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DJI Mavic 2 review and specifications – best drone of 2018?

Dear drone lovers, the Mavic 2 is here! There have been many tech launch events in 2018, but nothing as exciting as the new Mavic 2 release. With such insane popularity of the first Mavic Pro, the new Mavic 2 was the most expected piece of technology of the year, driving all bloggers and reviewers to exploit every rumors and leaks.

Anyone who has ever saw or flied a drone, definitely heard about Mavic Pro. Mavic Pro was a revelation. This amazing piece of technology discovered a new line in company, opening a road for the next generation of consumer drones like Spark and Mavic Air.

Mavic 2 - See the bigger picture

Mavic 2 – See the bigger picture

However, ever since the release, people knew that Mavic Pro wasn’t perfect. It had flaws, and everyone hopped that new firmware will fix everything. Well, firmware did not fix all issues, as we expected, but everything is now history.

One month ago DJI released a new drone which is about to become the DJI flagship. I had the privilege to own it, play and fly with it, and so I will give you my honest feedback.

How good are the latest DJI’s folding drones?

On August 23, 2018 DJI hosted the most expected launch event in 2018, releasing the Mavic 2 in two versions: Pro and  Zoom. Both Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are quite similar, the major difference coming from the camera.

The most stunning aspect that had a huge impact on all DJI fans was the new drones design. Everyone expected that after 2 years since the first Mavic was released, the new one will come in a totally new design. Well it did not. The new Mavic 2 looks almost identical like the old Mavic Pro.

That’s not necessarily bad. There is no reason to change a good design. Look at Lamborghini! They all look the same since like forever.

DJI Mavic 2 design compared with Lamborghini

DJI Mavic 2 design compared with Lamborghini

But how is the performance? It has to be better. Well, this time DJI let someone else to handle the most important part. Let’s review all important topics together.

Differences between Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 - PRO vs. Zoom side by side frontal view

DJI Mavic 2 – PRO vs. Zoom side by side frontal view

First obvious question:

Why DJI released two Mavic versions? Well, the answer is quite simple. DJI aimed to cover two critical market segments:

Shortly, DJI released one new aircraft with two different cameras under the title “See the bigger picture”. Other than the camera Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom have the same specs, same design, and the same accessories.

DJI Mavic 2 - one aircraft, two cameras

DJI Mavic 2 – one aircraft, two cameras

Even DJI makes it pretty clear on their website by listing both Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro specifications in the same section, under the generic “Mavic 2” label. The only chapter that is separated is the “Camera specifications”.

Mavic 2 weight and size

Both Mavic 2 Pro (907g) and Mavic 2 Zoom (905g) are heavier than the first Mavic Pro with about ~170g. There is a very small difference of about 2 g between Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, most likely coming from different gimbal construction.

Considering that technology advances every year and electronic parts become smaller and smaller, I was expecting that Mavic 2 would be actually lighter than the first version.

Also the Mavic 2 is a bit larger than Mavic Pro when folded , being even harder to fit it in a camera bag. Here are the dimensions:

We could eventually understand this numbers if the new Mavic 2 had some outstanding benefits. For instance, the Mavic 2 Intelligent Battery is also heavier than the first Mavic battery with about 50g, but surprisingly they have quite the same capacity:

I can’t really understand how DJI engineers call this innovation. After more than 2 years, everything seems to be heavier and larger. The only part that has some dimension improvements is the Remote Controller, which now has screwable sticks, same as DJI Mavic Air.

Mavic 2 flight time (battery lifetime)

Both Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom offer a maximum flight time of 31 minutes (29 minutes while hovering). There is almost no improvement when comparing with the Mavic Pro Platinum which has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes.

There is a voltage difference between Mavic 2 and Mavic 1 batteries. While the first Mavic Intelligent battery had a 11.4V, Mavic 2 has is rated at 15.4V and has a max charging voltage of 17.6V. This could lead to a longer charging cycle when using car/auto chargers due to voltage step-up process, cars having in general a maximum output of 13V.

Mavic 2 range and flight distance

One of the new features of Mavic 2 is the upgraded transmission system. We all loved Mavic Pro’s features but what made a real difference was the amazing OcuSync transmission system, able to offer long flying distances and incredible smooth video feed.

OcuSync 2.0 is now available on both Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. This new transmission system promises greater flying distances and even better stability. Ocusync 2.0 supports both 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz comparing  with first version which had only 2.4 Ghz. Mavic 2 can now auto-switch bands in real time in order to avoid interference and deliver 1080p video transmission on up to 8 Km distances.

Latency (120-130ms) is also shorter with about 40-50 ms than the first OcuSync generation, getting really close to real time.

Because the old Mavic Pro RC does not support 5.8 Ghz, you cannot use it to operate the new Mavic 2.

