What’s up everybody, it’s the video expert. Let’s talk about the DJI X7.

The new camera model from DJI that has been announced a couple of days ago and it looks like a very interesting concept. And if you know me of course there is so much to love about this concept and maybe a few things that you might hate. It’s the first aerial camera concept with a super 35 mm sensor, much bigger than the micro four thirds in the X5S. The previous concept from DJI.

It’s inspire 2 compatible. You don’t have to get a new  drone for this camera module. It shoots 24 Megapixel stills in 20 fps bursts. This should be very interesting for professional photographers as well as we are getting closer to professional DSLRs with this aerial camera concept. Super 35mm that’s an APS-C equivalent as you are seeing in for instance an alpha 6500 or 6300. But still significantly bigger than micro four thirds.

14 Stops Dynamic Range and 6K Raw

It does have 14 stops of dynamic range which is significantly more than the 12.8 stops of the X5S. So you should be able to retain a lot of details in dark areas in very contrasty situations. Bright sky, dark shadows, it should be possible to get many details back in post production. It shoots 6K RAW Cinema DNG and 5.2K ProRes, if you want to skip that Cinema DNG workflow and work with the usual ProRes footage.

 

4 New DL-Mount Lenses

It comes with 4 new lenses. Now that’s the interesting part. DJI all of a sudden is selling lenses. So the first batch of lenses, it’s a 16mm lens with built in ND filters and the other lenses are 24mm, 35mm and 50mm. But these don’t have built in ND filters but do have mechanical shutters. Now if you think of this strategy why would it have ND filters in the 16mm and mechanical shutters in the other ones.

I mean I would not look at this camera module to be only an aerial camera system. If you take a look at the promo footage you are seeing car chases and all that. So you could totally mount it on a rig wheels system on a car. I’m constantly thinking of car chase scenarios. So that would be a great use for this camera like very dynamic shots. And then it makes sense to have a mechanical shutter and if you have aerial shots where you would actually need more wide angle lenses the ND filter makes much more sense. That’s probably what DJI had in mind when they were developing this first batch of lenses.

Ready for 8K Raw?

And these lenses are already 8K optimized so that’s a hint on what’s coming in the future. Probably a new variation a new evolution, next evolution of this camera module with much bigger sensors since we are seeing an 8K Red camera already. That’s probably something that would fit into this pipeline seamlessly. Talking about pipelines. This camera is certainly something that professional cinematographers would take a closer look at. Not so much the indie filmmakers or the run&gun videographers like I am. I’m using a DJI Phantom 4. That’s certainly enough for like weddings and stuff like that. So this concept is certainly something for the professional production.

So Why Does It Need A New Mount System?

And with the new lenses it also comes with a new DL-Mount. And it had to be done that way. So at first glance you would think okay DJI is trying to sell lenses, make more money out of it. But it was certainly not an option when building, putting a bigger sensor into this module it was certainly not an option to put E or EF-Mount lenses on it. Which are fairly heavy. Then this whole concept wouldn’t work.

I mean it’s already significantly bigger than the X5S already. But much bigger lenses? It wouldn’t have worked. So they had to come up with a new mount system. And the flange focal distance is 17mm so it was able to build much more compact lenses. And for what you are getting a super 35mm sensor with these compact lenses, carbon fiber built lenses, it’s actually great what DJI was able to engineer. And therefore they had to come up with a new mount system. So it was possible to build much more compact lenses.

Of course the downside is you have to get new leses you can’t utilize your you can’t use your EF portfolio in lenses that you might have or micro four thirds lenses. When you’re looking at it as a professional cinematographer that doesn’t have to get an Arri Alexa or a Red camera or even an Alexa Mini this is still a much better choice for professional productions. It depends on the perspective that you are looking at this camera.

D-Log & D-Gamut On A Whole New Level

DJI came up with a new cinema color system and they quote ‘tool their color science to a whole new level‘. I totally believe that. So the new D-Log and the new D-Gamut RGB color space provide much more flexiblity in post production. And they already announced that there will be custom specific LUTs for this camera for this sensor. Which should be even better for matching colors and working with this new color science in the new sensor. And even if they haven’t had custom LUTs for this sensor, having this flexibility with Cinema DNG and ProRes and RAW footage, it should be much better to work with.

EI-Mode & Pricing

I mean it has been shooting RAW already, the X5S camera module. But now with all these enhancements in dynamic range and signal to noise ratio, it has a significantly better signal to noise ratio, so all these things add up to being an incredible high end system for professional cinematic productions. On top of that it comes with an EI mode which balances out dynamic range and noise to get even more out of the footage. So the camera is shipping in november pretty soon already for 2700$. The lenses are 1300$, the 50mm lens is a little cheaper than the other ones. And there is also gonna be combo packs available.

So since this format is called ‘Love&Hate‘, what are you gonna love about this camera? Certainly the new super35mm sensor. Well when you hear that you might be thinking – Oh shallow depth of field. It depends on what you are gonna use this module for. If it’s just for aerial footage the bigger sensor might not make much sense compared to a micro four thirds sensor. But when you’re taking a closer look at the lenses with all the mechanical shutters on the 50mm, 35mm lens, this is certainly meant to be a module that you would be putting on a rig wheels system. As mentioned in a car chase or something or in very dense situations where you don’t have much space and still want to retain this look, this cinematic look of a bigger sensor. Then it makes perfect sense to have a much bigger sensor in this module.

For Indie Filmmakers Or Professional Cinematographers?

This is certainly something that will be utilized from professional cinematographers and actually there is not much that I could hate about this camera other than the pricing. As I said that totally depends on how you are looking at this system. When you are looking at it as a indie filmmaker, a run&gun videographer like I am,  shooting weddings & corporate stuff. Then it doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t make sense to buy this module, to buy the new lenses.

When you’re looking at it as a profesional cinematographer then there is absolutely nothing to hate about this camera because it makes perfect sense. It will blend into your production pipeline seamlessly. There is no need to put a Red on a drone or something, let alone getting an Alexa Mini as a crash cam or settings as mentioned in a car chase I don’t a phone booth – you name it. When you don’t have much space you will certainly love such a compact system and still be able to work with a bigger sensor and 6K RAW maybe 8K RAW in the near future. I have to look at it as a videographer so I would totally hate to have to buy new lenses so I would suggest sticking with the X5S as the most professional level when shooting RAW in an aerial camera system.

I’m not seeing shooters like myself buying this system. But I would certainly if I get the chance test it out and see how much better it looks. But you are still getting the new color system the new D-Gamut color space in the X5S so that will be updated as well so you can benefit from the new color science development from DJI.

So what do you think about this new camera module? Do you think it was a necessary evolution in aerial camera systems? Or is it something that you would put into the professional cinematography corner and not really look at it as a online creator, run&gun videographer, indie filmmaker? Let me known in the comments.