DJI has gone off the beaten track by creating the first FPV racing drone ready to use, capable of flying at 140km/h and offering an ultra immersive flying experience. If you’re a thrill-seeker and/or have always wanted to experience the sensation of flying, this drone must have piqued your interest. But what is it really worth, and more importantly, should you break the bank to get it?
You probably know what’s coming next, but let’s start with the basics: the acronym FPV stands for “first-person view” in Shakespeare’s language. Drones with this technology use a camera that transmits its live video feed in real time to a pair of glasses. In short, the pilot sees what the drone sees. This offers the pilot a much more dynamic and immersive flying experience than with a ‘conventional’ consumer drone designed for aerial photography.
The DJI FPV, like a racing drone, can only be flown in the first person. Let’s be honest, it’s not as nimble and light as a racing drone, and if you’re looking for smooth and graceful cinematic footage, the Mavic series of drones will certainly suit you better. But having said that, the DJI FPV is a simply amazing drone. A thrill machine twice as fast as the best Mavic, capable of providing as much fun and thrills as a racing drone but with the advantages of a ready-to-fly drone: much more stable, safe and easy to fly.
Unlike conventional hand-made FPV drones with wires running all over the place, the DJI FPV has a beautiful, sleek design. Despite being a small drone, its high body design makes it look bigger than it is, when in fact it is no bigger than a DJI Mavic Air 2.
Made mainly from plastics, the DJI FPV is not heavy (795g), but still weighs much more than any DIY racing drone. The good thing is that it looks incomparably more solid.
Unlike all the other latest generation DJI drones that have folding arms, the DJI FPV’s arms are fixed, which means you’ll need a bag large enough to accommodate its 255 × 312 × 127 mm dimensions.
You may or may not like the way they look, but few FPV goggles on the market come close to the ones supplied with the DJI FPV. They are adjustable to fit all head shapes and eye distances. DJI had the good idea to move their battery into your pocket, so they are light and comfortable to wear.
The images produced by the glasses, which have a screen resolution of 1440 x 810, are so sharp and clear that you could watch a film with them. Another major advantage is the ultra-wide 150° vision, which gives the rider total confidence when squeezing through narrower spaces.
The glasses provide reliable long-distance, low-latency transmission that never faltered in our tests.
The only negative point is that the view is so large that it is not practical to look at the flight information on the sides of the screen. The camera and flight settings in the glasses also take some getting used to.
The DJI FPV comes with a remote control that will look familiar if you are a DJI drone user. The design is minimal and the large buttons make it easy to control by touch, once you have memorised their location. These include a thumbwheel that controls the camera angle, as well as a switch on the back that toggles between Normal, Sport and Manual flight modes.
If you want to try something completely different, you can also opt, for a fee, to use the Motion Controller. The latter allows the drone to be controlled using only hand movements, much like a fighter jet. This system is surprisingly intuitive, but at the same time quite scary as you really have to be gentle with your movements. It clearly takes a few hours of practice to master the machine. However, if things go wrong, the controller is equipped with a large textured button that immediately stops the drone and places it in a hover.
You can fly the DJI without special software. The glasses supplied with the drone have their own built-in software, sufficient to operate the drone. You can of course take it to the next level with the DJI Fly app, which is also mandatory if you use the Motion Controller.
Inside the headset, in addition to the full live view of the camera, you will see power information and an indicator to see if you are recording video.
The DJI FPV is not particularly feature rich compared to the manufacturer’s usual drones. For example, you will not find an automated flight mode. Its interest lies mainly in its unique driving experience.
DIY racing drones are difficult machines to fly. In creating FPV, DJI has produced a drone with flight modes to suit both beginners and more experienced pilots. It is therefore equipped with 3 flight modes: N (Normal), S (Sport), and M (Manual).
The “Normal” mode is the one to choose to start with. More secure, it uses GPS positioning and visual positioning sensors at the front and rear. If you let go of the controls, the drone will automatically hover.
Beware, however, that when the drone detects an obstacle, it will not stop automatically like the DJI Mavic series drones for example. It will simply slow down and warn you of the danger ahead. You should therefore be very careful at all times.
The “Manual” mode is designed for the more experienced FPV pilot. In this mode, the GPS and crash sensors are disabled. This will allow you to perform every imaginable aerial stunt and push the machine to its maximum speed. Beware though, this mode is clearly not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced, and even regulars will take a while to master.
The ‘Sport‘ mode is halfway between the N and M modes. It offers some of the handling of the Manual mode while leaving some of the safety options of the Normal mode active.
To give you an idea of the different modes, the drone can reach a speed of 50km/h in N (Normal) mode, 97km/h in S (Sport) mode, and 140km/h in M (Manual) mode, with acceleration (brace yourself) from 0 to 100km/h in just 2 seconds! This is the equivalent of a sports car.
Allow a maximum of 20 minutes flight time per battery. Note that this is the figure announced by DJI at a speed of 40km/h and without wind. So it will depend on the conditions, and this time may fall to around 10 minutes in less favourable conditions.
While the DJI FPV is clearly the most fun DJI drone to fly, its video and photo capabilities are limited compared to the Mavic and Phantom series drones. However, they are still impressive for an FPV drone.
The DJI FPV has a 1/2.3″ 12MP CMOS sensor with a 150 degree field of view and a fixed f/2.8 aperture. The fixed focus range is supposed to extend from 0.6m to infinity, which means that everything photographed is in focus, and this was the case in our tests. The camera is capable of shooting 4K video at 50/60 frames per second and 1080p video at 50/60/100/120 frames per second, so there are plenty of possibilities.
In the list of defects, propellers are in the camera’s field of view and, although there is a lens correction function, they may sometimes appear in your images. You will therefore need to crop some photos and videos to remove them. Note that if you disable lens correction, you will have to crop all your images.
The other negative point is the single axis gimbal with which the DJI FPV is equipped. The camera can only tilt up and down, which is typical of racing drones as it allows you to know the exact orientation of the drone. However, it also means that when you tilt the drone to the left or right, the image will follow. If you want to get nice cinematic sequences that always remain horizontal even when the drone turns, you’ll have to opt for the standard DJI drones.
As much as the DJI FPV offers a totally crazy and unique flying experience, it comes at a price! The investment is much higher than drones like the Mavic series, for example.
Note that the Motion Controller we mentioned earlier is available separately for €149.
… you are looking for a ready-to-use FPV drone, much easier to fly than a classic FPV drone, and you can afford it! It’s a great drone that’s super fun to fly, and if you’re new to FPV flying, it’s a great way to experience the thrill and excitement of FPV flying, with a greatly reduced risk of accident.
… you are looking for a real racing drone: the DJI FPV will be heavier and more expensive than what you can build yourself. Similarly, if you have a specific need in terms of aerial imagery and plan to take a lot of photos and videos, then consider another drone. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro or the Mavic Air 2, for example, would be better options.