DJI just announced the introduction of a drone zoom camera called the DJI Zenmuse Z3. It is an upgrade to the popular Zenmuse X3, which is their entry level integrated drone camera used on the DJI Inspire 1 and DJI Osmo. The Zenmuse Z3 will offer a zoom of up to 7x. That is a 3.5x optical zoom with a digital scaler doing the rest. Although the press release indicates this zoom camera is aimed mainly at industrial applications such as inspection and surveying, it certainly also gives filmmakers interesting new possibilities. A different focal length can come in handy in many filming situations. The Zenmuse Z3 is compatible with the Inspire 1, Matrice 100 and Matrice 600 drones. Unfortunately it will not be compatible with the DJI Osmo, though a separate version for the Osmo will apparently be launched in August. It can capture the same 30fps 4K video and 12mp dng stills as the Zenmuse X3, so we can assume the quality will be similar. The higher-priced Zenmuse X5 and X5R offer much better quality in comparison (see our test video here). The DJI Zenmuse Z3 is integrated into the DJI GO app and uses a swipe gesture to zoom in and out. The effective zoom range of the DJI Zenmuse Z3 is 22 mm to 77 mm on its Sony 1/2.3-inch sensor, and it has a maximum aperture of F/2.8 and F/5.2 at 22 millimeters and 77 millimeters respectively. While low quality is a concern, this is certainly a step in the right direction for DJI. I think we can assume that an upgraded lens for the Zenmuse X5 and X5R is on its way, which may offer the same kind of zooming functionality via their app. The only negative news about this announcement is that it might stir up people’s privacy concerns even more. The “I cannot zoom in anyway!” argument will certainly not hold water any longer.Read more
We’ve been testing the new DJI Zenmuse X5 and X5R RAW cameras recently and we were really curious to see how they compare to the standard Zenmuse X3. If you’re interested to see the quality difference between the DJI Inspire 1 vs. DJI Inspire 1 PRO vs. Inspire 1 RAW check out this video we shot. When we looked at the difference between the Zenmuse X5 and X5R cameras we found that the X5 can’t really compete with the fine RAW quality of the X5R. However it was unclear wether the upgrade to an X5 was worth it in terms of image quality. The X3 is the camera that sits on the normal DJI Inspire 1 drone as well as the DJI Osmo. Both devices can be upgraded with a Zenmuse X5 or Zenmuse X5R camera (The Osmo X5 adapter is needed for the Osmo upgrade) DJI Inspire 1 vs. DJI Inspire 1 PRO vs. Inspire 1 RAW – Verdict So how good is the Zenmuse X5? Looking at the footage we shot it is clear that the Zenmuse X5R resolve much more color gradations than both other cameras. Also, as previously analyzed in our lab test, we can see how the codec and processing of the Zenmuse X5 looses a lot of information with heavy compression. What surprised us was that clearly the Zenmuse X5 resolves more detail than the Zenmuse X3. This is mainly true in full 4K though. When watched on an HD screen the difference is neglectable. In terms of color both cameras seem to have very low color resolution and dynamic range, resulting in a very washed out image that is not easy to grade in post-production. Processing on the Zenmuse X5 seems to be much cleaner though. While we don’t like the magenta tint all over the image, the end result seems more like a flat “LOG” image than the one we get from the Zenmuse X3, even though both cameras were set to “D-LOG”. Testing Environment This test setup was not perfect and not scientific. The X3 and the X5 have very different focal lengths so it is hard to truly compare them side by side. We wanted to take the chance to get a rough feeling of how the 3 cameras perform and especially what the difference between the X3 and X5 truly is. We hope the video gives you some insights on this topic. All cameras were used on the same DJI Osmo, with similar (X3) or identical (x5 and X5R) exposure settings and under full sunlight within a 15 minute timeframe. The filming position was changed for the X3 due to the different focal length. What do you think? Now you’ve seen the 3 cameras side by side. What do you think about their quality, especially in terms of a DJI Inspire 1 vs. DJI Inspire 1 PRO vs. Inspire 1 RAW comparison. Is it worth the upgrade to the X5, or would you go all the way to the X5R?Read more
