DJI FPV – the beginner-friendly FPV drone

David Lee
Zurich, on 02.03.2021
Support: Manuel Wenk
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
DJI is now also offering a drone for FPV fans. It offers various features that make getting started as an FPV beginner easier than ever. Let's see how far I can get without any prior knowledge.

DJI has introduced a drone, simply named DJI FPV. The abbreviation stands for First Person View: you watch your flight from the drone's point of view. To do this, you put on VR goggles. As you can't see the drone yourself, an attendant must be with you to ensure visual contact.

According to the manufacturer, the DJI FPV is particularly beginner-friendly. That's because it isn't just controlled manually, like a racing drone. It'll surely be familiar to DJI Mavic or Mini users. There's also an emergency brake in manual mode: a button on the remote control immediately puts the drone into hover if it gets out of control and a crash is imminent. Sport mode is intended to serve as a middle ground between normal and manual modes, making the transition to manual control easier.

I jumped right into normal and sports mode without any preparation. Seemed to work. Normal mode is super simple, as it works the same as other DJI drones. Sport mode is definitely closer to normal mode than FPV mode; the most noticeable difference is the higher speed. Provided you have enough space and fly carefully, even Sport mode is doable for beginners.

FPV Universal Edition (4K)
799.–
Dji FPV Universal Edition (4K)

In manual mode, the drone reaches top speeds of 140 km/h, accelerating from 0 to 100 in two seconds. There's also a Smooth mode that reduces the latency between image capture and VR playback to just under 28 milliseconds. Here, video recording is limited to Full HD, but delivers up to 120 fps and thus the possibility to create quadruple slow motion. Aside from that, there's a mode that delivers 4K at 60 fps; there, the latency is a maximum of 40 milliseconds. On the glasses you'll see the image at 810p in both cases. The camera's viewing angle is 150 degrees. Image stabilisation ensures smooth recordings even on the wildest flights.

In my understanding, the drone isn't so much intended for racing as it is for recording camera shots that aren't possible in a «normal» drone mode. Like in this pretty snazzy compilation by Sam Kolder.

The drone weighs 795 grams, of which the battery accounts for 295 grams. According to DJI, that's enough for 20 minutes of flight time at a speed of 40 km/h without wind.

The gimbal camera, chassis and top shell of the DJI FPV are modular and easily interchangeable, according to DJI. In addition to various spare parts, the manufacturer also offers a type of accident insurance called Care Refresh. It can be purchased for one or two years and includes a maximum of two or three replacement units respectively, in addition to the two-year product warranty from the date of purchase.

Caution: if you're a beginner, don't use FPV mode

To avoid any misunderstandings: beginner-friendly as it is, this drone offers other modes besides FPV mode. FPV itself isn't for amateurs. Once it's activated, the drone doesn't stay in the air and cannot be controlled without practice. Combined with its high speeds, the drone can become dangerous. Which is why I first had to get used to the controls in a simulator. And why you won't see any FPV flight from me in the video above.

DJI itself offers its own simulator for just this purpose. You use remote control and VR goggles, so you'll learn to operate the original equipment blind. For now, it only runs on iOS. However, there are other simulators that will teach you the basic principle of FPV control. Manu recommends this one. I probably couldn't use VR glasses with it, though.

In my case, practice should and will make perfect. Since I'm not exactly a natural at this sort of thing, it might be some time before my first successful FPV flight comes your way. Then I can tell you how long it takes for an absolute noob to fly the drone naturally.

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David Lee
David Lee
Senior Editor, Zurich
My interest in IT and writing landed me in tech journalism early on (2000). I want to know how we can use technology without being used. Outside of the office, I’m a keen musician who makes up for lacking talent with excessive enthusiasm.

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