After months of begging, DJI Inspire (and Phantom 3 series) owners finally got the so-called ‘Intelligent Flight Mode’ options this week. Well, mostly, in the case of the Inspire.

So are they any good? Well, kind of. But for TV work I’m not sure I’ll be touching them. And here’s why.

(Firstly, a confession. I haven’t actually done the upgrade yet. But thanks to Elliott at Aerial Academy we can see how they work in his video)

  1. Point of Interest
    Arcing around a subject is a common task so I was excited about this one. And actually this one looks pretty decent. However, it’s not a particularly hard pattern to execute manually. More importantly, in anything but a benign environment there’s a real danger of colliding with trees or other obstructions on this one. If there is a benefit here it’s the ability to concentrate on varying altitude while the aircraft takes care of the yes. So a half thumbs-up at least.
  2. Follow me
    This hasn’t actually arrived on the Inspire yet, but even when it does I doubt I’ll touch it. Reason: there’s hardly any situation when I don’t want to leave space for a moving subject to move into. In Elliott’s demo the aircraft always lags behind the movement rather than anticipating it. That’s a big no-no unfortunately.
  3. Waypoint
    The ability to repeat a move precisely has some initial appeal. However, the trouble with real life is that it never repeats exactly. I’ve never worked with a presenter or actor who moved at the same speed, in the same direction, and on the same cue in take 2. Sure, waypointing will be fantastically useful for survey work, but that’s where it’s likely to stay for me.

I’ll update my thoughts once I’ve had a chance to test properly for myself, but for now that flight mode switch is likely to remain away from the ‘F stop’ for the next few shoots at least.

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