Drone filmmaking has gotten significantly better over the past few years and imagery has only become more and more cinematic as well as more and more accessible.
Drones like the DJI Inspire 2 and just-announced Inspire 3 even let you swap out lenses – to a limit. The compatibility made it so that you couldn’t just pop on those brilliant compact anamorphics you have and expect things to work right away.
There is a solution with some light jailbreaking of your Inspire drone. So if you were hoping to start shooting true anamorphic with an Inspire 2 or 3 then you are in luck as MAKE. ART. NOW. has done it and shows us all how.
DJI has a strict compatibility list for the DL mount on their Inspire drones for some good reasons.
The lenses they make are extremely lightweight, designed to be balanced on those compact gimbals, and optimized for flight. They are also expensive and somewhat limiting.
The DL lenses are good though they have relatively slow f/2.8 apertures and only come in a small selection of focal lengths. There’s also nothing more exciting like an anamorphic lens.
You’ll quickly find that if you try to just mount any old lens to the Inspire camera that the gimbal just doesn’t work. It can’t be adjusted or anything to make it work. The design just doesn’t leave room for adding simple weights.
To start, he is looking to use the Laowa Nanomorphs. They are small and quite nice. Small still isn’t small enough as even the lightest one is twice the weight of the DL lenses.
Without being able to rebalance the gimbal it looks like counterweights are the best option even with very little room to work with. To fix that he starts by removing the back plate of the camera and finding some tinier counterweights.
To do that we need to look beyond conventional options and for some uncommon materials, in this case that is tungsten.
Tungsten is denser than steel and therefore crams more weight into a smaller package. Perfect for this use. Picking up a couple medallions he can tape to the back he was able to seemingly get it working. Calibrate the gimbal and try it out.
This extra weight is still something you need to be aware of when you go out flying. The drone isn’t optimized for this and you’ll need to adjust your controls and fly your drone a bit more cautiously to make sure you are still getting smooth and safe movement.
One issue with the counterweight system is that if you plan to swap lenses this quickly becomes unmanageable with just tape to hold the medallions in place.
Designing a more legitimate counterweight system is needed to make this work. Creating a dedicated holder and adding some tungsten putty found in pinewood derby kits is a much more professional solution.
You are also unable to control focus with manual anamorphic glass. Setting and locking to hyperfocal distance is the safest bet for getting things in place.
As for lens selection. There are only a few in this video but they both work. Laowa has their Nanomorphs that work very well and are designed for Super 35mm.
They are a great pick for the Inspire 2. He does also try out the Sirui 1.6x Anamorphic and gets it working, though he believes that might be a better pick for a full-frame system – like the Inspire 3.
The footage looks awesome and if you were looking to elevate your drone footage with some more cinematic-looking imagery this DIY technique might give you your edge.
What do you think about the sample footage and would you do it yourself?
[source: MAKE. ART. NOW]
- DJI Inspire 3 Drone (B&H)
- DJI Inspire 2 Drone (B&H, Amazon)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 27mm T2.8 1.5x Anamorphic Lens (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 35mm T2.4 1.5x Anamorphic Lens (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 50mm T2.4 1.5x Anamorphic Lens (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 3-Lens Set (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 3-Lens Set (ARRI PL/Canon EF) (B&H)
- Sirui 50mm T2.9 1.6x Anamorphic Lens (B&H, Amazon)
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