X5 vs. X5R Analyzed – Which DJI Zenmuse Should You Get?

DJI Zenmuse X5 vs. X5R

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.


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.


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.


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.

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Scott Dempsey Reply
Scott Dempsey June 27, 2016

Looks like I’ll be saving for a while longer…

 Mathias Häcki Reply
Mathias Häcki June 27, 2016

I’m using all three mentioned cameras.
In my opinion the X5 is a major step up to the X3.
The X5 is much better in low light, has less noise, different lense options (12, 15,17,25, 45 and 14-42mm).
We’ve done many different jobs for tv stations around the world and everybody was happy.
Sure, the gain on the X5r is massive. But the raw workflow is a overkill for most of our clients.
We hope we’ll see a new option with something like ProRes 422 and 10bit in the next release which would be really great.
Sadly most of our customers who see/want the benefit of raw 444 still think the X5r is just a toy. Most of them shoot the rest of their projects with RED or Arri anyway. So they want a RED or Arri camera also up in the air.
After all there is still no do it all camera. But also a lot of customers will also show their stuff on tv or the internet, which can also work out greatly with a X5 if the footage was shot correctly in the beginning ;)

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 27, 2016

Hey Matthias,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and exprience. A proper comparison between the X3 and X5 would be interesting, but we cannot do it in our lab, as the X3 cannot focus on the test charts…
I my observation the X5 is not a huge leap.
And yes, a proper ProRes 10 bit version would be great. Maybe we’ll see something like that in the far future.

Adler Evan June 27, 2016


I am an x3 owner and pilot and was very excited to see the difference in the x5, but I am a little confused by watching this comparison video. I am seeing a sharper image on the x3 and softer, possibly even out of focus image off the x5 (could be operator fault). I am also noticing (if you put video full screen) some “Jello” action happening with the footage of this x5 in the video. The X3 does not have any “Jello” happening and appears sharper and even smoother. The specs with the increased bit rate and on the x5 doesn’t make this add up and therefor I am confused. Can you help me understand why the x5 looks not that impressive from this comparison?

Robert Bengraff June 27, 2016

I am in full agreement with you about this video. I saw it a while back and actually thought that they my have mixed up the samples as the x3 looked better to my eye as well. I too would like to see a better comparison between the x3 and x5 as I would like to make the jump. Also if you use some ND, a color chart and do a little grading the x3 can give very nice results. and as Mathias mentioned the clients might not even think that is good enough. Here is a link to a small minute 30 second piece of some x3 stuff I just filmed with the exception of one shot (let’s see if you can guess which;) anyway if any x3/x5 users would like to chime in of if they believe I would see a $2000 difference I would sincerely welcome your thoughts. And thanks a million Sebastian for your continued education.

Robert Bengraff June 27, 2016

Sorry, Here’s the link to the x3 footage


Enzo Solazzi Reply
Enzo Solazzi June 27, 2016

Hi sebastian! I have x5r from last week. I have a question: bitrate of SD CARD H.264 is best of the X5 h.264?

Minu Park Reply
Minu Park June 27, 2016

It’s same thing man not really big differences other than workflow. same exact image quality

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 28, 2016

Hi Enzo, just confirming what Minu said. The h.264 on the X5R gives you the same image quality as the X5’s.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 28, 2016

Correction: I just tested all 3 cameras. The X5R proxy clearly is worse than the X5 native h.264 files.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 28, 2016

Hey Enzo,
I also compared the X5R proxy to the X5 in this one we just published:

Chad Johnson June 27, 2016

I just want the X5R to be able to record in ProResLT. That’s plenty for 99% of what I do. The RAW workflow and file size is way overkill. We have a giant gap between the bitrates of the X5 and the X5R, with the majority of pro users left out regarding what they need.

Luke Wen June 28, 2016

ProRes certification for hardware encoder could literally take years.

Topher McGrillis Reply
Topher McGrillis June 27, 2016

Finally an article which tells us how shot the x5 is. I wish they had written this 6 months ago

Nelson Tan June 27, 2016

People getting X5 for better lowlight and BOKEH which is none on X3, for still it is much improvement over X3. Video is limited by the codec used by DJI which is not up to Panasonic/Sony standard yet, mbps is not the whole story, like C100 only uses 24mbps AVCHD but staff coming straight from that camera is better than Sony @ 50mbps XAVC-S

Minu Park June 27, 2016

I totally agree with most of the comments.

I own X5 with inspire 1 and Osmo for my experiencing and increasing the capacity of how it looks like from birdeye view.


It is a great camera comparing to X3. It’s like comparing between Compact pocket camera vs Dslr.

