DJI Mavic 2 Review – Stuck in Customs

DJI Mavic 2 Review

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Starting at a reasonable price with the Mavic Mini, the Mavic range is a great way to have fun and experiment with your photography and video. For other camera/software recommendations, see My Gear and Tools here on the site.

Before we get started…

To give you a little taster of what can be done with a DJI quadcoper, here is a little video I put together…

Common Question 1: Which DJI Quad should I get? A Phantom, a Mavic, or an Inspire?

DJI makes three quadcopter types for the average user and in the past it was tough to choose between them. Not so now. I use the Mavic 2 Zoom 95% of the time, if not more. The only thing you’ll probably need to consider is whether you want the zoom functionality of the Mavic 2 Zoom or the larger sensor (similar to the Phantom 4 Pro) which you’ll find on the Mavic 2 Pro. There are benefits to having an Inspire such as the ability to change lenses but nowadays the Mavic range is just so flexible

  • Compact Camera: The DJI Mavic Air — It’s small, easy to carry, fast to launch, and takes great images and video.
  • DSLR: The Mavic 2 Zoom or Pro – Longer flight time, the ability to zoom (on the Zoom), improved Wi-Fi to fly further away with a strong signal (8km!), modes such as automated Hyperlapse and in the case of the Pro a much larger image sensor.
  • Pro Camera: The Inspire 2 — This is a more serious rig that is much bigger and more cumbersome but allows two people to control (one to fly and one to operate the camera) as well as upgraded video functions, interchangeable lenses, etc.

NOTE: If you have a limited budget then there is also the new $399 Mavic Mini. It’s super small but also quite limited in its range, flight time, maximum resolution, etc. It’s a pretty amazing bit of kit for the size but if you are seriously interested in quadcopters then the Mavic Air/Mavic 2 are the way to go.

Ad Break!

If you’re new to the drone world check out my tutorial which covers…

  • Lesson 1 – Introduction to Drones
  • Lesson 2 – Which Drone to Use
  • Lesson 3 – Our First Flight Together
  • Lesson 4 – Still Photos & Post-Processing
  • Lesson 5 – Capturing Videos and In-Depth Video Editing
  • Lesson 6 – Rules and Regulations
  • Bonus Lesson – Editing with Luminar from Skylum

Common Question 2: What’s the difference between the Mavic 2 Zoom and the Mavic 2 Pro?

Not much! They are the same size, same weight (give or take a couple of grams), have the same flight time of 31mins, use the same controller/blades, can hit 48mph (72kph), record 4K video at 100 Mbps and more. The camera is what defines them. The Pro has a 20mp sensor, the Zoom is 12mp. The Pro also has slightly more dynamic range and can record HDR video. That said, the zoom functionality of the Zoom gives it more reach and a great Super Resolution mode which takes multiple images and combines them for one large 48mp file. Unless you are a hardcore video creator who’ll use Log and HDR video I recommend the Mavic 2 Zoom as overall it has more flexibility.

Here is an example of a Super Resolution image. Be sure to click through to SmugMug to see the full size.

A look at the power of the quad

Here’s a compilation of video shots I’ve collected over the past year on my travels around New Zealand with the Mavic 2 Zoom. Enjoy!

What’s it like to fly?

It’s REALLY easy and fun! Here’s the key thing that new people are surprised by… if you just let go of the controls, it stays steady in the air. It’s also connected to at least a dozen GPS satellites that help keep it steady even if there is a crosswind. It also has omnidirectional object sensing which minimizes the chances of crashing it.

Let me back up a second. So, there are two pieces to the puzzle. There’s the quad and then there’s the DJI Go app that you run on your phone or tablet. I like running it on my iPad because the screen is so big and I like to see the live video. The app lets you do all kinds of stuff. Not only can you configure everything, but you can also use the app to take photos, record videos, and more.

Photo Modes Galore

I do love taking video, but maybe I get the biggest kick out of taking photos from unique angles! And there are as many options for this camera that people are used to with modern digital cameras. These include panoramas (4 types!), interval shooting and you can even do auto-bracketing if you wanna make an HDR photo. Mega cool! You can shoot in RAW mode too, which gives you a lot more flexibility for post-processing.

Other Awesome Features

This Mavic series of quads has So Many Features I could go on and on. The camera itself is 3-axis auto-stabilized, which makes for buttery smooth video. The controller is very fun too — it’s like an Xbox controller and you can do almost anything right from the controller rather than clicking around the screen on the app. For example, it’s really easy to use the controller to aim the camera straight down or any angle you wish. There’s even a built-in flight simulator so you can practice. Fun! 🙂 You can also use quick shots that automate some cool drone movements to create smooth cinematic shots. Oh, and it can be set to track a subject which is great for recording yourself without having the controller in the shot… or for chasing moving vehicles.

Bonus Video – Phantom 4 Pro Footage

This is all footage from the Phantom 4 Pro that I shot here in New Zealand — all locations are less than an hour from my studio here in Queenstown (a little Queenstown plug there!). It should give you an idea of what can be done with a similar sensor in the Mavic 2 Pro.

Don’t be like me, follow the rules 😀 – Beijing from Above

Here’s a video I made in Beijing on an early DJI Phantom. I actually got detained by the Chinese Police for this. If you click on that video, I have the whole story linked in the description!

Sample Photos

Here are some sample photos from my Mavic 2 Zoom!
Trey Ratcliff - - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact

Copyright Trey Ratcliff
Trey Ratcliff - contact
Copyright Trey Ratcliff
Trey Ratcliff - contact
Trey Ratcliff - contact
Trey Ratcliff - - Creative Commons Noncommercial contact

Did I Mention You Can Learn To Make Images and Videos Just Like These?