We’ve been busy testing DJI’s latest “toy”, the Zenmuse X5R RAW camera used on the DJI Osmo handheld gimbal and DJI Inspire 1 drone. In our lab test, we found that the Zenmuse X5R can achieve amazing image quality. But with a pricetag of $3200 it is less attractive than its almost identical, half-priced twin: the Zenmuse X5. In this test, we look at the differences between the X5 vs. X5R. The Differences Between the Zenmuse X5 vs. X5R The main difference between the two cameras is easy to spot. The Zenmuse X5R records RAW dng sequences to very expensive DJI SSD media while the Zenmuse X5 records to a low bitrate h.264 format. Everything else is the same. The same micro 4/3 sensor, the same lens (if you get the lens kit version), the same gimbal. So, in order to pick the right camera we really need to know how big the quality difference between the two cameras is. Let’s take a look in the lab: X5 vs. X5R in the Lab Here is where it gets interesting. In our X5R dynamic range test, we saw that the X5R can achieve about 12 stops of usable dynamic range. In comparison, the X5 gets only about 9 stops. Our software only measures noise and does not take the color changes in the last steps into account, which would more fairly rate the X5 at 7 usable stops in my personal opinion. Note that the X5 records 2 stops less in the highlights, so the test was done at F/2.8 on the X5R and F/5.6 on the X5. When we look at the recording from the test chart we can immediately see a striking difference in image quality. There is a lot of banding and the codec washes out a lot of parts of the image. The lower strips of the dynamic range chart in particular are displayed soft and without any detail. What does this mean? This means that the X5 will have a much, much harder time in high contrast scenes, such as when you’re filming a landscape on a sunny day or in scenes where the sun is your backlight. This is especially common in drone filming. The X5 seems to have a dynamic range more comparable to the old X3 camera that comes with the normal DJI Inspire 1. Let’s look at image quality in detail now: Image Quality of the X5 vs. X5R There is a vast difference in image quality between the Zenmuse X5 and the X5R. We applauded the image quality of the RAW version of the X5R when we compared it to professional cinema cameras on the market. The Zenmuse X5, however, performs really poorly. The image reminds me of the Zenmuse X3. Color gradations are extremely poor. Each of the thread spools I filmed is made up of a few shades of color and that’s it. Any other 8 bit camera is better than this. In practice, this means virtually no room for color grading. Of course, you can always apply a LUT, like you could on the X3. In terms of detail, in the highlight areas the camera performs well, though the X5R can retain the image quality better. The X5 image is also sharpened, which makes it look less natural. The X5 performs better here than the X3. When we look at the shadow areas, we see that we quickly lose detail. Here’s how the lack of dynamic range looks in practice: the codec and processing seems to be so bad, that any image detail is lost in the shadow areas. Sharpened edges and a weird magenta tint kick the image to its doom. Other Differences X5 vs. X5R Battery Life On a fully charged Osmo battery, the Zenmuse X5 camera runs 59 minutes. The Zenmuse X5R on the other hand is very battery hungry and drains that same battery in 26 minutes (Test was conducted with continuous recording on both cameras). When used on a DJI Inspire, we also noticed that the battery life of the X5R makes your flying times much shorter. Noise People have reported about the noisy sound of the Zenmuse X5R’s tiny fans. Indeed, when running with an Omso X5R as we did in our field test, the X5R can be quite problematic for audio. Surprisingly the Zenmuse X5 is only a little less loud as it also emits a fan sound that can ruin quiet recordings. In a very simple test we measured room ambience at 35db, the X5 at 55db and the X5R at 60db. Both at a distance of 10cm. Note that the X5R noise is higher pitched and thus more unpleasant to the ears. Media The Zenmuse X5 is very practical as it only uses Micro SD cards. A decent MicroSD card including a reader, costs $15. In comparison the X5R requires DJI SSD media that costs $1000 per 512GB card. Unfortunately RAW needs much faster write speeds and more storage. This will be a huge problem for many. But for professionals, used to a RAW workflow it is manageable. Verdict The Zenmuse X5R impressed us when we compared it to other cinema cameras and in our field test earlier this month, so we were really curious how the the Zenmuse X5 would hold up. At the end of the day the only difference between the two cameras is a different recording functionality. During this test we quickly realized that the Zenmuse X5R’s RAW capabilities make a huge difference when it comes to image quality and dynamic range. Apparently the X5 processing and