How DJI Dominates the world of Drones (Aerial Robotics)

Frank Wang (L) and Li Zexiang (R)

Why and How DJI Dominates the world of Drones (Aerial Robotics)

The Basics of DJI – Founding and History
2006-2011 – Laying the Foundations
2013 – The Rise of DJI
2014 – Mass Market Camera Drones become Affordable
2015 – Competition and Clones
2016 – The Dust Settles and DJI Competes against themselves
Moving Forward – Much More than just Consumer Drones
So you want to start a Drone Company?
Additional DJI Links


Consumer drones are hitting their stride this holiday season, with forecasts of the 2016/2017 revenue running into the billions of dollars. Despite the large and rapidly growing market, a single company – DJI – dominates to a degree rarely seen in the consumer technology industry. You can buy great digital cameras from Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Canon etc. or smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google and dozens more – but you can only buy an advanced, mature and reliable consumer camera drone from one company…DJI.

While the tech world is very familiar with DJI drones, the company itself remains somewhat of a mystery. The Founder and CEO, Frank Tao Wang, is an engineer and workaholic who rarely hobnobs with the Press or at industry confabs. The same is true of many of the core C-Suite office holders, who seem laser focused on R&D, design and production and therefore leave the PR and Marketing to legions of hired surrogates.

It’s no accident that DJI dominates the Camera Drone Market. The company represents a “New Chinese Paradigm” that innovates at a speed that even writers find difficult to keep up with. This makes their story – or at least the parts of it which can be pieced together from the outside – an educational tale for those with interest in business, China, technology and leadership.

The Basics of DJI – Founding and History  [Read more…]

Best Selling Camera Drones on Amazon – October, 2016


October best selling Camera Drones on Amazonthese are camera drones with stabilizing gimbals and GPS.

#1 Mavic Pro and Mavic Pro Fly more package – – 

#2 Phantom 4 – #77 in Camera & Photo  –

#3 Phantom 3S #79 in Camera & Photo  –

#4 Phantom 3 Advanced – #210 in C and P –

#5 Phantom 3 Pro – #210 in C&P –

#6 Autel X-Star Premium -position unknown – but big seller –

#7 Phantom 3 4K – #643 in Camera & Photo –

#8 Yuneec Q500 4K – #841 in Camera & Photo  –

#9 Yuneec H Hexacopter w/RealSense – #1150 –

#10 Autel X-Star (regular)  – #1300 in Camera & Photo –

Takeaway points for October Camera Drone Sales….

  1. Higher priced models are selling very well (DJI Mavic, Phantom 4) – as long as they offer something for the extra money. Some higher priced units (Yuneec H, Inspire) have moved down the list.
  2. Autel appears to be selling as well or better than Yuneec – quite a feat for a newer entry into the marketplace.
  3. The biggest seller is an expensive model (Mavic Pro) which is not even shipping yet – the Mavic Pro is probably the fastest selling consumer drone in history. 
  4. DJI still maintains a substantial lead in terms of numbers (and dollars) of Camera Drones being sold. Approx. 80% of dollars in the $400-$1500 consumer segment appear to be going to DJI products. 

GoPro has decided not to take preorders or even list their new Karma model on Amazon. Experts speculate that GoPro may have decided to stock up brick and mortar (BestBuy) with the first production of Karma drones. Our November update should include more on Karma.

The most important point above is that the Camera Drone consumer does not seem to be price driven as much as technology driven. This is akin to the demand for Apple products – which feature top-of-the-line specs and quality. 

This indicates a market that is maturing and consists of some educated consumers – able to discern the hype from the reality.

Related Article – our “Slugfest” comparing all currently available consumer camera drones and looking for a champion.

DJI Osmo Mobile Review – a Steady Cam for your Smartphone –

DJI Osmo Mobile in Action

Introduction – and What is it?

Those familiar with modern camera drones know that stable video is a result of having a stabilized gimbal – basically a cradle for a camera which keeps it level and vibration free. Many photographers desire a ground-based version of the same….for various reasons. Many videos feature a mixture of ground and aerial video. With the use of a handheld device such as the Osmo, both types of video will match more closely and have the “pro” look.

In the spring of 2016 we took a look at the DJI Osmo, a 4K gimbal mounted hand-held camera. Although we enjoyed the system, the idea of using the smartphone that most of us have in our pockets was always appealing. At the time of our initial Osmo review we searched the market for a worthy smartphone gimbal – but were unable to find any that had US based support. With the recent release of the DJI Osmo Mobile, that problem appears to be solved.

The Osmo Mobile is a very simple product – which I think is the whole idea behind it. It consists of a heavy-duty metal stabilizing gimbal mounted on a handheld grip w/internal battery. The system is driven by the same DJI Go app that runs other DJI equipment such as the Phantom Camera Drones.

