DJI finally entered the heavy-lift aerial cinematography game with the Matrice 600 (M600) hexacopter. While DJI usually leads the pack with innovation, the M600 has been a long time coming, and hopefully worth the wait. With a maximum payload of 6kg (13.22lbs), the M600 is geared towards the Film and TV industry and is capable of flying the RED Dragon, and more importantly, the Arri Alexa Mini, which has quickly become the standard cinema camera for the aerial cinematography industry. Flight times are inline with other leading heavy-lift copters at 16 mins with 6kg, though we all know DJI tends to exaggerate flight times, unless you hover inside a bubble.
The M600 frame design is similar to the spreading wings series. The booms fold to shrink the overall width dimensions from 1668mm down to 640mm, but still not as compact and portable in the travel configuration as the Freefly Alta 6, or even the Alta 8, the latter of which can lift nearly twice the payload. To keep the flight times high, the M600 runs six (6) 4500mAh or 5700mAh batteries with a customized battery management system and distribution board that allows all 6 batteries to be turned on with a single button. Having 6 batteries also gives you redundancy and keeps the aircraft in flight if one battery fails. Just like the Inspire, Phantom 4 & 3, the user is able to check real-time battery status through the DJI Go app.
The M600 also introduces the new A3 flight controller. In combination with the sine-wave driven ESCs, the A3’s self-adaptive flight systems automatically adjust flight parameters based on different payloads. In addition, the A3 can be upgraded to an A3 Pro with two additional GNSS and IMU units for triple redundancy, or, with D-RTK GNSS, which offers centimeter accuracy using dual antennas. The D-RTK GNSS’s dual antennas provide a more accurate heading reference than a compass sensor, and is able to withstand magnetic interference.
For remote control and video transmission, the M600 comes equipped with the DJI Lightbridge 2. The Lightbridge 2 offers high frame rates and HD streaming with a low 50ms latency with a range of 5km (3.1 miles), however, anyone who has flown a Lightbridge in the real world knows that you're pushing it at 1 mile, unless again, you're flying inside a 3.1 mile interference and obstacle free bubble. The Lightbridge 2 supports video output at up to 1080p/60fps or at what DJI calls a broadcast standard output of 720p/59.94fps and 1080i/50fps. Along with the Lightbridge 2, the M600 also supports the DJI Go app which gives you live HD, battery status, redundancy status, and a ton of control from the ground including camera control with certain setups.
Along with the new professional hexacopter, DJI announced the new Ronin-MX, specifically designed for the M600 for flying a wide range of cinema cameras including the Alexa Mini and RED Dragon. The M600 also supports the entire line of Zenmuse gimbals and cameras, including the Zenmuse X5R and XT. All and all, the M600 is clearly a major contender in the heavy-lift space, especially for the price, but only time, and testing will tell if its one of the top contenders. The M600 is available for order now, and currently showing availability within 7-10 days after payment, with a retail price of $4599. The Ronin-MX is also available now, sort of. DJI’s site is showing availability at 30-40 days after payment, which pretty much puts the whole M600’s availability at 30-40 days, considering, the only reason you would buy an M600 is to fly the Ronin-MX. The Ronin-MX retails for $1599.