The world’s largest manufacturer of consumer-grade drones, DJI, is launching a much-anticipated camera module compatible with its Inspire 2 drone, the Zenmuse X7 Super 35mm Camera, which it showed off a press launch event in Hollywood, California.
A camera/gimbal system, the module has a proprietary lens mount according to DJI, debuting what it calls “the world’s first Super 35 digital film camera optimized for professional aerial cinematography.”
In terms of camera specs, it can capture 6K CinemaDNG Raw or 5.2K Apple ProRes footage at up to 30p or 3.9K CinemaDNG and 2.7K ProRes at up to 59.94p according to DP Review.
DJI also claims the X7 has 14 stops of dynamic range but fails to describe how this is determined.
Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI, said: “The Zenmuse X7 offers everything professional content creators need to make their aerial footage as stunning and vivid as they demand…From the large Super 35 sensor to a new mount, lenses, and color system, the Zenmuse X7 gives cinematographers and professional photographers an unmatched set of tools that work seamlessly with the DJI Inspire 2 drone to capture high-quality footage that is easily integrated into projects shot with industry-leading handheld cameras.”
The camera has two exposure modes, a mode that changes amplification gain and an “EI” mode that only uses minimal amplification (~base ISO) “with metadata tags to denote the intended final brightness, to preserve DR.”
The previous camera module, the X5, came with a Panasonic lens and was based around a Micro Four Thirds mount. The new X7 shows how far DJI has come in its development of proprietary solutions to its users’ equipment needs. According to DP Review, “The ‘DL-mount’ has a very short flange distance of 16.84mm, allowing lenses to be extremely compact while maintaining high image quality.”
Alongside its new camera module, DJI is releasing 16mm, 24mm, 35mm and 50mm F2.8 lenses, the three longest lenses having mechanical shutters.
In addition to being capable of 8K resolution, the lenses will be of a similar size and weight to eliminate any rebalancing or recalibration of the gimbal needed after changing them, and will feature no moving parts to up the lifespan of the parts.
In a nod from DJI to photographers that use their drones, the X7’s APS-C sized sensor allows for shooting still photos at 24MP resolution along with raw image support.
With shipments beginning in early November 2017, look for the Zenmuse X7 Super 35mm camera module to hit retail shelves at a price point of $USD 2,700. Each lens will cost $USD 1,300, with the exception of the 50mm lens, which is $100 less. Purchased in combination, all four lenses will cost $USD 4,300.