The DJI Mavic Pro may be the first prosumer camera drone with true mass appeal. While there have been several kinder, gentler quadcopters this year. From the large PowerVision PowerEgg to the compact Yuneec Breeze, the Mavic Pro is really the only one to combine high performance in an ultracompact body. Add in DJI’s full assortment of safety and ease-of-use features and you’ve got a drone that anyone can take anywhere.
Despite the small size, you’ll get nearly the same or better performance as from the company’s top-of-the-line Phantom 4. The new OcuSync encrypted transmission system, for example, gives you control up to 4.3 miles (7 km) away with 1080p live streaming to Facebook Live, Periscope and YouTube through the DJI Go app. The Phantom 4 has a max range of 3.1 miles (5 km) and streams at 720p.
Like the drone itself, the controller is very small, but still has a monochrome screen to give you important flight data. Want to see what you’re shooting? You can connect a phone and mount it just below the control sticks. Also, DJI added a switch to change from RC to a Wi-Fi mode, so you can quickly launch and control the Mavic with only your phone at distances up to 80 meters (262 feet) with a top speed of 4 meters per second (13 feet per second).
For the camera, DJI stripped away what it could of the body and the lens is smaller — a field of view of 78.8 degrees compared with the Phantom 4’s 94 degrees — but it has the same 1/2.3-inch size sensor. It can record 4K-resolution video at 30 frames per second or 1080p at up to 96fps and 12-megapixel photos in JPEG or Adobe raw. And it’s stabilized with the smallest three-axis gimbal DJI’s ever made.
When it comes to consumer drones, in my experience, smaller is better. Take a big quad like the Yuneec Typhoon H out to a public park and you’ll get more looks and questions than you do with a Parrot Bebop. The Mavic Pro seems to be the perfect solution: a quad that’s as portable and easy to fly as a Bebop, but with the performance and image quality of a larger model.