IFA 2018, Europe’s largest consumer electronics show, had a lot of love for drones. From addressing the needs of drone photography enthusiasts to drones controlled by voice or gesture, here’s everything you need to know about those flying machines from IFA.
The major launches came from two of the leaders in the drone space, DJI and Yuneec. DJI released two new sequels to their Mavic 2 series, one of which adds optical zoom while the other packs an excellent image sensor for serious drone photographers. Meanwhile, Yuneec stuck to what it does best: cram a ton of features into an affordable drone for the masses.
DJI’s two new launches, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, share most of their features except the camera attached to the drone itself. They even look the same except for the camera unit, where the Mavic 2 Pro looks rectangular and the Mavic 2 Zoom is circular.
Other than the camera differences, the two drones are similar in size, shape, and features. They can fold up into smaller sizes for easy portability, and come with the same kit of chargers, cables, and adapters. DJI claims about 30 minutes of continuous flight time and a max speed of 72 km/hr.
Both drones are already available for purchase or pre-order.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The Mavic 2 Pro features the Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 1-inch CMOS image sensor and 20 megapixel resolution. This is one of the best camera units on a drone today, and importantly, has an adjustable aperture with a range of f2.8 to 4.11. For a serious drone photographer, an adjustable aperture can lead to some cool shots with a drone. It can also do 10-bit HDR video to capture up to 1 billion colors.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro costs $1,449 in the US.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The Mavic 2 Zoom, as the name suggests, is all about the optical zoom. The 2x optical zoom (24mm-48mm) on the camera is decidedly more fun, and better suited for casual drone photographers. You can further augment it with 2x digital zoom, but as is always the case, that will introduce artifacts into the image. Still, it lets you do some creative things, like in DJI’s demonstration where the drone flew backwards but zoomed in on a person, giving a cool effect. Oh yeah, it shoots 4K video too.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom costs $1249 in the US.
Yuneec Mantis Q
There’s a certain charm to technology if you can interact with it in unexpected ways. You’ll get a tingly feeling when you look up at the Yuneec Mantis Q hovering above your head, wave at it, and know that it took a picture based on your wave.
Voice- or gesture-based recognition in cameras is nothing new. But adding it to a drone elevates how you use the drone. Given that we haven’t fully tapped into the possibilities of what you can do with a camera drone, these features only open up new doors.
Before you fly too high, here’s a reality check. Don’t expect the Mantis Q to have an endless set of voice commands like Siri or Alexa. You need to learn the basic commands it understands, like “take a picture” or “take a selfie” to use it effectively. Yuneec was also incredibly helpful by not disclosing how far away the drone can hear you from.
At least with the face detection technology, Yuneec is clear that the Mantis Q works from up to 13 feet away, recognizing your expressions (smile to trigger the camera) or gestures (wave to trigger the camera).
The controller is much simpler and more sober than what you see on Yuneec’s flagship Typhoon H. With the Mantis Q, it’s a simple drone controller to attach to your smartphone running Yuneec’s app. Two joysticks let you control the drone, and there’s a “Come Home” button lets you recall it.
But perhaps the most compelling feature of the Mantis Q is its price to feature ratio. For $500, this drone packs 4K video recording, boasts of a top speed of 70 km/hr, and can stay in the air for 33 minutes. There is no reputable drone maker on the market who offers anything else that’s close.
You can buy or pre-order the Yuneec Mantis Q for $500 from their online shop.
The Best Drone for Beginners?
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are aimed at people who have operated drones before and are looking for an upgrade. The Yuneec Mantis Q, on the other hand, is a better drone for newcomers who want all the bells and whistles that a good drone should have.
We will try to review all three of the drones at IFA soon, especially the more budget-friendly Mantis Q for beginners. Till then, if you want a taste of the drone life, you can’t go wrong with the $100 DJI Tello.