DJI Encourage 2 overview (up to date for 2018)

MSRP $2,999.00

“With extra battery energy and a much bigger mind, the Encourage 2 is miles forward of its predecessors.”

Professionals

  • Extremely dependable
  • Helpful FPV digicam
  • Sturdy clever flight modes
  • Plentiful equipment and improve choices

Cons

  • Costly
  • Not appropriate with earlier Zenmuse cameras

When DJI launched the unique Encourage drone, it was an instantaneous hit with filmmakers. Up till that time, in case you wished a drone that would carry an honest digicam, you needed to construct it your self — however then DJI got here alongside, and abruptly anybody with $3,000 might get their arms on a pro-level 4K digicam copter that was able to fly straight out of the field.

Factor is, that was practically three years in the past. Drone know-how has progressed in leaps and bounds since then, and these days you will get a 4K digicam drone for beneath $500. However DJI isn’t one to be left behind. In late 2016, the corporate unveiled the second technology — and now that it’s out within the wild, we bought our arms on one for an prolonged overview.

Options and specs

Plenty of options make the Encourage 2 stand out from the remainder of the pack, however usually talking, it simply has extra stuff beneath the hood. We wish to suppose that DJI calls it the Encourage 2 as a result of it has two (or extra) of all the pieces.

Arguably the largest inclusion is a twin battery setup, which provides the Encourage 2 quite a few key advantages. Not solely does it give the fowl extra flight time — it additionally protects it from battery malfunctions, and, extra importantly, supplies ample energy for ancillary programs like cameras, stabilizers, sensors, and processors.

We wish to suppose that DJI calls it the Encourage 2 as a result of it has two (or extra) of all the pieces.

Talking of cameras, not solely does this drone rock a removable and simply upgradable Zenmuse cam (ours got here with the X5S), it additionally sports activities a forward-facing FPV digicam, which permits the pilot to keep watch over what’s forward of the drone whereas concurrently watching/controlling the Zenmuse digicam.

It’s additionally geared up with twin inertial movement sensors, twin barometers, and devoted processors for numerous subsystems — together with the newly-added impediment avoidance sensors. Hell, you possibly can even fly it with two controllers. Collectively, these new additions serve to make the Encourage 2 much more dependable, secure, and protected to fly than any earlier iteration.

Construct high quality and design

By way of type, the Encourage 2 isn’t actually an enormous departure from the unique mannequin. It sports activities the identical prop configuration, the identical retractable touchdown gear system, and roughly the identical physique model. There are, nevertheless, a couple of small design upgrades that make the Encourage 2 extra versatile and succesful than its predecessors — even if it doesn’t look a lot totally different.

Essentially the most notable and noticeable design change is undoubtedly the Encourage’s new forward-facing FPV digicam and obstacle-avoidance system. Each programs stay in a nose-mounted sensor bar, which comprises a small optical lens and two laser rangefinders. Aesthetically, it’s a reasonably minor change — however by way of performance, these programs present an enormous profit. Impediment avoidance provides the drone the power to autonomously forestall crashes, whereas the FPV digicam permits the pilot (or pilots) to maintain observe of the Encourage’s heading, no matter the place the Zenmuse X5S is likely to be dealing with.

Construct high quality is, as we’ve come to anticipate from DJI, off the charts. Even for a DJI drone, the Encourage 2 is ridiculously effectively constructed. The props function a brand new locking system that ensures they’ll by no means come unfastened throughout flight, whereas the prop arms are made from the identical super-strong carbon-fiber tubing that earlier generations have. If this drone crashes (which is unlikely), the one parts that’d possible undergo critical harm are the props and the digicam. This factor is mainly a flying tank.

Total, the design is a victory. As a substitute of an enormous overhaul, DJI took a profitable components and made a couple of small enhancements — which we recognize. It’s like buying and selling in your automobile for a brand new mannequin yr: similar feel and look, however with a couple of further bells and whistles that make the driving expertise utterly totally different.

Battery life and recharge time

Battery life is vastly improved within the new Encourage. Whereas the unique and Professional variations averaged about quarter-hour per cost, the Encourage 2 is rated for 27 minutes of flight time. In a easy hover check, we bought simply over 25 minutes of flight time earlier than the drone went into emergency touchdown mode — however after all, that’s not likely a superb reflection of real-world use. Throughout our regular flight assessments, the place we flew round and made use of the drone’s many subsystems, we averaged about 23 minutes of flight time. Like every other drone, in case you use options that require extra processing energy (impediment avoidance, Lively Observe, and so forth.), then you possibly can anticipate to see a corresponding drop in flight longevity.

Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments

Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments

As for recharge time, you possibly can anticipate about an hour on the charger earlier than your battery reaches capability. After our hover check (which ran the battery right down to 10 % and prompted DJI’s automated emergency touchdown sequence), the battery took about an hour and 20 minutes to cost as much as one hundred pc — however most often, you gained’t be draining the batteries that a lot. In the event you do what most individuals do and land shortly after the primary “low energy warning” pops up, you’ll find yourself with roughly an hour on the facility dock to recharge.

Hour-long recharge instances aren’t notably particular — however one factor we do recognize is DJI’s new charger dock. It’s designed to accommodate as much as 4 batteries directly — and cost all of them concurrently. In case your batteries aren’t paired, the hub will intelligently cost the cells in keeping with energy ranges from excessive to low. In case your batteries are paired, the pair with extra saved energy will cost first — which implies you’ll get again into the air quicker and spend much less time ready to your batteries to juice up.

Flight efficiency and autonomy

Within the air, the Encourage 2 is a beast. It’s huge, burly, outrageously secure, and extra dependable than any drone we’ve ever flown. Even supposing it’s fairly a bit heavier than its smaller brethren, the Phantom and Mavic Professional, it’s each bit as fast and nimble. Acceleration is a bit slower as a result of fowl’s further weight and inertia — however as soon as it will get in control, it leaves all the pieces else within the proverbial mud.

The Encourage 2 much more dependable, secure, and protected to fly than any earlier iteration.

DJI charges the Encourage 2 with a high pace of 58 miles per hour, however with a superb tailwind you possibly can simply get it as much as 60 or greater. That is particularly helpful while you’re filming one thing that strikes shortly — like a automobile, for instance. We took it alongside for one among our automobile overview video shoots (take a look at the video up high), and the drone didn’t have any hassle protecting tempo as we zipped round corners and blasted down straightaways. That being mentioned, if that you must use the Encourage’s impediment avoidance talents, you’ll be restricted to a high pace of 45 miles per hour. Nonetheless, that’s fairly fast for sensor-aided flight.

Talking of which, the Encourage boasts a slew of sensible piloting options. Along with DJI’s commonplace suite of Clever Flight modes (TapFly, Waypoint, Level of Curiosity, Lively Observe, and so forth), the Encourage 2 can be geared up with DJI’s new Highlight Professional mode — which is immensely helpful for filming transferring objects.

Highlight Professional makes use of DJI’s visible monitoring algorithms to lock onto a topic throughout flight, whatever the path that the Encourage 2 flies — thereby enabling a single pilot to seize photographs that might in any other case require a devoted digicam operator. If the gimbal comes near reaching its rotation limits, the Encourage 2 itself will rotate in the identical path with out affecting flight management –or the shot being captured– to unlock gimbal motion. In different phrases, you possibly can actually fly circles round a transferring topic and the digicam will keep educated on it no matter how the drone rotates.

Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments

Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments

And that’s actually only the start. Because of all of the sensors and processing energy packed into the Encourage 2, the drone can mainly fly itself. That’s not only a determine of speech, both — it legitimately occurred throughout our testing course of.

Throughout my first car-filming tour, one thing went horribly improper. Towards the tip of the flight (which finally carried me about two miles away from the takeoff level), the Encourage’s battery ranges hit 30 %. As a result of the drone was nonetheless on its manufacturing facility default settings, this brought about the Encourage to provoke its “automated return to house” operate.

The drone can mainly fly itself. That’s not only a determine of speech, both.

Usually, this wouldn’t be an issue – you possibly can halt it with the flick of a swap within the app. However sadly I didn’t get that chance. At virtually the precise second that the Encourage stopped and turned to go again, my telephone rang. The “you’re getting a name” display popped up over the DJI Go app  (Android | iOS), I panicked, and by the point I used to be completed fumbling with my telephone, the drone had already flown out of vary — straight right into a thicket of timber and wetland swamps.

For the primary minute, I used to be in a state of sheer panic. I assumed I had simply misplaced a $6,000 drone, and was already dreading the decision I’d should make to DJI. However then I remembered that the Encourage 2 isn’t your common drone. It has superior GPS, impediment avoidance, and a slew of environmental sensors that every one work in live performance to verify the drone doesn’t crash. So I crossed my fingers, hopped within the automobile, and headed again to the takeoff level.

Certain sufficient, the Encourage 2 was there. One way or the other, it had managed to fly by a dense thicket of timber and foliage –utterly unassisted, thoughts you– and navigate again to the precise level which it had taken off from. If that doesn’t encourage confidence within the drone’s autonomous flight capabilities, then I don’t know what is going to.

Digital camera and equipment

A inventory Encourage 2 doesn’t really include a digicam hooked up, however it’s designed to work with a handful of cameras in DJI’s Zenmuse line. Our overview unit shipped with a top-of-the-line Zenmuse X5S: a Micro 4 Thirds digicam designed from the bottom as much as work with the Encourage 2.

