First Impressions Review of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro
posted Monday, August 27, 2018 at 3:04 PM EDT
A couple years ago, I bought my first drone: the DJI Phantom 4. I had used a couple DJI products before this but held out until I thought drone technology had gotten to a point where it was going to flatten out for a while and it would be worth investing in one. But just a couple years later and boy was I ever wrong about that "flattening out" part. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is not only a quarter the size of the Phantom 4, but a heck of a lot more powerful as well. I've flown DJI's latest for a few hours, tested out several of its features and answered a few burning questions from those looking to invest in the latest Mavic drone.
As you probably noticed, if you didn't already know, the Mavic 2 Pro sports an entirely new camera branded with Hasselblad. It's a 1-inch-type sensor capable of 14 stops of dynamic range, according to DJI. The 1-inch sensor is considerably larger than the previous sensor sizes found in the original Mavic, the Mavic Air and even the Phantom 4. In fact, looking at the specs of the sensor, it looks very similar to the performance of the Sony RX0, which would make this a rather impressive little camera. The lens is a 28mm-equivalent f/2.8 with an adjustable aperture down to f/11.
The rest of the nitty gritty detailed information can be found here, so instead of lingering further on the specifications let's get on to what it actually feels like to fly this drone.
I've spent a couple hours with this drone in the air and I have to say, the improved battery life that DJI promised is indeed evident. If you're doing normal photography or capturing video from a single location, you're going to have plenty of power in one battery to handle it. Where the extra juice definitely comes in handy is with the new Hyperlapse mode, which depending on your settings, can take a very long time to complete. The hyper-lapse shown here took 13 minutes to complete, so factoring in the time it took to fly to the location, get my shot framed, and then shoot the hyperlapse, you're looking about about 15 minutes of time that, on other drones, would not leave you with much juice left to get that drone back to its takeoff location. But with the Mavic 2, that's just half it's battery life.
Another note worth mentioning is how quiet the Mavic 2 Pro's rotors are. Keep in mind that my last drone was the Phantom 4, so I'm not only used to a considerably larger rig, but also one that is much louder. The Mavic 2 Pro, while outside, is really only audible from 10 to 15 feet away, but within that range it's not overwhelmingly loud either. It still sounds like a typical drone (like a wasp buzzing in your ear), but it's not deafening anymore.
I want to briefly revisit that aforementioned 28mm lens. In stills, that's plenty wide. As you can see above in the side by side comparison of still vs. video from the same location, the still image nicely allows for me to get a lot of the San Francisco Ferry Building in frame. But when I switch over to video, 4Kp24, the crop factor is rather extreme. Now I've not finished shooting in all the frame ratios and rates, but at my most common 4Kp24 setting, this is really quite jarring. I was not ready for that kind of crop factor.
Also I want to point out how much of a difference shooting in DNG makes versus video clips with this camera. This sensor seems to be absolutely stunning for stills, especially with that enhanced dynamic range you get with raw files, but it is less impressive when it comes to video clips. In my initial experience with this camera, I'm leaning heavily towards favoring the stills.
Speaking of dynamic range, the Mavic 2 Pro offers D-LOG video in 10-bit, so below is an example of what that looks like straight out of camera, with an adjustment layer over it, and then compared to standard. I will do more tests in D-LOG using different exposures to get an idea of where it will perform the best. It didn't respond well to the Rec709 luts that I have, so there is more research to be done there.
In terms of the Mavic 2 Pro's controls and how it feels to fly, I am yet again impressed by DJI's development. This drone flies so incredibly smoothly with such ease. The controls are a bit more sensitive than I'm used to, so I'll have to either adjust them or get used to them as they are, but the Mavic 2's ability to fly is unquestionably excellent. Additionally, the range and connectivity of this drone is mind boggling. With the Inspire 2, and especially my old Phantom 4, I've experienced some intermittent connectivity issues while flying in San Francisco, especially if I get far out over the bay. I flew the Mavic 2 just about three quarters of the way to Yerba Buena Island from the edge of the Embarcadero and never once saw a visual hitch on my monitor or a single bar of signal drop on the controller.
Some other quick questions and answers:
Question: How long can you film in D-Log before you fill the internal storage (in case you forget your memory card)?
Answer: 11 minutes and 15 seconds in H.265 4K (you cannot shoot in D-Log in H.264).
Question: What is the lowest shutter speed Hyperlapse mode will allow?
Answer: Eight seconds, which is no different than the normal camera mode. Hyperlapse asks you to give it an interval and final clip duration. In this example, it would be 8 seconds and then the final clip duration of your choice, but for the hyper-lapse in the video test I used 2 seconds and a 15 second final clip duration.
Question: Can you ramp exposure during Hyperlapse?
Question: Can you manually adjust the aperture?
Answer: You bet! The shutter speed and aperture are both fully adjustable. However, I still think getting some ND filters is going to be a must if you plan to shoot during the day. As of the writing of this review, they were not yet available.
There are many more tests to run with the Mavic 2 Pro, and we'll be taking it into some more extreme environments in the coming weeks. But suffice to say, we're pretty impressed out of the gate with what this little drone can do. If you have any questions about the Mavic 2 Pro that you want answered, let us know in the comments below.