DJI has revealed the Inspire 3, a significant upgrade in their middle-range Inspire lineup targeted directly at filmmakers.

You've also got the Mavic series which is targeted around $2-3k and focuses on both filmmakers and consumers, and the Matrice lineup that targets high-end production (like flying an Alexa Mini) or heavy industry.

DJI's Inspire drones come in the $10-20K range and are the only products that feel specifically targeted at film & TV users with no compromises made for any other market. It's about making the most dynamic imagery possible, and you see footage from the Inspire 2 show up in many surprising places.

Here are three main things filmmakers should know about the new DJI Inspire 3.

1. Unsurprisingly, the footage looks amazing

The footage the Inspire 3 outputs is just astounding. This shouldn't surprise anyone since DJI has clearly cracked some things with imagery on its Xenmuse lineup. In the last few years, we've seen impressive footage from the DJI Ronin 4D line of cameras and, honestly, even the Inspire 2.

The launch video also shows off some amazing low-light imagery that is absolutely stunning:

In our field testing, it held up. The full-frame sensor can shoot 8K footage that stuns, even in low light. When you go in to pixel-peep that 8K footage, it shows an impressive amount of detail and a truly impressive dynamic range. That puts this platform in a position where it really feels like you can intercut it with anything.

Yes, some productions shooting Alexa LF will want to rig up and fly a Mini to match the A-Cam. Still, a surprising number of productions, large and small, will end up flying this and intercutting it with pretty much whatever you need.

As a launch partner for ProRes RAW, it's unsurprising that DJI only supports ProRes RAW for now, but as more companies expand their record options, it would be nice to see BRAW added (as Fuji does) for a more comprehensive array of options. However, we understand that won't happen overnight.

2. RTK Precision is a major game changer

DJI and other drones have supported a technology called RTK for a while now. Still, the Inspire 3 is the first time it's getting pushed heavily for the camera drone space, and it should be on your radar as a significant game changer in the level of precision you can create with your shots.

RTK is short for Real-Time Kinetic positioning, and it's a technology that was designed to make up for the shortfalls in GPS and other global positioning systems. Those systems were designed only to give you a position suitable to roughly a meter or so (at least in non-military applications). This is fine for navigating a car around a city but isn't as useful for a lot of technology applications like inspections and mapping, where you want centimeter accuracy.

With RTK, you set up a base station (DJI makes one). Then the combination of that base station and its satellite data and the drone and its satellite data work together to give much more precise data on where the drone is in the world. This is one of those great times when tech from another industry comes to help filmmakers.

the DJI RTK Base StationsThis base station need to be clear from obstructions.

​Highly precise shots let filmmakers do two very cool things. One is repeatability for transitions or other VFX jobs. With a very precise repeatable shot, you can shoot a building in the daytime, come back at dusk or night (or both), and shoot the exact same shot. Then, in post, fade between them and create an amazing establishing timelapse transition that was never possible before.

Skydio has a similar tech that uses machine learning to build a 3D picture of the world in order to repeat shots, but it depends on visual data, which is great for something like a building. But this isn't going to work if you want to come back a year later and reshoot a forest. The trees will have grown, and that will ruin the technique. Using RTK gives you tremendously more power.

Image of a Skydio Drone

Skydio's keyframe feature also changed how filmmakers use drones


Pairing the Inspire 3 with an RTK base station from DJI is easy (there is even a tutorial built into the remote). After turning it on, the precision available to creatives is astounding. One thing to know is that when DJI says, "Set up the base station in an open area" they mean it. We had it next to a light post and it didn't work. We had it about 30 feet from a building, and it also didn't work. But we set it up in a parking lot, about 15 feet from a light post and it worked fine.

The other thing you get is what DJI is calling 3D Dolly. Basically, you build a track, and then you can "lock" the drone onto that track. Now, when doing your shot, you can move the drone back and forth along the track, and it won't drift. This lets you get super close to foreground elements, giving you that dynamic feeling of movement, without having to worry about bumping the drone into them.

This is the feature that filmmakers, especially those doing action scenes, are going to love the most. The ability to pre-build an incredibly complex track for a shot and then control precisely the speed at which you move along that track will make complicated compositions easier and faster to execute.

Yes, of course, you will meet drone operators who say they would rather just free-fly it and interact dynamically with the performers. However, the reality is that the 3D Dolly lets you plan that shot out perfectly, and then still operate it, just within parameters. In a lot of cases, this is going to get you the shot you are looking for with fewer takes.

Of everything in the new rollout, the 3D Dolly is absolutely the most exciting.

3. You can't fly your weird lenses with it yet

One of the wonderful perks of the 4D lineup is that you can fly more than just the DJI lenses on the Xenmuse. The DJI lenses are nice, but they are very modern and clean. For filmmakers who love to get weird, old, vintage, and creamy with their lenses, the Ronin 4D is happy to oblige. You can swap out the mount for E or L mount and throw up vintage Canon FD lenses, Sigma contemporary, or a few other options to give yourself other looks.

But for the Inspire 3, you can't do that. The camera platform is similar, but not identical, to the 4D, so you can't fly the 4D camera and put your fun lenses on it. You've got to use the X9 Air, which is lighter and has no lens swap function with other mounts. It's DL mount only, which for now means only DJI glass.

Promo photo of DJI Inspire 3

Credit: DJI

​This is frankly an excellent opportunity for someone, either DJI or a third-party vendor, to come in and offer more "fun" lenses designed for this platform. Something that is natively built on the D mount with internal focus and iris (or zoom) controls. What we would desperately love is for someone to take old Canon FD lenses (which are still plentiful and also were the basis for the beloved Canon K35s), and rehouse them for D mount.

The DJI lenses are themselves quite good, yet very very clean and sharp with no artifacts. That isn't nearly as much fun as a vintage lens with personality, and that is something filmmakers are desperate to see these days. If you are shooting K35 for your A-Cam, it'll take a lot of work to match modern lenses to that look in post. Hopefully, someone will tackle that soon.

Special Bonus Thing: Timecode sync

Yes, the Inspire 3 now lets you jam timecode. This doesn't seem like a major deal at first for narrative shooters, but there is one place this is going to be massive: live events and concerts. If you have ever edited a large multi-camera concert or event, you know how vital timecode is for keeping everything in sync.

Post teams have long been used to the main cameras being synced, but "weird" cameras like GoPro and Drone still need manual sync to bring it all together. This usually means the drone needs to be hand-cut in, which takes extra time. You might have a fantastic drone shot of the singer doing their big vocal, but without audio running into the drone or timecode, it takes a long time to line it up just right. And the juice might not be worth the squeeze.

If you are editing a stadium concert with dozens of cameras and a drone or three, that drone will now be able to run timecode. This is a small detail, but it's one of those things that really puts the Inspire 3 over the top.

Sample footage from DJI Inspire 3

Inspire 3 Sample Footage

Charles Haine


​The Inspire 3 is absolutely astounding. There are some opportunities here for either DJI or a third-party vendor to launch some lens options, but other than that, it's very hard to find anything to fault with the platform.

Astounding images, incredible precision, impressive low light response, and useable flight times all rolled into a unified package.

DJI Inspire 3

Improving upon many aspects of the Inspire 2, the DJI Inspire 3 delivers on the needs of film and television producers, allowing filmmakers to capture creative and stunning results with the X9-8K, an 8K, full-frame, 3-axis, gimbal camera custom-built for the Inspire 3.

Yaroslav Altunin