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DJI Mavic Pro review - Still fun and reliable Drone

DJI Mavic Pro review - Still fun and reliable Drone

There are a few great drone manufacturers on the market today, but there is only one that is absolutely dominating the market, DJI. Their latest drones are some of the best we’ve ever seen. In terms of high-end cameras that take to the sky, DJI is leading the pack. One of their more advanced offerings in the consumer class for a long time was the Mavic Pro, a folding quadcopter that is extremely easy to fly and produces some superb aerial shots.

We spent some time with DJI for some hands-on flight training with the Mavic Pro in the early days, and we’ve been flying ours ever since. We are un-apologetically in love with this drone, but it’s not perfect. Let’s explore more in t

his DJI Mavic Pro review.  

We had been updating this article on a fairly regular schedule in order to share updates and moves in the market that changed our view of the Mavic Pro. As such, the release of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are the change that will generally stop these updates. To be fair, DJI calls the Mavic 2 series the iterative update to the Mavic Pro, and what an update they are.

Bottom line, the Mavic Pro is still a fantastic machine, it flies
extremely well, is very portable and has a lot to offer. The newer Mavic
2 drones have the better cameras and more security features. The Mavic
Pro is almost half the price of the newer machines now, so it’s totally
worth considering, but for the best photos and video from the sky, Mavic
2 drones are the way to go.


More important, Mavic Pro availability is beginning to dwindle. You
can still find it to purchase, but you’re now looking at packages put
together by other vendors. In a manner of speaking, DJI has discontinued
the drone, but it is still well supported, emulated and has a vast
accessory market.


If you are looking for all the juicy tech specs on the Mavic Pro, you
are already reading the article you want, but if you want to hear how
our first year experience has been with this craft, head on over to our
Mavic Pro one year review. Perhaps better called our One year
impressions. 



DJI announced the new Mavic Pro White edition




Not much to see here, just the original Mavic Pro in a white paint job and a great low price. Exclusive to Apple stores, see all the details here.

DJI announced the new Mavic Pro Platinum




Our opinions of the original Mavic Pro remain unchanged, as you’ll
read below, but the new release of this machine packs more than a just a
new color. The Mavic Pro Platinum improves software and some internals,
plus introduces new propellers to increase flight time and reduce
noise. We’ll be updating this Mavic Pro review with new info once we get
the new propellers – that’s right, the new props fit the original Mavic
as well. 


Platinum Propellers on the original Mavic Pro




We flew the Mavic Pro with the new propellers from the Mavic Pro Platinum. We’re trying to figure out in a semi-scientific manner how much of an improvement the new props are. For now, join us to talk propeller science, we’ll have some Mavic Pro propeller info for you very soon.

Update: This was a great idea, folks. If you were wondering, I highly recommend installing the gold (or silver) tipped propellers on your Mavic Pro. The ESCs are not fully tuned, but it reduces motor RPM by about 500 when the drone is at hover. That’s a great amount of power reduction and reduced wear and tear. They are quieter as well, but, I had to use sound recording tools and analyze the recording – let’s just say that they are quieter, but it is not likely you will hear that difference by ear in your normal flights. Still, we think it’s totally worth putting the Platinum props on your original Mavic.


Design



From the moment you receive your Mavic Pro, the box alone will have
you wondering where DJI is hiding the drone. Unlike most high-end
quadcopters on the market today, the Mavic Pro is very small. Able to
easily slip into a larger purse, a smaller pocket on your backpack or
even into most water bottle holders, this collapsing drone is one of the
most portable flying units we’ve ever seen.


Where the small size may invite the expectation of low quality, we
think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, this is a metal drone with
impressive fit and finish. It is also a very thoughtfully engineered
unit, look for quick release propellers, no tools required, and a
slender controller with options beyond what you might expect.




Available in just one color, this slate grey drone arrives folded and
requires just a few quick maneuvers to prepare for first flight. Fold
out the front arms from the sides, then fold the rear arms from
underneath.


