All posts by Sally French

DJI Circle offers premium drone customer support — at a premium price

For professional customers with a pretty massive wallet, DJI this week announced its new DJI Circle program, a premium customer support program.

And the price tag to buy into the program? It starts at $4,699 for a 12-month period.

The DJI Circle program will offer members broad coverage over a twelve-month period for up to five DJI products, including the Inspire, M600, Mavic Pro and Phantom drone series, and the Ronin and Osmo series of handheld stabilizers.

That’s not to say the nearly $5,000 for 12-months fee is a bad deal. The program includes a personal DJI concierge who can help manage a battery rental service and repairs; coverage includes accidental damage to DJI products, up to $15,000 annually. The concierge will send along a temporary replacement device to use until the repair is complete.  Continue reading DJI Circle offers premium drone customer support — at a premium price

NAB 2017: 5 major drone announcements you need to know about

The NAB 2017 Show kicks off on Monday in Las Vegas, Nevada, and there are some pretty big drone announcements coming out of it.

Drones are flying at there own “Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion” this year. In addition to being able to attend a number of sessions including aerial cinematography techniques, live broadcasting and Part 107 certification, attendees will get to see new product launches.

Here are 5 new drone product launches happening at NAB 2017 that you need to know about:

dji ronin 2
DJI’s Ronin 2
    1. DJI’s Ronin 2: DJI is mostly known for making drones, but it is improving that smooth silky look for ground images too. DJI on Sunday announced the Ronin 2, a three-axis camera stabilizer based on the drone maker’s gimbal technology. The Ronin 2 has an enlarged camera cage and 50mm extendable arms which can support DSRLs as well as full cinematic cameras and lenses up to 30 pounds.  The drone has a detachable grip to allow for a range of camera mounts, from the basic handheld and jib configurations to Ready Rig, plus cable cams, vehicles and drones. The Ronin 2 allows for dual hot-swappable batteries, providing 2.5 hours of runtime. A new Panorama mode on Ronin 2 can create still image panoramas that account for the camera sensor type and lens focal length as well as the user-defined overlap rate, while the new Timelapse mode can program multiple movements and camera actions at different points along a route, and view progress in real time. Ronin 2 will be available in the second quarter of 2017, and pricing will be announced prior to availability. The current version of Ronin is currently $1,599.

      PolarPro Katana Mavic Tray NAB 2017
      PolarPro’s Katana Mavic Tray
    2. PolarPro’s Katana Mavic Tray:   The Mavic Pro has already taken the drone world by storm, and PolarPro, which makes a number of drone accessories, including camera filters and backpacks, announced at NAB the new Katana Mavic Tray. The tray utilizes the Mavic’s gimbal to turn the drone into a hand-held solution for smooth, cinematic shots. It’s essentially an integrated smartphone mount, in which users rely on the drone’s companion app for framing and camera controls. The PolarPro Katana Mavic Tray is $49.99. The first 100 pre-orders have already sold and will ship on May 1.dji cendence
    3. DJI’s Cendence Remote Controller: DJI’s new Cendence remote controller is an advanced, multi-platform controller. The drone gives pilotsinstant access to functions like ISO, sharpness, shutter speed, focus and more, without navigating the touch menu settings on their mobile device. Two dials adjust the pitch and yaw of the gimbal at the same time. Built-in SDI and HDMI video transmission ports allow for live HD broadcast and streaming applications. The controller, which has battery life of up to 4 hours, mounts smartphones, tablets and DJI’s high-brightness CrystalSky monitors, and also features a smaller secondary screen to display critical telemetry data. Cendence will be available later this year for $999.

Continue reading NAB 2017: 5 major drone announcements you need to know about

Coachella drones take over the music festival with Intel’s newest light show

Coachella this year was about a whole lot more than just flower crowns, rainbow hair and crochet crop tops. The newest addition to Coachella was a whole lot less cliche — drones.

Intel sent 300 of its synchronized Shooting Star drones into the night sky between sets of indie pop band The xx and Radiohead. The drones flew again behind the main stage before Lady Gaga’s performance. (Lady Gaga is quite the drone queen, having also performed in the Super Bowl show that featured drones).

The drones took the shape of objects including a ferris wheel, rotating windmill and palm trees.

Coachella is the latest in an impressive line-up of high profile performances that Intel’s drones have taken part in. Inte’s drones have also flown over Sydney, Australia’s 2016 Vivid Lights and Ideas festival, Coca Cola Mexico’s Caravan of Lights, and a light show during the holidays at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs shopping complex in Orlando, Florida.

