by Adam Plowden | 27th May 2016
China’s electronics company Xiaomi announces an affordable HD and 4K drone models packed with features, appealing to a wide audience of photographers and filmmakers. After year on year updates of probably the most famous drone manufacturer, DJI, owning the pro-sumer and professional drone market, enter Xiaomi with the Mi drone at an affordable price bracket of around $380.00 USD for their HD version, and around $460.00 USD for the 4K model. The 4K model will be available in late July as part of an open beta programme, with the HD model being crowdfunded through Xiaomi’s Mi Home app, which begun on the 26th May. Compare this to the price tag of DJI’s Phantom 3 Professional at $999 USD or even the Phantom 3 Original at $499 USD. Understandably being the reputable market leader, is now the time for an outsider to steal DJI’s thunder? The Mi drones boast a wealth of intelligent features such as ‘Smart Flight Controls via GPS and GLONASS positioning/vision positioning’, track and return if the remote disconnects with the drone, and claims up to 27 minutes non-stop flying time with the 5,100 mAh removable battery. The landing gear is also foldable, combined with a modular design and lightweight body means the drones are very portable It seems as though the HD model and 4K model have different sensors and cameras, with notable features below – The 4K Model – Ambarella Sports Image Processor. 12.1MP Sony back-lit sensor. 6-piece glass lens, 2 piece aspherical glass lens, blue glass filter lens. 4K in 3840×2160, no mention of frame rate. Shoots in RAW for still photos. The HD Model – HD camera with low distortion wide angle viewing. 16MP Sony back-lit sensor. 1080/60p. 6 piece multi-coated lens. Both models support a lightweight 3-axis gimbal to keep the images smooth and the camera stable while flying through the air. Similar to other drone technology, remote video monitoring is available with a 720p downlink to a smartphone, which claims to be viewable from 2km away, presumably this is in the line of sight with the drone. Other notable features and multiple auto-pilot features are also included – 108 degree field of view Real-time location tracking for retrieval post landing or crash. Automatic hovering at the edges of no-fly zones. Built in PCB antenna array (dual band) in the remote control for maximum reach. Fly to a point, useful for times when you cannot physically reach the end flying destination. Orbit around an object, for unique aerial perspectives of your subjects and locations. Ability to plan a route for the drone to follow, useful for following a moving object or person at speed. Automatic return mode when the battery level becomes low. The Xiaomi Mi Drones certainly offer lots on the table, without the high price tag of the equivalent DJI models. However, could this spell the end of professional aerial photography and filming as the drone is afforably priced, flooding the market with consumers or pro-sumers? You can check out all the details from the Mi drone release here, which has a couple of feature demonstration videos too.Read more
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