DJI Inspire 1 Review
The Inspire 1 quadcopter is the top of the line offering from aerial video drone powerhouse DJI. The DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter is a big step up from the popular Phantom series of quadcopters and the Inspire 1 offers exceptional control, excellent stabilization, and upgrade able camera options. At a base price of $2,700, the Inspire 1 quadcopter is not cheap and 2-3x more expensive than the Phantom lineup, but it is a much larger and more technologically advanced aircraft.
The DJI Inspire 1 is much closer to a professional aerial video rig than most quadcopters; it is squarely outside of the “just a toy” category. While it may still appeal to regular consumers who want a nifty device to fly around and capture some interesting footage, its specifications are geared squarely at folks who are doing professional filming for a living.
The DJI Inspire 1 is an amazing quadcopter and is definitely the best quadcopter for videos right now. It offers full 4K HD video support, an awesome gimbal that provides stabilization and a 360 degree rotating view, a pivoting frame design that enables an unobstructed view, and a full featured app to control flight patterns and convey telemetry. The amount of technology packed into the DJI Inspire 1 is pretty awesome, and we highly recommend it as one of the best quadcopters for aerial videos and photos.
The DJI Inspire 1 was released in January 2015 and you can order it on Amazon.com or B&H PhotoVideo. There has not been an update to the Inspire 1 (aside from offering different Inspire 1 cameras), though we expect to see some changes in the coming months and will let you know as soon as we do!
But is the Inspire 1 quadcopter worth the nearly $3,000, and is it the best quadcopter for your needs? Or does the Phantom 3 Advanced or Professional offer a better value with similar results? That all depends on your individual needs and usage, but read on for our full DJI Inspire 1 Review for more info!
DJI Inspire 1 Design
The Inspire 1 deviates from the fixed, rigid frame quadcopter design in a major way. While folding landing legs have been incorporated on some higher end hexacopters and octocopters, DJI found a way to make the legs of the quadcopter fold up without adding much weight or increasing the complexity of the design too much. The Inspire 1 frame is made up of carbon fiber, with two arms linked the main central body, and two perpendicular arms holding the propellers – the frame of the quadcopter makes an “H” shape more or less.
These transforming arms enable the Inspire 1 to keep the body and the suspended camera up high and protected when the quadcopter is landing, but allow it to drop down and have an un-interrupted line of sight while the drone is flying.
This innovative design is a significant deviation from the traditional “X” frame for quadcopters, and while we can’t judge its merits until seeing it in action for a while, it seems very promising. It definitely solves the issue of getting both the propellers or the landing gear in the corners of video shots, and it certainly looks cool seeing the quadcopter transform in mid-flight!
Aside from the arms and transforming shape of the quadcopter, the actual body of the quadcopter is quite different than what we’ve seen on other models. Its main body is narrow, high, and elongated – it seems primarily to accommodate the large 4500mAh battery. The middle and front of the body contain all the gearing that enables the frame and arms of the quadcopter to pivot, as well as the electronics that process the video signal and control the quadcopter. The rear of the compartment is where the battery slides in. DJI went for a combination of white/black on the Inspire 1, a little bit of a deviation from the Phantom 2 Vision+.
Overall, the DJI Inspire 1 has a pretty awesome design and brings a lot of new ideas to the quadcopter world.
DJI Inspire 1 Camera and Video – DJI Inspire 1 Review
One of the most anticipated features of the DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter is its new integrated 4K video camera. The lens and camera is suspended below the main body of the aircraft, on a 360 degree rotatable gimbal. It can shoot video in 4K at 24-30fps, or in 1080p at 24-60fps. To be honest, I would have expected a slightly higher frame rate at 4K, but this isn’t a deal breaker by any means. It can take 12 megapixel still photos and the lens is composed of 9 elements in 9 groups, and the camera has a 1/2.3 inch CMOS censor. The video camera’s field of view is 94 degrees so it is still definitely a wide angle lens, but it may not have as much of the fisheye effect as other systems.
The camera and gimbal appear to be very sleek and minimalist – its amazing that DJI can fit in 4K video in such a tiny little thing! The specifications are certainly promising, but we’ll reserve final judgement on the video system until we have a chance to play with it hands on and check out other footage of the Inspire 1 in action. The video setup is definitely a big step up from the optics system on the Phantom 3 series, though I don’t see a ton of Phantom owners needing to upgrade if their primary usage is personal.
