It’s always tough to pick a best of anything. What is “best” is a moving target at best – and at worst it’s highly subjective. This year there is a star that is shining so bright in the drone world that it’s very hard to ignore. That star is the Mavic 2 Pro by the industry leader DJI.
For “heavy duty” projects, we still fly the amazing Inspire line of drones (also by DJI). Having a high-bitrate video stream and interchangeable lenses is a must for high-end projects. If you are in that high end market, the Inspire or Matrice lines of drones are still probably going to be your best choice. They have been amazing workhorses that continue to produce results and fly absolutely reliably.
Introducing the Mavic 2 Pro!
In 2018, DJI released a much-anticipated update to to Mavic line of drones. The Mavic line is their high-end ultraportable drone that folds down to something about the size of a loaf of banana bread. The previous Mavic was a great performer but the imaging platform was decidedly consumer grade. That has all changed with the Mavic 2 Pro.
The Mavic 2 Pro retains the great form factor of the previous Mavic while improving in so many ways. The imaging platform has been upgraded to a large 1″ sensor camera that can deliver images that in most cases are on par with the ones we’re getting from the X5 camera on our Inspire 1 Pro. The flight characteristics have been upgraded to where it will now fly for around 30 minutes on a single battery and will hit nearly 50mph in sport mode. The safety features have been dramatically upgraded as well, with 360 degree obstacle avoidance added to keep the Mavic in the air and out of scrapes.
Why is it the best new drone?
The killer use case for the Mavic 2 Pro is portability. The drone fits in a small satchel along with multiple batteries, the controller, and all accessories. This satchel would easily fit inside another moderately sized camera bag. Previously, we had to check a very large Pelican case containing our Inspire when traveling.
For us, the biggest upgrade with the Mavic 2 Pro is the stealthiness. The Inspire is an amazing platform, but it certainly draws a crowd when it’s in the air. And – if you really want to make a scene – put one of our Tarot hexacopters in the air. The Mavic 2 Pro on the other hand is virtually un-noticeable once it’s more than 20 feet in the air. Between the small size of the drone and the efforts DJI has made to silence the drone, it’s nearly invisible once it’s in the air. This is critical when flying in urban areas to not call attention to the imagery efforts taking place.
Our other favorite upgrade is the video transmission system in the Mavic 2 Pro. The video system maintains a rock solid signal under any conditions even out to surprising distances. This is a dramatic improvement over the already excellent downlink in the Inspire platform. Having a solid clear signal makes the job so much easier and safer when the project requires greater distances.
The Mavic 2 Pro has also become our “windy day” platform due to the small size, high power, and improved stabilization. Wind simply doesn’t affect the stabilization of the image – and this allows for doing crazy things like long exposures. In the not-so-distant past, 15mph winds would be the ceiling for us. With the Mavic 2 Pro, we’ve flown in 20-25 sustained with gusts much higher with very little loss in flight and stabilization performance. We merely found that it went slower into the wind!
The Minnesota winters are rough and the demands for aerial imagery do not go away when the temperatures drop. We regularly fly the Mavic 2 Pro in double-digit below zero temps with no noticeable impact to flight performance or battery life.
Unless you need the larger (and much more expensive) Inspire or Matrice platforms – the Mavic 2 Pro is unquestionably the king of the hill perhaps until the release of the Phantom 5.
The Mavic 2 Pro currently retails for $1499. Add $350 for the highly recommended Fly More kit that includes two spare batteries and many other extras.