The Mavic 2 is an improvement on the earlier DJI Mavic drone that came out in August 2018. The new launch was a double feature, with the option of the Mavic 2 Zoom or the Mavic 2 Pro, the only difference being the camera quality. Even though the Mavic 2 is now over two years old, it is still one of the strongest options available in the consumer drone category.
The impressive flight features, relatively long battery life and controller range add up to a great all-around drone for users of all kinds. Add in the Hasselblad sensor on the Mavic 2 Pro, and in our opinion you’ve got the best drone available for under $2000.
One of the major selling points of the Mavic 2 is its compact, foldable design, which makes it much smaller, lighter and more transportable than the DJI Phantom range of drones, its nearest competitor. The Mavic 2 Pro is easily the most portable drone with a 1” sensor on the market, with the ability to nearly halve its size. Stowing for transport is easily done by rotating the front arms out and twisting up the rear arms to slot into place.
Because of the low profile and relatively short landing gear of the Mavic 2, the gimbal and camera have sufficient clearance from the ground when on a level surface. If you’re planning to take off or land in wet grass however, a landing pad is a good idea to protect your camera.
Because of the foldable design and compact, lightweight body, the Mavic 2 is a great drone for taking on trips, whether it be in the car or on a plane. Propellers don’t even need to detach for transport, but also fold in to fit in an incredibly small profile. The star of the show, the camera sensor which is located on the front bottom of the drone, comes with a protective cover that easily and securely snaps into place for complete protection from scratches and moisture.
Lightweight & Fast
The Mavic 2 Pro weighs in at 907g which is slightly heavier than its predecessor. However a bigger battery means it actually has an overall improved flight time of up to 31 minutes. The lightweight feature adds to its appeal as a travel friendly drone, while not compromising on flight stability or speed. The intelligent flight features provide for a remarkably smooth flight experience, and with its bigger batteries, the Mavic 2 Pro can reach a top speed of 45 mph in sport mode.
For avid travellers and photographers, a drone with a little bit of rigor is a must, and the Mavic 2 is fairly strong here as well. While it does not have much water resistance (so don’t try to fly it in the rain!), it is able to handle relative extremes of temperature, both hot and cold, and can handle altitudes of up to 6000 m, so you could take it on your next trip to the mountains. The body of the drone seems to be built with high quality materials that will last, and may even survive a few crashes, depending of course on how fast you’re going and where you land.
The Mavic 2 Pro comes with 8GB of internal high-speed flash storage, which can be a real convenience, if you happen to forget to bring along your SD card. But transferring the images can be a bit of a hassle, as you need to connect the Mavic 2 directly to your laptop, and then power up the drone in order to access the files. Better to use a supported SD card, and keep in mind that a higher end Speed Grade 3 rating microSD card is required to handle the 100Mbps data rate of the video recording.
The Mavic 2 definitely qualifies as an easy-to-fly drone, even for relative beginners. The intelligent flight features make for easy take-off and landing, smooth flight and collision avoidance.
Starting up is a simple button on the top of the drone (on the installed battery actually). The controller is switched on with a press, and then press and hold sequence to power up. Before beginning, don’t forget to install the DJI GO 4 app on your smartphone to access flight features, and connect your smartphone to the controller. When your smartphone is connected and the controller is turned on, it automatically opens the DJI GO 4 app, which makes getting started that much faster and smoother.
The GPS module in the Mavic 2 is absolutely essential in helping to achieve smooth flight. By locking on to 7 or more satellite signals, the drone can locate itself in space. This allows it to have a stable hover and not get blown out of position by breezes. The Mavic 2 Pro is compatible with both GPS and GLONASS system satellite signals for even greater precision and position accuracy.
Return to Home
GPS is also responsible for powering the return to home function, as the drone is able to “remember” and return to its take-off position. This is a life saver if you haven’t been paying attention to the battery levels, as the drone will automatically take itself back to where it started rather than crashing. The return to home button is also an easy way to call it quits when you’re done, rather than flying the drone back to where you are yourself. A cheater move for beginners, but convenient nonetheless.
The Omnidirectional Sensing System, powered by sensors on all sides of the Mavic 2 do an excellent job of making this an almost crash proof drone. The Mavic 2 will not only stop and hover in place if it perceives an obstacle, it will try to navigate around the obstacle to stay on course, and it does this actually pretty well. You can’t rely on obstacle avoidance completely however, as the drone can get itself stuck in tight places that it can’t find its own way out of. Pilot control is still required.
The Mavic 2 offers three main flying modes, which can either be accessed from within the app or a switch on the side of the controller. The standard flight mode is called Positioning Mode (P), and offers a medium level of control, speed, and obstacle sensing. For better photography try the Tripod Mode (T), which slows the drone. This makes it less responsive while allowing for smoother video. In order to reach top speeds, engage Sports Mode (S), which makes the Mavic most responsive (while almost completely pausing obstacle sensing features). If the Mavic 2 is going to crash, it is mostly to happen in Sports Mode.
The controller for the Mavic 2 Pro can easily stay connected to a drone up to 5 miles away (but be sure for safety’s sake to always keep your drone in view!), with good image transmission quality, even at that distance.
The original Mavic had a 3-axis stabilization system for its gimbal, which the Mavic 2 does as well, but with a number of improvements. One huge improvement is in the gimbal range, made possible by the symmetrical design, and a dual mount point design to help eliminate camera shake. Especially when professional quality photo and video is the goal, this is a great improvement. Below you can see a few of the specs of the Mavic 2 Pro camera gimbal:
- Tilt: -135 to 45 degrees
- Pan: -100 to 100 degrees
- Roll: Approx. 45 degrees both directions.
