When DJI’s pro-grade camera – the Zenmuse X7 – becomes available globally this November it’s sure to take the professional aerial cinematography scene by storm. Capable of capturing 6K RAW video (in CinemaDNG format) via four interchangeable prime lenses, and designed to work with the Inspire 2 drone. What it effectively does is lower the costs of traditional professional filming rigs – making the capture of cinema-quality aerial footage more accessible to drone flyers than ever before.

When it comes to pushing the limits of drone videography, DJI are the undisputed world leaders. That said, until now no integrated drone camera could match the quality, or capture the same challenging shots, as the heavy-duty, 40 kg-plus set-ups preferred by the film industry. But with the advent of DJI’s new Zenmuse X7 Super 35 digital film format camera, designed to work seamlessly with their Inspire 2 drone, all this has changed. Now professional filmakers can achieve the same results – but with a package that weighs around just 4 kg, and at a significantly lower cost than was ever previously possible.

“The Zenmuse X7 offers everything professional content creators need to make their aerial footage as stunning and vivid as they demand,” explains Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI. “From the large Super 35 sensor to a new mount, lenses, and colour 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.”

When hooked up to DJI’s Inspire 2 drone, the company’s new Zenmuse X7 Super 35 digital film format camera gives professional filmakers and photographers all the high-end shooting features they need.

Features that make the Zenmuse X7 such a winner
DJI put a lot of effort into making sure the Zenmuse X7 meets the rigorous requirements of serious filmakers and TV production professionals. First up, its large 23.5 x 15.7 mm sensor features a wide dynamic range of 14 stops, giving it the ability to film more detail in low-light conditions. Just as importantly, it also captures low-noise images. The end result: Details in both highlight and dark areas are preserved, which enhances grading flexibility no end come post-production time.

On the image quality front, it boasts the highest resolution ever found on an integrated drone camera. It’s capable of shooting 6K CinemaDNG RAW or 5.2K Apple ProRes at up to 30 FPS, as well as 3.9K CinemaDNG RAW or 2.7K ProRes at up to 59.94 FPS. This is significant, as it means captured footage can be integrated seamlessly into industry-standard post-production workflows. And, as it can shoot 24-megapixel RAW photos (the highest MP count on a drone camera to date) in continuous 20 fps bursts, it’s a star performer in the stills department too.

Featuring a propriety DL-Mount, the Zenmuse X7 can be kitted out with any four interchangeable prime lenses. Options include 16 mm, 24 mm, 35 mm and 50 mm. All have apertures of f/2.8, boast quality optics and are built out of carbon fibre to keep weight down.

But having a great sensor means nothing if it doesn’t have quality optics to match. Fortunately, DJI also gave this important aspect plenty of consideration. Featuring a propriety DL-Mount with an ultra-short flange focal distance, the Zenmuse X7 can be kitted out with any one of four interchangeable prime lenses, all of which boast resolutions of up to 8K. Made out of carbon fibre (to keep weight down) and designed by world-leading optics teams, all four lenses have been embedded with advanced technologies crafted specifically for the camera’s high-end image sensor.

Your options include 16 mm, 24 mm, 35 mm and 50 mm lenses, all of which have a maximum aperture of f/2.8. To allow for advanced setting adjustment and fine-tuning, the 16 mm lens comes equipped with a built-in ND 4 filter, while the 24 mm, 35 mm and 50 mm lenses all feature mechanical shutters. Plus all four have similar weights and dimensions to ensure the X7’s gimbal never needs recalibrating when changing lenses on the fly.

Post-production flexibility also gets a boost
DJI has also introduced their new DJI Cinema Colour System (DCCS). Featuring a new D-Log Curve and D-Gamut colour space, what it does is give editors more flexibility and colour options during the post-production process. “For the Zenmuse X7, we took our colour science to the next level,” continues Pan. “We consulted the world leading authorities in colour science, Technicolor. With their guidance, our engineers developed an optimized gamma curve for the X7 allowing more latitude without sacrificing image quality.”

It’s also worth mentioning that DJI has included a new EI Mode that mimics the way film cameras work. This helps cinematographers capture as much information as possible in every scene, while balancing the dynamic range and noise with different log curves for more flexibility during the post-production process. – (c) 2017 NavWorld

DJI Zenmuse X7 specifications:

Sensor: Size: 23.5 x 15.7mm
Weight: 631 grams with the 16 mm lens
Effective pixels: 24 MP
Prime lens options: 16 mm, 24 mm, 35 mm and 50 mm
Shutter speeds: Electronic: 1/8000 – 8s; mechanical: 1/000 – 8s (16 mm lens not supported)
Video formats: CINESSD: CinemaDNG, ProRes; Micro SD: MOV, MP4
Exposure compensation: 3 stops
Metering: Centre-weight, spot (12 x 8 area selection)
White balance: Auto, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, neon, custom (2 000 K – 10 000 K)
Gimbal angular vibration range: +/- 0.005º
Flight/filming time with the Inspire 2: 23 minutes

You can check out DJI’s Zenmuse X7 in greater detail in the video below:

About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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