Each drone is about the weight of a volleyball and can be programmed with relative easy to light up in any shape and in 4 billion color combinations for commercial entertainment light shows.

Intel’s drones are not publicly for sale, and the chip maker would not disclose how much they would cost or whether they are more cost effective than their nighttime light show counterpart, fireworks.  However, rather than fading out like fireworks, they drones can flash on and off and also create much more precise shapes than fireworks would. They also reduce the environmental impact that fireworks have on air pollution.

Though, this isn’t the first time drones have made an appearance at Coachella. Kaskade had drones flying over its show in 2015, though their purpose was to shoot video — not serve as a light show.

And people seemed to love the fireworks-style drone show:

DJI’s new Phantom 4 Advanced delivers a better camera

DJI today announced an upgrade to its Phantom 4 drone — the Phantom 4 Advanced.

The drone primarily improves on the Phantom 4’s camera, this time with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor and a mechanical shutter lens.

It shoots 4K video at 60 frames per second with a video processor supporting H.264 4K videos at 60fps or H.265 4K at 30fps, both with a 100Mbps bitrate.

DJI also announced the Phantom 4 Advanced+, which makes big changes to the controller. The controller will have a 5.5-inch, 1080p screen that is twice as bright as most smartphones and tablets — an ideal solution for people who have trouble seeing what the drone’s camera is seeing, particularly on bright, sunny days.dji phantom 4 advanced controller

Continue reading DJI’s new Phantom 4 Advanced delivers a better camera

Spark may be DJI’s next drone — and it’s smaller than the Mavic Pro

DJI’s newest drone could be smaller than the Mavic Pro — and it may be called “Spark.”

Leaked pictures and videos of a drone appeared on various forums this week, showing a drone with a similar form to the Mavic Pro but at half the size. Its name? “Spark.” The photos were initially posted to this site, which has since been removed, but TechCrunch captured them.

Unlike the Mavic Pro, it appears that the arms do not fold in. The drone has a camera that at least moves up and down, indicating it could be used for racing or simple photography. The camera is mounted on what looks like a brushless gimbal.

It is unclear what the drone is intended to be used for, though it could fill one corner of the market where DJI is still lacking: low-cost, toy drones. DJI’s cheapest drone available is still about $400-$500.

Others have suggested it could be DJI’s first racing-focused drone.

A DJI spokesperson would not confirm or deny the existence of a “Spark” drone. But, a trademark for the name “Spark” was filed by DJI on March 6, 2017.

What do you think of Spark? Leave your opinion in the comments below!

Ask Drone Girl: starting a drone small business

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about starting a drone small business. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m currently in the cell phone industry and want to go into the drone business. I am wondering what is a good drone to start a drone business with? And what would someone be looking at revenue wise? And do you think the drone business for people with their own drones and drone businesses will grow or get smaller? 

Hey there,

Congrats on the career switch! There’s a lot to unpack here. First off, to acknowledge your background in the cell phone industry, it’s great you already have experience in a field. My mind is immediately jumping to cell tower inspections. Given your experience in the industry already, you may have contacts in those areas which gives you a huge head start.

To your first question about what drone to buy: the great news is you don’t need to spend a lot of money on drone gear to have a successful business. 84% of drone mapping and modeling is occurring on drone models that cost $1500 or less, according to a report by drone mapping software company DroneDeploy. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: starting a drone small business

Drone Girl to fly-in to DroneDeploy’s Girls in Tech meetup

Another female-focused drone event is happening in the San Francisco Bay Area! How does a Friday Fly Day sound?

I’m excited to announce I’ll be partnering with cloud software platform DroneDeploy for their Fly Day on Friday, May 5 from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

We’ll be flying drones at the Berkeley Marina, making maps, and learning about how drone mapping is driving job creation worldwide. After flying, we will return to DroneDeploy HQ for their traditional Friday BBQ.

Here’s the schedule:

3:30 pm – Meet at Berkeley Marina
3:30-4:00 pm – Intro to DroneDeploy
4:00-6:00 pm – Flying Drones with the Team
6:00-6:45 pm – Return to SF (Transportation will be provided.)
7:00-9:00 pm – BBQ at DroneDeploy HQ

I love a good Friday Fly Day!

At the event, you’ll get to meet leading drone experts including DroneDeploy cofounder Jono Millin, humanitarian UAV practitioner Jessie Mooberry, drone marketer Kara Murphy, and DroneDeploy philanthropy director Samantha Salis.

RSVP here, and check out their event page on Facebook to see who else is going!