Review: Flying High with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone

It never ceases to amaze me how far drone technology has come on in recent years. I started looking into the technology back in 2008 when it was just a basic brain and you had to strap on your own lightweight camera. The biggest issues back then were camera vibrations, stabilization and seemingly needing years of RC experience to just fly the thing. My, how things have changed. Now you have units like the DJI Mavic Pro which is a delight to fly and now also features a 20MP 1″-type sensor with a Hasselblad branded camera and 28mm equivalent lens utilizing an F2.8-F11 aperture.

Design

Having a camera designed with Hasselblad means that you get Natural Color Solution (HNCS) technology, a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile and 4K 10-bit HDR which uses hybrid log gamma (HLG). Basically meaning it can be used on HDR displays. The Mavic 2 Pro is almost identical to the Mavic 2 Zoom in design, but the 2 Pro has a better camera module, with the 2 Zoom having a 2x optical, 4x digital zoom lens.

The 2 Pro folds down into a nice, compact design and, although you wouldn’t just slip it into your pocket, it’s small enough to be comfortable to travel with. It even has 8GB of internal storage, which is especially handy if you only want to shoot short clips.

The 2 Pro also utilizes its own ActiveTrack 2.0 subject tracking system which is an addition to its own avoidance system, saving the drone from flying into any obstacles. Behind the scenes, the unit cleverly uses the main lens and front dual vision cameras to create a 3D map in front of the drone to predict its path three seconds ahead of time. This feature can apparently even track a subject, even if it goes out of view.

When flying, seeing what the drone sees in high quality is a must. The OcuSync video transmission system has been updated to version 2, which means it operates on 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz with auto-switching and will be more resistant to outside interference. The two frequencies can also be independently used to upload and download. The system can work over an 8km (5 mile) distance and send 1080p video. Footage can be sent immediately to a mobile device for instant sharing. One nice addition is an auxiliary light which is triggered in low light situations to help with safe landings.

Image Quality

Video is going to be the main application with this drone and you do get some nice options. UHD 4K 30p(3840 x 2160), 2.7K 60p and HD 120p. Codecs available are H.264 or H.265 with 100Mbps. This is not as good as 4K/60p which is available on the Phantom 4 Pro Advanced and cinema DCI 4K on the Phantom 4 Pro, Advanced, and Mavic Pro. Maybe this could be overlooked with the better sensor and 4K 10bit HDR support.

It’s one thing to have inherent great video quality, but you still need to able to capture it and fly the drone in the first place. HyperLapse Mode includes four different ways for flying the Mavic 2 Pro to capture the best quality movement. Circle mode has the drone fly in a circle with the subject in the middle. Course Lock flying moves the drone in a straight line with a lock on your subject. Waypoint can use GPS coordinates if you want to get a bit more advanced, and Free mode is completely manual for those who are the most advanced at flying the drone. The drone is also compatible with the DJI goggle series. For the majority of cases, the standard modes will suit most purposes. Footage can then be shared to social media or saved as JPEG and raw files.

DJI’s FlightAutonomy system is updated on this model. It utilizes 10 sensors to detect obstacles and the PAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) allows continual flight. All this adds up to better, more stable final footage. Image quality is the main reason why you would upgrade to this unit.

The stability of the final footage I still find amazing, with the 2 Pro being as rock solid as the previous Mavic Pro.

Performance

The 2 Pro is still compact in design but weighs more than the original(734g/1.6lb) at 907g/2lb. The new design, although heavier, is stated to be more streamlined with less drag and has a flight time of 31 minutes, enough for most applications. In Sports mode the drone can fly up to 44 mph and does this more quietly than the previous unit. The noise output of the original unit was a negative, so reduced noise levels should mean a less intrusive drone.

With all the stability controls and a visual interface, it doesn’t take long to master simple maneuvers and get some rock steady footage. Practice makes perfect with any drone, but with the help of all the stability controls, you can start to get quality footage straight away without having to apply for a pilot’s licence.

How Does It Compare?

With all these features, the main comparisons are mostly with the rest of the DJI line as they have managed to fit units into most applications. In many ways, the comparisons just comes down to price and if you need the additional features and quality. The original Mavic Pro cost $999, the new unit is $1499. If you still want a 1-inch type sensor and not bothered with fold down features you could go for the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 costing $1449 or the Phantom 4 Advanced at $1199.

Mavic 2 ProMavic ProPhantom 4 Pro V2.0
Sensor20mp 1-inch type sensor12.35MP 1/2.3” (CMOS)20MP 1-inch type sensor
Video10-bit HDR Video4k4K 60fps
Flight Time31 mins27 mins30 mins
Range8km7km7km
Weight903g734g1375 g
Price$1499$999$1449

You are paying a lot more for an upgraded unit over the original, but the upgraded functionality and image quality for those who use drones on a regular basis is definitely worth the outlay. The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the same amount of money, but the convenience of foldability of the Mavic 2 definitely gives it the edge. The unit is definitely worth the upgrade as a better quality imaging tool and worthy drone to buy this year.

Like any drone, you will end up needing more accessories and batteries which you can get in DJI’s Fly More kit. This adds two batteries, a multi-battery charger, car charger, battery to power bank adapter, extra props (which you will need in the long run) and a nice carry case. That said, if you count in image quality and features the Pro 2 is the best of the consumer line in a rock-solid package.

 

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