Released in the spring of 2021, the DJI FPV marks the company’s first FPV drone. FPV (first-person view) is a quickly growing trend across the industry and one that’s been on the come up over recent years. And with this release, the Chinese tech giant hops into the party.
DJI is a long-standing, highly rated manufacturer in the drone space, known for its reliability, quality, and safety features. And their products have opened the world of aerial imaging to creators, not brave enough to embark on helicopter flights. But, this release brings the company into new territories. And they’re doing so betting on making FPV more simple, practical, and accessible.
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Technically, the DJI FPV sits between the Mavic 2 Pro and the higher-end Phantom 4 series drones. But, rather than tuning it towards aerial imaging, this drone is focused strictly on the flying experience. And it’s built for speed, performance, and utmost agility. And it does so with fully immersive experience, perfect for those who enjoy the thrill of piloting first-hand. On paper, it offers several highlight points. Namely, it has a class-leading battery range, superior video transmission, outstanding speed, and the convenience of a ready-to-fly system.
But, the FPV community is filled with hardcore loyalists, which praise power, low latency, and responsiveness. Not to mention a crowd who’s accustomed to the headaches involved with making custom self-built drones themselves. So, how does DJI’s high-end offering compare to equivalent models, much less those 1/3rd its price? And is it as compelling as their Mavic series? Let’s find out.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the DJI FPV?
Build Quality & Design
Over recent years, DJI’s pioneered and focused exclusively on the folding design of their Mavic lineup. But, this aircraft departs from that design. Instead, it sports a traditional fixed-wing quadcopter design with a sleek Void Grey finish accentuated with a clear plastic housing. And in the world of FPV, it looks like a high-end race car of sorts. But, this design is functional. And DJI’s concentrated on aerodynamics, namely propulsion, wind resistance, and battery life. But they’ve opted for red-tipped 3-blade propellers, which gives them a more aggressive look. They’ve also installed a large capacity battery at the rear, making the entire fuselage angle downwards about 30º.
It’s an interesting design decision that’s practical but not as stylish as their Mavic range. Lastly, in the center, you’ll find the camera mounted on a single-axis gimbal, which is arguably delicate, given the rough nature of FPV acrobatics. But, it’s a suitable location nonetheless that will likely not damage easily.
Otherwise, the aircraft weighs 795g, with a battery installed, making it marginally lighter than the Mavic 2 Pro. And compared to most FPV drones, it is slightly heavier. Though it’s relatively small and compact, and it broadly matches the Air 2. However, the fixed-wing design, wide stance, and upright body make it appear larger than it is and also don’t help in portability. So there’s a trade-off here.
In its design, the key is it comes pre-assembled and ready to fly out of the box. Most consumer FPV drones are typically separate purchases where you find elements of the kits from various manufacturers. And pilots then have to combine multiple elements to create the final product. Often, this requires in-depth knowledge of parts, assembly, and soldering. Instead, DJI’s focused on simplicity. Now, there’s no need to build the drone yourself, perform calibrations, and understand frequency transmissions. Thus, it becomes the first truly plug-and-play entry into this space. And it’s adventure-ready from the get-go. As such, it’s more beginner-friendly in this regard. And now, FPV is not the exclusive lore to only professional pilots. So it’ also becomes a stark contrast to the standards in this segment.
Even so, DJI’s made the design modular so pilots can replace various components. These include the gimbal camera, landing gear, and the drone’s top shell. So if damages occur, you can quickly repair the device in these areas as needed. Additionally, they also offer Care Refresh for this product, covering a wide range of potential damages outside of these areas. And it’s a good warranty option to get peace of mind if repairs become necessary.
Overall, compared to most FPV drones in this space, it becomes the best aesthetically. And it’s an aggressive and sporty design that’ll surely turn heads in this community.
It features a built-in MicroSD card slot, which supports up to 256 GBs.
It has an auxiliary bottom light, which helps with precision movement and landing at night.
It features color-customizable front LEDs and aircraft arm lights that you can alter to make the drone more recognizable and easier to spot.
The combo kit comes with an extra housing and propellers, so you can replace these components when necessary.
