DJI ups the drone ante with new Mavic 2 Series

Introducing the Mavic 2 Series: The much-awaited DJI drone announcement comes with promises of more capable drone performance.

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DJI continues to be the standard in the "prosumer" drone market. Today it launched its long awaited Mavic drone line with a second iteration. But, this time there are two options available. The Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom. Two great looking drones for two different drone pilots.

Mavic 2 features

Both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom share similar, updated features. When a new drone is announced, there are some reasonable expectations from the consumers.

  • More flight time? Yes. Up to 31 minutes.
  • Better camera? Yes. Increased dynamic range up to 14 stops. 100Mbps UHD video recording.
  • Better flight performance? Yes. Quieter propellers. Ten obstacle avoidance sensors.
  • Increased flight range? Yes. Up to 5 miles with strong transmitter connectivity to the drone.

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DJI hit the marks with the reasonable expectations, and took additional steps forward in these improvements. It's a dream to get a drone camera to perform as close to a DSLR as possible. DJI claims this is the drone for those endeavors, while also keeping the familiar form factor of the original Mavic Pro.

The Mavic 2 Pro offers a camera with a 1-inch sensor sized backed by the color science from Hasselblad. This technology will continue to make it easy for creators wanting to push the limits of their color-grading experience. Better dynamic range keeps the highlights and shadows of images and footage in check, as well as the D-log profile, which makes it super easy to apply LUTs color enhancements for more cinematic footage. The adjustable aperture is another feather in the hat of DJI allowing the pilot to work with a range of f2.8 to f11 with the stroke of a finger. Great for low light as well as sharper wide-angle images.

The Mavic 2 Zoom allows drone pilots to get closer to their subject without--getting closer. The Zoom model offers an optical 24-48mm focal length to get closer to the subject. But if this isn't enough zoom, then you can use the 2X digital zoom.

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Digital zoom isn't optimal in most circumstances because details are lost. Yet, DJI seemed rather proud of this feature in its live stream, so I wonder just how much detail is retained with this digital zoom. The screenshot from its website looks OK at a 96mm equivalent.

Image: DJI

Automatic flight modes received an awesome upgrade. You have your typical orbit, boomerang and "asteroid" mode, but now you can create a "dolly zoom" video file. This is essentially a parallax look that most creators today spends lots of hours practicing the stick moves and camera controls as well as handling the post-production software to pull off this effect. Now this is done within the drone's software. You can also create hyperlapse footage without the need of post-processing as I explained in a recent tutorial.

The active track option from DJI continues to be a stellar feature. Mavic Pro 2 tracks better as it uses three of the front sensors to aid in tracking the subject as well as avoiding obstacles. Tracked subjects can be followed up to three seconds into the future as the drone tries to intelligently guess the path of the subject being tracked. Pretty slick, DJI.

The Mavic 2 Pro is available for $1,449. The Mavic 2 Zoom is available for $1,249. This pricing seems about right for this amount of tech packed into the drone. DJI also mentioned a trade-up option for existing DJI customers to help get the Mavic 2 line in their possession. Not a bad idea. I know the folks at Autel Robotics don't offer a program like this. Find more details about the trade-up program on the DJI site.

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Even with all of these bells and whistles, it must be stated that the use of these drones should be handled with extreme care. Having obstacle avoidance is a huge benefit, but as a drone pilot, one must not depend on these hardware and software advances. Use caution during your flights as you try to capture amazing cinematic footage. Sure, DJI is going to make these tasks easier, but please continue to practice regularly and use caution.

Which of these drones are you considering for your creative arsenal? Let me know in the comments below. I really like the idea of the adjustable aperture. I think I need to get my hands on one of these drones.

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Image: DJI