Original release of this Mavic 2 review posted Fall, 2018.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drone legal and safety
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.
Science of Flight series
We have plenty more to read if you are interested in the science of drone flight. We are not physicists, but we know just enough to explain some of the basic concepts of how drones operate, how they fly and how to do so effectively. Be sure to check out our other Science of Flight articles to learn more.
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-shot, timed shots and more.
The Task Library is cool, the drone remembers a set flight path or position, you can than duplicate shots from that flight at different times of the day, or in different weather. Fun for artistic photography, great for commercial inspection.
HyperLight is a similar concept to the also available HDR modes. While HDR focuses on capturing a balanced image, HyperLight focuses on capturing clearer night shots. I could only test during twilight, legally, but in the dark of night, while looking at the bright lights of a cityscape, for example, you can expect better contrast and less light bleed from your images.
In addition, we will talk more about the specific modes available to each of the Mavic 2 drones in their own articles. For now, know that the Mavic 2 Zoom offers something called Dolly Zoom. This is a really old camera trick that creates a warping look to your video. Create your own now with just one tap.
Hardware and specification
The DJI Mavic 2 series is built of the same metal and plastic materials as the initial Mavic Pro. Or so it seems. There are subtle changes to some things, such as the propeller arms appearing to be two-piece construction.
If you look closely, you can see a groove just inside the silver line on the front propeller arms, and the matching distance from the main fuselage on the back arms. We haven’t tried to tear down the Mavic 2 drones to verify for certain, but it appears DJI has made is easier, and possibly less expensive to repair outer arm damage.
Both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom feel heavy in the hand. Not unwieldy, just sturdy. I do not feel like I will damage the Mavic 2 with some improper handling.
The camera cover is a single piece design now. We’ve seen this on other DJI drones, but Mavic Pro owners are accustomed to the clamp and the cover being separate pieces. The clear plastic dome does not come with a rubber cover this time, and there is a bit of a dimple near the center of the camera. Bottom line, you will not be flying this drone with the cover on.
We’ve seen folks expressing grief over how the gimbal cover works. We admit, it takes some patients to learn, and further patients to install each time. It is easiest with the drone set upside down somewhere, slide the clamp in and align the camera with two hands. Once most inserted, the two small clips will fit into the drone, then simply swivel the dome over the camera until it clips into place. Just don’t push if it’s sticking, the mechanical leverage is enough to damage the gimbal.
The remote control maintains the great size, shape and features as the remote for the Mavic Pro. You get removable joysticks this time, for improved maneuverability. Connect a phone up to about 6-inches with the micro USB, USB Type-C or Lightning cables provided.
Connectivity has been improved with OcuSync 2.0. Dual frequency 2.4 and 5.8GHz frequencies can keep you connected in congested areas, as well as improve the experience with controls on the 2.4GHz range and video on the 5.8GHz range.
With video on the 5.8GHz range, it is possible to end up on the same channel as a racing or other hobby drone with FPV setup. Please be a good neighbor if flying around others. Communicate what you are doing. You might not be able to change channels, but they probably can.
With all this, OcuSync 2.0 on the Mavic 2 drones is able to stream 1080p live video up to 5 miles away. This sound unnecessary, considering the line of sight rules in the U.S. pretty well limit you to less than a mile of range. Thing is, you may end up flying in an area with interference. Myself, the metals in the volcanic rock in my area throw magnetic interference warnings for most of my DJI drones. I haven’t seen them yet with either Mavic 2 drone.
Once airborne, DJI’s claims of up to 31 minutes of flight time translate into about 26 minutes of safe flight before landing. By default, the low battery warning was set to 30% on our Mavic 2 Zoom. I manually reduced that to 20% for my flying style. Let’s be honest, most of my early flights are in close range to test all the modes. I’ll put it back up to 30% when I do longer distance flights.
The biggest thing I hope you don’t notice with the Mavic 2 drones is the noise. Make no mistake, when they throttle up, they can produce that familiar drone roar. however, at hover, on a still day, this is one of the quietest drones we’ve flown.
Throttling up is a treat with the Mavic 2 series. As mentioned, you’ll see about 30 mph with stable camera. Sport mode jacks that up to 45 mph. You’ll get around the neighborhood a lot faster than you might expect with this machine.
As for the feel of it. It is more responsive than the Mavic Pro, but less so than the Mavic Air. The Mavic Air is a little twitchy sports car if you go nuts on the sticks. The Mavic Pro is a little more reserved, the Mavic 2 drones are on the sportier side, but still try to keep it smooth for the camera.
If you do not like the feel of the Mavic 2, if you think the gimbal tilts too fast when you spin the wheel, or that the drone rotates too quickly when you push the stick, you can dial these back in the settings.
If the adjustments in the settings are not enough, don’t forget about that switch on the side of the remote to bounce between normal flight, Tripod mode and Sport mode.
Obviously, the purpose of these new drones is to put a camera into the sky. Both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom offer many of the same camera modes, despite the dramatically different cameras.
We’ll keep it short for now, as we will discuss more in an in-depth camera review for each drone, soon.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro has a 20MP, 1-inch Hasselblad camera with 28mm lens. 10-bit HDR video and a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile, along with the adjustable f/2.8 – f/11 aperture, are a step and a half passed simply capturing images from the sky.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom has a 12MP, 1/2.3-inch camera with a variable 24 – 48mm lens. There is an additional 2x digital zoom, if you really want to get in there, for a total of 96mm. There is also a Super Resolution photos capture mode that will stitch together multiple shots into a high-detail 48MP photo.
The TLDR is that these are the best cameras of all of DJI’s drones under the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. We’ll be checking if the Mavic 2 Pro is as good as the top Phantom drone, they certainly compare similarly on the spec sheet. Bottom line, if you are considering one of DJI’s compact offerings, and you want the best camera, one of the new Mavic 2 drones is the machine for you.
Time to fly the DJI Mavic 2 drones
2018 has been a wonderful year for consumer drones. More players are stepping up their game, healthily competing with some of DJI’s offerings, and DJI keeps pushing forward as well. There is no doubt in our mind, the new Mavic 2 series are the best drones you can buy if you need an all around drone for hobby flight.
The Mavic 2 Zoom offers a number of fun and functional camera modes and features that few other machines can compete with and the Mavic 2 Pro is the biggest camera on a smaller drone around.
These are powerful machines that are both sporty and fast as well as able to maintain an impressively stable hover. More important, the camera gimbals are some of the very best we’ve seen for capturing silky smooth video from the sky.
We were unashamedly huge fans of the Mavic Pro. DJI calls the Mavic 2 line an “iterative update” to that first folding drone, and we are all in on the improvements. We will remain subjective, we understand that there are limitations, and maybe some issues, we’re also aware that these machines are prohibitively priced for many users, but if you can afford one, totally worth it.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
August 2018Release Date
Introduced in August of 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro instantly became the best consumer-class folding drone that DJI had to offer. A marked upgrade over the original Mavic Pro, the Mavic 2 Pro rocks a 1-inch camera sensor for 4K video capture at 100Mbps, multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors for some of the safest drone flight possible, and much more. OcuSync 2.0 enhances connectivity to the remote control and other accessories, now able to transmit 1080p live stream video well beyond the legal line-of-sight.
With an initial launch price of $1449, plus another $319 to get the Fly More kit with extra batteries, there is a barrier to entry with this machine, but if the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is within your budget, we think you will not be disappointed.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
August 2018Release Date
If you run down the spec sheet, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro are the same machine, with one major exception, the camera. The folding quadcopter design offers great portability, the multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors assist in safe flight and the new capabilities of OcuSync 2.0 add versatility for control and accessories. That is true for both of the drones, the Mavic 2 Zoom, on the other hand, rocks a 2x optical zoom lens on top of a 12MP camera. It shoots 4K video at 100Mbps and can digitally double that zoom for an impressive close-up.
DJI Mavic 2 Fly More Kit
Earlier DJI drone buyers are familiar with the Fly More combo offerings for the drones. DJI decided to make this a separate kit instead of a drone bundle this time around. The Mavic 2 Fly More Kit rounds out your flying package with two more batteries, a charging dock, extra propellers and other spare parts, plus a handy carrying bag.
That wraps it up for today. Please stay tuned for our dedicated DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Zoom separate camera and feature focus articles. We believe these are great drones, but which is the right option for you will be determined in the coming articles.
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