It features a 12MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, which is similar to the Mavic Mini 2. And it shoots 4K 60 FPS and 1080p 120 FPS videos to the MP4 or MOV formats via either H.264 or H.265 compression at a maximum data rate of 120 Mbps. While for stills, the camera produces 12MP JPEG images. The drone also features a 14.6mm equivalent lens with an F/2.8 aperture, providing an ultra-wide 150º FOV, matching GoPro. But it does have a fisheye effect. Thankfully, you can add distortion correction via the menus, which removes its impact, and DJI’s enabled this option by default.
This camera configuration is also stabilized on the tilt (vertical) axis. While, it has an electronically stabilized roll axis, with DJI’s RockSteady stabilization taken from the Osmo Action. As expected, though, with only a single mechanically stabilized axis, it’s not nearly as smooth as their 3-axis systems. Even so, it does an excellent job balancing the drone’s movements and keeping the recorded footage shake and jitter-free. And it outperforms rivals in this regard.
Overall, while the drone offers limited stills and video functionality compared to the Mavic series, the footage it delivers remains sharp and detailed nonetheless. And for FPV flying alone, it’s excellent and outpaces most of its rivals. So it’s quite an impressive feat to see DJI accomplish this. There’s also a reasonable amount of room to satisfy videographers, given the camera’s recording abilities. So, it can provide an interesting FPV perspective for action-packed scenes with some creative flexibility. And it’s a powerful option to use for tight action scenes where both speed and agility are essential.
It obtains the D-Cinelike color profile, which shoots flatter videos that offer more flexibility for post-processing.
It features a 2,000 mAh Intelligent Flight battery. And DJI rates the drone to provide up to 20 minutes of flight time at 25 mph in windless conditions. Sure, this seems relatively short if you’re familiar with their Mavic line. But, it’s the opposite. Typical FPV drones only offer 3-10 minutes per flight, depending on their size. As such, this is a substantial improvement over the competition. And this becomes a key selling point over rivals.
You have several package options with this particular drone. You can get the drone alone, without any controllers, or you can opt for the combo. But we’d recommend getting the combo in this case, as it’ll be more cost-effective. And the accessories DJI manufacturers for this drone are necessities. With the combo, you’ll get the new FPV Goggles V2 and the updated flight controller. DJI’s also created an optional Motion Controller, which is a paid-for accessory. But, either way, let’s cover the changes to each of these products below.
The V2 goggles, first introduced in 2020, now feature OcuSync 3 connectivity, DJI’s proprietary transmission system. It also has built-in high-gain antennas comprising three transmitters and four receivers. Combined, the drone can transmit a clear HD video transmission up to 6.2 miles (10 km) away. And version three of this interface also reduces the transmission latency, which is now 28 ms. Additionally, it also provides a higher bitrate of 50 Mbps. During the flight, the drone automatically switches between the 2.4 or 5.8 GHz bands, ensuring the bit rate remains consistent. And the image transmission technology here is a key selling point over rivals as most use analog transmission, which doesn’t support similarly long ranges at such quality.
Otherwise, the goggles have dual 2-inch screens, each with a resolution of 810p for a large crystal clear video feed that’s entirely stutter-free. You can also change the view mode to focus on a lower latency or higher image quality. But, physically, it has buttons on the top right plate to navigate the menu, change camera or flight settings and start recording. And it’s powered by a lightweight external 1,800 mAh battery bank that’ll tuck you away into a pocket rather than having it mount to the goggle straps. But, this battery is ready to last 110 minutes, which is plenty. The goggles also have a microSD card slot, ensuring you retain footage even if losing the drone following an accident.
Overall, the design of the V2 goggles is excellent and fit for a fighter pilot. Yet, they’re comfortable and flexible. And the image quality is crisp and detailed without suffering whatsoever from transmission loss, lags, or breakups in the signal at any point. Plus, its menus are clear and well laid out, so they’re easy to navigate.
