DJI Announces First Drone Camera with Optical Zoom

It seems to be a week for big announcements at DJI, who yesterday revealed the result of a new partnership with photography experts Hasselblad. Today, the Chinese giant has launched its new Zenmuse Z3 aerial camera, the company’s first drone camera with optical zoom. So there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that pilots will no longer be able to claim that drones can’t zoom in when accused of invading neighbors’ privacy. The good news is that it, for a lot of prosumers and professionals, that’s going to be a sacrifice worth making.

dji zenmuse z3

DJI’s new Zenmuse Z3 is an integrated aerial zoom camera based on the Zenmuse X3. It can capture videos in 4K at up to 30 frames per second, and shoot images at a resolution of 12-megapixels. But most importantly, there’s the zoom. Optimized for still photography, the Zenmuse Z3 has a 7x zoom made up of 3.5x optical and 2x digital lossless zoom, creating a 22mm to 77mm equivalent focal length range. The bottom line? It’s ideal for industrial applications, from search and rescue to aerial surveys.

Because the tiniest of movements are magnified when the camera is zoomed, the Zenmuse Z3 adds an additional layer of stability to the yaw control using a custom-designed reaction wheel. This works alongside the normal yaw motor, allowing for more refined movement without a loss of image clarity.

dji zenmuse z3

The Z3 works seamlessly with DJI’s GO app, which can act both as a live feed and also as a control system.  Through the app users can adjust the camera settings, swipe to zoom in and out, capture photo or video, and activate Intelligent Flight Modes. If you’d rather avoid using the app, image capture and zoom can both be controlled through dedicated controls on the remote controller.

zenmuse in action

The Zenmuse Z3 is compatible with DJI’s Inspire 1 drone and the heavier-hitting Matrice 100 and 600 platforms. It’s available to buy now directly from DJI for $899 in the US, £799 in the UK,  and AU$1,599 in Australia.

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