The landing gear lives at the base of the front arms and on the
fuselage near the rear. Clearances are minimal all the way around,
including the landing gear, you’ll want to find flat and solid surfaces
to take off and land on.


The battery is easily removed, simply pinch together the buttons on either side of the battery itself and pull up.




The front of the drone houses the 3-axis gimbal with 12MP, 4K camera.
The optional plastic dome will keep things dry and safe, but go ahead
and remove it if you find it to distort your images. Just above the
camera is a pair of sensors, these help prevent damage to your drone,
providing obstacle identification and avoidance.


As best we can tell, the Mavic Pro is a tiny super computer packed
into an aircraft. Downward facing sensors compliment the front mounted
sensors, combined with the camera, this drone is packed with
intelligent, autonomous flight modes, self landing capabilities,
dual-GPS radios for redundancy and absolute location precision and more.




Not only does the Mavic Pro have its own internal cooling fan to keep
the computing electronics at optimal temperature, but the remote
control does as well. This is no toy.


Finally, you’ll find red LED lights just below the front propellers,
and a single large light at the very rear of the fuselage. This rear LED
flashes different colors to let you know the status of the craft, just
remember, green is good.


Usability





The key to the Mavic Pro, the shining mark by which DJI should be
proud, this drone is one of the most user friendly quadcopters around.
The small size, quick fold setup and easy pairing remote and smartphone
app will get you from your backpack to the sky very quickly.


Beyond the basic setup, flying this drone is downright child’s play.
Perhaps that was a poor choice of words, this really isn’t the drone you
want for children, but we’ll talk about that later. My point is, the
Mavic Pro almost flies itself, you do little more than tell it where to
go.


Please do not expect this drone to actually fly itself, I highly suggest enjoying some test flights on a small, inexpensive trainer quadcopter first. I explain why in this cheap drone guide, but suffice to say, if you are destined to crash a drone, make it a $30 crash, not a thousand dollar crash.

With the drone itself setup in just seconds, the remote control may
take a few more, by itself, simply flip out the antenna and get ready to
fly. The optional connection of your smartphone can add a bit of time,
but the FPV is well worth the hassle.


As the Mavic Pro is easily considered more of a flying camera than it
is a drone that has a camera, we must judge the photo and video
features and capabilities as well. They’re good.




There are dedicated buttons on the remote control to quickly take
either a photo or start/stop recording video. Photos are taken at 12MP
of resolution and there is a 2X zoom to accompany full manual camera
controls. In auto mode, simply tap the smartphone display to choose your
desired focus and exposure points, or hit the left rear button on the
remote to center focus, hit the right top trigger and enjoy your photo.


The right top spinning wheel control allows for quick exposure level
changes. The top left spinning wheel tilts the camera up and down to
help capture your target.




Video
recording controls are a little more complicated, in one regard,
otherwise offer the same one click operation with on-screen tap to
choose focus. Changing between the video capture modes takes a moment to
configure, select from 1080P, 2.7K or 4K recording at various framerate
settings. I must remember to take the camera out of 1080P at 90FPS
before I head back up. Slow-mo is great, but I like the 2.7K recording
the best, just a preference.


Update: I have changed my opinion on video
resolution, I shoot everything in 4K now. It is a little bit more
intensive to edit and I find the need to do just a tad more color
grading, but it’s 4K. Future-proofing my footage just makes sense.


I keep mentioning that the Mavic Pro nearly flies itself, this is a
huge advantage over many other drones. The primary feature that makes
the most impact on a successful flight is the ability for the Mavic Pro
to remain at a stable hover. If you accidentally drop the remote, the
drone will halt and hover in place, and with extreme accuracy. While DJI
claims a hover within 10cm vertically and 30cm horizontally, my
experience says more like 5cm and 10 cm, it’s pretty impressive.


Before you fly


In light of the recent legal situation regarding registering your drone with the FAA, DJI has enacted their own registration requirements. From here on, new owners of most DJI Drones will be required to register with the company to activate their flying machine before first flight. This can be annoying, and to many a huge invasion of anonymity, but if you are already signed in and registered, it’s nothing really new.



If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.



Flight characteristics



There are four main flight characteristics that make the Mavic Pro an
excellent drone for many users, and make for fantastic photography from
the sky.




First up, the DJI Mavic Pro can takeoff and land all by itself. Well,
not entirely by itself, you will have to tap the take-off and land
buttons on the DJI GO mobile app, but that’s all there is to it. Even if
you decide to take off or land manually, the smarts of the drone take
over to ensure you land softly and get up to an appropriate height for
the Vision Positioning to kick in.


Next on the list, something we touched on above, the ability for the
Mavic Pro to hover with impressive stability. Beyond just the ability to
stay in place, the fact that this is the default flight mode of this
drone. Any early adopter or toy class drone pilot will tell you, these
things don’t like to stay in place very well. Releasing the controller
used to mean an undeniable crash, not with the Mavic Pro, it’ll just sit
there until you move it or it runs out of battery and lands.




It would be wrong of me to call Tripod mode a beginner’s mode.
Really, if you are looking to slow things down, keep movements as stead
as possible, Tripod mode is the answer. Designed to create the most
stable video capture possible, reduced flight sensitivity makes it a
great mode for learning to fly.


Finally, the fourth feature that makes the Mavic Pro extremely
valuable as a drone, the Return to home feature. Admitting that many
drones offer this functionality today, keep in mind that the Mavic Pro
utilizes its dual GPS modules to place an accurate mark, then takes
accuracy down to within inches thanks to proximity sensor and camera
capture of the surroundings of the drone. GPS gets you close, matching
the exact view as when you took off will land you almost exactly where
you took off.




Aside from these key features the DJI packed the Mavic Pro with a ton
of extra flight modes and built a rather exciting drone to fly.


First up, the Mavic Pro can fly at up to 40 MPH ground speed, while
vertical travel is at 16.4 ft/s. I could tell you that that is roughly
11MPH, or I could tell you that it will take 24 seconds to get from the
ground up to the 400 foot legal ceiling within the U.S.




The camera is the key to a handful of creative and automated flight
modes, starting with a feature called Trace. Trace offers three
‘Follow-me’ modes, leading you from in front, following you from behind
or circling you while it keeps you in focus.


The second mode is called Profile, think about your favorite old
video games, the 2D side scrollers, that’s the idea here. The Mavic Pro
recognizes your side and flies along sideways to capture your block
breaking exploits. Please just keep an eye on things, the collisions
sensors are on the front, not the back or sides.




The final mode is called Spotlight, this is the most fun you’ll have
with your object focused videography. Not locking to a specific angle of
an object, you take control of flight, the drone will keep the camera
pointed at the subject. No matter where you or the subject of your video
go, you fly the drone and the camera will keep a lock on the target.


Another handy tool is called Gesture control. Want to allow your
friends to take pictures with your Mavic Pro, without handing over the
remote? Gesture controls allow them to wave at the drone, it will see
them and accept gestures to take a photo, follow them and more.


TapFly is an additional flight mode that allows you to point out a
location on your smartphone display, then enjoy as your Mavic Pro
autonomously navigates to that location. It flies, you control the
camera.


Ignoring all these fancy figures and flight modes, I should mention
that the Mavic Pro is very predictable in terms of take off and landing.
Take off will bring you up to about 4 feet and enter a hover. Landing
will get you down to about 3 feet, then halt, you can then hold down the
joystick or use the automated landing mode to slowly touchdown.




