DJI Encourage 2 assessment (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.”

Execs

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

Cons

  • Costly
  • Not suitable with earlier Zenmuse cameras

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

Factor is, that was almost three years in the past. Drone expertise has progressed in leaps and bounds since then, and these days you may get a 4K digicam drone for below $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 acquired our fingers on one for an prolonged assessment.

Options and specs

Numerous options make the Encourage 2 stand out from the remainder of the pack, however usually talking, it simply has extra stuff below the hood. We wish to assume 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 supplies the Encourage 2 a variety of 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 methods like cameras, stabilizers, sensors, and processors.

We wish to assume 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 regulate what’s forward of the drone whereas concurrently watching/controlling the Zenmuse digicam.

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

Construct high quality and design

When it comes to kind, 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 fashion. There are, nevertheless, a number 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.

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

Construct high quality is, as we’ve come to count on from DJI, off the charts. Even for a DJI drone, the Encourage 2 is ridiculously properly constructed. The props function a brand new locking system that ensures they’ll by no means come free throughout flight, whereas the prop arms are manufactured 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 principally a flying tank.

General, the design is a victory. As a substitute of an enormous overhaul, DJI took a profitable system and made a number of small enhancements — which we admire. It’s like buying and selling in your automotive for a brand new mannequin 12 months: identical appear and feel, however with a number of additional 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 acquired simply over 25 minutes of flight time earlier than the drone went into emergency touchdown mode — however after all, that’s probably not a great reflection of real-world use. Throughout our regular flight checks, the place we flew round and made use of the drone’s many subsystems, we averaged about 23 minutes of flight time. Like another drone, for those who use options that require extra processing energy (impediment avoidance, Energetic Monitor, and many others.), then you may count on to see a corresponding drop in flight longevity.

Invoice Roberson/Digital Traits

Invoice Roberson/Digital Traits

As for recharge time, you may count on about an hour on the charger earlier than your battery reaches capability. After our hover check (which ran the battery all the way 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 received’t be draining the batteries that a lot. Should 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 ability dock to recharge.

Hour-long recharge instances aren’t notably particular — however one factor we do admire 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 should not paired, the hub will intelligently cost the cells based on 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 sooner and spend much less time ready in your batteries to juice up.

Flight efficiency and autonomy

Within the air, the Encourage 2 is a beast. It’s large, 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 additional 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 secure to fly than any earlier iteration.

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

Talking of which, the Encourage boasts a slew of good piloting options. Along with DJI’s normal suite of Clever Flight modes (TapFly, Waypoint, Level of Curiosity, Energetic Monitor, and many others), the Encourage 2 can also be outfitted with DJI’s new Highlight Professional mode — which is immensely helpful for filming shifting objects.

Highlight Professional makes use of DJI’s visible monitoring algorithms to lock onto a topic throughout flight, whatever the course that the Encourage 2 flies — thereby enabling a single pilot to seize photographs that may 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 course with out affecting flight management –or the shot being captured– to release gimbal motion. In different phrases, you may actually fly circles round a shifting topic and the digicam will keep educated on it no matter how the drone rotates.

Invoice Roberson/Digital Traits

Invoice Roberson/Digital Traits

And that’s actually just the start. Because of all of the sensors and processing energy packed into the Encourage 2, the drone can principally 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 mistaken. Towards the top of the flight (which in the end 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 prompted the Encourage to provoke its “computerized return to residence” operate.

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

Usually, this wouldn’t be an issue – you may halt it with the flick of a swap within the app. However sadly I didn’t get that chance. At nearly the precise second that the Encourage stopped and turned to move again, my cellphone rang. The “you’re getting a name” display screen popped up over the DJI Go app  (Android | iOS), I panicked, and by the point I used to be executed fumbling with my cellphone, the drone had already flown out of vary — straight right into a thicket of bushes 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 each one work in live performance to ensure the drone doesn’t crash. So I crossed my fingers, hopped within the automotive, and headed again to the takeoff level.

Certain sufficient, the Encourage 2 was there. One way or the other, it had managed to fly via a dense thicket of bushes 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’s going to.

Digicam and equipment

A inventory Encourage 2 doesn’t really include a digicam hooked up, but it surely’s designed to work with a handful of cameras in DJI’s Zenmuse line. Our assessment 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.

When it comes to capabilities, the X5S is large 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 likewise has higher shade sensitivity and the next 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 Traits

Invoice Roberson/Digital Traits

It’s also possible to swap between one in every of 8 totally different lenses, ranging anyplace from 18mm to 90mm. This provides you extra artistic freedom and means that you can decide the lens that works finest for the shot you’re making an attempt to seize. After all, you’ll should pay additional for these lenses, since they aren’t included within the inventory X5S bundle — but it surely’s nonetheless good to have choices.

Talking of choices, DJI additionally presents a variety of superior equipment for the digicam system — akin to a devoted 480GB strong state drive designed particularly for storing the X5S’s footage, and a long-range focus management distant that offers 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 beginner or a professional, this platform has the gear you’ll want to get the job executed.

Replace: For the reason that date this assessment 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, unquestionably, among the best 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. Often, 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 principally infallible — and that’s an enormous deal. It’s one factor to construct a drone that may carry a pleasant digicam, but it surely’s completely one other to construct one which’s secure and secure sufficient that you may fly with out getting sweaty palms. Should 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 figuring out your drone is safeguarded towards malfunctions.

Are there higher choices out there?

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

Should you’re simply a mean Joe trying to seize some handsome 4K video you may share in your YouTube channel, you most likely 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 sturdy in its video seize talents, however for the typical consumer, the P4 Professional is just a greater worth.

Should you’re a professional filmmaker and wish one thing much more highly effective, you’d be smart to discover DJI’s Matrice 600 platform. It’s even beefier than the Encourage 2, and may 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 totally-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 lower cost 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 sturdy 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 supply extra bang in 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 return. After all, it’ll finally 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 received’t change into out of date for at the least one other 4 or 5 years.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. In case you have $6,000 to spare and also you’re after knowledgeable 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. In case you are in search of offers, take a look at this superior assortment of the perfect Black Friday drone offers.

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