April 8, 2021

The Rise of FPV Drones - How DJI is democratizing the drone market. Again.

by Sarah Ashley

It’s 2021 and FPV drones are here to stay. Another name for the little quadcopters is ‘racing drone’, because that’s their origin. Originally designed as an equipment for high speed racing events - nowadays they’re also widely used as a tool for creative filmmaking.

However, there’s more to it than just buying the drone and taking off. The efforts that FPV pilots have to put into flying in the simulator, researching the right parts and building the drone (which usually involves soldering) are keeping the entry hurdle quite high for beginners. Until now. 

Recently DJI has entered the FPV game and “redefines flying”. This reminds me a lot of what happened a few years ago. It’s hard to imagine, but it was less than 10 years ago when aerial footage was something that could only be achieved with some really heavy-duty and, at the time high tech, drones or helicopters. In 2013, DJI came along with the ‘Phantom 1’ - the first ever drone that allowed regular consumers without a technical background to get their camera in the air. Since then a lot has happened: DJI has released better, cheaper and smaller drones every year and now they’re jumping into the FPV market, as well.

The ‘DJI FPV’ is ready to fly right out of the box. Furthermore it comes with 3 flight modes - totally stabilized, hybrid flight and manual. All of them have an emergency brake feature and can return to the starting position automatically and safely. This lowers the entry hurdle significantly and makes it very attractive for beginners. Some experienced FPV pilots might look down on this new off-the-shelf product, but we’re thrilled because, in a way, it democratizes those new perspectives and makes them available to a broader audience.

The DJI FPV Drone

We’ve reached out to two FPV pilots within our AERFORCE community; Max Beamer and Luca Sachs, and got their input on the topic.

Q: What insights can you share with us based on your experience with FPV drones?

For me, FPV was a life changing experience. Both, from the feeling of flight that the drones and first person view goggles provide but also the people and online community. FPV is more of a subculture than a hobby. Just be careful not to burn yourself out!

I flew normal “cinematic” drones for a few years now and it became a little boring to me. A friend of mine (@simonma1n, also an AERFORCE member!) really inspired me to get into the FPV game with his videos and he also helped me a lot when starting out. My first 4 weeks with the drone were absolutely not fun at all, nothing really worked out first and I wanted to get those nice shots... But then a friend made it all work and since then it’s been so much fun to take my drone with me when I am out in nature and shoot videos. But after all waiting for the drone to work I think it was perfect timing, because in times of lockdown I had a lot of time to get into the game.

Q: Do you have advice for amateur FPV pilots out there looking to step up their game? Tips or tricks?

Definitely, spend time on the sticks - I know it sounds obvious but the main thing is to recharge those packs and keep flying! Don’t worry if you're not a pro overnight it takes lots of practice and a lot of crashing before you can know your quad so to speak and make it move through space the way you want. Another tip would be keep your setup as consistent as possible. Don’t swap frames, motors, controllers, and mostly FPV cams too often or you’ll set yourself back and have to re-learn your setup every time.

As I am still a beginner in the game, I don’t have that many tips. But you learn a lot of new skills through flying in a simulator!

Q: What do you think about DJI’s latest FPV drone?

From what I’ve seen so far it looks like a drone meant for DJI pilots that want to shoot action scenes or “FPV style” footage. I’d say it’s a step down from an actual custom carbon fiber fpv drone both in performance and durability standards. It’s got some cool tech like the one handed controller or the osd but overall I’d say it’s more of a novelty item and not really meant for pilots currently flying FPV. imo, it’s fine.

I think this drone and it’s specs are absolutely insane! Having the ability to get into the FPV game without having to wait weeks to get parts, soldering and all the other not so fun things. But I also think that it might hurt the drone community because when more people start flying drones, more rules start to apply and become less fun. But overall, it’s a sick drone!!

At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping those creative juices flowing and trying something new. At AERVIDEO, we absolutely love aerial shots. Especially FPV drones! We find a familiarity with this field as it also encourages you to break the rules of traditional filmmaking, look for new perspectives and most importantly, leave your comfort zone. 

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