DJI Osmo Mobile, Case and Charging Cord

DJI Osmo Mobile, Case and Charging Cord

In the box you will find the Osmo itself, a soft case and a special USB to 1/8″ jack charging and upgrade cord. Initial preparation is as easy as installing the battery and plugging the 1/8″ jack into the Osmo Mobile and then into a (not included) USB charging wall jack. Charging time depends on the power of your USB wall jack, but should be from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Note – extra cost options include stand-alone battery chargers (single or multiple) and a higher capacity battery. Battery life is over 3 hours so many users are unlikely to need these options. [Read more…]

Fall 2016 Camera Drone Slugfest – Karma vs. Mavic vs. Phantom 3 & 4 vs. Yuneec


Fall 2016 Camera Drone Slugfest – GoPro Karma vs. Mavic Pro vs. Phantom 3 & 4 vs. Yuneec

With the recent introduction of the DJI Mavic Pro and GoPro Karma, the 2016 Fall and Holiday Season lineup of consumer camera drones has taken shape. The internet chatter, as usual, has built to a crescendo as to “which is the best drone?” and “which company will bury the others?“. We think it’s time for to step into the ring as referee and decide which models are contenders for the crown and which should perhaps be sent back to the gym for some additional work. Put another way – which drone should you buy if you want to have one (or gift one) in the 2016 Holiday season?

Are You Serious?

Two small models, both based on Qualcomms Snapdragon drone platform, have hit the market recently. These are the Yuneec Breeze and the Zerotech Dobby. Both are quite small and operated from your smartphone. A similar drone, the Wingsland S6, is also slated for release soon. These models – with the needed extra batteries and case – will cost approx. $500. [Read more…]

DJI Mavic Pro Launched – Headset, Folding, 4K Camera Drone!


Pre-order your DJI Mavic now at this link – Shipping Mid-October!

Amazon now also is taking orders for the Mavic Pro with shipment at end of October.

Images at the bottom of this post.
Here is a PDF with the specs of the Mavic Pro.mavicspec PDF Click Here

Note – we were in NYC for the launch and also had a hands-off (flight time) with the Mavic. Some of our pictures are at the very bottom of this post below the DJI Stock Images.
DJI now has full information and specs at their web site on the Mavic Pro.

Text below from Press Release:
Introducing the Mavic Pro – a portable, powerful, easy-to-use drone featuring DJI’s most innovative camera and flight technology in a sleek, foldable package that enables creative fun wherever you go.

Mavic Pro is DJI’s first personal drone designed to be taken just about anywhere, small enough to toss in a bag and easy enough to launch quickly whenever the time and place are right. Its unique folding design compresses the entire drone to the size of a water bottle, and its intuitive interface can be controlled by a smartphone – making it easy to take aerial selfies or stream live video from the sky.

Mavic Pro is DJI’s first personal drone designed to be taken just about anywhere, small enough to toss in a bag and easy enough to launch quickly whenever the time and place are right. Its unique folding design compresses the entire drone to the size of a water bottle, and its intuitive interface can be controlled by a smartphone – making it easy to take aerial selfies or stream live video from the sky.

Mavic Pro is designed to be portable, with four folding arms and propellers that tuck snugly against its body so it can be easily carried in a purse or backpack. It can be controlled just from a smartphone, can be set up and flying in less than a minute after calibration, and can fly up to 27 minutes on one Intelligent Flight Battery.

Mavic Pro is packed with powerful features despite its small size. DJI’s uncompromising technology now includes our smallest three-axis gimbal for shake-free photos and videos, and a smaller controller that can be used with or without a smartphone attached. The new OcuSync encrypted transmission system has a range up to 4.3 miles (7 km) where it can be done safely and responsibly, and can reach 1080p video resolution for live streaming to Facebook Live, Periscope and YouTube through the DJI GO app.

The redesigned Mavic Pro controller features control sticks that provide tactile feedback to warn of obstacles. Mavic Pro can be operated just from the controller or just from a smartphone – or they can be mounted together with an innovative clamping mechanism to provide a vivid screen view as well as stick controls.
[Read more…]

DJI Phantom – the Drone that Started it All.

Phantom 1 - Credit as Shown - from RCGroups Review

The Drone That Started It All = Phantom 1

The press release was only two paragraphs. “You can fly your Phantom the moment you receive it,” DJI wrote on Jan. 7, 2013. With those words, it announced the release of the product that revolutionized the drone industry. Here is a link to one of the first complete reviews of the Phantom 1 – Feb, 2013.

Phantom 1 - Credit as Shown - from RCGroups Review

Phantom 1 – Credit as Shown – from RCGroups Review

That year, DJI revenue soared to $130 million from about $4 million just two years prior. The market spoke, and the Phantom 1 propelled the company into its place as industry leader. Three three years and several iterations later, the Phantom series remains the most sought-after consumer drone and industry watchers suggest yearly sales of well over a billion dollars (DJI does not release sales numbers).

But what is it about the Phantom that lures all sorts of pilots, from amateur hobbyists to Hollywood film studios? Several analysts, pilots and retailers describe DJI as a forward-looking company that’s constantly pushing the envelope. Not only is the Phantom series affordable, they say, but every version adds significant new features well ahead of the competition.

