If you're looking to upgrade your aerial video footage, or simple want a compact drone, then the Mavic is the drone for you! If you've never flown a drone before, you should practice on a cheaper model first.
The Mavic Pro is an unbelievably tiny drone made by DJI. You can fold it up small enough to fit into a bag or large coat pocket. Packed full of incredible features, this drone is the best drone I have ever flown. Let’s take a look at what makes it so special, and why it’s worth the $1000 price tag.
As someone who has owned and flown a variety of drones, I can confidently say the Mavic is tiny! It makes larger drones like the GoPro Karma and the DJI Phantom 4 look enormous in comparison. Weighing 734g (1.6lbs) — most of which is the battery, this drone weighs about as much as an iPad Pro.
Measuring 198mm (7.8inches) by 83mm (3.3inches) when folded, and 335mm (13inches) square when fully unfolded, the Mavic is almost half its size when folded. Much like the Yuneec Breeze, the propellers also fold in, and “automatically” unfold themselves when spun up.
The design of this drone is nothing short of incredible. The undercarriage is made of metal, with various fins and sensors covering it. It even has a fan for self cooling when powered up but not airborne. You get a series of plastic gimbal protectors, used to prevent dirt from impacting the lens, and to keep the gimbal locked in place during transit.
My only gripe is the height — it sits very low to the ground, meaning you need an unobstructed area to take-off and land in. Long or even moderate length grass will soon get tangled in the propellers.
The Mavic Pro comes with a “traditional” controller as standard (hooray). You still have to use your phone, however. The controller has a screen which provides basic information, such as altitude, speed, number of GPS satellites, and more. Your phone via the DJI GO app provides many more features, such as calibration, advanced settings, live video feed, and much more. As much as I dislike using a phone to control drones, this does work quite well.
Your phone slots into the adjustable mount beneath the controller, and connects using the included adaptor — several are included for various connections, including Micro-USB, USB-C, and Apple Lightning. Using a phone such as the Google Pixel (not even the XL model) was a challenge, and it only just fit in providing I remove the phone’s protective case.
The controller has various joysticks and buttons to control the drone. You can start and stop recording, tilt the camera, adjust camera brightness and more without even looking! Just like the drone, this controller is very small — comparable to a video game controller (unlike the Phantom 4 controller, which is massive). The two antennas fold down flat, and lock together with a reassuring “snap”. Not only this, but they provide a massive 8 mile (13 kilometer) range — although it’s not advisable or even legal in most countries to fly a drone out of eyesight.
Stop Droning On
The Mavic Pro is just a joy to fly. Take-off is easy due to one touch launch control, as is landing (but you can manually land as well if you’d like to). The drone is surprisingly stable — even in high winds. Sure, a bit more weight would help keep things steady, but that may ruin the portability.
Not only does this drone have GPS and intelligent return to home capabilities (as is to be expected from a drone costing this much), but it comes with various short range sensors and detectors. These are primarily on the bottom and front, and work together to form an object avoidance system. The drone uses haptic and audio feedback to warn you when you get near an object. Get too close and it will stop. This does not work behind the drone, however, so be careful you don’t reverse into an object. As a general rule, if you don’t get carried away, you won’t have a crash. If you want to fly between gaps or low to the ground, you can disable this obstacle avoidance.
The main intelligent flight modes are:
- Tapfly: The Mavic will fly to and keep a selected region in the shot.
- Tripod: This mode slows the drone right down, and allows you to capture beautifully smooth cinematic shots.
- Cinematic: This mode is similar to Tripod mode — It reduces the movements and speed to smooth out shots.
- Active Track: This was my favorite mode to use. You can pick a point, be it a person, bike, car, or whatever, and the drone will pan around to keep that object in the shot — even if it moves.
The Mavic Pro comes with a Lexar 16GB MicroSD card included — something not many other drones come with. You’ll want to stock up for extended flying sessions.
The battery in the drone lasts 28 minutes, but this is realistically 21 minutes when you factor in emergency power and take-off/landing. You’ll definitely want to buy spare batteries, but the controller is somewhat flawed. In nearly every other drone available, the controller battery lasts a very long time. More than enough for 5 – 10 flights, for example. The Mavic controller only lasts for one flight — not cool if you switch out drone batteries in the field.
As is the case with many drones controlled by mobile phones, I experienced a few app crashes. These mainly occurred when using intelligent flight modes. Fortunately, you can still fly the drone with the analog sticks without the app, but it can get frustrating — the app crashed at least once on every single flight. This was slightly annoying, and the app certainly lets down the premium hardware. Hopefully these issues will be ironed out in future software releases.
Image quality from the Mavic is phenomenal. Shooting in full auto provides excellent results — much better than the auto modes of other drones. Extensive manual controls allow you to fine tune the image to your liking.
The Mavic can shoot in 4k at 30 Frame Per Second (FPS), and 1080p up to 96FPS. I’m a big fan of slow motion — it gives you a lot of options in post production, but this slow motion was garbage. It was totally unusable and over-sharpened. Here’s a 4k screenshot:
And here’s a 1080p slow motion screen shot:
It’s hard to tell in these pictures, but trust me, you cannot use slow motion. Fortunately, 4k 30FPS looks so good that there’s no need to shoot in any other frame rates.
Maverick or Professional?
The Mavic Pro is an incredibly high performing drone. Its compact size means you can take it anywhere, while still retaining the high image quality and superb features of its bigger brothers.
While it does have its flaws — particularly with the app, it is extremely impressive. You won’t be disappointed with this drone.
If $1000 is a bit steep for you, make sure you check out our 2017 buying guide to the best drones for all budgets. If you’re ready to buy a Mavic Pro, or maybe you have one already, then be sure to read our list of websites on how to pilot a drone.