DJI Inspire Pro and X5 Camera Review - An Absolute Game Changer

DJI Inspire Pro and X5 Camera Review - An Absolute Game Changer

I recently had the pleasure of picking up one of the first final production models of the Inspire Pro and X5 Micro 4/3 Camera, and immediately took it to one of the most beautiful photography destinations in the world to test it out: Meteora Greece. I spent the better part of a week there getting the hang of flying and capturing both photos and videos and I was able to come away with some stunning results. This review is meant to showcase what I was able to capture and give you an idea about the capability of the new X5 Camera and the key differences between the Inspire and Phantom series drones.

I’ve also already written a detailed Phantom 3 Professional Review. Feel free to read through that for additional information about the Phantom 3 series, tips on flying, and insight about how I initially got into drone photography and how it changed my workflow forever.

So let’s kick things off with something fun to look at. Here’s a short video I edited together that showcases not only the beauty of Meteora in the fall, but also what I was able to capture with a short amount of time using the Inspire Pro, the X5 Camera, and the kit MFT 15mm Lens.

Meteora Greece || Suspended in Air

Video Technical Details

As far as technical information goes, nearly all of the footage was shot at 4k 24fps, Aperture Priority mode at f/8, ISO 100, and auto white balance. It was edited and color graded entirely using the latest version of Adobe Premiere Pro. I also selected a very soft piece of music to help match the feel of the landscape. It was my intention to keep most of the camera moves slow and steady in order to give the viewer time to take in the vastness and beauty of this unique landscape.


Using The Best Times of Day To Your Advantage

After watching this video, keep in mind that the same lighting rules apply when shooting aerial photography as they do with standard on-the-ground work. Simply put, you wouldn’t try to shoot portfolio quality photography work at high noon, so you shouldn’t expect to get portfolio quality aerial work at high noon either.

Just like any other form of landscape photography, times of day are just as crucial in the air as they are on the ground. So with everything I shoot, regardless of altitude or camera, I always do my best to focus around the golden hours, sunrises, and sunsets - when the light is both soft and beautiful. What you’re seeing in this video is multiple days of shooting around the same times of day so the edit looks consistent throughout.


Using Parallax To Your Advantage

When shooting video, as opposed to standard images, we also have the key benefit of taking advantage of shifting parallax. Let me attempt to explain this a bit...

When looking through a camera viewfinder and changing positions, the position and/or direction of objects appear to differ when viewed from different positions. In effect, this makes up the basis of how you can place and control the positions of objects inside of a standard (still) composition.

With video, the camera is constantly moving so the parallax changes as well. Objects move at different speeds depending on both their proximity to the camera and the speed at which the camera moves. With most of the shots you’ve just seen in my Meteora video, I’ve tried to use parallax as much as possible to create reveals of certain parts of the landscape, or just the way one hill rolls past the landscape much quicker than the valley below.

This is where I find video to be the most useful. It’s those times when a static shot looks nice, but some motion would make it look incredible. Remember though, even though the camera is moving now, a strong composition is still important!


Shooting and Editing Photos in DNG Raw Format

Just like with the DJI Phantom 3, you can shoot in DNG Raw format and even use Auto Exposure Bracketing. With the X5 being a Micro 4/3 camera however, you can control every aspect of the settings, including the f-stop. If you’re familiar with the Phantom 3 camera, you’ll know that it’s fixed at 2.8.


Final Edited Photo Results

Now it’s time to take a look at some fully post-processed RAW photos. The DJI X5 boasts 16mp DNG raw files that I found to be very powerful when pushing and pulling shadows and highlights in post-processing. My editing and post-processing workflow with these files is exactly the same as the workflow I teach in my Photographing The World Video Series. So if you’re interested in learning to  achieve vibrant, sharp, colorful, and consistent results with your photos, check out the link to my workflow videos.

DJI Inspire X5 Image of Meteora Greece by Elia Locardi

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38 Comments

Martin Del Vecchio's picture

Elia, can you tell us how you managed focus in the Meteora video? Did you have it in auto-focus mode, or did you manually focus?

And if manual, how did you set the focus? Did you set it to infinity, or touch-to-focus on a distant object?

Thanks!

Elia Locardi's picture

To Infinity. Just as I would if I was shooting a distant landscape.

Martin Del Vecchio's picture

Thanks!

Nice article.

I've taken the Inspire Pro hiking, walked up 1000m with a pack, its definitely heavier than a phantom but the set up is not that different. The only extra steps are to take the camera out of the box and to mount it. (the other adjustments about aperture etc, you have to make on the P3 as well if you want good shots but you have more range of control with the inspire for sure). I have a photo of the set up for those interested at http://forum.dji.com/thread-37462-1-1.html

It was a little scary thinking that I could damage a rather expensive piece of equipment but its cross streams and tolerated some rain now, so....

Regarding the X5R, the price has gone down (announced Dec 23rd) from ~USD 4.7K to around USD 3.2K (camera sans lens)- preorder with delivery in March.

Leigh Miller's picture

Good writeup...I bought the same aircraft last month for a trip to BVI. Both times I forgot to take the batteries and remote out of the case when checking it. Oddly they let it through both times and on two different airlines. There was a note indicating that they opened the case on one occasion though...gotta love Delta!

hey it is very cool info here/. I have few doubts actually.. they are ..
1. is it possible to update inspire 1 pro to raw in future?and how?
2. that raw image is from X5R right? not X5
3. How flexible it is for a first time user(don't discourage :()

I'm only looking for still photography purposes. I have used the phantom 3 pro and while I got some cool shots I wasn't impressed with the picture quality. Now I have a couple weddings coming up that I would like to rent one for. Is it worth paying $300 to rent the inspire 1 pro for stills or stick with the Phantom for $50 rental fee? I know the picture quality is better but how much? Would you happen to have any pictures to compare both?

There seems to be about a 2 mile limit to drone control. What is you max altitude you have achieved? Can you fly up to 2 miles up to 1200-1500 feet? Really stunning photography you have created. You are right it is all about the subject and light. That is the point of drones -- great aerial photography.