The Mavic Pro is according to insiders, DJI’s best selling drone ever. It is small, light, foldable, very capable and, at least in our experience, very reliable. It wasn’t the world’s first foldable drone, but it was the first one that got (almost) everything right. DJI has sold thousands of them around the world and in the eyes of many, it has become the gold standard for foldable drones. The two-year-old Mavic Pro still holds its own against its much newer little brother the DJI Mavic Air. Now, as the sun is setting on this all-time favorite, we thought it made sense to do a final DroneDJ Review. As a goodbye and thank you if you will, but also for those of you who are considering picking one up, new or used, as prices are likely to drop even more after DJI’s ‘See the Bigger Picture‘ event tomorrow.
DJI Mavic Pro
DroneDJ’s review of the first foldable drone that got it right
DJI launched the Mavic Pro on September 27, 2016, days after GoPro launched their version of a foldable drone, the now discontinued Karma. I remember being excited about the concept of a foldable drone and I was about to pull the trigger on the Karma. Luckily, I hesitated and waited a few days and then DJI introduced the Mavic Pro. I ordered that drone instead and never looked back.
What got me so excited about the Mavic Pro was the combination of portability and capability. This was a drone that you could put inside your backpack (unlike Billy’s Phantom 4 Pro) and literally take with you anywhere. I have taken mine on camping trips, while hiking, to Europe and it has been a blast. You don’t have to think about it too much. You just toss it in your backpack and bring it along. People like to say that ‘the best camera you have is the one that is one you.’ Well, you can say the same about drones and this is where the Mavic Pro shines, especially back in 2016 and 2017. What good is a large semi-professional drone when you don’t bring it along because it’s too cumbersome? Anyway, you get the point, I’m a big fan of the Mavic Pro.
The design of the Mavic Pro
The single most important feature of the Mavic Pro’s design is the fact that it folds. I have already explained the benefits of this above. However, there is one little thing though, that even after almost two years of use, remains awkward and that is the way the legs fold. Sure, you get better at it after a while, but it never really becomes intuitive. I realized that when I started using the Anafi recently. The Anafi from the French company Parrot has a straightforward folding mechanism that just makes sense! When I went back to the Mavic Pro after flying the French drone, I realized (again) that the Mavic Pro’s folding mechanism is just counter-intuitive. No big deal but still.
Another thing that I’d like to mention about the Mavic Pro is that the design has started to look a little dated with the introduction of the Mavic Air earlier this year. That drone is a lot more streamlined and more compact. It has a more purposeful design. During its launch, Micheal Perry, Managing Director of DJI in North America, told me that the company had been able to design a much tighter package for the Mavic Air since the internal processors dissipate much less heat and therefore need less space for cooling. When the Mavic Pro was launched it looked great. Now after almost two years, it is starting to show its age. It will be interesting to take a closer look tomorrow at the new DJI Mavic Pro and Zoom models to see how the design has been improved.
The Mavic Pro’s capabilities
Like I said earlier the Mavic Pro is a very capable drone. It features a 3-axis gimbal with a 12MP, 4K camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. With its (at the time) new OcuSync transmission system you can fly the Mavic Pro up to 4.3 miles or 7 km away and still have a 1080p/720p live video stream (when you use the 1080p live feed you will not be able to record in 4K). You can also fly the Mavic Pro straight from your smartphone without the use of a controller, but your speed and distance (262 feet) will be very limited. This functionality is only useful really for dronies etc.
The camera can shoot 12MP stills and record video in 4K resolution at 30 fps or 1080p at up to 96fps. The camera can also be rotated 90 degrees to portrait mode which is really useful for shooting panoramas where you want to stitch the photos in post-production later. To focus your images, don’t forget to tap on the screen of your smartphone.
The Mavic Pro has both GPS and GLONASS as well as downward and forward obstacle avoidance to help you fly your drone. DJI calls this FlightAutonomy. The system works with the help of dual ultrasonic rangefinders at the bottom of the aircraft, five cameras, redundant sensors and 24 powerful computing cores. Up to a speed of 22 mph, the Mavic Pro is able to sense obstacles in front of it up to 49 feet away. The drone’s top speed is 24 mph but can be flown much faster in sport mode. Then it can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. The drone has a maximum flight time of up to 27 minutes but a little less in real life situations.
