Phantom 5 Lenses – 5X Zoom Has Arrived?
The Phantom 5 is DJI’s first prosumer drone that will have interchangeable lenses. Before the Phantom 5, you needed to buy an Inspire or Matrice series drone if you wanted variety in the glass you put on your DJI drone. Not since the original Inspire 1 has DJI created a prosumer or consumer drone with a zoom lens (and the Inspire 1’s Z3 zoom lens is not famous for being a great lens). So finally the consumer has lens options, let’s have a look.
Click here for more about the Phantom 5
DJI has come out with an official statement that the leaked photos are not of a Phantom 5. Here it is, straight from the drone giant’s mouth:
“The Phantom 4 drone with interchangeable lenses sighted in some online publications is not a DJI product for public sale. To clarify, this was a modified Phantom 4 Pro drone designed for an enterprise client to serve specific application needs.” – DJI Official Statement
So there you have it. The only problem is, who the heck needs a 50 mm interchangeable lens on a Phantom 5 so badly that they are willing to pay big bucks for a custom build? We think these drones are really a platform for developing the Phantom 5. This way DJI can get away with saying it isn’t an actual Phantom 5. How can they say it is for an “enterprise client”? That could really mean anything. The Enterprise could be Hasselblad, who may be developing lenses for the P5. Heck, it could be DJI itself.
What We Know
We know three important things regarding the Phantom 5’s lens offerings. First of all, we know there is a 50 mm lens. Second, we know that the lenses are removable. Finally, we know that there are 12 pins between the body of the camera and the lens.
What Focal Lengths to Expect
The 50 mm focal length seems to be a sure thing, so what else will we see? To examine this question we have to decide if DJI is using actual focal length or 35 mm equivalent focal lengths in their descriptions.
For example, the Phantom 4 Pro has an equivalent focal length of 24 mm listed in its specs, which has an actual focal length of about 9 mm. So, when we see “50 mm” on the side of the Phantom 5 lens, is it a true 50 mm or it is more like an 18.5 mm (50 mm equivalent)? Assuming this Phantom still has a 1-inch sensor with a 2.73 crop factor, then a 50 mm lens would mean a 5X magnification. That’s pretty zoomy.
The Z3 lens that was available for the Inspire 1 had a 3.5X optical zoom and a 2X digital zoom for a total zoom of 7X. With that lens came a warning that video shot at full zoom would likely be shakey. So, 5X from a “normal” field of view is possible but may be better suited for photographs than for video.
If we assume that the lenses are quoted in true focal length then we see that Osita’s predictions omit a “normal” phantom 9 mm focal length, so he is wrong. If he is actually predicting a 15 mm equivalent focal length then you would see a lot of legs and props a Phantom. So again, he is probably wrong either way. The shortest focal length on a Phantom will be about 9 mm actual or 25 mm equivalent, neither of which did he draw.
Check out our video where we discuss Phantom 5 lenses and more…(note, the table we present in this video is incorrect, it has been updated for the article)
What lenses will there be between 15 and 50 mm actual focal length? We think there may be one or two lenses, probably at about a 2X magnificatio (~18 mm) and another at about 3X (~30 mm). With the popularity of many DJI drones rivaling that of popular cameras, we would expect high-end brands like Zeiss to step into the game as well. There may be a Hasselblad-branded lens as well, more on that later.
Yes, you heard it here first. There will be a zoom lens offered for the Phantom 5. What makes us so sure? Take a look at the number of pins that go between the body of the camera and the lens. 12 pins!
For comparison, my Sony camera has only 10 pins to carry power and signals between the camera body and the lens. My Sony a6000 uses two-degree-of-freedom image stabilization in its lenses in addition to focus and aperture adjustments, which are also done electronically. So clearly DJI is planning for more than just autofocus and aperture adjustment when they put 12 pins in the Phantom 5 camera.
Zoom is what the Phantom 5 will use these extra electrical connections for. Even if DJI doesn’t release a zoom lens at the Phantom 5 launch (but we think they will), they are certainly providing the pins to make it possible in the near future. We predict a 3X zoom. Less zoom than that is pretty useless and more than 3X is likely to look too shaky or blurry due to drone vibrations.
Hasselblad or Hasselhoff?
To be honest, we have yet to be blown away with any DJI lens short of the most expensive options available for the Inspire 2 and Matrice drones. We have tested two Phantom 4 Pro lenses and found them both to have noticeable lateral color that worsens as you move out toward the corners of the image. We also had a Phantom 3 Pro that was sent back for being out of focus twice and every time it came back even more out of focus.
The good news is that DJI has been working with famed camera maker Hasselblad on recent projects, and we expect the Phantom 5 to be worthy of Hasselblad involvement. We expect the Phantom 5 lenses to be the best that DJI has ever offered for the Phantom series.
Phantom Steps Into Pro Category
DJI lists Phantoms as “consumer drones” while Inspires are “professional” and Matrice drones are “enterprise”. That’s despite the fact that the Phantom lineup is the single most popular drone for professional pilots. Maybe not the Hollywood kind of pilot, but for your everyday real estate photographer or insurance inspector, the Phantom is #1. Regardless of what DJI calls it, we expect people to be forking over more than $2000 for a full Phantom 5 lens kit, making it even further out of reach for the weekend warrior that its Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 predecessors.
Click here for more about the Phantom 5
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