Unless you’ve been living on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for the last few years, you can’t help but have noticed the explosion in small video drones that are now on the market and being used enthusiastically by almost every TV and YouTube producer in the land.
These small, radio-controlled, battery-powered helicopters in miniature with cameras slung underneath (riding on gimbals and often gyro stabilised) are producing hitherto unseen types of shots (“OK Go” video, anyone?) in a quick and easy manner.
The most popular, at least by brand awareness, surely has to be DJI. Their DJI Phantom series has sold in massive numbers and it’s now not uncommon to hear their familiar motor buzzing at any substantial gathering of people.
Now the company has released a new product: the Inspire 1.
This totes a new camera instead of the prior GoPro, and it boasts 4K mp4 (H.264) video at 24-30fps or 24-60 fps in HD at up to 60Mbps onto micro SD cards (fast SDXC recommended)
Nifty-looking features also include carbon fibre rotor arms that lift up, out of the way of the camera, to ensure a clear view and therefore a nicer recording. Both the camera and 360-degree gimbal it’s installed on are removable “for future upgrades” says the company.
The camera’s sensor, by the way, is a substantial Sony 1/2.3″ CMOS jobby with a 94 degree field of view.
Live 720p video from that cam can be watched from up to 2km away according to the specs, and dual control is possible whereby one operator flies the ‘copter and another operates the camera. Max flight time is quoted as 18 minutes though so whether you’ll actually get 2km away – and back – may be another matter entirely.
Rather cleverly, the unit’s also designed to almost fly itself indoors using sonic technology (bat-cam anyone?) when GPS can’t be detected.
It’s worth pointing out that, at least here in the UK, laws apply to the use of this tech (even if just for fun if you’re in a built-up area) and even if you’re using it purely for fun, someone may well sue you if a badly-controlled, faulty, or out-of-battery drone should happen to whack them on the head so it’s best to make sure you’re fully au fait with what you need to know. Have a read at www.caa.co.uk and, interestingly, www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?appid=7&mode=detail&nid=2348
While you wait for it to become available on Amazon, here’s the link to buy the well-known Phantom 2: http://amzn.to/1B9ImOq (and if you buy on that link, we get a small commission for which thank you!)
Oh, and take a gander at their pretty demo videos too: