If you plan to take to the skies, then you will also want to take awesome photos and videos. That’s why a drone’s camera is considered its most important feature.

The Zenmuse X5S and X5R are powerful drone cameras that can capture excellent aerial footage. However, they have some key differences. We will shed light on these factors, so you know precisly which camera is best.

Compatibility

DJI has a lot of drones on the market. However, Zenmuse cameras are designed for the Inspire range only. You won’t be able to use them with a Mavic Pro, Phantom, or Spark. Just remember:

  • The Zenmuse X5S is only compatible with DJI’s Inspire 2 drone.
  • The Zenmuse X5R is only compatible with DJI’s Inspire 1 and Inspire 1 RAW drones.

Megapixels for Sharp Still-Shots

When you’re taking shots from the skies, it’s important to have a powerful camera. You might only get one chance to take an awesome photo, and you don’t want it to turn out grainy and unclear. That’s why it’s important to know a camera’s megapixels.

More megapixels cause photos to turn out sharper and clearer. Just think of each pixel as a small square of data. The more of these pixels you have crammed into a photo, the more information will be present, which will result in a higher quality image.

The Zenmuse X5S is a 20.8 megapixel camera while the Zenmuse X5R is 16 megapixels. While they are both powerful cameras, it is the Zenmuse X5S that can take better photos.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S

Video Resolution And Frame Rate

The Zenmuse X5R can shoot 4K video at 30fps. 4K is considered ultra-high definition meaning you’re going to get high-quality footage. However, the Zenmuse X5S takes things to the next level. It can shoot 4K at 60fps. Not only that, but it can also shoot 5.2K at 30fps.

5.2K is some of the highest quality video around and similar that used by professional filmmakers. However, not everyone will be able to utilize it. A lot of computer processing power is needed to play and edit 5.2K. It is also very data heavy, meaning you will require a lot of hard drive and SD card storage space.

Overall the Zenmuse X5S is most powerful when it comes to shooting video.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S

Lens Options

Both cameras have interchangeable lenses. Check out the different options in the table below

Lens typeMaximum ApertureCompatibility
Olympus 45mm Lens1:1.8X5S, X5R
Olympus EZ 14-42mm Lens1:3.5 / 1:5.6X5R
Olympus 25mm Lens1:1.8X5S, X5R
Olympus 17mm Digital Lens1:1.8X5S, X5R
Olympus 9-18mm Digital Lens1:4.0 / 1:5.6X5S
Olympus 12mm Digital Lens1:2.0X5S, X5R
DJI MFT 15mm Lens1:1.6X5S, X5R

Each lense’s focal range is shown by the number in millimeters. The greater this number, the greater the zoom. Lenses with lower focal ranges can’t zoom in as far; however, their photos will be wider. When selecting a focal length, it really comes down to the type of photo you’re trying to take, as well as the distance between camera and subject.

The maximum aperture refers to how much light a lens can draw in. The greater the number, the less the amount of light captured by the lens. This becomes an important factor to consider when shooting in low-light conditions.

Overall both cameras are compatible with a variety of lenses that cover the common focal ranges and maximum apertures, so no overall winner in this category.

Burst Mode

If you want to capture photos of a moving subject, then burst mode is very handy. It allows the camera to take a volley of photos in quick succession. Users can then sift through the results to find that perfect image. This is ideal when trying to record a moving vehicle, crashing waves, or wildlife.

The Zenmuse X5R can shoot up to seven frames per second when in burst mode. Basically, this means it can take up to seven photos a second. The Zenmuse X5S can shot 20 frames per second when in burst mode. This is significantly more and makes it easier to get the right shot, especially if a subject is moving fast.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S

Weight

The Zenmuse X5R brings the scales to 583 grams. Somewhat lighter is the Zenmuse X5S at 461 grams. This may not be a big difference. However, even small weight differences can affect a drone’s maximum flight time.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S

Price

Current Amazon prices put the Zenmuse X5S at $1,400 and the Zenmuse X5R at $2,500. These prices are for new, standalone cameras without a lens. To get a lens, you can either buy one separately for around $300-$400 or purchase a bundle deal with one included (costs around $500 more).

If you don’t already have an Inspire 1 or 2, then you may want to purchase a drone-camera bundle. An Inspire 1 RAW with a Zenmuse X5R can be had for around $4,000. An Inspire 2 with a Zenmuse X5S can be had for around $4,900. To see the most up-to-date prices we recommend checking Amazon yourself.

The Zenmuse X5S is the more affordable camera.

+1 for the Zenmuse X5S

Overall Score

The winner is pretty obvious here. The Zenmuse X5S wins in every category.

Zenmuse X5SZenmuse X5R
5 (Megapixels, video, burst mode, weight, price)0

You can see a side-by-side comparison below.

FeaturesZenmuse X5SZenmuse X5R
Video4K at 60 fps
5.2K at 30 fps
4K at 30fps
Megapixels20.816
Burst Mode20 frames per second7 frames per second
Weight461 grams583 grams
Price$1,400$2,500

Which is Best?

The Zenmuse X5S is clearly the superior camera. It can record higher quality video and take better photos. Don’t forget it also weighs less than the Zenmuse X5R, and if you look on Amazon, then you are likely to see that it costs less as well. So it’s pretty hard to go wrong.

Don’t forget that the Zenmuse X5S is not backward-compatible with the Inspire 1. You will need to have an Inspire 2 drone already or be planning to purchase one.