It’s always exciting to learn about new drones. This time around, we get to talk to you about the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, let’s look at the series as a whole in a little in-depth DJI Mavic 2 review.
This DJI Mavic 2 drones review was originally released in September, 2018.
Truth is, aside from the camera and software, the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are the same drone. Those differences enable different flight modes, but the core flight characteristics remain the same. Allow me to nearly spoil all of our coverage going forward: These are fantastic drones, the only real question is whether or not they are right for you and your budget.
Why trust Drone Rush?
I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
Released in August 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 series of folding quadcopters was touted as an iterative update to the ever-popular DJI Mavic Pro. There is no doubt that they look very similar, but the differences on the inside almost make for a new class of drone – a compact folding professional drone.
The Mavic 2 series won’t replace the Inspire 2 in the air, but folks considering even the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 should take a moment to figure out if the Mavic 2 Pro offers what they need – spoiler alert: It might.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
What we are looking at is a slight modification to the overall design of the original Mavic Pro. The design language is the same, the drones fold in the same way and have the same general shape. The Mavic 2 series is larger and heavier, but with the removable joysticks on the remote control, the overall package is comparably manageable for travel.
The Mavic 2 series is a lighter grey color. I prefer the darker grey of the original Mavic Pro, but that’s just my preference.
The battery is a new design as well. It’s taller and the connector is on the back instead of the front. While it offers almost the exact same Lithium Ion Polymer capacity as the original Mavic Pro, the new version is not cross compatible between drone generations. If you were wondering, however, the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom use the same battery.
If you are new to the Mavic series of drones, you’ll find the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom to be folding quadcopters. The front propeller arms fold straight back and the rear arms fold underneath. The propellers themselves fold as well. These are the same high-efficiency props you can find on the Mavic Pro Platinum edition.
The cameras hang from 3-axis stabilized gimbals under the nose of the drone. DJI gives you hardware controls to tilt the camera from straight down to a few degrees upward, as well as software controls to rotate the camera side to side and up and down. Twisting the camera is reserved for auto-leveling while you fly around.
In the big picture, DJI has put a lot of effort into stabilizing the camera. Most of their drones offer industry leading stabilized video. Many drone enthusiasts believe that stabilized video is the most important aspect of a drone, thus, DJI continues to be the top drone manufacturer around.
The Mavic 2 series has a new style of gimbal for DJI, offering several levels of dampening and motorized control to produce some of the smoothest video we’ve captured from the sky. And we’re not just talking about lucking out with some stable hover footage, we’re talking about completely stable footage while booting along at over 30mph with wind gusts in the 3-7 mph range. We’re seriously impressed.
Safety appears to be DJI’s second highest priority with the Mavic 2 series. They are not the first to hit the market with all-direction obstacle avoidance sensors, and those sensors are only all active in certain modes, but they are there. There is also a landing light, so you can see the ground clearly when landing in the dark. Of course, that’s within the FAA’s allowable twilight flight allowances, right?
In the event of a collision, the motor overload identification brings all of the propellers to a stop very quickly. We put this to the test, our conclusion is that you’ll still have very sore fingers if you come into contact with a spinning prop, but the motors halt before they’d cause serious harm, to you or themselves. If you were wondering, we tested by trying to take-off with one motor in taller grass. The motor was able to spin up, but the grass was enough resistance at take-off power to trigger the over-load – all props stopped almost instantly.
The remote control is almost exactly the same size and shape as the original Mavic Pro. It has the same folding arms to hold your mobile device, same folding antenna at the top and a small LCD display on front with all the most important flight telemetry. It has the removable joysticks first found on the Mavic Air as well.
This iteration of the remote has a three stage switch on the right hand side that swaps between flight modes. Marked T P S, you’re looking at Sport mode, to get up to 45mph, Tripod mode for super slow, safe and stable flight, and P-mode, offering the default GPS and obstacle avoidance sensor enabled flight.
(Updates since initial launch of this review in October 2018.)
December, 2018: DJI launched the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise. Using the same base frame, they updated some internals and added accessories to make a solid search and rescue drone. A few weeks later they launched the dual camera version of this new Enterprise drone, providing an infrared camera for all your inspection needs. DJI still has the Matrice 200 series for enterprise operations that allow a larger drone to take tot he sky, but the new Mavic 2 Enterprise offerings are vastly more portable for constrained operations.
January, 2019: DJI launched the DJI Mavic Smart Controller for most OcuSync drones. This new Mavic remote pack a built-in display with all the required features you’d find from your connected smartphone. That said, the remote itself is simplified from the standard Mavic Pro, Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom remotes, as there is a built-in full color display, they’ve removed the small basic LCD panel some of us have come to appreciate. Love it or not, this is the best remote you can get for your Mavic drone.
