Capturing the Beauty of Norway with Zenmuse X7

Ling Chen has visited Norway four times.

 He spent the longest night of the year atop the famed viewing platform in Tromsø.

The first time he witnessed a midnight sunrise was at the peak of the Reinebringen,

where he also once stood in awe as the polar lights danced in the cold sky.

Capturing Norway

with Zenmuse X7

* All aerial photos in this article were are all taken with Inspire 2 and Zenmuse X7.

Ling, an avid drone photographer, often visits this Scandinavian kingdom with a drone, filming the sublime expanses of land and sea. His latest trip lasted for two weeks, but with seven days of heavy rain and snow, he had just one week to shoot. Undeterred, he wasted none of his limited time to capture the majestic land of ice and snow. Through

From shooting to post-processing, do you work entirely independently?

Ling:  Yes. I perform every step of the process on my own.

What shooting equipment did you bring to Norway?

Ling: For this most recent trip, I brought the DJI Inspire 2 outfitted with a Zenmuse X7 for all my aerial and landscape photography. I also had the Sony A7R2 for timelapse footage, as well as the Fuji GFX50s, Nikon D810a, and RED Raven 4.5K for normal speed and slow-motion footage.

That doesn’t seem like a light load.

Ling: It wasn’t! The cameras in my backpack weighed 20kg. The Inspire 2 was another 15kg, which I brought in a transportation box. Add another 25kg in other equipment, and I carried a total of about 60kg with me!

Let’s talk about the first time you got to use the Zenmuse X7. What was your first impression?

Ling: I could tell the X7 was well-crafted as soon as I held it in hand. It was also impressive that DJI managed to make such a lightweight S35-compatible lens. The X7 camera body weighs nearly the same as the X5S, even considering the lenses. By and large, I felt the X7 was very light and portable.

As the newest DJI S35 camera, do you think the X7 has any difference with other DJI cameras, such as the X5S?

Ling: I mainly use Olympus lenses for the X5S camera. Lenses for the X7 are a relatively bigger and heavier, but deliver better image quality with clear, sharp shots. X7’s sensor is larger than that of X5S, letting it able to record more details, perform better in cases where a high ISO is needed, and leaves more room for post-processing, thanks to 14 stops of wide dynamic range.(Learn X7 camera review here)

*Image taken by the Zenmuse X7
Color correction before vs after

There are many lowlight shots — such as sunset and sunrise — in your video. Do you think the Zenmuse X7 has satisfied your needs, especially for dynamic range?

Ling: This time I went to Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands. The sunrise in Lofoten was gorgeous, and with its dynamic range, the Zenmuse X7 did a great job of preserving the colors and fine details of the scene. The wider dynamic range gave me coloring options I hadn’t been able to have before. In terms of image quality and details, I believe the X7 is at least a 30% improvement over the X5S.

* Image taken by the Zenmuse X7. Before and after color correction.

 What lenses did you use during shooting, and for what purpose?

Ling: I brought all of the four X7 lenses there, but used the 16mm and 50mm lenses most. The 24mm lens was mainly for portrait photography.

As a wide-angle lens, the 16mm was helpful in shooting Norway’s massive bridges. The large angle lets me capture an entire bridge with the snowy mountain and sunset in the background.

A medium telephoto lens, the 50mm was most suitable for capturing fine details. It made it possible to achieve more complex shots in the video, like people walking along a bridge at sunset.

You also brought a RED camera along. How did footage with this camera work out with X7 footage during post-processing?

Ling: Achieving similar image quality from different equipment is critical if you want to make a consistent final video. The colors shot with X7 were comparably brighter, while RED’s were more cinematic. The X7 can capture in 6K CinemaDNG and 5.2K Apple ProRes, which worked pretty well with the shots captured with RED Raven 4.5K. For me the Zenmuse X7 was able to deliver excellent image quality that could work with footage from other equipment, including the RED Raven, to make an aesthetically cohesive video.

* Image taken by the Zenmuse X7. Before and after color correction.

What is your approach to video post-processing?

Ling: I try to retain as many details as I can when I’m shooting, while avoiding over-exposure at bright areas and preserving details in dark areas. In terms of coloring, I don’t like using preset templates, and I don’t have a fixed coloring style. I just follow my heart.

Would you like to share any lessons you’ve learned flying and shooting in this part of the world?

Ling: First, always keep safety in mind. New visitors to Scandinavia will quickly learn how common it is for the roadways to be covered in snow. If you want to visit this area for aerial photography, make sure to pay attention to the roads when you are driving.

When flying a drone, I suggest you heat the batteries before you fly, both for flight safety and enough preparation for capturing the very moment, which can sometimes be so fleeting. The Inspire 2 has a new self-heating function, which only takes 3-4 min before taking off. With such low temperatures, batteries will run out much more quickly than in other regions. In this case, it helps to prepare more spare batteries. Of course, be careful when flying near mountains, since this is a common place to experience signal interference. Last but not least, get familiar with and follow all local laws and regulations. In Norway, drones are not allowed to fly less than 5km from airports, and they can only fly at altitudes under 120m.

Any idea on your next destination?

Ling: Africa, maybe. I’ve only been there a couple of times. However, the countries in Africa have many restrictions on flying drones, so I’ll need more time to prepare.


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