Intelligent flight modes reviewed
Apart from obstacle avoidance, the Mavic Pro has a number of other intelligent flight modes starting with ActiveTrack where the drone can follow you even when you ascend a hill or a mountain. It will not follow you back down, unfortunately. Maybe the Mavic 2 will?
The next one if Tripod mode where the drone will slow down to 2.2 mph to help you create smooth videos or to position your drone accurately for photos. This mode also comes in very handy for indoors flying or navigating tight spaces.
Lastly, it also has a return home mode, which when activated returns your drone precisely to its take-off position. The Mavic Pro offers two special return to home features while flying in active track: return home to the location where the aircraft is and return home to where the pilot with the remote control is. The last one is handy when the pilot is moving as well. The Mavic Pro received the Dynamic Home Point and Quickshot features in an update in the Fall of 2017. Quickshot offers you fast ways to take certain kind of shots such as the dronie, helix, and rocket mode. Lastly, the Mavic Pro has gesture control, meaning that you can simply wave at the drone to lock onto you and frame your face with your hands to have it take your photo (or a dronie).
The Mavic Pro’s handling
The Mavic Pro handles like a pro. It can be very accurate and precise (tripod mode) when you need it to be. It can fly normally and predictably when you are teaching a new pilot or when you’re simply cruising along. Or, it can transfer into a very fast and agile drone when you turn it into sports mode. I’m my experience the Mavic Pro can handle fairly strong winds (25 mph) really well, which is impressive.
Later in its life, around the Holiday shopping season last year, DJI introduced the limited edition Alpine White version of the Mavic Pro and a couple of months after that they launched the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Edition. The distinction being the different color. Although, with the Platinum Edition DJI also included the quiet propellers which also added three minutes to its flight-time. As a side note, you can order the quiet propellers that come with the Mavic Pro Platinum separately and mount them on a regular Mavic Pro. By doing so you gain a few minutes flight-time and make the drone much quieter and far less intrusive. A smart move in my view as the props are fairly inexpensive.
The good and the bad
After having had the DJI Mavic Pro for almost two years and having flown it extensively, there are a few things that I have really come to appreciate, and some things that I dislike or simply wish would have been better. Here they are:
- 4K video
- Foldable & portable, i.e. small and light
- Obstacle avoidance
- Intelligent Flight modes
- A very capable drone in various conditions such as high wind or high altitude
- The plastic caps to protect the gimbal. I always forget them or lose them
- The gimbal is very vulnerable. personally, I never had any issues but I know many of you have
- 4K video quality could be better in terms of frame rates, codec, and Mbps
- Folding mechanism of the legs is still awkward even after two years of usage
- Having to calibrate the drone’s compass way too often
- When the app urges you to update the firmware and now your waiting 20 minutes when all you wanted to do is capture a quick photo of the sunset
So the list of dislikes may seem rather long, but don’t be mistaken, the DJI Mavic Pro is still my favorite all-around drone. The one that I can take anywhere and pretty much do anything with. It has opened my eyes to what was possible with an unmanned aircraft system that can be folded and stowed in your backpack. DJI presented the Mavic Air as the Adventure Traveller’s best companion but they already had one, the Mavic Pro!
Right now the Mavic Pro is even more attractive as it has been heavily discounted at a number of retailers and on DJI’s own online store. So, if you’re in the market for a great drone that can do it all the original Mavic Pro is an excellent choice!
- DJI Mavic Pro at $999 (Fly More Combo $1,299 and Goggles Combo $1,298)
- DJI Mavic Pro Platinum at $1,099 (Fly More Combo $1,399 and Goggles Combo $1,398)
What will the future hold?
Now, we are one day away from DJI launching the real successor to the Mavic Pro, the Mavic 2 that will come in two versions, the Pro and the Zoom. They promise to be quite a step up from the original Mavic!
Be sure to watch the live stream from DJI’s ‘See the Bigger Picture‘ event and tune into DroneDJ for extra information and answers to many of the questions you have been asking us on Facebook, Twitter and per email.
And with that, you have made it to the end of this review. Thank you, and also to DJI for making the Mavic Pro such a great drone. I’m looking forward to what tomorrow may bring!
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