Unlike the first Mavic Pro, Mavic 2 cannot be controlled via Wi-Fi anymore. You can only control it using a remote controller. I seriously doubt that anyone flied the Mavic Pro with the smartphone due to the fact that all selling bundles had remote controller included.

DJI claims a maximum total travel distance of 18 km (at a consistent 25 km/h) with one full charged battery, in no wind conditions. This is better than the Pro Platinum who touched 15 km.

This numbers are not really realistic. I mean, who in the world flies 18 km straight forward and than lands? Even so, you have to find a perfect flat place without obstructions and good weather conditions.

After having more than 12 flights with the Mavic 2, I can tell you that I really don’t see a real difference in either range or stability. I have no problems at all, and everything was buttery smooth on each flight, just the same as with the first Mavic Pro.

Sensing system (Vision) and collision avoidance

DJI drones use multiple sensors not only to predict collisions and avoid obstacles but also for achieve complex Quick-shots trajectories. If at some chapters we did not get any improvements, at this one there is a major difference.

DJI Mavic 2 - omnidirectional sensors placement

DJI Mavic 2 – omnidirectional sensors placement

Mavic 2 is practically stuffed with sensors. It has so many on all sides that makes it looking like a NASA prototype ready to be launched in space. If the first Mavic Pro had only frontal and bottom sensors, Mavic Air added backwards sensors, Mavic 2 has on all sides:

DJI Mavic 2 - bottom view

DJI Mavic 2 – bottom view

DJI Mavic 2 - back, side and top sensors

DJI Mavic 2 – back, side and top sensors

Not only the sensors number is larger, but also the range of precision measurements. New better sensors are now capable to detect faster and further, offering better decisions and reactions in less time.

Frontal detectable range has increased from 15-30m on Mavic Pro to 20 – 40m on Mavic 2. Also precision measurements have been improved from 0.7-15m to 0.5-20m.

One specific stressful part when doing pre-planned flights is that drone might hit obstacles like tree branches hanging above the drone. To overcome this, DJI added a new infrared sensor on the top of the craft. This sensor will also help during RTH (Return to home) missions in order to avoid accidents while ascending to specific altitude.

Mavic 2 camera review – Hasselblad vs. Zoom

Finally, this is the part where DJI Mavic 2 really makes the jump, becoming a real DJI flagship product. If until now all DJI consumer drones were equipped with DJI made cameras, mostly featuring Sony sensors, the Mavic 2 Pro comes with a 1 inch high-end camera made by Hasselblad, one of the most consecrated manufacturer in this branch.

DJI and Hasselblad logo

DJI and Hasselblad logo

Victor Hasselblad AB is a Swedish manufacturer of medium-format cameras, photographic equipment and image scanners based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company is best known for the classic medium-format cameras it has produced since World War II. Hasselblad cameras costs as much as $50.000 and can capture more than 100 MP in a single image.

Just so you know, the most famous use of the Hasselblad camera was during the Apollo program missions when humans first landed on the Moon.

DJI and Hasselblad collaborated for the last 2 years in order to co-develop the L1D-20c camera. Engineers from both companies made a huge effort to create lens definition, image processing engine, and image effect optimization, to make a Hasselblad quality camera small enough to fit on the new Mavic 2 Pro.

What that means, is that the Mavic 2 Pro camera will outstand pretty much every other drone built-in camera within the same price range. On the other side, Mavic 2 Zoom camera is more close to what we already saw on the first Mavic Pro and Mavic Air. It obviously comes with better technical specs, but nothing impressive.

What makes Mavic 2 Zoom a must have tool for content creators, is the dynamic focal length which can zoom from 24mm to 48mm. This feature opens up another level of creativity by making effects like vertigo / dolly zoom directly from the drone itself. Also orbiting around a target can now give a hole new perspective when zooming in.

Mavic 2 Pro Hasselblad camera performance

With an incredible 1 inch sensor (~ 20 millions effective pixels), the new Mavic 2 Hasselblad camera features adjustable aperture between f/2.8 to f/11. It now offers you a complete dynamic triangle of light, giving a full manual control over the image sharpness and depth of field. The newer image processor allows higher ISO levels, up to 6400 in video mode and up to 12500 in photography mode.

DJI Mavic 2 - 1 inch sensor vs 1/2.3"

DJI Mavic 2 – 1 inch sensor vs 1/2.3″

Unfortunately there is no 60 fps at 4K video recording, but still, video max bitrate is now 100Mbps comparing to only 60Mbps on the old Mavic Pro. A true game changing feature is that Mavic 2 Pro can now record in Dlog-M (10bit) and HLG 10bit.