Put it this way: Brett Velicovich worked with drones in the U.S. military before he moved to retail as managing partner at Expert Drones in Washington, D.C. “The stuff I used in the military for millions of dollars?” he says. “DJI made that look like crap.” [Read more…]

DJI to introduce new Mavic Drone


Another post on (here) contains the full press release, pictures as well as prices and specs.

The drone world is abuzz with talk and speculation about an upcoming DJI drone, reportedly called the Mavic Pro. Leaked images along with a scheduled DJI Event in NYC ( will be there!) indicate the introduction of a new product line which is foldable and compact – and yet has advanced features.

Launch Day – We will know all in a few hours. Here  is a videos shared on RCgroups – we have no idea of the source of this video (if it works at all).

Pre-order your DJI Mavic now at this link – Shipping Mid-October!
Amazon now also is taking orders for the Mavic Pro with shipment at end of October.

Here is a youtube “official” release video (but not from DJI, so not official in that way!)

———below posted in advance of launch——-
Some of the “leaked” images and renderings are below. We could make some guesses as to the price and capabilities but, at this point, Tuesday is coming soon so we will simply update this article when we get our hands on the Real Thing. A discussion thread in our forums will allow for a continuous back and forth for those who buy, fly or have questions about this model.


Pre-order your DJI Mavic now at this link – Shipping Mid-October!
Amazon now also is taking orders for the Mavic Pro with shipment at end of October.

eBook – Buying and Flying DJI Phantom 3 and 4 Quadcopters – Chapter 8


Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4  – Part 5Part 6Part 7 – Part 8 (this page)

The Phantom Camera

Taking pictures and videos from a new perspective is the main function of the Phantom drone. It functions as a tripod in the sky with its own built-in high quality video and still camera.

The Heart of the Phantom - Gimbal and Camera (Phantom 3 Pro shown)

The Heart of the Phantom – Gimbal and Camera (Phantom 3 Pro shown)

In this section we will describe both the hardware and the software which comprise the Phantom photography system. Following this chapter we provide a number of hints and tips which may help those new to Aerial Photography and Video produce better images.

Camera Hardware and Basic Specs

All models of the Phantom  use a similar looking camera – but there are some internal differences. The Professional model can shoot up to 4K video. The usefulness of 4K for the casual user is questionable as mentioned earlier in this book. The Standard model has less processing horsepower and uses a different sensor than the Advanced and Pro.

Basic Camera Specs:
Video: up to 1080P 60fps (Pro model has 4K 30fps mode, Standard 1080P 30fps).
12 MP still photos -JPG or DNG (RAW)Photo Capability
F2.8 lens with 94 degree FOV (Field of View)
High quality Sony camera sensor and lens (Advanced and Pro only)
DJI 3-axis stabilizing gimbal and controller
MicroSD slot and included card for image storage [Read more…]

GoPro releases Karma Drone Package

After many delays, GoPro today announced their Karma Drone. Here is a great post on RCG which shows the basics – the beauty of this drone is that it comes with a full package including a backpack and a hand-held camera stabilizer (mount for gimbal)….so the GoPro fan or owner can have a complete setup for both ground and aerial photography.

GoPro also introduced two new cameras – the hero5 and the Session5.

Here is the complete launch video:

Karma is slated to ship Oct 23rd.

As usual, we caution most drone shoppers to wait until the unit is shipping for a month (or 3) before deciding on a purchase. This will also allow you to read the various reviews that follow the initial launch.

We will update this article with opinions, reviews and links.

Note – DJI is slated to release a new Drone next Tuesday (9/27) in New York City. Rumor has it that it will also be a compact and foldable model – named the Mavic. will be at the launch event and report on the new DJI model ASAP.

eBook – Buying and Flying DJI Phantom 3 and 4 Quadcopters – Chapter 7

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4  – Part 5Part 6 – Part 7 (this page)

Phantom Modifications and Additions

There are many useful and decorative modifications you can make to your Phantom. A large aftermarket has sprung up online to satisfy the demand for various accessories.

Note: We advise using only DJI brand OEM propellers for your Phantom. These are specially designed and DJI has developed very high standards for both the shape and the materials used.

Here are some popular add-ons for the Phantom:
Backpacks and cases – these are available in hard or soft shell designs. DJI offers their own and other brands such as Thinktank, Mofrotto and GPC offers others. Cases are available from as low as $40 to $400+
ND and Polarizing Lens Filters (DJI, PolarPro, Taco, Snake River, etc.)
Lens Caps and Lens Hoods (petals)
Car charger (DJI) and Multiple Battery Chargers
Sunshades (hoods) for your smartphone or tablet
HDMI out module (sold by DJI for the Pro and Advanced) allows the video output of the Phantom to be shown on large screens (monitors, TV, etc.) and also on certain headset goggles.

Links to popular Phantom accessories and add-ons can be found on the popular site

Some Phantom add-ons are 3D printed and available from the popular site Shapeways.

Be sure to consider the added weight when adding accessories to your Phantom. A digital postal scale is part of the quadcopter pilot’s toolbox.

Payload Capacities [Read more…]