Battery and Charging
The DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter comes with a massive 4500mAh 22.2 volt LiPo battery, though DJI also sells an even larger 5700mAh 22.8 volt battery as well. It takes roughly an hour to charge, and yields about 18 minutes of flight time. On the one hand, this is disappointing. It is a lower flight time than the Phantom 3 and anything under 20 minutes is less than ideal when you’re trying to frame a shot and get some great footage. On the other hand, 18 minutes for a quadcopter of this size, weight, and capabilities is pretty decent and certainly in line with other quadcopter that can do 4K video with live streaming capabilities, so we won’t knock off too many points. That said, I’m sure many potential customers were hoping for a near 30 minute flight time – something to strive for, DJI!
The Inspire 1 comes with a smart battery, which DJI bills as a “fully integrated intelligent battery system” that manages itself. The system calculates your remaining flight time while you’re flying, and calculates how long you need to return to the home point and can alerts you prior to the drop dead time, which is nice. The battery also reports the voltage of each cell, the total number of charges and discharges in its lifetime, and the overall battery status. We highly recommend buying at least one additional battery, and preferably two. Inspire 1 batteries retail for $250, though you can frequently buy them for about $200: Inspire 1 Battery on Amazon.com
The DJI Inspire 1 comes with one remote control to start, but with the option of adding another on to enable one person to control the quadcopter and another to control the video camera. The remote controllers themselves look fairly basic, but they have integrated FPV streaming set up within them, enabling you to hook an iPad mini or other mobile device up to see exactly what the camera is seeing. Full 720p HD video is streamed to your mobile device (but not the 4K that you’re filming, though you wouldn’t be able to tell anyway!) through DJI’s Lightbridge technology. The video signal can transmit up to about 2,000 meters or 1 1/4 miles away.
Flying an Inspire 1 is an easy and familiar process, especially if you have flown Phantoms before. The quadcopter is stable, responsive, and powerful - even though it is over twice the weight of the Phantom 3, the Inspire responds quickly to inputs and never feels sluggish. It has exceptional flight control, due to its advanced GPS system and a brand new sensors system on the bottom of the drone that enables stable indoor flight even when not hooked up to GPS. It can remember your home point even if you move around while piloting the aircraft, ensuring that it always comes back safely.
After taking off, the propeller arms pivot up and the main body of the aircraft descends down, enabling a full 360 degree view from the video feed.
Final Thoughts – DJI Inspire 1 Review
The DJI Inspire 1 is definitely the most advanced ready-to-fly quadcopter with video right now. Its articulating arms, 4K video support, HD FPV streaming, and 360 degree gimbal are all awesome features that should make the DJI Inspire 1 a clear choice for professionals looking for an all in one, ready to fly system. DJI has once again set a new bar in the aerial videography market and is bringing a high end, professional quality filming rig to the general public.
But this begs the question, is it worth it? At nearly $3,000 for the DJI Inspire 1 with one controller, it is by no means a cheap quadcopter. I know very few folks with an extra $3,000 to spend on a quadcopter, and while some hobbyists may have been able to justify (to themselves and their significant others!) with spending $1,000 on a Phantom, the $3,000 price point is an entirely new price point. I think the Inspire 1 will appeal primarily to professionals and aspiring aerial videographers who may do some paid work on the side; the so-called “prosumer” market. Sure, some hobbysists with a ton of extra cash may decide to pick one up, but we certainly won’t see the ubiquity of the Phantom line replicated by the Inspire 1.
However, DJI could also release a lower-cost version of the Inspire once sales of the Phantom 3 start to decline. Or, they may integrate aspects of the Inspire 1 into the next generation of Phantom quadcopters. In any event, stay tuned as we’ll be updating this DJI Inspire 1 review periodically as we have more info and hands-on experience with the quadcopter!
Where to Buy
The best place to buy the DJI Inspire 1 is on Amazon.com: DJI Inspire 1 on Amazon.com
B&H Photo Video also sells the DJI Inspire 1: DJI Inspire 1 on BHPhotoVideo.com
DJI Inspire 1 Videos:
DJI – Introducing the Inspire 1:
DJI Inspire 1 Vintage:
Other DJI Inspire 1 Reviews:
FliteTest DJI Inspire 1 Review:
Motherboard/VICE checks out the new drone in its DJI Inspire 1 review: DJI’s New Inspire 1 – the iPhone of Drones Review
Gizmodo checks out the new quadcopter in its DJI Inspire 1 Review: A Badass Drone that Shoots Lovely 4K Video