It’s because of the codec and color science.

I just shot music video last week at Youtube Station for a client. I have only three hours, and mostly we will shoot performance based music video.

The budget was short, so we had to shoot with 2x FS7, 2x A7SII. The client certainly want me to add some special shots.

But, we had only three hours to shoot all these performance + extra thing(Interview& BTS) My producer said, we could utilize about 10-15 min. So I decided to bring the cast(the band) down to chelsea market and run over other people crossing the market entirely.

Yes that was illegal, but who cares at the end :) We are filmmakers.

I had a little struggling that whether we need to bring my M10 or hand held…Than I remembered that OSMO might work for the purposes. It’s small, it does look “great” and it’s super compact ( Plus, we didn’t have more budget anyway lol)

So I used it, and I am going to tell you my reaction to you guys about this

1. It’s super compact, nobody will stop you to filming with your OSMO.
As I mentioned, it was extremely crowds during the afternoon NYC. SO MANY TOURISTSSSSS

But the guard say one word to me instead of stopping me “Do not run”

2. Image is absolutely not as good as any of these sony cameras. As I mentioned, I used FS7, and A7SII
I own Red dragon, and often used other cameras as C-cam or B cam very often. It’s not easy to match between them, but it wasn’t impossible.

But, X5 to Sony I finds it very very very hard… (I think my setting is wrong or something, the red color in X5 is just f&^*#ing terrible)

3. Focus

Yup, most of my osmo shot has a focus problem, and when I shot on inspire1, I didn’t have problem, because most of the time I shot in infinity and f11-f16

You probably need to have the dji FOCUS.

I ordered it this morning.

At the end, I would like to question to all of the people who are interested in buying X5 and Inspire 1

Do you want really good quality video with super compact drone?

Don’t think just get the X5RAW.

You don’t want to transcode shitty raw files into prores and working on it later 50 min later, and you can sacrifice “Image’ for it?

Go for X5

Honestly, X5’s problem is all about stupid codec and color science. If they let us have 10bit, or let us have an access to add 3d lut into the cmaera, I would recommend you X5 camera.

But, I would say this.
After you’ve got X5, you probably would upgrade to X5 raw, It’s because of that bending issue.

The problem is siginificant as a filmmaker, not as a drone operator’s pov.

Thanks :)

P.S: I haven’t finished the final draft of the music video that I shot last week. But I have a rough draft that you can see how big differences between A7SII, FS7 vs X5’s color science.



 Mathias Häcki Reply
Mathias Häcki June 28, 2016

Btw. Using a IR cut filter helps with the X5/X5r red spill.

 Mathias Häcki Reply
Mathias Häcki June 28, 2016

In the end it breaks down to choose the right tool for the job.
We just finished shooting a tv series with 8 shows. The main ground content was shot with 2 Amira. The client decided to book the X5r for a seperatly shot opener and the X5 for the series. The reason was, that they had much more grading in the opener (Amira, highspeed shots from a Flex, vfx and aerial shots). The slightly higher price for shooting the whole series with the X5r would have not been a budget problem. But they did not want the overhead of the X5r post workflowin within every single show. So this safed them time and double money in the end but got em still footage that was good enough for the tv.
One of the X3 problems is internal oversharpening. So there is no way you can get decent interlaced footage out of X3 UHD. If you try you’ll always end up with flickering. The only solution is to shoot 1080p/50fps. Which works but you’ll loose the additional quality you can reach by downscaling UHD to 1080p. The X3 1080p/50 is also much softer.
What is bad for me might be good for others. There were lots of people complaining about the softer image of the X5 compared to the X3. These people just didn’t realize that the X3 used a tiny Sony sensor, which also gets used in mobile phones, while the X5 used a much larger micro 4/3 sensor. Most of these people also never calibrated their lenses and most of them used a their aperture wide open with the stock DJI lense. That lense is a good start but does not shine compared to others and is really soft bellow f5.6. Different lenses like the Olympus 12mm and 25mm are much better in every aspect.
It also depends on which firmware you use. DJI changes a lot from firmware to firmware. Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it gets worse. So each firmware release would need a complete new test. I did not do any test shots with the most current one, as I’m shooting another project right now with an outdated firmware, but don’t want to risk any problems I’m not aware off. But 1080p was currently just suddenly way to soft. Hopefully thex fixed it again. 1080p NTSC als got more bandwith than the Pal one. They raised it for NTSC a few month ago, but never did the same for Pal yet. If they could integrated a interlaced option that would also help shooting stuff for tv.
I’m pretty sure we will see some better codec in the next DJI cameras (as always) But marketing will decide on how good it will be. Maybe we just see a real 360° camera option as a answer to the Yuneec Typhon H as well.
They don’t want to shoot all their options at once. Otherwise people will not buy every new release. So we probably will see a X3C camera by the IBC, followed by a X5c camera about 6 month later and another 6 month later a X5rc. They always have done it that way. They even made the image quality of the Phantom 3 Pro and Phantom 4 camera better than the one of the X3. Why? because people will buy it for certain applications additionally to their Inspire setup.
We life in a economy that always ask for more and better. But as rec709 is still a major standard, a lot of that better quality gets dumped anyway in thr end. Most projects will never go to a movie screen. Only a few pixel peeper will see the footage on a good and calibrated screen. Most people will see their stuff on some kind of oversaturated uneven lid screen with lots of additional, technical gimicks that will change and destroy the intended look anyway. This will probably change a bit by the 2020 rollout of hdr.
This is were the X5r will have its real advance over the X3 and X5.
So if footage future proofing is needed, then this x5r raw footage is the best of the 3 current DJI X-Series options.

