DJI Ronin 4D gimbal Hollywood film

3-axis gimbal? New Ronin 4D has a 4-axis gimbal

The 3-axis gimbal is a work of wonders, enabling the drone industry to take off thanks to its ability to bring swooping, silk-smooth cinematic qualities to videos. But the 3-axis gimbal just got a giant upgrade with a whole extra axis, and it’s all a part of the new Ronin 4D, which DJI is dubbing ‘the most powerful cinematic imaging system DJI has ever created.’

The new Ronin 4D launched today as the first in what’s slated to be a series of three DJI product launches over the coming weeks. The DJI Ronin line has historically been a set of 3-axis camera gimbals developed for professional filmmakers. The new Ronin 4D continues that legacy, but with the 4th axis. And that might not necessarily even be the number one reason why the new Ronin 4D is turning heads. Here are some of the most standout features on the Ronin 4D:

  • Full-frame Zenmuse X9 gimbal camera.
  • LiDAR focusing system.
  • 4-axis stabilization system.

With that Zenmuse X9 gimbal camera comes the option to purchase a 6K version or an 8K version. The 6K version starts at $7,199, and the 8K version starts at $11,499.

“DJI empowers creators with accessible and intuitive devices to capture and share the world exactly how
they see it,” said Paul Pan, DJI Senior Product Line Manager in a prepared statement. “With DJI Ronin 4D, we use the power of technology to make cinema-standard production more affordable, cinema cameras more flexible, and cinematic imaging available to a boundless array of filmmakers. DJI Ronin 4D draws on our expertise in both aerial and ground-based cinematic innovations to enable the next generation of professional content creators to amaze and inspire us.”

And the Ronin 4D is already in worthy hands. As part of the lauch, DJI has put the Ronin 4D in the hands of about a half-dozen leading cinematographers, including Rachel Morrison first woman ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for her work on Mudbound in 2017. You may also know her from her work on Fruitvale Station and Black Panther.

It’s a high-end, intricate piece of equipment. And if it’s good enough for pros like Morrison, DJI is betting that the Ronin will be a hit amongst smaller film sets to, as it should — in theory — replicate professional filmmaking standards and put them in a package that’s (relatively) affordable and more efficient. A traditional, professional crew could easily have a half-dozen people including a photography director, camera operator, technician and steadicam operator. DJI thinks the Ronin 4D could enable independent filmmakers to do the same work with a smaller team — or even a one-person team.

With that, here’s everything you need to know about the new DJI Ronin 4D:

That 4-axis gimbal

By far the biggest stand out feature on the Ronin 4D that makes it unlike any other is the fact that it’s the industry’s first, active-vertical 4-Axis stabilization system. Active vertical is a bit of a jargony term, but it essentially means that with a Z-axis, the Ronin 4D is able to eliminate vertical camera shake, relevant in situations where the operator might be shooting while walking, running, or otherwise moving around, even in complex environments such as on stairways or uneven ground. No need to practice pacing or bring in extra equipment. No need for a dolly during wide sliding shots.

So how does it work? It can all be chalked up to a new algorithm that processes inputs from all sorts of sensors, along with a built-in IMU and barometer.

Ronin 4D

The camera and imaging system on the Ronin 4D

But while the gimbal is unique, it doesn’t amount to much without a high quality camera to hold. Luckily, the Ronin 4D delivers.

The Zenmuse X9 gimbal camera is available in either 8K or 6K versions, both of which are capable of internally recording Apple ProRes and ProRes RAW. The 6K version supports up to 6K/60fps and 4K/120fps, and the 8K version supports up to 8K/75fps.

In layman’s speak, expect full cinematic quality footage to be shot on this thing.

A huge factor in the high quality imaging comes from an intelligent image processing system called CineCore 3.0, which delivers an internal 8K RAW codec designed to carry out more precise color reproduction and other advanced assistive functions thanks to its AI engine, multi-link monitoring and control with low-latency image processing.

