Meet the Zenmuse Z3, the drone-maker's first integrated aerial zoom camera optimised for still photography - with up to 7x zoom

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In an apparent direct answer to one of aerial photography’s shortcomings, DJI have today introduced the latest in their range, the Zenmuse Z3, capable of zooming up to 7x, which the drone-maker seems to have aimed at the professional and industrial market, from search-and-rescue to inspection. Until this point, drone pilots have been fairly restricted when it comes to zooming in on their subjects from the sky, largely reduced to just flying closer to it.

Optimised for still photography, the Zenmuse Z3 weighs in at 262g and gets its 7x zoom thanks to a 3.5x optical zoom paired with a 2x digital zoom – which gives it an effective zoom range of 22-77mm at f/2.8 and f/5.2 respectively. It also features the same 1/2.3in Sony sensor found in DJI’s Inspire 1 and Phantom 4, shooting still images at 12MP with Adobe DNG Raw support for editing ease. And as you might expect, designed for stills though it may be, it does shoot 4K video at up to 30fps.

Of course, when you’re zoomed in, any slight movement in the drone will be hugely magnified so interested users will be glad to hear DJI have added a custom-designed reaction wheel for more yaw control. This is  designed to work together with the normal yaw motor as an extra level of stability, using their existing gimbal technology.

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The Z3 has been confirmed to fit the Inspire 1, Matrice 100 and Matrice 600 drone models, and will use their dedicated HD video downlink, Lightbridge, to provide 5km of transmission range. Users can expect up to 19 minutes of flight with the Inspire 1, 30 minutes on the M100 and 39 minutes on the M600. It’ll also function fully with the DJI GO app, including a live feed from the camera and the ability to change camera settings, swipe to zoom in and out, capture photos or video and to activate intelligent flight modes.

Price-wise, DJI are due to start rolling out the Z3 soon, at $1,000.

Check back with us soon for more info on the DJI Zenmuse Z3, or visit our drones news portal for all the latest announcements.