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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Class-leading photo and video performance
Easy to fly
Highly portable design
Very smart obstacle avoidance
Susceptible to wind
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the drone we’ve all been waiting for, delivering professional camera results and ample obstacle avoidance in a foldable design small enough to take absolutely anywhere.
The world of drones has fairly quickly advanced from a niche hobby sharing more in common with the RC crowd, to a broadly accessible aerial filmmaking category that has become a staple on video shoots of all shapes and sizes. DJI has played a seminal role in this development, and the Mavic 2 Pro is the convergence point of all the countless tweaks, breakthroughs, and developments that have been made along the way.
If you have been an early adopter in the drone space, The Mavic 2 Pro is finally a product that addresses most of the concerns you probably had about older generations of devices. And if you’re just getting started now, you get to skip over all the earlier years, and the myriad flaws and quibbles that came with them. The latest DJI drone boasts a combination of breathtaking camera quality, incredibly portability, obstacle avoidance, and general ease-of-use that makes owning and operating the Mavic 2 Pro so refreshing. But there’s a lot more under the hood to discuss, so let’s dive in.
The first thing we noticed about the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is just how efficient it is from a design perspective. Everything folds neatly into itself, leaving you with a rock-solid brick when fully packed up. Folded, it measures 8.4 by 3.6 by 3.3 inches (HWD), and unfolded, 12.6 by 9.5 by 3.3 inches (HWD). From a portability perspective this is ideal, not just because the final footprint is small enough to stow away in just about any bag you happen to be carrying around, but also because the fewer protruding, articulating, wobbling parts there are, the fewer things that can accidentally break during transport. Even the gimbal cover helps to ease any concerns that might normally arise, leaving the camera tightly affixed to the body as it snaps into place.
This is a design philosophy that permeates every aspect of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Quadcopters, by their very nature, are extremely vulnerable and easily damaged. Fully half (if not more) of DJI’s journey from past to present has just been about finding ways to help protect their products from the elements, and most importantly, from their own customers.
The 2-pound body of the drone features four folding arms that, when deployed, fit the DJI Mavic 2 Pro’s four propellers, which also fold. Everything about the body feels very solid and thick. Even the folding arms have a very robust feeling when being unfolded and setup. Nothing here feels flimsy. The only thing to watch out for is the camera, which, when removed from the protective housing, will freely move and rotate. We didn’t attempt to test the endurance of the Hasselblad camera, but we don’t imagine it could take too many direct hits.
The setup process for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a familiar story to those that have owned drones in the past, but there are still a number of quality of life improvements that made the experience very smooth. The first thing we noticed was that the box for the Mavic 2 Pro is a little less than half the size of the Phantom 4 Pro, an already reasonably-sized drone. Taking the lid off the box, we found the body of the drone, the battery already in, and a series of boxes that neatly fit the remaining contents.
Omnidirectional obstacle sensing is the star of the show here, because its the conduit for all the other intelligent flight features.
To get set up and flying, remove the battery from the drone, plug the charger into an outlet, and begin charging both the drone battery and the remote controller (1.5 hrs and 2.25 hours respectively). Make sure you’ve downloaded the DJI GO 4 app and create an account if you haven’t already. This will make your first flight go more quickly. You can start familiarizing yourself with the software while you wait.
Prepping the drone is as simple as removing the gimbal cover, unfolding the arms, and installing the propellers (by matching marked propellers to marked motors). Once both batteries are fully charged, prepare the remote controller by unfolding the antennas, choosing the appropriate cable to connect the remote to your phone, and then mounting the device. The control sticks also need to be attached—you’ll find a pair of them tucked into the body of the controller. Follow the procedure for pairing your DJI Mavic 2 Pro, and you should be all set to fly.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro gives users a dizzying amount of options and functions to aid in flight. It might seem like a lot to familiarize yourself with, but once you overcome the initial learning curve you’ll be very grateful for the breadth of functionality. The Mavic 2’s controller features very low latency (120ms) control, and 1080p live video transmission from a distance of up to 5 miles. All of these things come together in concert to provide a delightful flight experience that makes flying a real breeze for professionals and amateurs alike.
Omnidirectional obstacle sensing is the star of the show here, because it's the conduit for all the other intelligent flight features. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro has sensors facing forward, backward, upward, downward, and on its sides, detecting objects from up to 131 feet away at maximum.
The sensing and avoidance system on the Mavic 2 isn’t just the best we’ve seen so far though, it’s also the smartest. Let’s look at ActiveTrack 2.0, DJI’s object tracking mode, as an example. ActiveTrack uses the Mavic 2 Pro’s sensors to map a 3D view of the environment, instead of just using the onboard camera information. In addition to being better able to identify and track subjects, it uses trajectory prediction to continue tracking even when its view is obstructed temporarily, and will actively avoid and plan around obstacles in its path automatically. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro can even track fast-moving (up to 45mph) subjects in open environments, but will not be able to sense obstacles at these speeds.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t just take great photos and videos, it also has enough flexibility and feature support to be taken seriously by pros.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro also supports more intelligent flight modes than ever before, including Hyperlapse, QuickShots, Point of Interest 2.0, Waypoint, TapFly, Cinematic Mode, and the aforementioned ActiveTrack 2.0.
QuickShots is one of the first modes a lot of users might want to tackle, allowing the aircraft to quickly perform a lot of common flight maneuvers, generating a 10-second video. Available maneuvers include Dronie (aircraft flies up and back, locked on the subject), circle, helix (aircraft ascends while encircling the subject), boomerang (aircraft flies around subject in an oval path, ascending while flying away and descending while flying back), and asteroid (aircraft flies up and back, takes several photos, and then flies back to its starting point). It would require a lot of practice and training to execute a lot of these maneuvers manually, so it’s pretty powerful to be capable of performing all of them so effortlessly.
Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) is another feature available to users that allows users to pilot the craft in a semi-manual fashion, while still taking advantage of the full-suite of obstacle avoidance and path planning functionality. This is a sort of middle-ground for users who wish to control the drone to a higher degree but are still not 100 percent confident in their ability to avoid obstacles and tricky terrain along the way.
Landing is one of the most dangerous times for a drone, but the DJI Mavic 2 Pro does everything in its power to make sure this happens safely, especially when the battery is running low. Return To Home (RTH) options includes Smart RTH, Low Battery RTH, and Failsafe RTH.
Smart RTH is your first line of defense when there is sufficient battery and GPS signal, and can be initiated by tapping the button on the app or pressing and holding the dedicated RTH button on the remote controller. Low battery RTH is automatically triggered when the battery is drained enough that safe return isn’t guaranteed if you continue to fly. The user is prompted to return immediately but can ignore this warning if they wish. Obstacle avoidance will be active during RTH in sufficient lighting conditions. When it has critically low battery, the drone will land automatically.
DJI needed to get the camera right on the Mavic 2 Pro for it to even be in contention at its fairly high price point. Thankfully, the large 1-inch CMOS sensor and Hasselblad L1D-20c camera fit the bill perfectly. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t just take great photos and videos, it also has enough flexibility and feature support to be taken seriously by pros.
The Mavic 2 Pro supports 100Mbps 4K footage in both H.264 and H.265 codecs, similar to the Phantom 4 Pro. Only the Mavic 2 Pro, however, supports the very flat Dlog-M 10-bit format. Shooting with a nice flat color profile with 10-bit color depth means that pros will have a lot more room to give their footage a cinematic grade to match the rest of their production. Most users won’t want to opt for this shooting mode, unless they want to spend a lot of time in post-production, but having this as an option is absolutely critical for many.
It might be a small drone, but it packs just as much if not more functionality than any small to mid-size drone on the market.
The only big miss on the camera is the ability to record 4K footage at higher frame rates. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro tops out at 30fps at UHD resolution, requiring users to drop down to 2.7K to unlock 60fps, and 1080p to get a full 120fps. This isn’t the end of the world, but the ability to shoot high-frame-rate footage really opens up options for filmmakers.
The camera supports an ISO range of 100-6400 for videos, and 100-12800 for photos, although as with nearly any cameras systems, users would be wise to avoid the top end of these spectrums so as not to introduce an unforgivable amount of noise into their shots. For still photos, users choose from JPG and DNG (RAW) formats.
There are a lot of accessories available for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, but the first one that serious filmmakers will want to spring for is the ND filter set. These will allow you to tame the shutter speed during daytime shoots and create smoother, more cinematic looking aerial shots.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro supports a flight time of 31 minutes and a hover time of 29 minutes. As with all drones, these manufacturer numbers are based on ideal, wind-free conditions. In our hover test, we managed 26 minutes and 12 seconds before emergency landing protocols took over. It should be noted, however, that we performed the test outdoors, on a somewhat windy day, so these results are nothing for DJI to be ashamed of.
Flight performance is top-notch, providing a fast, responsive flight experience, and a perfectly stable hover.
The 31 minutes of flight time should be adequate for most pilots, but those wishing to shoot for extended periods might be wise to invest in one or more backup batteries. The 1.5-hour charge time is reasonable, but might still require some planning around with a single battery.
Meanwhile, the nearly 5-mile range is absolutely stellar for a drone of this size. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where you’d want a drone with a 31 minute maximum flight time to be able to travel more than 5 miles away, unless you just really enjoy searching through the wilderness for your lost drone.
Most drones in DJI’s portfolio operate using the DJI GO 4 app, and the Mavic 2 Pro is no exception. In our experience testing multiple DJI drone, we were relatively happy with the performance and depth of features the app has. If you’re used to reviewing cameras with notoriously inscrutable menu systems, the DJI GO 4 app is a relative walk in the park. Diagrams, illustrations, and iconography already make it a much better experience.
While we didn’t experience any issues with the DJI app during our testing, it does have a fairly poor rating on Apple and Android’s app marketplaces. Users seemed to most frequently have issues with the drone crashing on certain devices, losing or forgetting the connection between the drone and the app, and updates that break certain features or require firmware updates.
At a $1,499 MSRP, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro might not be cheap, and it’s certainly expensive enough to escape the price range of miscellaneous gadget shoppers, but it's a fair price for what you get. We would love for it to cost less, of course, but it seems like a reasonable cost given the improvements in the DJI Mavic 2 Pro over predecessors. It might be a small drone, but it packs just as much if not more functionality than any small to mid-size drone on the market.
The Mavic 2 Pro might be the new kid on the block, but how does it compare to the tried and tested Phantom series? Very, very well, it turns out. It’s hard to find something the Phantom 4 Pro does that the Mavic doesn’t do better. The biggest exception to this rule is the ability to record 4K footage at up to 60fps instead of just 30fps. That, and the Phantom 4 Pro takes slightly sharper footage.
A fairly short list, and when you consider the fact that the Mavic 2 Pro manages to do everything the Phantom 4 Pro does in a much more portable package, it’s not much of a fight. If you have enough money to buy either, you’re going to want to buy the Mavic 2 Pro.
The new gold standard.
There’s no point being coy about it—the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the benchmark by which all future small and mid-size drones are going to be measured. It shoots amazing footage, packs into your backpack, and does just about everything in its power to prevent you from accidentally destroying it. It’s what the majority of drone shoppers on the market today probably want in a drone. If you can afford it, this is the one to get.
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