compression is very basic and a lot of information seems to get “lost in translation”. Dynamic range suffers so much that it degrades the final output to only 7 honest usable stops in comparison to the X5R’s 12 stops. The Zenmuse X5 strengths are its very low weight, the interchangeable lens design, autofocus functionality and 4K resolution. Even though the detail and colour resolution of the X5R is better, the X5 can still deliver some nice images when used in a semi-professional way. The only question that remains is wether the X5 makes any sense over the “old” Zenmuse X3 that comes with every basic Osmo and DJI Inspire 1. The simple answer to that question: With the autofocus functionality of the X5 the Osmo really makes sense. But on a drone the X5 might not be a huge step after the X3 and you should think twice about the upgrade. We have a comparison between the X3, X5 and X5R coming up later today. After spending a little more time with the Zenmuse X5R on the Osmo and on an Inspire drone, I can confidently say that it produces amazing results that still impress me and the Zenmuse X5 is certainly no match. At the end of the day your budget and workflow possibilities will probably impact your decision here. The X5R has a premium pricetag, especially with the expensive SSD media and a more complicated and storage intense workflow. With all the facts on the table now we’re interested in your verdict and how each of you can see these cameras in your own workflows. Let us know in the comments.Read more
The DJI Osmo RAW has finally arrived at the cinema5D office, as you may have seen in Nino’s Osmo review. But the focus of our attention is the DJI Zenmuse X5R Camera, which can be attached to the DJI Osmo with the Osmo X5 Adapter and produce powerful cinematic RAW footage in 4K with Osmo stabilization in an ultra-compact form factor. [UPDATE]: We have now also compared the X5R to the X5 and X3: LINK We were very curious to find out what the camera quality was really like. Here are our lab test results when compared to professional cinema cameras. DJI Osmo RAW Compared to Professional Cinema Cameras The DJI Osmo RAW version is quite a bold little camera. Very small, light and with a promise of 4K RAW that can also take to the skies when attached to the DJI Inspire 1. The integrated stabilizer makes this an extremely convenient tool, and the fact that there’s a potential for high quality footage with its RAW recording makes it compete with much more professional and expensive cameras. We’ve tested the ergonomics of the device, now let’s see how the little Osmo RAW compares in terms of image quality. Dynamic Range Dynamic range is difficult to measure properly, especially on a RAW camera where processing is done by the user and not by the camera. We’ve gone through DaVinci resolve to create a flat image of our recording and measured it with our software. A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture more shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes. The X3 camera on the original DJI Osmo suffers from a very poor dynamic range, which is especially problematic when capturing landscapes with the DJI Inspire 1 drone. We’re testing usable dynamic range with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart. Unfortunately, our test lens, the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro, is not compatible with the Osmo, so we used the 15mm F/1.7 MFT lens that came with the Osmo X5R. Our software measured about 12 stops of usable dynamic range on the DJI Osmo RAW (Zenmuse X5R camera). This is similar to the rating of the Sony a7S II, 3 stops more than the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K and 2 stops less than the Arri ALEXA. DJI advertises the dynamic range of the Zenmuse X5R camera at 12.8 stops. It is rare that manufacturers are upfront when it comes to usable dynamic range. Note that a RAW camera doesn’t necessarily produce more dynamic range. Doing numerous comparisons with test charts, we have learned this over time. It is likely that the original Zenmuse X5 gives you more or less the same dynamic range. RAW on the other hand gives you finer gradations, more possibilities in post and an image that is more solid and can be graded further without destroying the image quality. When we pull up that information in the blacks there is noise, but a lot more steps are visible behind it, just like on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4K that displays a lot of noise early on. 12 stops of usable dynamic range is a good rating for a cinema camera. It is also what the C300 mark II achieved. As always, the Arri ALEXA stays untouched with 14 stops of usable