DJI FPV System review 2020(is digital better than analogue?)
You're here because you're probably curious if it's worth it to buy the newDJI FPV system and if it makes so much of a difference compared to analog FPV.
You could just as well have no idea what I'm talking about and still enjoy this review, so don't go anywhere.
First of all, FPV stands for First person View (check out my Drone term glossarylist, for a better understanding of more terms). You can literally learn a ton about drones just by reading this single article.
To put it in simple terms, FPV Drone racing basically makes you feel like you're in the drones cockpit and it's a fantastic experience.
However, the video feed you see is generally analog and standard definition. It breaks up a lot, if you have obstacles in the way. We needed this so far because it was pretty much the only way to achieve low latency transmission, which is essential for controlling a fast moving FPV quad.
However, as tradition goes, DJI, the leader in everything drone technology on the market made a move to disrupt this industry in a big way.
They decided to make a system that records and transmits digital signal, increasing obstacle penetration, while still keeping the latency low.
This is their second revolutionary product that disrupts current drone technologies in the last couple of months, as not so long ago they have released the DJI mavic mini, which is an incredibly good 3 axis camera drone under 250g.
I got the package withthe Goggles, the air unit with the camera and the transmitter.
Everything was neatly packaged as expected from DJI, and it all feels premium quality, as expected for the price.
I chose to connect it to my Helifar Fuuton 2, which is an amazing 4s beast of a drone.
The DJI FPV air unit and camera
The air unit consists of a camera and a video transmitter. The case is made of durable aluminum that also doubles as heat-sink for cooling, so expect this to get very hot. This entire piece weighs around 53 grams.
The dimensions are as follows:
It's made specifically to fit on most racing quad-copters on the market
The lens is 150 degrees and can record hd video as high as 1080p in 60fps, as it has a built in DVR that stores the video in the micro SD card slot that's on the side of the device.
The camera comes with 3 basic camera settings (in terms of image adjustments)
Standard Mode (best daytime image quality)
Racing mode ( brighter colors, good for detecting obstacles)
LED (easier to track LED tracks at night)
The air unit has two antennas in the back with MMCX connectors. These antennas are the only obvious downside of the overall build, as they are easy to lose if you're not careful.
You need to tie them really well, or put them inside a 3d printed slot so they don't come out. Even if I ziptied them twice, I still managed to lose them somehow. Fortunately they're like $15 to replace so it's not such a big loss. You can get individual parts from getfpv.com
The most eye catching piece of equipment in this package, the goggles look like something from the Ant Man movie and they certainly would have been made by Tony Start, as the quality is top notch.
They feel solid and really like a professional piece of equipment, that's pretty light weight too.
These also have the option to record the footage that you see in the goggles directly in 720p 120fps.
A thing you'll notice right away are the 4 omni-directional antennas mounted using RP-SMA connectors that can be upgraded if you want.
The Goggles come with some of the following features;
an anti fog cooling fan
IPD Adjustment System (because peoples eyes aren't as far apart)
An usb-c port for firmware update mostly
built in DVR
Supports audio playback on videos from the air unit (but doesn't work with live video feed)
A power supply cable that has an XT60 connector so you can power it up with a 2s lipo battery. But I used a 3s one in this case.
All the buttons and switches have a nice tactile feeling and I have no complaints in terms of design either. The most stunning feature of these goggles is the large and wide screen that makes you feel like you're in a cinema, instead of the smaller FOV goggles we've been used with so far.
Okay, I may have lied.
There is a small issue me and other people have about these goggles, and that's regarding the face mount that has a bit of light leak, depending on the type and shape of your face, of course.
I needed to keep the battery in my pocket at all times, as there's no mount for the head, but that was no problem whatsoever, I actually prefer it this way.
The Radio Controller came with the package I got, but frankly it's optional to use if you already have another radio that you like. I thought I won't use it and use my Taranis Xlite instead, but oh boy was I wrong.
I absolutely LOVE how the sticks feel on this transmitter. Some people think they are too loose, but I think they're way better than anything I've tried before and make the flying experience that much better.
This is coming from someone who would have doubted buying this transmitter in the first place.