The second accessory is the FPV flight controller. This one is new, and it’s more compact than their Mavic range. And, it’s about half the size of most controllers in this segment. Even so, previous DJI pilots will find that it follows a broadly similar design. The main difference is that it removes the cradle for a smartphone. And instead, DJI’s added more shoulder buttons. So now it provides immediate access to all the key features like Return to Home (RTH), gimbal pitch, flight modes, Emergency Brake & Hover, a customizable button, and the shutter release. And all of the buttons are large and easily accessible by feel alone. The controller also features a cubby to store the control sticks when not in use. Overall, the controller is excellent and well designed. It’s comfortable, ergonomic, and easy to use.
Lastly, you can get the optional Motion Controller that resembles a flight joystick. But, this controller lets you fly the drone by merely moving your hand around the air. And it gives the aircraft maneuvering abilities that mimic your natural hand motions. It’s quite an innovative product and a first from DJI. But, it brings a new experience to flying. And it’s an excellent option for beginners that’s immediately intuitive and easy to use.
The aircraft offers three different flying modes to vary its flight dynamic to your comfort level. You can select between N, S, and M Modes. N (Normal) mode is the default mode, and it’s geared towards new pilots. This mode simplifies the flight controls, which mimic traditional drones, and enables safety features, namely obstacle sensing and GPS. But, it does limit the flight speed to 31 mph (50 kph). S (Sport) Mode, however, is the hybrid that provides more manual control and freedom. Here, it disables the obstacle avoidance sensors, upping the excitement level. And now you fly at 60 mph (97 kph) while performing rolls or pitches at limited angles too. But it also simplifies the controls, making it easier for intermediate pilots.
Lastly, the M (Manual) Mode is the most extreme option aimed at skilled pilots. It’s activated through a series of menu steps in the goggles to prevent accidentally starting it. But it offers limitless control over the flying experience. Here, it unleashes the drone’s top speed of 87 mph (140 kph), removes the fly limit, and disables all safety features. Finally, you can perform flips and rolls freely, all with an acceleration of 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) in two seconds. However, you’ll have to control the throttle and its positioning at all times manually.
In the N Mode, the drone uses GPS positioning, altitude sensing (via a barometer), and visual positioning to create precision hovering. And it obtains a combination of GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO positioning systems, marking yet another selling point as most FPV drones lack GPS connectivity altogether. Thus, you can let go of the sticks without immediately suffering a crash. And it behaves much like other DJI drones in this particular mode. So approaching objects front on will enable the forward obstacle avoidance sensors and cause it to slow down, giving you time to avoid the collision. But, unlike their Mavic series drone, it will not stop. So you’ll have to avoid collisions manually.
In the air, the FPV is relatively easy to fly and reassuring, even in Force 7 winds of 30 mph (45 kph). And it’s surely a notable upgrade from traditional drones, which are self-built, unwieldy, and easy to crash. DJI leveraged their existing expertise from the Mavic lineup to produce this drone. And it’s ready to fly for beginners and professional pilots right out of the box. No installation or soldering is needed. Merely charge up everything, and you’re ready to hit the skies. And in the skies, it’s agile, responsive, and insanely fast. The first-person view is also uniquely immersive compared to traditional drones. But, unleashing the top speed of 87 mph is thrilling. Yet, it’s also slightly horrifying and dangerous.
It’s easy to overlook an incoming obstacle at this speed. And it’s effortless to crash, which sadly many reviewers have done already. So we don’t recommend new pilots flying this product in the S or M modes. And even experienced drone pilots will have to tackle a steep learning curve initially.
DJI does offer a Virtual Flight App, which lets you practice flying in realistic simulated environments, though. You can access it by connecting the goggles and the remote controller. And it’s an excellent option to get flight hours in a risk-free environment. But, it won’t replace getting real-life flight experience. So practice in an open space away from people when possible.
The viewfinder marks your launch point at all times with a bright white “H” on-screen. And this makes it easy for pilots to stay wary of their take-off point.
DJI equipped the drone with an emergency safety mechanism called Emergency Brake and Hover, which stops the drone’s motion and hovers with a single button press, regardless of the mode and the speed. And it’s an excellent safety option if you ever feel overwhelmed or want to prevent a crash. Additionally, they’ve also included an Automatic Return to Home (RTH) feature, which enables if the video signal to the goggles is lost. Otherwise, it has Smart RTH and Low-battery RTH, which trigger when recalled by the controller or during low battery flights.