range. The Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K is also small and shoots RAW, but is not an alternative as this one was limited to about 5-6 stops of dynamic range in our tests. Image Quality We determine image quality by looking at sharpness (resolution) and aliasing with the help of stars and tubes. Usually they reveal where an image breaks down in terms of resolution. The shots below were taken at the best ISO speed of each respective camera. DJI Osmo RAW Image Quality – 100% crop of 4K image. As you can see, despite any lens cushioning and lens softness, the DJI Osmo RAW is quite close to the Canon C300 mark II and more or less on par with the Varicam 35 / LT. The Sony a6300 is the only camera that leaves the others behind in terms of resolution. Who would have thought. Looking at the a6300, it has become clear that size is not the deciding factor when it comes to quality resolution. The Osmo DJI RAW proves that yet again, with an impressive image quality that comes close to the bigger cinema cameras. Here are a few more comparison shots of other objects on the test chart: In summary, I would say that in terms of image quality the DJI Osmo RAW can hold up remarkably well in comparison to professional cinema cameras currently on the market. Lowlight The DJI Osmo RAW X5R camera shines at ISO 100, but it quickly loses its power when you crank up the ISO. For the shots above I used minimal post processing. You can see that at ISO 800 there is already a considerable amount of noise in comparison to ISO 100. That said, look at the shot of the cat earlier on where the blacks were pulled a little and some noise reduction was applied. This has to be kept in mind when shooting RAW. You can still treat the image much better than from cameras that use heavy compression. It’s clear that the Zenmuse X5R is not a lowlight wonder and the DJI Osmo RAW should be used at low ISO speeds. I would recommend not to go beyond 800 for high quality shots. Ideally you should stay low, because the Osmo RAW records at ISO 100 at all times. Any other ISO speeds you set in the app are just a “preview” and have to be processed (pushed) in post production. Rolling Shutter The famous rolling shutter effect that haunts CMOS sensors can be especially troubling on shots where a lot of movement is involved. The Zenmuse X5R that rides the DJI Osmo RAW and flies on the DJI Inspire 1 is certainly meant to be involved in a lot of moving shots. Unfortunately, the Zenmuse X5R doesn’t shine here. With 25ms of readout time it is at the worse side of the spectrum, and most proper cinema cameras have much lower rolling shutter ratings. DJI Osmo RAW Conclusion Look at that tiny 4K camera and stabilizer. The DJI Osmo RAW certainly has a niche of its own. A small, stabilized camera that delivers 4K RAW images at 24p. There’s nothing like it right now that delivers RAW, is so easy to use and can be mounted onto an affordable and powerful drone. The question is whether or not the RAW can keep up with cinema standards and truly deliver high quality footage. It is quite difficult to draw a definitive conclusion from what I’ve seen. On the one hand, the footage we get is really powerful, has beautiful deep gradations, a high resolution, organic look and can really be played with in post production. If you’re used to Inspire 1 drone footage, this upgrade will simply blow you away and the difference to a professional cinema camera like a VariCam, Alexa or C300 mark II will be hard to spot when properly post processed. Of course the Zenmuse X5R wouldn’t simply replace a cinema camera, as such a camera is about more than the final end result of a picture you can achieve. An Arri ALEXA is certainly still in a different class altogether, but I think the Osmo RAW will become relevant in the cinema sector for certain applications. There are also a few shortcomings you should consider. In terms of a “true cinema camera”, rolling shutter is absolutely terrible. The Canon 1D C from Canon’s cinema line rightfully has a place in the same ranks here. But especially because the DJI Osmo RAW is used in situations with a lot of motion, the strong rolling shutter can be a problem that might put many professionals off. Another downside is the mediocre lowlight performance. If you’re coming from DSLR’s this will be limiting, but if you’re used to Blackmagic or film cameras you probably won’t notice it. All in all, the DJI Osmo RAW is a remarkable piece of gear. In the right hands, when the RAW is exploited with some time in post production, this can be an extremely powerful tool. The fact that this is not just a camera, but a solution as a miniature gimbal camera for on the go or in the air is intriguing. Is the price of $4000 a lot? Yes. Is it worth it? You decide. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.Read more