Here are some other specs:

  • Dual-native EI of 800/5,000
  • Over 14 stops of dynamic range
  • Built-in, nine-stop physical ND filters

Another standout feature is the proprietary DJI Cinema Color System (DCCS), which helps create tonal consistency across multiple cameras. DJI also said users should expect it to deliver more natural skin tones.

As far as the lens, you’re not committed to just one. The X9 is equipped with an interchangeable lens mount design allowing connection to DJI’s proprietary DL mount, Leica M mount, and other mounts with short-flange focal distances. Whether you want an ultra-large aperture lenses, an anamorphic lenses, or a vintage manual lens, you can have it.

LiDAR tech comes to Hollywood

LiDAR has been a huge complementary piece of technology for the commercial drone industry, particularly in the enterprise space. LiDAR, short for Light Detection and Ranging, is tech that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges to the Earth. In human-speak, LiDAR tech on a drone is most commonly used for creating high-resolution digital surfaces, terrain and elevation models.

And while it’s not too widely used for cinematography purposes, the Ronin 4D is a bet that it will be. The Ronin 4D features a newly designed LiDAR Range Finder to continuously generate precise laser measurements. By casting about 43,200 ranging points as far as 10 meters, it can more quickly and accurately locate subjects, even in low-light environments where focusing is typically more challenging.

In cinematography, that means a sharper, faster, and more reliable focusing experience.

LiDAR has seen significant growth in 2021, especially over at DJI, which last year invested in Livox, an independent, sensor-technology company. Livox’s LiDAR sensors, the Horizon and Tele-15, can deliver better sensing performance at a fraction of the cost of traditional LiDAR units, and one of them costs less than $1,000.

Ronin 4D DJI Hollywood film stunt fire

Shooting modes

Both DJI drones and Ronin products have been especially useful for their built-in, automatic shooting modes. And that holds true on the Ronin 4D, which takes those shooting modes and improves them.

Both DJI drones and Ronin products have been especially useful for their built-in, automatic shooting modes. And that holds true on the Ronin 4D, which takes those shooting modes and improves them.

There are three types of focusing modes:

Manual focus: With this, the DJI Ronin $D uses an assistive tool called LiDAR waveform to help cinematographers locate focus points and then pull focus.

Autofocus: It’s what it sounds like.

Automated Manual Focus: This is the Goldilocks of the two focus modes above. DJI says it “combines the best of both modes,” and here’s how it works: It can automatically rotate the focus wheel while following the focus point, allowing the operator to intervene manually should they choose.

More about the Ronin 4D

Despite all that’s packed into it, the DJI Ronin 4D is relatively small. It’s still lighter and smaller than most cinema cameras mounted on a professional three-axis stabilizer.

It promises up to 2.5 hours of shooting time.

As far as transmission, this Ronin is equipped with O3 Pro transmission technology and can output a 1080p/60fps, low-latency feed to remote monitors with a transmission range of up to nearly 20,000 feet.

And since there’s a good chance you’re controlling multiple cameras, operators and video fees on set, the system can handle multiple receivers with one transmitter to allow you to quickly switch feeds between multiple Ronin 4Ds.

As far as getting yor hands on it, DJI says the two models of the DJI Ronin 4D be available starting in December. Here’s what you get and for the price:

6K version (starts at $7,199): includes the Main Body, a Zenmuse X9-6K
Gimbal Camera, LiDAR Range Finder, High-Bright Main Monitor, Hand Grips, Top Handle, TB50
Intelligent Battery, and Carrying Case.

8K version (starts at $11,499): all of the above, plus it also features a more powerful Zenmuse X9-8K
Gimbal Camera and a PROSSD 1TB.

Upgrade accessories including the 4D Video Transmitter, High-Bright Remote Monitor, and DJI PROSSD 1TB must be purchased separately.

DJI still has two more products coming up in the coming weeks. Next up on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021 is a second launch in the series, followed by another set for Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. The Drone Girl has some predictions about what to expect, though it’s all speculation for now. Read what might be in the DJI product pipeline here.

What do you think of the DJI Ronin 4D? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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