Summer 2020: Your DJI Mavic 2 drones have new firmware ready that will increase your connectivity range. After the launch of the DJI Mavic Air 2 proved that OcuSync 2.0 can connect at even greater distances, the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom can now also connect up to 10KM, or about 6.2 miles.
April 2021: The new DJI Air 2S has the same size of camera as the Mavic 2 Pro, has a digital zoom that can keep up with the Mavic 2 Zoom, and costs less than either of the two. Better yet, the Air 2S rocks updated versions of most of the camera modes, plus Ocusync 3.0, which is good for up to 12KM, about 7.5 miles. The Mavic 2 drones as are still larger, stronger, and have more safety features, but the Air 2S may be better for you.
Know before you fly: Drone Laws
In the air, you may feel some similarities to the original Mavic Pro, but we find the new Mavic 2 series a fun new flight experience.
The first thing you’ll likely notice, the Mavic 2 drones are fast. Granted, the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air are just shy of the top speed of the Mavic 2 line. They all top out just over 40mph. The real value here is the speeds you’ll see while shooting absolutely stable video. We found both the Mavic Pro and the Mavic Air to coast along at about 17-19 mph, so we were amazed to see a little over 30mph from the Mavic 2.
DJI indicates on paper that the Mavic 2 series has the same stability at hover as previous DJI drones. I must admit, I’ve moved since my last DJI review, I am no longer flying in the same place with the same magnetic interference and all that fun stuff, but the Mavic 2 series appear to be way more stable than other DJI machines, thus far.
The last time I flew the Mavic 2 Pro before writing this was to take photos and video of it in the sky. It was a windier day than I usually fly in, with an average wind speed of about 4 mph and gusts up to 10 mph. Not bad, but enough to throw a drone off at hover. Truth is, the Mavic 2 Pro didn’t care about the wind.
Without actually measuring, I’d say the Mavic 2 series can hold it’s position in the sky with accuracy down to 10 inches horizontal and 4 inches vertical. This is true, at least, when you are within 10 feet or so of the ground and within 20 feet of an obstacle. GPS does a great job, but the visioning systems really make the difference for precision.
Having said this, the Mavic 2 drones do not like being close to objects. They will appear to drift when they are trying to get away from things. I let the drone hover, then stood so it was between me and some trees. I received constant warnings that there were objects in front of and behind the drone, and it started shifting around, presumably to even out the distance between the obstacles. I can’t verify that that is what it was doing, but it certainly maintained a fairly even space front and back.
This is where the all-direction obstacle avoidance sensors can be a hassle. A life saver for the drone, but a nuisance for a precision flight. With the Mavic Air, for example, if I got caught in a place where there were obstacles front and back, meaning the drone would not maneuver forward or backward, I simply turned the drone ninety degrees and flew sideways to get where I was trying to go. With the Mavic 2 series, it is possible to get stuck completely, unable to move any direction. I would worry about flying through a gap in the trees or a hallway.
I encountered the obstacle avoidance issue on one flight. My landing pad was situated about 5 feet from some tall grass and 6 feet from my car. When I came to land, I could not get the drone to line up with the landing pad, it sensed the obstacles and just would not move horizontally in any direction. I had to bring the drone back up, move the landing pad and try for a landing again. For the most part, you can choose to either have the obstacle avoidance sensors turned on or off, I’d like something in between.
Speaking of the obstacle avoidance sensors, did you know that they are not all running by default? That’s right, forward, backward and downward facing sensors are on by default, the sensors on the sides are only active in certain modes. Fly in Tripod mode or ActiveTrack to enable the side sensors.
To help minimize lost air time due to obstacles, the Mavic 2 series is equipped with APAS. Introduced with the Mavic Air, APAS is DJI’s smart flight mode that can navigate the drone around obstacles. Fly straight toward a fence, for example, and the drone can shift to the side and/or up and over the fence.
The Mavic 2 drones are equipped with ActiveTrack 2.0. DJI has added updated 3D mapping systems with trajectory prediction. It’s not designed for bullet-proof follow-me modes, but it certainly helps keep objects in frame.
In addition to APAS, ActiveTrack and other flight modes we’ve already discussed, the Mavic 2 drones offer many of the same modes as other DJI drones. Quickshots is packed with Asteroid, Rocket and other modes, for example.
New modes include Hyperlapse, a Task Library and HyperLight. Some old modes include panoramic shots, HDR, multi-s