I recently had a chance to try the Osmo RAW (Zenmuse X5R) at a friend’s wedding. I shot the beginning at 1080p and the ending in UHD, but I shot the whole video in RAW. I used a standard picture setting as they are RAW files anyway, and transcoded into ProRes 4444 to edit. I didn’t change the color in the edit at all, so feel free to download the 4K/UHD file from Vimeo to play with. Screw-up Let me get this out of the way: having never used an Osmo before, I screwed up a number of shots right at the beginning without realizing. We couldn’t find the venue, so we just arrived at the same time as the bride, which meant I just had to grab the Osmo and go for it. I must have been in some kind of auto-exposure mode, and I couldn’t recognize how crappy these adjustments looked on the iPhone screen until I reviewed the footage after the first bit of shooting. So please excuse these terribly stuttery shots that occurred as a result of automatic shutter speed adjustments. This leads us to the first problem with the Osmo: it really needs an ND because shooting high shutter speeds means that movements look jumpy – you should adhere to the 180 degree shutter rule whenever possible when filming, no matter the camera, and you can only achieve this by taking light away from your sensor with filters, particularly in bright daylight. Impressive Technology But let me really start by saying what an amazing device the DJI Osmo is in general. It’s a lot of smart technology in a very small package that feels very well thought out. It has a great feel, with all its buttons just in the right place, and the DJI Go app to control the Osmo from your phone is absolutely mind-blowing. The Osmo doesn’t have a built-in preview screen. You connect your phone to a hotspot that the Osmo generates, and start the app. Tap on “camera” and you should immediately see the preview image. Surprisingly, the lag is so short that it’s barely noticeable, despite the Wifi connection. The interface controls of the DJI Go app are extremely comprehensive, although some things are not in the logical place. I found the autofocus quite poor and unfortunately it can’t seem to track the objects you tap on on the screen – it just focuses once but does not keep them in focus. Switch to manual focus and you get a virtual focus wheel on screen, which surprisingly works pretty well. Long focus ramps should be avoided though, because going from macro to infinity doesn’t work in one go. Further camera settings are buried in the menu but in general the entire app is way more intuitive than your average camera menu from any Japanese manufacturer. RAW recording The new RAW version of the Osmo differs from the former X5 version by its raw recorder – a fan-cooled unit that records onto custom DJI SSDs that come at a steep price ($1800 for 512 GB). The quality of the raw footage is exceptional, and you can record half an hour of 4K or UHD footage onto a 512 GB card, or 4 hours of HD. I recorded the first part of my review in HD because I didn’t know how long the ceremony was going to last – I later changed to UHD recording. Noise issues There is one huge issue with the raw recorder: it’s extremely noisy. So much so, that it is impossible to record any usable sound with the device, and noisy enough to annoy the people you are filming. During the ceremony, I shot a few shots walking past the audience, adjusting the angle of the Osmo camera through the brilliant joystick so that it pointed sideways. I was about 2 meters away from the guests, and many heads turned because of the noise the device was producing. This can be a real deal-breaker for many shooters out there. Smartphone interface & preview – smart or not? In theory, the idea of using your high-resolution smartphone as a preview touch screen for the Osmo is quite smart, but there are a bunch of problems: first of all, I would recommend that you get a dedicated phone / iPod touch for the Osmo, simply because if a phone call or notification comes in, it can ruin your shot. And there is no real way of preventing a phone call from coming in because you need the Wifi connection, which means you can’t switch to Airplane Mode. You might be able to use the Do Not Disturb mode on iPhones instead, but I did not test this. UPDATE: I was wrong here – it is possible to enable the Airplane mode and then re-enable Wifi only. I was not aware that that is possible. This is also possible on Android, similarly. Very neat! Secondly – and this might be an even bigger problem – is that of course your smartphone battery is drained