Drones have added an interesting new element to photography with the ease that you can now quickly grab a new perspective a new shot. This has given us new options for photography and the DJI Mavic Pro has given us new options for portability in this new world. The Mavic Pro’s biggest selling point and the reason that it’s been so popular is it’s size for a fully capable drone. Folding up into the size of a large DSLR lens you finally have the ability to pack this drone with you on trips where before you’d be stuck with the choice of nothing or a bulky drone the size of a backpack. I knew when I bought this drone it was special because of it’s size but it was not until I started really traveling that I found out how great it really was.
I’ve owned three drones thus far starting with a Phantom 3 and moving to a Mavic Pro and a Phantom 4 Pro I think gives me some perspective about what makes them all interesting and their strengths and weaknesses. The Mavic Pro is in a totally new league from the Phantom 3, with a hugely better radio, smoother flying, better obstacle avoidance, intelligent flight modes and more, it’s just not even close. The Mavic and the Phantom 4 Pro are a different story, they are relatively well matched technology wise with two major differences.
Camera - The simplest ways I can equate this difference is that the Mavic is like shooting with a cell phone camera on a gimbal from 2015. It’s not perfectly clear, the dynamic range is not good, focus can be spotty but you get the shot. With the Phantom it’s more like shooting with a 2017 1” sensor point and shoot, you have better quality, cleaner image, more pixels and just an overall better experience.
Size - The size is the second major difference in the drones, the Mavic Pro folds up to the size of say a 70-200 lens, the Phantom 4 Pro is the size of a medium size backpack and to travel with it I have to actually put it in it’s own backpack. Now if your a photographer that shoots mostly local and via a car this is no matter, bring the good drone and the good camera, if however your going to travel the world doing photography you end up making choices, do I want the drone or the dslr, lenses and tripod?
As for specifics of the Mavic Pro, if you’ve never flown a drone before you’ll be amazed at the the things it can do and the ease of flying it. Once it connects to all of the GPS satellites you can launch the drone and it will essentially hover in place allowing you to focus on other things like photography and videography. From a camera perspective you have control over focus, ISO and shutter speed but the aperture is fixed. You also get control over RAW vs JPEG, HDR, bracketing, pano mode, portrait or horizontal. For video you can switch resolutions and frame rates up to 4k, pretty amazing for a flying machine you can have for around $1000.
To me the drones are just another tool in the chest of a photographer, you choose the right one for the job and you enjoy the fruits of you labor. When I’m in Maine photographing and I have my car nearby I’m taking the phantom 4 100% of the time, if I need to be hiking into a location or flying away to somewhere I don’t even think about the Phantom, I pack my Mavic and I get the shot that may not be technically perfect but that evokes that feeling of seeing something new.