It offers forward and downward-facing Obstacle Sensing. And these sensors let the drone recognize incoming obstacles, then gradually slow down. It’s a highlight feature over the competition, which lacks this functionality altogether. But they’re much less sensitive than similar iterations on the Mavic lineup.
It offers built-in Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), which receives real-time flight location information for nearby aircraft and warns you through the goggles to avoid them accordingly. And it gives you ample time to adjust.
The goggles offer the new Audience Mode, letting you share the flying experience with multiple sets of FPV goggles.
Build & Design
Unlike their Mavic series, this drone doesn’t offer a collapsible or folding design. It’s a strange move on DJI’s part, considering they were the ones to pioneer this. Now, without a folding design, the drone is rather bulky. And it isn’t easy to store away into camera bags while traveling. So you’ll want to consider purchasing a dedicated case for this product.
While the design is excellent, this product doesn’t feel robust compared to other FPV drones. There’s an understanding that with these products, you’ll crash often. But, the construction here won’t hold up compared to rivals even half the price. The drone feels flimsy, and it’s made of mostly plastic, including both the arms and landing legs. Most drones in this class use carbon fiber frames, which are rigid and difficult to shatter. Sure, it feels solid in hand, but that’s mostly the result of the enormous battery. Another issue is that, unlike custom-built drones, this product doesn’t have real repairability. DJI sells replacement propellers, housing, and the camera. Besides these, owners can’t repair damages themselves, which will turn off many.
Such a simple fix like repairing a motor arm becomes needlessly expensive. Instead, you’ll have to send the drone to DJI for repair and purchase their Care Refresh warranty. But, this adds an unnecessary cost to the overall price of this drone. So, for these reasons, we don’t recommend this product for racing or freestyle flying.
It lacks built-in internal storage.
Videographers will find the camera mediocre for a drone at this price point. Firstly, you can get a 1-inch equipped drone with superior image quality for roughly half the price. The image quality here matches that of a mid-range smartphone, and it’s not good enough for professional filmmaking applications. Secondly, you can’t replace the drone’s payload, as it doesn’t offer this flexibility. So you can’t readily attach a GoPro or other action camera. And this flexibility will turn off filmmakers. Next, the camera also provides a limited range of filming options, including 4K 50-60 FPS and 1080p 60-120 FPS. It doesn’t offer any variable frame rates below these values like the Mini 2. So you’re stuck with the hyperfast motion caused by higher frame rates.
And lastly, the image quality in 1080p is blocky and lacks detail. So 4K is best to maintain quality unless you specifically want super-slow-motion video. But shooting in darker scenes will result in muddy details and excessive noise in both resolutions. So it’s best to fly during bright sunlit days. Overall, if you want a more capable option, consider the Mavic 2 Pro instead.
Even with the distortion correction enabled, you can still see the ends of the propellers in the edges of the frame at times. And it’s generally not ideal, so you will have to crop the final video or photo.
While this camera shoots stills, it only supplies JPEG images. There’s no option to shoot RAW (DNG) files like other DJI drones. So its photography abilities are a bit lackluster. But, it’s unlikely the target demographic would even want this feature.
Neither controller charges with USB-C to USB-C cables. Instead, they use USB-C to USB-A. It’s a small note that will frustrate some users who only have USB-C-equipped power setups.
The flight controller lacks a phone cradle to attach a smartphone. And this would be a great option if you wanted to fly the drone traditionally to capture photos or videos. So without it, you’ll always have to use the goggles, adding more accessories to your traveling setup. If you’re in this situation, consider getting the DJI Mini 2 as a backup for this reason.
The view in the goggles is enormous. And it makes reading the flight information slightly tricky, as they’re off to the sides of the screen.
The goggles lack an internal battery, so you’ll always have to remember to bring its battery bank. And while it shaves off weight, it’s a slightly awkward approach overall.
The goggles are comfortable, but they may not form properly around the sides of your head. And if that happens, expect ambient light to seep into the viewfinder.
