I spent a day with the DJI Ronin 4D – and it took my filmmaking to the next level

Asia's Tech News Daily

Over the past 15 years, DJI has become rather good at helping filmmakers shoot beautifully steady video. It’s the world’s biggest drone brand, and also makes useful little cameras like the DJI Pocket 2. But what it hasn’t yet done is take on the likes of Canon or Sony in ground-based professional cameras. You saw it coming though, didn’t you? The Ronin 4D is where this changes.

The Ronin 4D is mid-range professional cinema camera, with an interchangeable lens system and 4-axis stabilization, that has the oft-used ‘game-changer’ label written all over it. Given that it’s been co-developed with some of the world’s leading cinematographers, it looks and sounds like something that filmmakers should be excited about. As a writer and director, that includes me.

Luckily, I was recently given the chance to take the 6K version of DJI’s new full-frame toy for a spin. And after a day’s filming, I’m convinced it’s going to be big deal for filmmakers and low-budget productions. Here’s why it’s the Hollywood Steadicam for (nearly) everyone.

  • These are the best video cameras you can buy right now

Swanning around

It’s important to say this upfront; out of the box, there is nothing like the DJI Ronin 4D. Nothing. It’s squarish body is somewhat comparable to cameras like a RED or an Arri Alexa, but it’s the floating arm that holds the sensor and bounces up and down in front that gives it a unique, black swan-like appearance. It really is something to behold.

As a writer, director and only part-time camera-op, I instantly knew that to get the most out of this thing, I was going to have to enlist the help of DOP (Director of Photography) extraordinaire, Ciaran O’Brien (look him up, he’s a genius). Like any cinematographer, Ciaran is always keen to get his hands on new tech and jumped at the chance. A man of few (but very considered words), he “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” the first time he saw the Ronin 4D, which goes some way to tell you just how different this thing is.

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Image 2 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Image 3 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

For operators who spend their days using heavy, cumbersome stabilizing equipment, this is a total no-brainer; it could potentially save a lot of back pain in the film industry.

Now, don’t get me wrong, part of me thinks the design of the 4D is going to split opinion. Some are going to love its new take on camera design and the implementation of the stabilization tech. Others are simply not going to entertain it. They’ll see it as a gimmick and will be happy to stick with their Canons, REDs and Arris.

The ergonomics are initially unusual, but once you use the thing for more than five minutes, they make total sense. This is a camera that’s primarily designed to be held. You can bolt two multi-functional ‘grips’ onto either side of the body and position it in front of you. You operate it at chest or midriff height, as opposed to on the shoulder, like almost every other camera in this category. For operators that spend their days using heavy, cumbersome stabilizing equipment, this seems like a total no-brainer; it could potentially save a lot of back pain in the film industry.

The grips that attach to the body are well designed and feel good in the hand. There are various buttons and controls that allow you to operate the key settings at your fingertips. One grip comes with a wheel that you operate with your thumb. It’s beautifully designed and weighted and is great for manually controlling focus, but can also be customized.

  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro release date, price, rumors and what we want to see

Four-dimensional fun

The headline feature of the Ronin 4D is exactly what the ‘4D’ refers to, and that’s the stabilization of the Z-axis. Or more specifically, what DJI refers to as “the industry’s first active-vertical 4-axis stabilization system”.

What does that mean? On a typical handheld DJI stabilizer (other brands are available), the system counter-balances the camera’s pan, tilt and roll movements with electronically-controlled motors. But something that isn’t properly accounted for in this set-up is the up-and-down motion that’s created by the operator when they walk, jog or run.

While three-axis stabilizers give you footage that is far smoother than simply holding a camera in your hands, the up-down motion of the operator still has an effect. By stabilizing this motion with some downward-facing sensors that modulate the floating arm holding the camera, the DJI Ronin 4D gives you an extra level of stabilization that is somewhat incredible. You end up with something that is on a par with a fully-fledged Steadicam system – the Hollywood professional’s go-to choice of camera stabilizing equipment.

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Image 2 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Image 3 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

When I watched Ciaran O’Brien use it for the first time, I was astounded at the footage that we watched back. But he’s being doing stuff like this for a long time and knows how to move with a stabilized camera; and this is an important point.

The Ronin 4D isn’t something that anyone can pick up and use to create a Michael Bay-esque action sequence (you should always focus on story and character in the first place, anyway). There’s still an element of know-how and skill to get the most out of it. Take focusing, for example; focusing with a camera that’s moving at pace is an art form in itself, and it’s something that, on any professional shoot, would be taken to a dedicated person in the camera department.

