camera, it is absolutely worth looking into the DJI Osmo Action for $349.
As one of the most established, popular and iconic players in the drone space, DJI does more than just things that fly, they dabble in other camera and video tools as well. For example, the large commercial drones above, particularly the Matrice, are designed to haul the Ronin, a camera gimbal that can be held in hand or mounted to a moving object, like a drone.
They also produce smaller sized handheld gimbal systems in the Osmo line. The top end Osmo houses DJI’s best cameras, while the lowest end version, the Osmo Mobile, is made to handle your phone. I’m sure you’ve seen our footage already, we did a full walkthrough of the DJI booth at CES using the Osmo Mobile Silver.
That’s going to do it. We are always excited to see where DJI goes next with their products, we do hope that they offer a wider array of more portable drones, like the Mavic Pro, but for now, we can safely say that no matter which DJI drone you purchase, we’re confident it will serve you well.
Do you own any DJI products? What’s your favorite?