It has Geofencing, a safety feature that prevents taking off in restricted airspace. However, its implementation is spotty. And the drone often doesn’t take off, despite being in clear unrestricted airspace. Sometimes you can unlock the zone using the DJI fly app. But, this isn’t always possible. When this happens, there’s nothing you can do. So you will be frustrated by this. Overall, this is an inefficient implementation of this feature, and DJI should remove it altogether as this is a product ultimately aimed at the seasoned pilot. Either that or including Part 107 certification embedded into the app instead, so seasoned pilots can add their information and take off without restrictions.
To fly this drone requires FPV goggles, which means you’ll have to have an observer at all times to maintain a visual line of sight. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it does mean you can’t fly this product alone. And it does limit the flying experience somewhat.
The drone has a 500m height limit. So seasoned pilots looking to fly around mountains and higher terrain will have to opt for a traditional FPV drone instead.
Even though the drone is compact, it’s noisy in the air. And it has a high-pitched squeal easily heard from hundreds of feet away. So, flying with discretion isn’t possible here.
It lacks a carrying case, even with the Fly More Kit. So, if you want one, consider getting the Carry More Backpack. But, that will come at an extra cost.
It lacks object tracking and automated flight modes, which DJI calls QuickShots.
Is this a good beginner drone?
Getting this drone for this purpose is ultimately too expensive for a beginning pilot. Sure, DJI’s included some solid technology here, and it performs well. And, yes, it’s a simple and approachable enough system for newcomers compared to traditional options. But given the speed and power of this drone, it is far too dangerous for new pilots. Consider DJI’s Mavic Mini 2 instead. There you can master the essential flying experience and maneuvers.
Is this a good drone for you?
Seasoned pilots looking to experience the world of FPV should consider this drone. It’s one of the easiest in this segment to fly, mainly thanks to GPS and obstacle avoidance. So you can dramatically reduce the high risk of crashing this style of drone. It’s also ready to hit the skies right out of the box. So there’s no need for a self-built DIY model that’s ultimately difficult to fly. Instead, you can leverage DJI’s long-term expertise. And you can do it with confidence, as the transmission between the drone and goggle is unmatched in consistency. So combined with its safety features, it’s quite an exciting package to get started.
If you enjoy flying, then you should consider this drone. It provides not only an exhilarating experience, but it’s also fully immersive.
People who race, freestyle, or build DIY drones shouldn’t buy this product, though. Sure the usability and flight dynamics are excellent. But, this drone lacks durability, and it’s simply too expensive for these mediums. Additionally, you also can’t mount other payloads. So there’s no customization here. Instead, you’re at the mercy of DJI for repairs and part replacement. Not ideal. And those with the skills to repair FPV drones will inevitably find this a turn-off.
People who want a complete aerial photography or videography-oriented drone also should look elsewhere. With a similar camera setup as the DJI Mini 2, this drone is simply too expensive. You can get far superior image quality at half the price, like the excellent Mavic Air 2. Or merely opt for the Mini 2 instead, and save the money.
In the end, DJI’s FPV represents an exciting release that solves many of the critical headaches with FPV flying. Namely, it offers long flight times, superior video transmission, and gradual difficulty levels all in a complete ready-to-fly system. And it’s quite an interesting option for those wanting to experience FPV, without the headaches and steep learning curve often involved. Now, you can share in this world for yourself without the discouragements of learning mechanical skills. But, ultimately, the DJI FPV is a niche product.
And sure, it brings much of the user-friendliness from the Mavic lineup to a new space. But, it doesn’t match this lineup in general features, build quality, and value for money. So whether it’s a good option for your workflow will depend on whether the convenience is worth it. But that said, it’s an excellent release as a first-generation product. And it solves many key headaches involved with this style of flying. So good on DJI for moving into a new space and re-inventing the wheel here.
Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX Published May 5, 2021
DJI’s FPV is a niche product that’s unlikely to appeal to many pilots. Even so, it brings a robust set of key selling features over conventional FPV drones in this space. And it’s an extraordinary release on their end that solves many headaches in the process.