In my hands, the footage wasn’t nearly as good – and I’ve been using cameras for nearly 15 years now. Ciaran was very polite, but I knew that inside, he’s never going to ask me to film anything for him. What I will say, though, is that the 4D still upped my game in terms of the footage I was able to get, and I throughly enjoyed the operating experience.

Another big Ronin 4D feature is the LiDAR autofocus, which is essentially a laser-guided focus tracking system. Our tests found it to be good, but not perfect.

It did seem like a step forward in terms of the various autofocusing systems that are out there, and it’s almost certainly something that you’re going to rely on if you’re operating without a dedicated focus-puller. Especially if your manual focusing skills are as average as mine. But we’re still not in a world where professional DOP’s are going to trust an electronic system for focus. The reason being, any drop in focus on a big production could cost you a lot of money and annoy a lot of the cast and crew.

The final thing worth mentioning is the Ronin 4D’s wireless monitoring system, which will come at an additional cost. It’s brilliant. It’s simple to set up and it just works. A similar wireless setup on a camera system like this usually requires third-party accessories and they can be a little temperamental and stubborn at times. The DJI system was flawless – and brilliantly, you can control the camera remotely with the monitor.

(Image credit: Future)

The aforementioned grips can be attached to the side of the monitor, giving another member of the camera team control over basically all of the major camera settings. This is where your focus puller will thank you, as they sit down (up to 20,000 feet away, if needed) and effortlessly pull focus without having to run around next to you.

Other points to highlight are all to be expected at this level. The Dual ISO, 14 stops of dynamic range, and built-in ND filters are always welcome – some comparable systems have this, some don’t. There’s no meaningful sound inputs on the camera body itself (it has a built-in mic, but this will only ever be useful for reference audio). However, you can add XLR connections with an expansion plate. Something that self-shooters will have to do.

A leap forward

So the DJI Ronin 4D is a unique camera, but how good is its image quality? This is where DJI has taken another big leap forward.

Over the years I’ve owned a few bits of DJI kit that I’ve always enjoyed using, but have always questioned the image quality of the ones with a built-in camera or lens. You’ve typically been hamstrung by small sensors and video codecs that leave you with footage that is found wanting.

(Image credit: Future)

Here, things are different. There’s the option of a 6K or 8K full-frame sensor. My preference is the 6K one for a few reasons; better low light performance, smaller, more manageable file sizes, and cost.

The mount lets you attach some of your preferred lenses of choice (it’s compatible with ones for DJI’s DL Mount, Leica’s M Mount and Sony’s E-Mount), and there’s the ability to record in Apple’s ProRes codec internally, including ProRes RAW. This gives filmmakers far more scope for image manipulation in post-production than other DJI cameras.

What was once only available to productions with five, six or seven-figure budgets, is now accessible to budding filmmakers and low-budget productions.

Combine all of these elements and you’ve got a recipe for some potentially exceptional video quality, albeit at the cost of massive amounts of disk space and the need for a fair amount of processing power. There aren’t many editing machines out there that can handle multiple streams of 8K ProRes. On the storage front, to give you an idea, a minute of ProRes HQ video in 8K is going to require about 25GB-30GB of disk space.

Expensive bargain

There’s no doubt about it – the DJI Ronin 4D is an exciting entry into the world of cinema cameras. It’s bold, different and produces imagery that no other camera in this category can, or certainly not without additional third-party equipment.

Like the camera, the cost is also a welcome surprise. The 6K version is very aggressively priced at $7,199 / £5,999 / AU$10,699. When we first got our hands on the Ronin 4D, I mentioned that I’d be surprised if it was much under £10k – so the idea of paying nearly half that makes it a very, very tempting proposition.

The 8K version is naturally a bit pricier at $11,499 / £9,499 / AU$16,399 – it might not sound like a bargain, but this still represents good value for money in my eyes. Though I’d be happy to bin the extra resolution and use the money saved to buy some add-ons like the XLR expansion plate, a few more batteries and some memory cards.

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Image 2 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Image 3 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

DJI has produced something that will make grab attention and challenge the likes of Sony and Canon, who currently own the entry-level cinema camera marketplace. What was once only available to productions with five, six or seven-figure budgets, is now accessible to budding filmmakers and low-budget productions.

The 4D’s implementation of Z-axis stabilization technology, as well as the imagery, ergonomics and user experience is genuinely brilliant. It makes you rethink what’s possible in terms of the shots that you can achieve, and I can’t wait to see what young, hungry and more creative people than me do with it.