For those who don’t know what that means, this is a professional camera feature for shooting videos in flat color (LOG) profile with a very high dynamic range. That means that the output footage will be close to RAW source, capturing a huge amount of details, making post-processing way easier.

Also a huge boost in video quality comes from better compression. Mavic 2 Pro Hasselbald camera can now record in H.265, giving a way better image quality by allowing to keep more image information in the compression process.

Still photography is also amazing. With the 1 inch sensor, pictures are sharper and cleaner. With 35mm fixed focal length, close shots can also give some depth of field now by opening the aperture wide to f/2.8. The dynamic range though is simply impressive. I work with Adobe Lightroom and I found that recovering details from raw files is decent to very good.

DJI Mavic 2 PRO photo sample 1

DJI Mavic 2 PRO photo sample 1

DJI Mavic 2 PRO photo sample 2

DJI Mavic 2 PRO photo sample 2

DJI Mavic 2 PRO photo sample 3

DJI Mavic 2 PRO photo sample 3

There is one thing that the old Mavic Pro still does it better than the Mavic 2 Pro and that is recording in Cinematic 4k (c4k). For some reason DJI excluded this resolution (4096 x 2160) from the Mavic 2 Pro camera letting only UHD 4K (3840×2160) available for now. Maybe it will come back in next firmware upgrades.

Mavic 2 Zoom camera performance

I can tell you from start that this camera hasn’t any impressive specs. Its pretty much the same as the Mavic Air camera with few differences. One difference which really counts is the ability to record using H.265 compression algorithm. Same as Mavic 2 Pros, image with this compression mode will be richer in details.

The aperture on this camera is also dynamic, but is not possible to manually change it. The diaphragm on this camera gradually close with the zoom in, like in DSLR cheaper zoom lenses. When is zoomed out wide at 24mm the aperture is opened at f/2.8 and when is zoomed in the aperture is closed to f/3.8. That means that when you zoom, the image will get darker and you will have to either raise the ISO levels or lower the shutter speed.

The quality on this camera is not even close to the Hasselbald one, but for those people who are going to buy Mavic 2 Zoom it wont matter. Its good enough to shoot spectacular footage, and create cinematic productions.

Like on Mavic Air, you get D-Cinelike which is not as good as D-LOG, but still gives you a little space in post-production for color grading.

DJI claim that the zoom mechanism is very high quality and innovative offering super smooth close up transitions.

Same as the Mavic 2 Pro, Zoom can record 4k 30p at 100 Mbps bitrate and slowmotion 120fps in 1080p. Due to the small sensor of only 1/2.3″, 1080p@120fps is quite blurry and noisy making almost impossible to use it.

Photos quality is far away from Mavic 2 Pro, but still acceptable. I can’t even compare this two cameras when it comes to still image quality. That Hasselbald camera quality is incredible, the results is comparable with high-end DSLR’s.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom photo sample 1

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom photo sample 1

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom photo sample 2

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom photo sample 2

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom photo sample 3

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom photo sample 3

Featuring a zoomed lens, the Mavic 2 Zoom camera also has to focus somehow. DJI implemented a hybrid contrast and phase detection focus system, like you can find in Sony mirorrless cameras that reacts quite fast most of the times.

Mavic 2 new features

Sames as in all new drone releases, DJI brings new hardware features but also new software features and functionalities. Lets review some of the most interesting additions:

What I don’t like at Mavic 2

Mavic 2 price and packaging

Both Mavic 2 PRO and Mavic 2 Zoom are sold in two available packages. You can buy them either Standard or with Goggles RE. There isn’t yet a Mavic 2 Fly More Combo package available, but the Fly More kit can be separately bought.

The Mavic 2 Pro Standard version costs $1499 on the official DJI store. You can buy it directly from the DJI Amazon store below:

 DJI Mavic 2 Pro standard

⇨ DJI Mavic 2 Pro with Fly More Kit (bundle)

⇨ Fly More Kit  for DJI Mavic 2

 

The Mavic 2 Zoom Standard version costs $1249 on the official DJI store. You can buy it directly from the DJI Amazon store below:

 DJI Mavic 2 Zoom standard

⇨ DJI Mavic 2 Zoom with Fly More Kit (bundle)

⇨ Fly More Kit  for DJI Mavic 2

 

I hope that this information will help you to decide if Mavic 2 is really worth the effort. For me, only the Mavic 2 Pro is a real change, the Hasselblad camera making a huge step ahead all drones under $2000. Mavic 2 Zoom is just not a real performance improve, but rather more a feature toggle.

I wouldn’t buy the Mavic 2 Zoom just to have Dolly Zoom. Its not so hard to achieve it in post-production. But 10bit H/DLOG is a real game changer for those who love color grading.

I wish you safe flights and amazing shoots. Thank you for your time!

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