Two new Mavics
DJI’s orignial Mavic Pro became tremendously popular thanks to an impressive set of features shoehorned into a foldable drone that seemed almost purpose-built for travel. However, two of the most frequent requests from Mavic Pro users have been to upgrade the camera with a larger 1″ sensor, similar to the one found on the Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced twins, and to make a model with a zoom lens.
It appears that DJI was listening to its customers, offering its new Mavic 2 model in two versions: the Mavic 2 Pro includes a camera with a 1″-type sensor and the Mavic 2 Zoom ships with a 2x optical (4x digital) zoom lens, effectively delivering on both requests. Physically, the two models are identical except for the camera module and as a nice touch both include 8GB of internal storage: perfect for that time when you’ll eventually forget to bring a memory card with you.
On the following pages, we’ll take a look at what sets these two models apart, along with some of the headline features that they have in common.
Mavic 2 Pro
The Mavic 2 Pro will appeal to those who want a portable drone, but who have been waiting for a camera with a larger sensor. Its camera is built around a 20MP 1″-type sensor, similar to the one found on the Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced models. It uses a 28mm equiv. lens (compared to 24mm on the P4 Pro and 26mm on the Mavic Pro) with a F2.8-F11 aperture range.
This is the first DJI consumer drone to feature a Hasselblad-branded camera, which the company says was “co-engineered in partnership with Hasselblad.” (Though it’s not the first time DJI as put a Hasselblad on one of its aircraft.) We’re not sure to what degree Hasselblad was actually involved in the camera’s design, however we’re optimistic that the Hasselblad name means that DJI has set a high bar for image quality. DJI says it’s using Hasselblad Natural Color Solution (HNCS) technology to ensure good color accuracy.
The Mavic 2 Pro also has a couple features not found on the zoom model: 10-bit Dlog-M color profile and 4K 10-bit HDR support using hybrid log gamma (HLG) for use on HDR TVs and displays.
Mavic 2 Zoom
The Mavic 2 Zoom uses a 12MP, 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor similar to the original Mavic Pro, but adds a 2x optical zoom lens with an equivalent range of 24-48mm. If you need to zoom further, a 2x digital zoom extends the range to 96mm, though video is limited to HD resolution when it’s used.
DJI says that improvements in its hybrid AF system (phase detect + contrast detect) allow this model to focus up to 40% faster than previous models while still benefiting from improved focus accuracy.
The Mavic 2 Zoom’s lens also enables a couple features not found on the Mavic 2 Pro: Dolly Zoom mode and Super Resolution mode. We’ll take a look at those next.
A dolly zoom is a camera technique you’ve probably seen in films before, and was popularized by directors like Alfred Hitchcock. It’s performed by physically moving the camera away from your subject while using the lens to zoom in at a rate that exactly offsets the camera’s movement. (Or vice versa.) It results in a shot in which the perspective shifts around an apparently unmoving subject.
The Mavic 2 Zoom includes a Dolly Zoom mode that coordinates the movement of the camera and zoom lens to automate dolly zoom moves, opening the door to produce some very creative shots.
Above: Super Resolution image of New York City captured by the Mavic 2 Zoom. Courtesy of DJI
In addition to 12MP still photos, the Mavic 2 Zoom can also create ‘Super Resolution’ images. Using its optical zoom lens, the drone will automatically shoot 9 overlapping photos which it automatically stitches together to create a much more detailed 48MP image.
Of course, it’s possible to create your own Super Resolution images from any camera using a series of images and some post processing, but the extra telephoto reach from the zoom lens should allow the Mavic 2 Zoom to capture a bit more fine detail of distant subjects, while automating a process many users might not bother to do manually. We look forward to seeing how well this feature works.
Despite having very different cameras, both Mavic 2 models share very similar video specifications. Both can capture UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 30p, 2.7K up to 60p, and HD up to 120p, and video can be recorded using either H.264 or H.265 codecs at up to 100Mbps.
Noticeably absent is support for 4K/60p recording, which is available on the older Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced twins, as well as support for cinema DCI 4K (4096 x 2160), found on both the Phantom 4 Pro/Advanced and the original Mavic Pro.
As mentioned previously, the Mavic 2 Pro also includes a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile and supports 4K 10-bit hybrid log gamma. The Mavic 2 Zoom includes DJI’s D-Cinelike color mode.
Creating cinematic camera moves with a drone can be challenging without a lot of practice, which is why intelligent flight modes can be so useful. The Mavic 2 drones introduce a new HyperLapse feature designed to show the passage of time, and includes four different ways to direct the motion of the drone.
‘Circle’ mode automatically flies the drone in a circular pattern around your subject, ‘Course Lock’ keeps the camera fixed on a subject as the drone flies in a straight line, and ‘Waypoint’ allows you to plan a flight path using both GPS coordinates and altitudes to set up complex shots. Finally, there’s a ‘Free’ mode in which the pilot can fly the drone manually while it takes photos.
DJI says HyperLapse shots can be shared immediately to social media, but the drone also saves the JPEG and Raw files in case you want to do your own processing later.
The Mavic 2 series also benefits from DJI’s ActiveTrack 2.0, the newest version of its autonomous subject tracking system, which works in conjunction with the obstacle avoidance system to prevent collisions.
ActiveTrack 2.0 uses the main camera and front dual vision cameras to create a 3D map of the area in front of the aircraft, and it analyzes motion to predict the path of a subject up to three seconds in advance, which should improve tracking accuracy. DJI claims the system will even continue to follow your subject if it’s temporarily blocked from view by something else in the frame.
The Mavic 2 models have an updated version of DJI’s FlightAutonomy system that uses 10 sensors around the drone which combine to detect obstacles in any direction, and an improved version of DJI’s APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) analyzes the environment surrounding the aircraft so that it can fly without stopping. This should allow users to focus more on the creative process, such as framing a shot, without the drone drifting into something.
There’s also a new bottom auxiliary light that activates automatically when landing in low light situations, such as dawn or dusk, to ensure safe landings under such conditions.
DJI has also updated its OcuSync video transmission system to version 2.0. According to DJI, OcuSync 2.0 is more effective at resisting interference, supports both 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, and includes auto-switching capability. It can even use the different frequencies to separate uplink and downlink data streams.
OcuSync 2.0 allows the Mavic 2 to transmit live 1080p video up to a claimed distance of 8km, and thanks to this improved transmission users will have immediate access to full HD video clips from the cache in the DJI app. It’s also possible to save original resolution JPEG files directly to your mobile device for immediate sharing, without needing to transfer image files from the aircraft.
Hardware and performance
Above: The Mavic 2 (left) next to the Mavic Air (right).
The original Mavic Pro became popular thanks to its compact size and weight. The new Mavic 2 models weigh in higher than the original (907g/2lb vs. 734g/1.6lb). However, DJI says that the new design also reduces body drag by up to 19% compared to the Mavic Pro. In fact, despite being slightly larger, the Mavic 2s have a respectable flight time of 31 minutes.
Both models can fly up to 72 kph (44 mph) in sport mode, making them useful for following some quickly moving subjects, though maybe not that Ferrari you’ve been meaning to shoot.
DJI claims that the Mavic 2s also use a more efficient, quieter propulsion system and noise reducing propellers to keep noise to a minimum. This is good news, especially since noise has been a bit of a sore point for some users of DJI’s recently released Mavic Air.
Price and availability
The Mavic 2 Pro retails for $1499, while the Mavic 2 Zoom is $1199. That’s still more than the current prices for the older Mavic Pro ($999) and smaller Mavic Air ($799), and more in line with the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 ($1499) and Phantom 4 Advanced ($1199), both of which have 1-inch type sensors, but lack the compact foldability of the Mavic 2s.
Assuming you need some additional accessories, it’s probably worth considering DJI’s ‘Fly More’ kit, which includes two additional batteries, a multi-battery charging hub, a car charger, a battery to power bank adapter, extra props, and a case for $319. Extra batteries on their own will cost you $119 each.