  • These are the best DJI drones you can buy right now
Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

NFT in Hong Kong: Bored Ape Yacht Club owners seek merchandise deals, art exhibitions for cartoon primates

When 27-year-old Raye Chung from Hong Kong bought herself a non-fungible token (NFT) from the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) project in July, she had little inkling that this portrait ... Read more »

How to watch Haney vs Diaz Jr and live stream boxing free and from anywhere

WBC lightweight champion of the world Devin Haney (26-0) is undefeated but also unloved despite his obvious talents, his detractors adamant that he’s never faced a genuine test. But there’s ... Read more »

3 Ways to Eliminate Data Biases at Your Company

AI and machine learning are becoming synonymous with business success. Everywhere you look, companies are utilizing data to reach new heights. In spite of its benefits, though, utilizing data analysis ... Read more »

Strictly first as Rose and Giovanni perform ‘heart-stopping' dive lift

Strictly viewers were left stunned by Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice’s “heart-stopping” dive lift. In Saturday’s episode (4 December), the EastEnders star performed an American smooth alongside her professional partner ... Read more »

Review: The Lectric XP 2.0 fat-tire folding ebike is a huge bargain

While I personally tend to gravitate toward lighter ebikes with stealthy motor systems, these tend to have weaker motors and drive up the price. Sometimes you just want a powerful ... Read more »

'I did it for my kids': Woman loses over 8 st in 10 months

Claire Harris is proud of her impressive revenge body since shedding 8st 10lbs after her husband left her. (Caters) A woman has revealed her pride at her impressive weight loss, ... Read more »

Lenovo may have solved the WFH problem for good

Working from home can be tedious especially in a cramped apartment which is why Lenovo has announced the launch of a new initiative that will allow employees to work from ... Read more »

Saudi Arabia Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes dramatic pole as Max Verstappen crashes out at final corner

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images) Lewis Hamilton will start the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on pole after a dramatic qualifying session in Jeddah. The Mercedes driver went fastest on his final ... Read more »

‘Just sitting there dead': study finds mass tree losses in NSW after severe drought

The drought and heatwaves that seared eastern Australia in the lead-up to the 2019-20 black summer bushfires killed as much as 60% of the trees in some areas that escaped ... Read more »

NHS could roll out all-in-one test for Covid, flu and RSV to ease winter pressures

test – NARONG SANGNAK/Shutterstock The UK is in talks to roll out an all-in-one test that can detect Covid, flu and RSV to help alleviate winter pressures facing the NHS. ... Read more »

Best white PC cases 2021: top chassis for your gaming computer

Choosing the best white PC case over the usual black is really a matter of preference. However, while it all boils down to taste, there are a few benefits to ... Read more »

‘Mr Loophole' calls for mobile phone ban at the wheel, despite defending clients for same offence

Nick Freeman poses for a photo in front of his Ferrari Portofino – Jon Super Motorists should be banned from using hands-free phones at the wheel, according to the lawyer ... Read more »

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson commissioned data on masks but didn't release it after it showed they were effective: report

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the State address in Jefferson City in January 2021.AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office asked the state health department ... Read more »

Lewis Hamilton to face no further action for yellow flag incident at Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

(AFP via Getty Images) Lewis Hamilton will face no further action after he was cleared of failing to ignore double yellow flags during practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. ... Read more »

Pestering women in the street to be outlawed

A new offence of public sexual harassment seems more likely, with the Law Commission likely to recommend it – Ian West/PA Wire Pestering women in the street or in pubs ... Read more »

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE leaks again, this time in its official cases

It’s been a busy week for those trying to keep tabs on the various leaks and rumors around the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, and we’ve got some more imagery to ... Read more »

Covid will pose threat to UK for next five years, experts warn

Coronavirus could be a serious issue for years to come (AFP via Getty Images) Covid will be a threat to the UK for at least the next five years, scientific ... Read more »

Shop Sur La Table's holiday sale and snag a top-rated Dutch oven for 74% off

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you’re planning on cooking for all your gatherings this holiday ... Read more »

How space is being used to track South Africa's critically endangered ecosystem

Conservationists in South Africa have developed a new app that will help them to monitor South Africa’s unique renosterveld landscapes using satellite images to detect when farmers are illegally encroaching ... Read more »

Baby whose 'body is turning to stone' in race against time to fund miracle cure

Lexi Robins who suffers from super-rare condition Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP). (SWNS) A couple are facing a desperate “race against time” to fund a miracle cure for their baby girl ... Read more »