quickly when using it as a preview and interface monitor. There is space to attach a charging cable, but you will have to connect it to an external battery pack, which you would have to somehow attach to Osmo in order to not be in the way. Power drain Despite this, I didn’t even run into this problem when reviewing the Osmo, simply because I was only supplied with one battery for the device. This meant that when it drained after 20-30 minutes of continuous use, I had to recharge it for 1-1.5 hours before I could use it again. DJI provided us with a larger Inspire battery which was supposed to last longer, as it can be connected running a cable from the battery in my pocket to the Osmo. This proved to be impractical as I also had to switch cameras because I was filming the wedding with a Sony a7S as well, so I decided no to go for the external battery most of the time. Stabilisation The stabilisation of the Osmo is quite good, and unlike with other gimbals which use third-party cameras, balancing is of course a non-issue for the Osmo. The joystick button control makes it a breeze to adjust the angle to your liking. Holding down the pistol trigger button below the grip, the direction of the camera temporarily stays put, and doesn’t follow your movements like normally. Lenses I used the Osmo with the supplied standard lens, the 1.7/15, which provided great shallow depth of field due to its wide aperture. Focusing with the virtual wheel isn’t easy though, and the autofocus isn’t great (and not continuous). I found this lens to be a good compromise between wide angle shots while not distorting too much, although in tighter spaces I often found it could have been wider. It’s the same old problem with the Micro Four Thirds sensor: it’s hard to find wide lenses because of the 2x crop sensor . Footage The X5R still holds a micro SD card slot in addition to the RAW recorder, which means you have easily playable proxies recorded simultanously. Even the DJI Go app records a preview image, which makes it even easier. Reviewing RAW footage has never been easier with any other camera I know. Ingesting the DNG RAW sequences into your Mac works by using the included CineLight app, which also offers options to export those sequences. I then converted them into ProRes 4444 using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5 to make them more edit-friendly. The look of the 4K RAW footage is nothing short of spectacular. As expected, the highlight retention is exceptional, as are the details in the shadows. A formal lab test and some aerial footage will follow in a separate post by Sebastian, and be warned that the aerials looks absolutely mind-blowing. DJI has managed to release a product whose image quality can compete with the highest-end multicopter setups with much heavier and expensive cameras, and you probably wouldn’t see the difference. Post production of RAW footage is obviously time and storage consuming, so I wouldn’t use the Osmo RAW on every production. However, when high quality is needed and you have the time for post production, then it can really shine. It would have been nice to find a compromise between the lossless RAW footage and the heavily compressed footage that ends up on the micro SD card. Hopefully DJI can license ProRes in the future and add this kind of recording to the X5R in order to accommodate for more everyday productions. Conclusion Using the Osmo RAW with the Zenmuse X5R makes you feel like you are using a gadget from the future. DJI seem to be far ahead of much of their competition in terms of interface and hardware. There are definitely interesting times ahead, and more and more established companies should brace themselves for DJI to disrupt their market. This time, I see the market mostly in the multicopter / drone areas, considering the RAW quality of the X5R footage. I don’t see this disruption threatening other one-handed-gimbals or even their own original Osmo too much, simply because the noise of the unit will make it unusable for many practical applications which require original sound. For example, I don’t see a way of actually doing a walk-and-talk with the Osmo RAW due to its noise level. Also, the amount of battery drain is troubling. About 20 minutes when shooting 4K or UHD RAW, maybe 30 or 35 when shooting 1080p. You will literally need 10-15 batteries to get through a day’s worth of shooting. Despite its shortcomings, the DJI Osmo RAW X5R is a sign of what’s yet to come in the gimbal and stabilizer market. It will find its audience, and certainly also on higher-end productions because of its sheer RAW power and ease of use.Read more
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