A lot of people have been asking to see raw footage from DJI’s S800 hexacopter. So we went flying and shooting yesterday and we were able to capture some pretty nice imagery.


My camera setup is different then most S800 users. I’m using the Panasonic GH2 mirrorless DSLR. The number one thing that’s a huge drawback about these cameras or even the Sony NEX-7 is the low bitrate. Both of these cameras are capped at 24Mbps while using the AVCHD codec. This is going to be next to awful when shooting aerial footage since in most cases, there’s going to be so much movement and color changes in your shots, the video bandwidth is going to be used up and the image is going to start getting pixelated real fast. So, what’s the solution? Hack the camera of course! I updated the firmware on my GH2 and now instead of 24 Mbps, I’m getting close to 90 Mbps. This really helps perserve the maximum detail in your imagery when shooting at this high bitrate.

Another difference about my setup is I’m using the 20mm F1.7 pancake lens, instead of the typical 14mm. I decide on this lens for several seasons. First, the 14mm lens is not quite as sharp as the 20mm. Second, the 14mm has vignetting on the edges (the edges darken slightly) of the frame due to it’s wide angle. Thirdly, 14mm is so wide, and does not capture a cinematic look at all. Now the argument may be, “but you’re shooting aerial… don’t you want the widest look so you can capture more and give the illusion of a massive image?” My goal is to have this “wide look” about 10% of the time when I shoot with my hexacopter. The other 90% I like to shoot cinematically,… it’s what a filmmaker should want to do. Besides, if you want a wide shot, just fly further away.

The main drawback to having a 20mm lens vs. the 14mm is because the camera is shooting a tighter image, it will be easier to see some minor bumps in the footage from the hexacopter’s movement. However, I’ve been really impressed with the overall test footage so far. Since there’s not much shake at all, you can always stabilize the footage in post to perfect the shot.


I’m using the Zenmuse Z15 gimbal with this rig, and I’ve been impressed with it so far. It does a great job keeping the footage stable at all times. The only downside at the moment is it can only be customized to hold the GH2 or the Sony NEX-7. I will be wanting to upgrade to a larger gimbal so I can fly with the 5D Mark III eventually. The S800 can lift a 12 lbs. payload, so it won’t have any issues lifting the 5D Mark III.


If you have any questions, let me know.


Raw Footage from DJI S800 Hexacopter



  • opu

    Hi Mike, I’m planning to buy S800EVO to fly my DSLR camera? does it fly DSLR camera safe and easy? if then so why people suggest Octocopter? Canon 6D or Mark3… please suggest me… any DIY cost effective gimbal suggestion? i’m planning to use a regular DSLR gimbal that find in ebay… with alexmos controller… Thanks, Opu

  • Bruce

    Hi Mike,
    Very interested to see what you’re doing. We are based in the UK and are waiting to buy a S800 rig (or the upgraded version when available) which we plan to use with the Blackmagic pocket cinema camera. If we can get one, I would prefer to get the Z15G mount. At the moment, though neither new version of S800 or BMPCC are available and we are hoping that shipping dates don’t slip too much.

    Look forward to seeing what you do with the BMPCC.

  • Howard Maryon-Davis

    Hi Mike, Very nice footage from the S800 – was that with the DH2? I am about to buy the same rig, but am a bit worried about the Zenmuse – its a great gimbal for sure, but the choice of camera is too restrictive – I am thinking of using a BlackMagic camera with my micro 4/3 prime lenses – like you I dont want or need a fisheye or very wide angle – 35mm wide is fine. I wonder if DJI, or someone else wil offer adapter plates to hook up other cameras to the Zenmuse – I also need to do infrared farm surveys, so adaptability is very important. Regards, Howard (Wiltshire, England)

    • Mike

      That footage was with the GH2, yes. I actually sell DJI products and also sell the S800 and the EVO once it releases. We’re working on some things right now to make the Black Magic Pocket compatible with the Z15.

      The Zenmuse is a great gimbal. There are some nice improvements we are making to our rig to make footage super smooth. We’ll be posting some new footage soon.

      We are also a dealer for the Black Magic Pocket, so let me know when you’re ready to order your rig.

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