Also good news for the professionals – the camera gimbal can operate either automatically or manually, or both at the same time. If you are operating in one of the intelligent camera feature modes, the gimbal will keep the camera locked on to a point, regardless of what the drone is doing. But you can also use the dial on the controller to get more or less tilt or pan. You cannot manually control roll, which is reserved for stabilization. You can also access manual gimbal controls through your connected smartphone app, although this can be a bit cumbersome, and prone to quirks and jitters.
For pilots who like to do FPV photography, you’ll be happy to hear that the Mavic 2 Pro is also compatible with DJI Goggles, which offer an incredible virtual flight experience. The goggles give you the ability to activate head-tracking mode to pan and tilt the camera, but bear in mind that with the range of motion offered on the Mavic 2 gimbal you might not be able to rely solely on the goggles for navigation.
The Mavic 2 Pro teamed up with Hasselblad to put in a 1-inch CMOS sensor that shoots at 20MP, and offers 4K video recording, This level of image and video quality is unmatched by any other drone of this size, although still falling somewhat short of what you can expect from a DSLR or mirrorless camera. The lens has a 28mm focal length with 77 degree FOV, and variable f/2.8 – f/11 aperture.
Even though DJI has gone to heroic efforts to put out a professional level camera in an accessible consumer drone, there are a couple other issues, including noise which is visible even at ISO 100. This means that shooting at higher settings introduces even higher levels of noise, for diminished image quality. Despite this, the final result is still sharp enough for a 16×12 inch print, which is pretty good.
Still images can be saved in jpg, the DNG raw format, or both. The high quality lens means that distortion is minimal, but you can spot some chromatic aberration along high contrast subject edges, but this is easy to fix in Raw editing software. If in-camera processing is your preference, save in JPEG format.
Video capture gives you 4K resolution at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second (fps), 2.7K resolution at 24, 25, 30, 48, 50 and 60 fps, then 1080p resolution at 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 and 120 fps. Video is recorded at 100Mbps data rate and saved in either mp4 or mov formats with H.264 or H.265 codecs. You can also choose Dlog-M or HLG 10-bit HDR mode.
Photo and Video Features
Arguably the best feature of the Mavic 2 Pro is its stunning camera quality, and the sensor is backed up by smart camera features to allow even a novice like myself to get some pretty great shots. In the hands of a pro, the possibilities are endless.
The Mavic 2 Pro offers quite an array of features through the DJI GO 4 app, that are also available on other Mavic models. These modes come under the heading of “Quickshot”, and can be accessed by clicking on the “Remote Control” icon on the left side of the screen. Select “Quickshot” and pick one of the following modes to try out some cool image capture options with your drone:
- Sphere Panorama Mode
- Slow Motion Video
- Quickshot Intelligent Flight Modes
A few other fun modes, also standard to most DJI products, that help amateurs (and professionals) achieve stunning results with minimal effort are:
- Active Track (Follow Me)
- Point of Interest
For greater control or more effects in shooting stills, you can try: Single Shot, Burst Mode, HDR, AEB, HyperLight (night mode), Interval and Pano (for a number of different panoramic shooting options, including vertical panoramas).
The controller for the Mavic 2 is compact, foldable, and easily transportable, just like the drone. When it is folded up, the joysticks can be unscrewed and stowed safely at the bottom of the controller to avoid damage in storage or transport. The controller doesn’t come with a screen, but relies instead on a smartphone for video or image viewing, and access to all of the special flight features.
The smartphone is connected at the bottom of the controller, which in my opinion isn’t the best arrangement. It makes for awkward viewing, and I’d rather see the screen above the joysticks at the top of the controller. Even so, the controller can accommodate practically any smartphone, up to a maximum length of 160mm, so you can have quite a large screen to view images and access features.
If you don’t want to have to access flight features and camera controls via the app on screen, the controller also provides direct access to some of the more commonly used functions. You can customize 11 direct access buttons much as you would on a DSLR camera to arrange things in a way that is most useful to you.
The controller can achieve excellent range, with clear 1080p video transmission up to 10km away. The auto-switching between 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands also definitely helps to keep the signal strong even when flying in environments with potential for interference. Some freezing in the video image on screen appears to be an issue with the DJI GO 4 app, rather than with the video transmission quality. Something that needs some work, either way.
Who is it for?
The Mavic 2 Pro in my opinion is the best drone available for semi-pro to pro drone photographers and videographers. That’s not to say that beginners and hobbyists couldn’t have a great experience with it – it is absolutely easy to fly and full of great features that would let even a relative beginner fly well and get great pictures, but because of the high price point, it just isn’t likely to be where most beginners are going to want to start.
If you’re a beginner to drones, but already an accomplished photographer wanting to get into drones, it may actually be the way to go, as you’re not going to find a much better camera available at the mid-level, until you get up into the enterprise level drones and cameras.
The Mavic 2 Pro may be the next move for you if you’re an experienced drone pilot, and are now looking for a serious drone that can help you move on up to better photos and videos, especially if you’re looking to get started in drone business.
What We Like
- Unbeatable camera quality for both photo and video
- “Crash proof” – excellent obstacle avoidance
- OccuSync 2.0 transmission with great range
- Gimbal range and performance
What We Don’t
- Price – it’s a bit on the pricey side, but worth it if you’re serious about photos
- Controller/smartphone arrangement
- Some glitchy-ness in the controller app
- Low ground profile with possibility of exposing camera to damp