Here's some other good things about this transmitter:
you don't need a separate receiver (as it's integrated within the camera module)
4km range for both video and radio with 8 people flying at the same time (8 channels)
Rubber grips that can be removed to access the gimbal adjustments (unlike the taranis that needs to be stripped down)
Gimbals feel really good and come with a height adjustment by twisting and locking them into place
With the buttons you can access the menu and change the vtx settings, menu settings etc.
The gimbals are on par with the Hall sensor gimbals from Frsky, if not better and in terms of ergonomics, this is a total win.
By the way, the 4km range is in FCC mode (about 2.5 miles) so you won't be able to reach this kind of range in Europe, for example. You can also check my top on some of the longest ranged drones (ranked by price and category).
As I said before, this is quite a revolutionary product in the industry, so revolutionary in fact that I could compare it to the red and blue pill analogy from the matrix. If you try this system you won't ever want to go back to Analog, so be careful, it's that good!
DJI Digital FPV VS Analog FPV. What's the difference?
There's really no comparison, but I'll try to put them side by side for you to see how much of a difference this makes. People who have flown drones with analogue systems their entire lives have shocking amazed reactions when they see the action camera quality from the goggles directly.
There's no static, the details are absolutely incredible… and frankly this is the only thing that made me want to fly FPV again in the last few months, as I think I have finally found the ultimate Flying experience simulator.
I don't just want to watch the beautiful landscapes in post processing from my gopro, I want to be immersed in the experience and feel like a bird while I'm doing it.
I want to see all the branches and avoid them, be in awe with the sunset as I dive between some trees in the forest.
This is what the DJI FPV System delivers, a lag free birds eye perspective that made me happy I can finally experience flight without the risks or costs of flying myself.
Unlike other HD FPV system, that suddenly stutter and freeze when signal wakens, the DJI one gradually reduces the resolution of the image so you know what's coming.
One disadvantage compared to Analogue goggles is that your friends can't watch what you're doing at the same time (I would say the only disadvantage).
Unless they also have the same goggles, but it was much simpler with analogue to hook up your friends to a cheap monitor or goggles and see everything in real time.
What's the latency? Does the DJI FPV System have any lag?
This is one of the main concerns of an HD FPV system, as digital signal is more troublesome to send over in real time and tends to have a lot of lag.
However, everything changes with this new system (I know, I seem like a fanboy, but I swear I just like it a lot and have a hard time getting over how cool it is).
The latency from the radio is about 6ms while the lag from the drone to the FPV goggles is about 23 ms, which is super small, similar to what you get from analogue FPV.
There are a few modes that can affect latency and image quality:
High quality mode ( higher resolution footage in 60 fps, but bigger lag)
Low latency mode ( lower resolution in 120fps, but lower lag)
Focus mode feature(reduces lag by lowering bit rate around the edges of the image)
Any HD system has the downside that as the signal gets weaker you risk losing image all-together. In analogue systems, you'll gradually get a worse image and more interference, but will still be able to discern roughly where you are .
The DJI System handles weak signal better than any othe HD system, but it can still stutter and freeze from extended range or objects getting between you and it.
Can't use other goggles with it
Being a proprietary system, you won't be able to use any other type of goggle with the same camera or for your friends to see when you're flying, which is a shame.
A pair of these goggles aren't that cheap, so it could be quite a disadvantage if you like sharing things live.
Price and What packages does the FPV System come with?
The DJI FPV System comes in two configurations:
DJI Experience combo (Goggles+ 2 air units) For people who have their own transmitter
DJI Fly More combo (1 air unit+goggles+controller)
How to unlock 25mW (CE mode) to enable 700mW (FCC mode)?
Only do this if your local regulations allow 700mW power.
FCC mode is disabled if you bought your system from places like Europe, for example.
Take SD Card out of the Air Unit
Create a text file on the root directory, name it naco.txt
Write 1 in the file, which means “FCC mode”
Insert SD card in Air Unit
Power up goggles, and then Air Unit
Can I output video from the goggles to an external display?
No, you can't. You need to have a display that works with the same frequency as DJI. For now you can only see it with another pair of DJI FPV goggles.
Can people watch my flying?
Yes, but only if they have the same goggles from DJI (not standard analogue ones).
Will the DJI goggles work with DJI Mavic and Spark?
No, it's not the same as the other FPV goggles from DJI. These ones are designed for the FPV air unit.