In recent months we’ve been reviewing a lot of hardware from DJI, particularly the devices designed with content creators in mind. Now it’s time to move to the company’s pricier offerings – drones.
Interestingly our first drone also happens to be the one that we think many hobbyists or videographers will reach for first, the DJI Mavic Mini, before considering more expensive options like the Mavic Pro 2.
Described as an “everyday flycam” by DJI, the Mavic Mini is designed for users who are still learning the ropes when it comes to flying drones and using them for content creation, as well as those who may not be able to afford other options like the aforementioned Pro 2.
Having spent several weeks with the Mavic Mini, here’s our thoughts on this latest DJI product and whether it is indeed a drone you’ll want to fly every day.
When DJI first revealed the Mavic Mini last year, the big talking point was its compact design and lightweight construction. The latter in particular was important, especially as in the United States there are certain weight regulations governing where, when and who can fly drones.
It’s such a big factor that DJI saw fit to list the weight of the Mavic Mini on the side of the drone, 249g, along with the words “ultra light”. While that means the Mavic Mini is below the threshold for requiring a piloting licence Stateside, it is worth noting that once you place the propeller guard on the Mini, it then passes over the weight limit.
As such you’ll likely be ditching the propeller guard when the time comes to fly.
Apart from assisting when it comes to regulations, the 249g weight also means the Mavic Mini is small by most DJI drone standards. When folded it sits comfortably in your hand, and is not much larger than a modern smartphone.
This helps eliminate some of the fear or hesitancy when it comes to flying the drone and certainly makes it less imposing than the Pro 2.
Its weight has some downsides too, especially when flying in windy conditions, but more about that later.
Other benefits of the lightweight and compact design of the Mavic Mini are the fact that it is highly portable. It’s not going to fit in you back pocket, but if you’re travelling and want to keep things as light as possible, the Mavic Mini does the trick.
So what about setting up and learning to use this drone?
Here experiences are mixed. We had the benefit of testing out the drone at the Sandton Drive iStore before reviewing the device, and that time with the Mini has very useful. It made setup a breeze, as we were familiar with the features and UI of the DJI Fly app, which is required in order to fly this drone.
The app has seen a number of changes for this iteration, namely that is it easier to understand with a simpler layout while flying, according to DJI. Having not tried out the previous version, we’ll need to take their word for it, but looking at the app now, it is relatively easy to navigate and does not throw to much at you at once.
It also helps if you have a smartphone, which attaches to the drone controller, with a larger display as it gives you more real estate to play with.
One element of the app we truly enjoyed is step-by-step guided drone flight patterns to give you different shots.
The ability to set heights and trajectories for a drone to fly in or around a specific object beforehand made a great difference, particularly as the first few hours of time with the drone will find you quickly glancing back and forth between the screen and the drone itself.
For those still learning how to make the most of the Mavic Mini for content creation, these features are a real difference maker and drastically reduces the learning curve.
Fighting the elements
As we mentioned earlier, one element of flying that we struggled with was flying in the wind. The Mavic Mini can handle wind speeds of up to 8m/s or 28km/h.
On paper this sounds good and gives the impression that this drone won’t get blown about, but in our time flying it, we were a little worried when big gusts of wind were pushing the Mini off course slightly.
We never thought that the drone was going to crash, but the fact that it is so plastic heavy does dent confidence a tad.
The rest of the time flying this drone was a pleasure. It responds quickly when prompted and provide solid visuals. Regarding the latter a 12MP CMOS sensor is present and capable of shooting up to 2.7K (2720×1530). Most of the time we shot in Full HD (1920×1080), which is more than good enough for vlogging or shooting videos for general consumption.
If you’re wanting advert-level quality though, the Pro 2 is likely where you want to go. Thanks to its Hasselblad designed camera the difference in visuals between the two are staggering.
That’s to be expected though, as the Pro 2 retails for almost five times the price of the Mavic Mini.
At R6 999 for the regular and R8 999 for the Fly More models of the Mavic Mini, these drones are not cheap hobbies. That said you do get a lot of bang for your buck as the Mini os feature-rich.
The only downside is flight time, with up to 30 minutes available on a fully charged battery. As such you’re going to want to get the Fly More option which includes two additional batteries to triple your possible flight time.
If you are indeed a hobbyist wanting to get a little more serious about flying drones, or a content creator wanting to add a higher quality element to your productions, the DJI Mavic Mini should be your first port of call. Just get the Fly More pack though, as there is nothing worse than being grounded when you could be flying.