The latest DJI GO 4 app update added a few new features that seriously improves the value of the Mavic Pro, dual pilot control and a higher speed, for starters. One controller takes full control of the craft, the next logs in as co-pilot and can control as well. This is a full control setup, if the first pilot is off the controls for a few seconds, the second pilot completely takes over. Craft like the Inspire 2 have dual pilot setups, but in that case, one controller flies the drone, the other controller works the camera, sharing the load. While this is not true for the Mavic, at least the second controller can see the display, allowing it to be used as a monitor for non-pilots.

Update: The new Fixed-wing mode adds a great FPV
aircraft feel to your flight. Looking the camera in a forward state,
then tilting it side to side when the craft turns, you’d never know from
the recorded footage that you were not flying a fixed-wing craft. If
you are a fan of look of flying an airplane, but want to put your Mavic
pro into the air, this is absolutely the tool for you.


Speaking of a monitor for a non-pilot, DJI has introduced the DJI Goggles. We went hands-on with them at NAB Show 2017 in Las Vegas, you should check that out. In short, the wearer enjoys full HD view from the Mavic Pro in an enclosed VR headset. This FPV gear can also take over control of the camera – active track control means when you look up, the camera gimbal on the drone tilts up, it can even turn the aircraft when you turn your head to the side far enough.



Extra functionality beyond this increases the top speed of the Mavic
Pro to 33.5 mph while in ActiveTrack mode, the drone’s total top speed
remains unchanged. The new fixed wing flight mode is a fun addition, it
adds a cruise control like flight mode, it locks the camera gimbal
forward and when you turn, the gimbal turns a little emulating the look
as though you were flying a fixed wing aircraft.


Update: More recent feature additions include Sphere photo modes,
with 360 degree images and more. DJI also added Quickshots to the Mavic
Pro, adding a number of self-piloting flight modes to capture various
selfie-focused videos.

Announced in February of 2017, DJI has added a handful of new accessories for the Mavic Pro. We ordered ours the day they launched, the sleeve and remote control sun shade arrived in March, but the ND filters only just arrived here in April. We opted not to pick up the propeller guards or the advanced charger, and the rest most all came in our Fly More bundle. The sleeve is well built, provides a great layer of protection, even if only from dust and scratches.

The remote control sun shade is well built, I like the folding design
but wish it folded just a bit more, so it fit in the carrying pouch. I
will say, I am a little concerned with the long term effects of mounting
the sun shade on the antennae, but so far no problems. Haven’t been
many sunny days to fly around here lately, so I will revisit this sun
shade opinion later, if anything changes. Thanks to that same lack of
sun, I have not yet put the Mavic Pro into the air with the ND Filters
installed. I took a peak at things here in the office, I’ll give the
filters credit for handling bright scenes, but I have not yet tested for
sun flare.


Stay tuned for an update here, the next time the Portland area is
both sunny and not experiencing hurricane force winds (sadly, I mean
that literally,) I’ll take to the sky.  Update: I have taken to the sky
with the filters in place. Forgive the following video for being a
little amateur, I fly when I can and capture what footage I can.


Science of Flight series



We have plenty more to read if you are interested in the science of drone flight. We are not physicists, but we know just enough to explain some of the basic concepts of how drones operate, how they fly and how to do so effectively. Be sure to check out our other Science of Flight articles to learn more.

Final thoughts on the DJI Mavic Pro


We really are unabashedly smitten with this drone, DJI has packed an
impressive amount of smarts and camera abilities into a very small
package. Admitting that many of the features are, on paper, the same as
many other top drone manufacturers, but real world testing proves that
specs on paper do not explain the real value here.


A fast and stable drone, the Mavic Pro is fun to fly, but we still
must consider it a member of a sub-class of drones I like to call
‘flying cameras.’ FPV racers will find the Mavic Pro both slow and
expensive. Hobby flyers will also find this level of thrill and
maneuverability in less expensive options, but consumer-level drone
shoppers looking to get a camera into the sky will find few, if any,
better drones on the market today.









DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Foldable RC Quadcopter - RTF


$1674.62


$1674.62














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