The release of the Phantom 5 is imminent and might well happen before the end of this month. We now know that the Phantom 5 is indeed going to have interchangeable lenses. That’s despite statements from DJI stating that the leaked images of a Phantom with interchangeable lenses do not show a predecessor to the Phantom 5. Regardless, we are excited about the upgrade. Interchangeable lenses provide more options for the professional photographer. What Phantom 5 lens alternatives will DJI provide? When can we expect a premium lens offering? Will the Phantom 5 include a zoom lens option? Let’s have a look.

Sony a6500

The Phantom 5 lens story

DJI has said before that the leaked images of a Phantom with interchangeable lenses were of a drone made for an “enterprise client.” I have speculated that the only logical “enterprise client” was Sony or Hasselblad.

“The Phantom 4 drone with interchangeable lenses sighted in some online publications is not a DJI product for public sale. To clarify, this was a modified Phantom 4 Pro drone designed for an enterprise client to serve specific application needs.”      – DJI Official Statement

The so-called enterprise client is really a development partner. After all, no actual client is going to spend a million dollars on a custom Phantom when they could spend a few thousand bucks on an Inspire. The Inspire 2 already has interchangeable lens options available. Instead, it looks like DJI and their partner have been working together on a new interchangeable lens format for 1-inch sensors.

DJI Phantom photos shows interchangeable lens system with 50mm f2.8 lens 0002f

The Phantom 5 looks to have a new lens format with a 1-inch sensor and interchangeable lenses

What focal lengths will we see?

Leaked images clearly show DJI is working on a 50 mm focal length lens. Is that 50 mm equivalent or 50 mm actual focal length? The difference is important. A 50 mm equivalent focal length lens would produce a 2X magnification from standard DJI focal length of 24 mm. A 50 mm actual focal length lens would mean a whopping 5X magnification over the 8.8 mm actual focal length of the Phantom 4 Pro ($1499).

Below is a table showing some of the focal lengths that are possible for the Phantom 5. Something around 24 mm equivalent focal length is a given. A 50 mm offering also seems inevitable since we have already seen leaked images of it.

Focal Length (1-Inch Sensor) 35 mm Eq. Focal Length  Diagonal FOV Magnification (Based on Focal Length) Magnification (Based on FOV)
8.8 24 84° 1.0 X 1.0 X
15 41 56° 1.7 X 1.5 X
18.5 50 46° 2.1 X 1.8 X
24 65 37° 2.7 X 2.3 X
30 82 30° 3.4 X 2.8 X
35 95 26° 4.0 X 3.3 X
50 136 18° 5.7 X 4.7 X

Phantom 5 zoom lens

We believe that the Phantom 5 is destined to have a zoom lens. The leaked images of the Phantom 5 camera body clearly show a 12-pin connection to the lens. These are more than enough pins to support autofocus, aperture adjustment, and zoom. My Sony E-mount camera has only 10 pins and can perform all of those functions. Other rumored features, like a mechanical global shutter and a flip-in ND filter, are much more likely to be integrated into the body of the camera than inside the lenses.

Phantom 5 and sony camera bodies

 

The Phantom 5 has more pins than the Sony a6000, which supports motorized zoom in its lenses

I started to really appreciate the value of zoom on a drone when I got my Mavic 2. The ability to record full HD video with 4X zoom is quite liberating. The Mavic 2 Enterprise added 3X cropping to the Mavic 2 Zoom instead of 2X, for a total zoom on the Mavic 2 of 6X (although presumably in 720 resolution). While DJI abandoned a zoom lens for the Inspire 2, they seem to be back in favor now. DJI has been able to make really sharp lenses that operate through a variety of zoom states.

We hope to see a 3X optical zoom lens on the Phantom 5, with an additional 2.5X cropping in full HD. The 20-MP sensor should allow this, producing a total zoom of 7.5. That’s pretty zoomy!

Zenmuse Z3 Zoom

The 3.5X zoom Zenmuse Z3 lens is not famous for its quality. DJI recommended that it only be used for photography, not for video. I am confident that DJI has learned its lesson. The Mavic 2 Zoom is fantastic.

Premium lenses for the Phantom 5

There is no doubt that DJI and others will take full advantage of the new interchangeable lens format to make some extra money. A Hasselblad offering seems inevitable, perhaps offering a lower f/number for better low-light performance. A premium Phantom 5 lens will probably have better glass than the stock lenses, with more aspheric surfaces for reduced aberrations. Will Zeiss jump into the Phantom lens market? Time will tell.

moondog iphone lens on osmo

An anamorphic lens mounted on an iPhone and DJI Osmo Mobile. Source: Moondog Optics

We would also love to see a little creativity applied to DJI lenses. For example, we know some pro videographers are looking for the cinematic style that only an anamorphic lens can provide. So far as we know, there has never been such a lens designed for a drone. Lens-maker Moondog Optics famously produced an anamorphic iPhone lens that has been used to produce acclaimed feature-length independent films. Let’s hope they have an anamorphic lens in the works for the Phantom 5.

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