April 1, 2016

Zenmuse X5r Gimbal and Camera Released

DJI Inspire 1's Zenmuse X5r Camera Now on Sale

Post updated January 2018: When the Inspire 1 from DJI was released in late 2014, the thing that appealed to most was the fact it was upgrade-able. This means you can keep the same machine but upgrade its components as and when they are improved upon. Enter the DJI Zenmuse X5r professional RAW M43 camera!

Zenmuse X5r
Zenmuse X5r Gimbal

When I bought the Inspire, it came with the X3 4K camera which was pretty good. However, it failed in a couple of areas. One of those being the dynamic range it was capable of capturing. Still, I was happy with the camera knowing a future upgrade would address this.

Sample Footage from X3 Camera

Then came the X5 professional camera. After reading a few reviews, I upgraded to the X5 despite the cost:

  • X5 gimbal and camera only - £1300
  • Olympus 12mm lens - £500

After checking the footage from my first few flights, I must admit my heart sank. The clips were fuzzy, mushy and not what I expected at all. A lot of soul (and internet) searching ensued.

A few weeks later, and after realising that this was more of a DSLR in the sky than a simple point and shoot like the X3 camera, I started to make progress.

Adjusting the settings, focus point, calibrations and updating all the firmware did the trick. I am now getting the most stunning footage from this camera...way better than the X3.

Sample Footage from X5 Camera

The added bonus is that I can change lenses. I have recently purchased the Olympus 45mm 1.8 lens which effectively becomes a 100mm lens or thereabouts. The X5 will also take a 12-42mm zoom lens as well as a few more making this a superb upgrade.

The only downside to this camera is that even when shooting 4K video, you are still limited to a bit rate of 60mbps. When you think that the older Panasonic GH4 has 100mbps when filming in 4K and up to 200mbps at 1080p, it is lacking somewhat.

Note: Bit rate is the amount of data recorded every second. Much like the increase in megabytes when shooting RAW in stills photography.

Introducing the DJI X5r (RAW) Camera

The X5r camera and gimbal is essentially the same product as the X5 Professional with the following features:

  • Micro Four Thirds Sensor with MFT Mount
  • DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) Video Capture
  • 16MP (Raw) Still Photos
  • Over 12 Stops of Dynamic Range
  • Burst and Interval Photos Modes
  • P / S / A / M Exposure Modes
  • Records to microSD Cards
  • Works with Inspire 1 Quadcopter

However, the X5r (RAW) also comes with:

  • RAW Video Capture
  • 1.7Gbps Average Bitrate with 2.4Gbps Max!
  • MicroSD / SSD Recording

Whilst it may not seem a lot of extra goodies for the large increase in cost, the additions are quite significant.

If you think about the difference between shooting JPEGs and RAW stills from a DSLR and the benefits of RAW (you get way more information in the file to be able to pull back elements from blown highlights and darker areas), you can now apply this to the X5r.

Comparing 60mbps on the X5 Professional vs 2.4Gbps (i.e. 2,400mbps) on the X5r is like comparing this:

Lamborghini Model Car

…to this:

Lamborghini Gold Car

Essentially they are the same thing but one is just so much better than the other.  I will leave you to figure out which : )

No Comparison

Even when comparing the X5r to the wonderful Panasonic GH5, the X5R is far superior. The GH5's maximum output is 4K 10-bit at 400 Mbps.

The X5R gives you 4K 12-bit Raw with up to 2.4Gbps!

I am in no way putting down the X5 Professional (or my lovely GH5). This is because for most people and their client's needs, the X5 Pro will more than suffice. It has the same dynamic range, the same output (up to 4K) and produces stunning footage. However, the X5 Pro weighs less than the X5r actually giving more air time.

The thing to think about when buying the X5r RAW is the file sizes you will get, they are huge! This is why the X5r comes shipped with a 512GB (SS (solid state) hard drive which you record to. (You can also film onto an SD card with the X5r but only at 1080p I believe).

Computing Power

I have a self-built powerful PC which when built a couple of years ago (2015) was pretty well specced and I can just about edit and render standard 4K footage from the X5 Pro and GH4 without problems:

  • Processor (CPU) - Intel® Core™i7 Eight Core Processor Extreme i7-5960X (3.0GHz) 20MB Cache
  • Motherboard - ASUS® Rampage V Extreme: ATX, HSW-E CPU, SATA 6 GB/s
  • Memory - 32GB Kingston Hyper-X Predator Quad-DDR4 3000MHz X.M.P (8 x 4GB)
  • Graphics Card - 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 – 1 DVI, 1 HDMI, 3 DP
  • HDD - 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSD, SATA 6Gb/s (up to 540MB/sR | 520MB/sW)
  • HDD - 250GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD, SATA 6Gb/s (upto 540MB/sR | 520MB/sW)

Add the huge file sizes from the X5r and a bigger, more powerful machine may be needed.

Despite all that, if I had the money, and the need to shoot RAW video (such as when I shoot the next Star Wars movie ; ), I would most certainly opt for this camera. It is lovely.

As a final though, bear in mind that most people won't be able to tell the difference. Well, in final output (4K or 1080p) between the X5 Professional and the X5r RAW anyway. It is more about having the extra data to work with in post production meaning you can play more.

Sample DJI X5r Footage

Zenmuse X5r Gimbal and Camera

Please note: if you should buy the DJI X5r via any of the links above, we get a small kickback from our affiliates which helps to keep this site going. Thank you.

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