By way of capabilities, the X5S is huge step up from its predecessors, the Zenmuse X4S and X5R. Most notably, it boasts a much bigger sensor. With a pixel dimension of three.4 microns, the 20.8 megapixel sensor can seize extra element than earlier generations, and in addition has higher shade sensitivity and a better signal-to-noise ratio. As for decision, it’s able to taking pictures in 5.2K at 30 frames per second, 4K at 60 frames per second, and goes down as little as 720p.

Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments

Invoice Roberson/Digital Developments

You too can swap between one among 8 totally different lenses, ranging wherever from 18mm to 90mm. This offers you extra inventive freedom and permits you to decide the lens that works finest for the shot you’re making an attempt to seize. After all, you’ll should pay further for these lenses, since they aren’t included within the inventory X5S bundle — however it’s nonetheless good to have choices.

Talking of choices, DJI additionally gives a spread of superior equipment for the digicam system — akin to a devoted 480GB stable state drive designed particularly for storing the X5S’s footage, and a long-range focus management distant that provides you quicker, extra tactile management over the digicam’s focus settings. So between the lenses, storage choices, and specialised controllers; the Encourage 2 provides you a excessive diploma of flexibility in the way you movie. Whether or not you’re an novice or a professional, this platform has the gear that you must get the job completed.

Replace: For the reason that date this overview was initially revealed, DJI has launched the Zenmuse X7 digicam — the primary devoted aerial digicam from the corporate to make use of a big Super35 sensor, the usual format {of professional} cinema cameras from the likes of Arri, Crimson, Blackmagic Design, and Canon.

Our Take

The Encourage 2 is, for sure, among the finest drones we’ve ever had the pleasure of flying. The specs and options are top-tier — however what actually makes this drone particular is how dependable it’s. Normally, flying a $3,000 drone with a $3,000 digicam hooked up to it will be a nerve-wracking expertise. That’s some huge cash hanging precariously within the air. However DJI has gone the additional mile with the Encourage 2 to make sure that it’s mainly infallible — and that’s a giant deal. It’s one factor to construct a drone that may carry a pleasant digicam, however it’s fully one other to construct one which’s protected and secure sufficient that you may fly with out getting sweaty palms. In the event you purchase this drone, you aren’t simply getting a high-end cinema quad; you’re additionally getting the peace of thoughts that comes from realizing your drone is safeguarded towards malfunctions.

Are there higher choices obtainable?

Regardless of being an excellent drone, the Encourage 2 occupies a bizarre center floor between high-end shopper drones and ultra-expensive elite cinematography drones — so it’s not for everyone.

In the event you’re simply a median Joe trying to seize some handsome 4K video you possibly can share in your YouTube channel, you in all probability don’t want an Encourage 2. DJI’s Phantom 4 Professional boasts all the identical flying modes, has a digicam with a barely smaller picture sensor in its digicam, and prices lower than 1 / 4 (simply $1,500) of what a fully-loaded Encourage 2 does. It’s undoubtedly not as strong in its video seize talents, however for the typical consumer, the P4 Professional is just a greater worth.

In the event you’re a professional filmmaker and wish one thing much more highly effective, you’d be sensible to discover DJI’s Matrice 600 platform. It’s even beefier than the Encourage 2, and might carry state-of-the-art digital cinema cameras just like the Crimson Epic and Hasselblad A5D. However after all, it’s additionally dearer. The drone itself prices $5,000, and that’s not even counting the gimbal or the digicam. A completely-loaded rig can price upwards of $30,000.

If what you’re in search of is a “prosumer” drone just like the Encourage 2, however with a cheaper price tag, you need to take a look at the Twister H920 from Yuneec. It’s a hexacopter, and boasts the same suite of options and performance, however solely prices $4,000 with digicam included. The drone’s specs aren’t fairly as strong as DJI’s encourage, and Yuneec’s CGO4 digicam is a little bit of a step down from the Zenmuse X5S — however Yuneec’s bundle does provide extra bang to your buck.

How lengthy will it final?

Because of DJI’s upgradable design and high-end specs, the Encourage 2 will possible stay on the high of its class for years to come back. After all, it’ll ultimately be dethroned by rivals and new DJI releases, however given the Encourage line’s sluggish launch cycle and future-focused design, we’d guess that the Encourage 2 gained’t grow to be out of date for at the least one other 4 or 5 years.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. When you have $6,000 to spare and also you’re after an expert aerial cinematography rig that’s ready-to-fly straight out of the field, the Encourage 2 and Zenmuse X5S ought to undoubtedly be in your radar. If you’re in search of offers, take a look at this superior assortment of the perfect Black Friday drone offers.

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