New tools on Google for finding a doctor: Talking Tech podcast

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current ... Read more »

Sony PlayStation 5, PlayStation 5 Digital Edition pre-orders go live on December 6 at 12 noon

Looking to buy a PS5 in India, then you just might be in luck. The Sony PlayStation 5 will be back on shelves in India on December 6 at 12:00 ... Read more »

Where have the non-franchise blockbusters gone? To Netflix and Amazon, of course

It’s become fashionable of late for lauded A-list directors to express their dislike for superhero movies. The most profile was Ridley Scott, who said, among other things, that “their scripts ... Read more »

Buy now, pay later is a disaster waiting to happen this Christmas

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) is growing increasingly popular among UK shoppers, but many are oblivious to the dangers of the new payment practice, a report from Barclays suggests. The ... Read more »

Is Nvidia GeForce Now RTX 3080 really the next generation of cloud gaming?

For over a year now, trying to get hold of a new graphics card has been a bit of a nightmare, thanks to the combination of a global pandemic and ... Read more »

Bomb squad called to ER after a patient turned up with a WWII artillery shell lodged in his rectum, police say

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester, England.Google A man presented at an emergency room in Gloucester, England, with a “munition in his rectum,” police say. Doctors removed the World War II ... Read more »

Wolves vs Liverpool live stream: how to watch Premier League from anywhere

Back in spitting distance of league leaders Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds head to Molineux this afternoon as they look to add to their run of three consecutive wins. Read on ... Read more »

Year in review: What the latest tech says about 2021 – and what it may tell us about 2022

New form factors, gadgets with a focus on family and more tech aimed to get our noses out of our smartphones – while still capturing life’s memorable moments. These are ... Read more »

The Huawei Mate V could arrive with a foldable heat pipe

There hasn’t exactly been a flood of leaks around the Huawei Mate V – supposedly a clamshell foldable that’s on the verge of launching – but we’ve heard some rumors ... Read more »

The Google Pixel Watch will be exactly what Wear OS needs

According to people familiar with the matter, Google is bringing out a Pixel Watch next year – a flagship device showing off Wear OS in the same way that the ... Read more »

From NFTs to Apple and the metaverse: Here's what you can expect in 2022

Just when we thought it was safe to get back into the real world, new COVID variants emerge to brush us back – continuing to transform all aspects of our ... Read more »

The Tech Weekender: Top news in the world of technology this week

Earlier this week, Twitter co-founder and chief executive officer Jack Dorsey stepped down from his position. Dorsey founded Twitter nearly 15 years ago on March 21, 2006. Dorsey said in ... Read more »

Nvidia RTX 2060 12GB won't have Founders Edition, sparking price concerns

Nvidia’s refresh of the RTX 2060 with 12GB of RAM (and pepped-up specs elsewhere) won’t have a Founders Edition, after a rather confusing apparent reversal of course when Team Green ... Read more »

More users can now install Android TV apps through their smartphone

Google has started rolling out functionality that enables users to install apps on their Android-enabled smart TVs through their phones.Now, users can finally install an app on their Android TV ... Read more »

6G will see convergence of terrestrial and satellite communication networks: DoT Secretary

The 6G broadband technology will ring in convergence of the currently used terrestrial and satellite communication networks for the first time and also change the way people interact with machines ... Read more »

West Ham vs Chelsea live stream: how to watch Premier League from anywhere

It’s east versus west as Thomas Tuchel’s Blues make the short trip to Stratford looking to maintain their place at the top of the table. Read on to find out ... Read more »

Black holes: what we think we know, we don't

It took , but . Schwarzschild’s solution describes the gravity of an isolated, spherical and unchanging object — the enigmatic black hole — but it was not understood for many ... Read more »

5G spectrum sale, network rollouts in Q2 next year: Ashwini Vaishnaw

Communications and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Thursday said that by the second quarter of next year, the auction process of next generation or 5G airwaves and network rollouts would start ... Read more »

WhatsApp web users get new stickers feature with beta update

Last month, WhatsApp rolled out a feature for the web users that allows them to create stickers from photos. As per a report by WABetaInfo, the platform is now releasing ... Read more »

More Samsung Galaxy A series smartphones to reportedly launch next year

South Korean tech giant Samsung is reportedly planning to launch more water-resistant Galaxy A series mid-range smartphones in 2022.The company has launched over half a dozen Galaxy A series smartphones ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic