DJI Mavic Pro – Toy or Tool?

mavic1On Tuesday, September 27, drone powerhouse DJI announced a game-changing drone to the world.  It is the DJI Mavic Pro.  Some have called it an “Adventure Drone,” which I think fits it very well.  It is a drone with the same intelligence as their larger models (Phantom 4) but folds up to a size not much larger than an iPhone 7+ box.  What this means is that it is something you can nearly put in your pocket.  Even the remote is smaller than an iPhone 7, and has a range of up to 4.6 miles.

The question, however, is this a tool or a toy?

The answer is, for both questions, an emphatic “Yes”.

First, lets talk about the Toy aspect.  It’s a flying camera that can go up to 40 miles an hour.  It can record in up to C4K and a flight time of 27 minutes.  It is something that will fit into any backpack and travels easily.  I am going to have a blast with it, and intend to do as much playing as project work.  And, considering I am not really getting paid jobs for it, it will be an expensive toy.

But it is easily a tool for very specific jobs.  It records in 4K.  Full 4K (UHD).  It is a flying photography and cinematography platform that can go anywhere.  My plans include shooting footage for different film projects I have lined up as well as travel on my motorcycle for some awesome vacation and travel footage.  Did I mention it will auto-track a subject and follow it at up to 20+ miles an hour?  Sure, I cant take off like a bat out of hell on the bike, but for some choice places and shots, it will be perfect.

My plans for this drone are simple.  Take it everywhere and shoot everything.  It will be an awesome vacation photo/video platform because it will show viewpoints that are not easy to get from the ground.  Because of its size and features, I can see this drone being purchased by people who do a lot of travel.  Especially those who have an easy way of charging the batteries while on the road.

Here is the Mavic Pro Spec Sheet showing all the relevant data.

There are a couple things I do want to address.  The first is the whole debacle around the focusing features.  The Mavic has a “Touch to Focus” feature that works like your camera on your phone.  You touch an area of the screen you want the camera to focus on, and it focuses on the area you tap.  The issue this functionality has on a drone platform is most of the time, you will want the camera focused at the “hyperfocal” distance (or infinity).  Focusing on something close will give some depth of field, but realistically you will not want that.  There was a goof on YouTube with 5 million subscribers who neglected to test out the drone or read anything about it and flew it and compared the footage to DJI’s flagship Phantom 4.  Well, he didnt set the focus to infinity so the footage was blurry, especially when compared to the tack-sharp footage of the P4.  Within hours someone had gotten ahold of him to tell him his mistake and he posted that he had made a mistake.  Other footage has surfaced showing a comparison between the Mavic and P4 that is hard to tell the difference – they knew what they were doing.  But, when someone has that many subscribers, it can, and did, cause a panic.  The lesson – learn the equipment then do the in-depth comparison.

The second issue that has been raised on the internet is one I hate seeing.  The over-reaction of uninformed people calling something a “x”-killer.  In this case, a “Phantom 4-killer”.  DJI is not going to stop producing their flagship consumer drone just because they produced the Mavic.  The Mavic is hitting a specific market – travelers.  I realize it has all the same functions as the larger drone – why not?  GoPro released a folding drone the week before, and it was the new best drone on the market, and I have a feeling DJI was just waiting on that to have something to compete.  Portability is a big thing, especially for explorers and adventures and travelers.  Size and portability matters.  It does for me – the Mavic will fit on my bike without any special bags or cases.  The Phantom 4 will not.  That is what has kept me from getting a drone in the first place.  I can even see people who own the P4 or other larger drones getting a Mavic as a “camera B” or backup.  Is it a Karma or Phantom “killer”?  No.  That is just stupid.

As I do not even have my Mavic yet (October 15 is the release date, I have a Oct 18-26 delivery date) I cannot put up any footage or photos.  I will, however, link a final site for the DJI footage.  And no, I can’t wait and am impatient like a little kid at x-mas.

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