Melindra Bourne Reply
Melindra Bourne June 28, 2016


Mark Dobson June 28, 2016

Very informative article. Thanks. My experience is that the X5 is a huge step up from the X3 almost entirely because of the higher quality lens I bought. The 12mm Olympus produces very satisfactory images. I shoot in log mode and find there is quite a lot to play about with afterwards.

I can see that the X5R is a superior camera but the added weight and data rich workflow mean that I’ll probably pass it by. Especially as the majority of my work is taking still images and and I don’t think there is any difference between the 2 cameras when shooting stills. (16bit)

One downside for me is that the added weight of the X5 over the X3 make the Inspire 1 more cumbersome, there is an inertia there now that you don’t feel with the X3. Its very important to realise that this machines are really entry level units within the professional realm. You get what you pay for.

Ville-Veikko Heinonen Reply
Ville-Veikko Heinonen June 28, 2016

Thanks! I was JUST aboout to get the Inspire Pro, so I guess I’ll wait. It would be nice to have something between the highly compressed H.264 and RAW…

Oman Mirzaie Reply
Oman Mirzaie June 28, 2016

xiro extreme drone m4/3 sensor fixed 20mm lens, coming soon

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 28, 2016

Indeed Ville, something in between would be nice. I’ll try to compare the X3 to the X5 somehow today and will post the results. I’m also interested to see the difference.

Евгений Туйцын Reply
Евгений Туйцын June 28, 2016

The Price on x5R is so HOT (((

Momir Alvirovic June 29, 2016

You should not believe in this new hype either – X5R is somehow better then X5 just and only becouse RAW CinemaDNG is better then highly compressed H264 video. DJI compression algorithm for H264 is to blame for X5 mushy dark tones and lack of dynamic range, but there are other problems which are common for both models – such as dynamic knee which makes picture “pulsing”, as well as strong noise even at ISO400 (ISO800 is so noisy that is almost unusable for any pro work). Beside common ones, X5R has lot of its specific shortcomings which are not covered in this article… Search X5R owners posts in Inspire/Osmo forums, and you will learn that cooling fans are extremely loud and there is confirmed production error which makes fans even noisier when mounted upside down on Osmo. X5R is very fragile when used in flashlight position on Osmo, as it is conected just with small conector (when on Inspire it is held with back hinges as well, which makes three point mount)… Recording to SSD seems unreliable (some owners reported missing raw recordings while their proxies ware recorderd to SD card). Offloading DJI SSD is still in beta – you can do it just and only by using DJI Cinelight beta app which is highly unreliable, extremely slow and does not work on all modern Mac OSs (there are many complaints that SSD reader does not mount and that app crashes, while you can not just grab files from SSD as its file format is DJI proprietary)… You should note that you can not delete individual recordings from SSD, only option is to format it when inserted in X5R (it is not possible when SSD is in reader)…Therefore you shoud count on aditional cost of SSD media (aprox $3000)… So, x5R is better then X5, but it is not thrust worthy as real professional tool, even in its price range…

PS I am DJI customer, Inspire 1 Pro / X5 owner, and I personaly tested X5R as I was interested in buying one.

Nigel Lomas July 30, 2016

Do these findings also apply to stills photos?

I only shoot photo’s and the DJI site quotes the same ev ratings for both cameras


Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber August 1, 2016

Sorry, this wasn’t tested.

Leo Maverick September 12, 2016

Hey Sebastian, you just save my day, thank you very much! Please keep teaching us, speacially for After FX beginners like me haha