DJI S900’s ultra light weight is nothing to make light of
Aerial photographer Shane Latham can tell you that. He’s the Founder of Octofilms, he’s one of 10 DJI-sponsored pilots (and the only one in the U.S.), and he’s the only pilot in the U.S. to own a DJI S900.
Latham already has a DJI S800 EVO, S1000 and has now added the S900 to his toolkit.
“The S900 the size of the S800 but with collapsible arms,” Latham is quick to point out.
The 3.3 kg hexacopter has foldable arms and is one of the lightest and easily to transport of the expert-level drones.
“The s900 is the new generation,” said DJI’s Marketing Manager Willis Chung.
Much of the weight reduction is in the arms and landing gear, made of carbon fiber.
“You can tell the weight loss right when you pick it up,” Latham said.
Latham’s favorite aspect of the S900? The removable top.
“It’s genius,” Latham said. “The top has a star pattern plate where you remove just 5-6 screws without having to take apart the frame.”
The S900 features an upper center board that can be removed, making an easy way to setup the power distribution system.
“Now you can easily remove the top, get down there, make any chances you need to do then put the top back on and you’re ready to go,” Latham said. “You can see and organize all your wires.”
Some other highlights of the S900
- Sparkproof plug to prevent short circuits
- 18 minute flight time
- 8.2 kg takeoff weight
- Zenmuse gimbal compatible
“It’s like they listened to a lot of things users were asking for,” Latham said.
Latham says people often ask whether they should purchase DJI products or a drone from a different company.
“DJI just works,” he said. “It’s like a Mac. We don’t have problems with it.”
So just what does it take to be a DJI-sponsored pilot? No. 1 on the job description is an on-the-fly shoot of testing out the S900 in Malibu.
“The day before the shoot, we got a call from headquarters saying we needed a video tomorrow,” Chung said. “Shane just came over, built it and the next morning we flew it.”
The video was shot up on the hills of Point Dume in Malibu, Ca., a prominent filming location that has appeared in movies including Planet of the Apes and Iron Man.
“It was quite the hike up there too,” Chung said.
Here’s the finished product of Shane’s shoot for DJI, using the S900:
So is the S900 for you?
“If you’ve already mastered the Phantom and you’re ready for a bigger copter, I would recommend the S900,” Latham said.
It’s particularly useful for fans of the Lumix GH4 or Black Magic Pocket Cinema cameras; the S900 is capable of using gimbals to mount the cameras and lift them for nearly 20 minutes of flight.
It’ll also set you back about $3,800, but that’s pocket change if you’re able to use it to shoot Hollywood blockbuster movies, right?
Maybe it is if you’re working for Octofilms. Latham is the owner of aerial photography business Octofilms, which has shot video for National Geographic and full feature-length films.
With a background in flying RC helicopters, about two years ago he saw a need to do aerial photography with drones, but technology was a little too shy, which is why he created the company.
“You could really only start lifting cameras,” he said.
The company is also the only aerial photography group out there with a mobile app that allows directors to contact them.
But their mobile app isn’t the only way people can get in touch with them. He’s also a pilot on Air-Vid, a community of drone pilots that allows people in need of aerial images to search through a directory of approved pilots.
“Air-Vid’s like the Yelp for multi-rotors,” he said.
With an enormous need from the public for aerial images, Latham said the site is a way to unify drone pilots.
“We don’t want to undercut people’s prices because that drops everyone’s prices down,” he said. “There’s plenty of work for us to go around.”
So what’s next on Latham’s radar? More S900 flights.
“We’re looking forward to taking the S900 as far out as we’ve taken the S800,” he said. “The S800 was one of our primary tools, but now we want to push the S900 to its boundaries”
– thanks to our contributing editor Sally Anne French @thedronegirl