Field Report: Using the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom in NYC

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom are fun tools to use for the enthusiast and hobbyist, but serious photographers will surely want more.

Testing drones here at the Phoblographer has always been pretty difficult; NYC has very strict rules about where you can fly, times, etc. and to that end it’s not always as simple as setting up a camera and shooting. It draws attention, and doing it responsibly and legally can provide a number of challenges. Take for example the day we went out with DJI to play with their new DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom drones–Trump decided to do a flyover of NYC and so the locations, timing, and altitude were all pretty difficult to make work. Despite the Pro designation, it doesn’t really feel quite pro. Professional photographers will surely be able to do great things with it, but the heart of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom leave me really wanting.

Tech Specs

The full tech specs can be seen over at the official DJI Mavic 2 product page.

Mavic 2 Pro Camera Specs

Sensor 1” CMOS
Effective Pixels: 20 million
Lens FOV: about 77°
35 mm Format Equivalent: 28 mm
Aperture: f/2.8–f/11
Shooting Range: 1 m to ∞
ISO Range Video:
100-6400
Photo:
100-3200 (auto)
100-12800 (manual)
Shutter Speed Electronic Shutter: 8–1/8000s
Still Image Size 5472×3648
Still Photography Modes Single shot
Burst shooting: 3/5 frames
Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed frames at 0.7 EV Bias
Interval (JPEG: 2/3/5/7/10/15/20/30/60s RAW:5/7/10/15/20/30/60s)
Video Resolution 4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2688×1512 24/25/30/48/50/60p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
Max Video Bitrate 100Mbps
Color Mode Dlog-M (10bit), support HDR video (HLG 10bit)
Supported File System FAT32 (≤ 32 GB)
exFAT (> 32 GB)
Photo Format JPEG / DNG (RAW)
Video Format MP4 / MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265)

Mavic 2 Zoom Camera Specs

Sensor 1/2.3″ CMOS
Effective Pixels: 12 million
Lens FOV: about 83° (24 mm); about 48° (48 mm)
35 mm Format Equivalent: 24-48 mm
Aperture: f/2.8 (24 mm)–f/3.8 (48 mm)
Shooting Range: 0.5 m to ∞
ISO Range Video:
100-3200
Photo:
100-1600 (auto)
100-3200 (manual)
Shutter Speed Electronic Shutter: 8–1/8000s
Still Image Size 4000×3000
Still Photography Modes Single shot
Burst shooting: 3/5/7 frames
Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed frames at 0.7 EV Bias
Interval (JPEG: 2/3/5/7/10/15/20/30/60s RAW:5/7/10/15/20/30/60s)
Video Resolution 4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2688×1512 24/25/30/48/50/60p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
Max Video Bitrate 100Mbps
Color Mode D-Clinelike
Supported File System FAT32 (≤ 32 GB)
exFAT (> 32 GB)
Photo Format JPEG / DNG (RAW)
Video Format MP4 / MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265)

Ergonomics

Taken from our first impressions

Both the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom use the same controller, which looks and feels nearly identical to the controller for the original Mavic Pro. It did inherit the removable joysticks that was first introduced with the Mavic Air’s controller, making the controller much easier to pack away when not in use.

As of right now, the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom are only available in gray. Whether or not the Mavic 2 series will see additional colors and upgrades, like the Alpine White and Platinum variants with the original Mavic Pro, remains to be seen. The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are both slightly larger than the Mavic Pro, and packed on a bit of weight as well, but gains four additional minutes of flight time as a result, topping out at a maximum of 31 minutes. Having used the Mavic Air, the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom feel almost too big. How easily jaded we’ve become.

Drone pilots that have experience using the original Mavic Pro will feel right at home with the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom. The motor arms fold or flip into the body the same way, and the battery (which received a slight bump in capacity: 3850 mAh vs 3830 mAh on the original Mavic Pro) is still located in the top rear of the drones. To get one of the Mavic 2 drones airborne, simply unfold the front motor arms and flip out the rear motor arms. You don’t have to worry about unfolding the propeller blades if you had them folded up during storage, they’ll automatically deploy when you fire up the motors.

Ease of Use

If you’ve used DJI’s drones before, you’ll be glad to know that the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom feel similar and very familiar. The remotes connect to your phone and the phone connects to the drones. Then you can use the remote to pilot the drone and see exactly what it sees. Alternatively, you can do this with an app on your phone. Using the app you can manipulate the exposure settings. You can also use it to film video, do hyperlapses, etc.

When you’re ready to use the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom you just need to unfold the legs, ensure the propeller blades are set up, turn it on with a long press of a button, and have your app/remote are ready to go. The camera is positioned on the front.

This camera in many ways resembles a futuristic robot head. For the Pro, you’ve got the larger, one inch sensor. For the zoom, a much smaller one.

Considering that this is first and foremost a photography related website, and no matter how hard we’ve tried to pitch video to you, there is no interest; we stuck it out to just shooting photos. Indeed, having a bird’s eye view is pretty unique and fun. Additionally, it’s creatively liberating to be able to do this. Forest Park, a place that I had been going to since I was much younger, looks far different from above. So too did Manhattan in the distance.

Build Quality

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom are both built pretty solid. You get multiple sets of propellers in case they break. The blades fold down with the entire system for easier carry whenever you wish. The drones feel lightweight yet solid. It isn’t recommend that you shoot with them in super inclement weather though.

Image Quality

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Now here is where I’m very fickle about the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom. I genuinely think I’d need more time and space to truly use the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom to their fullest potential. But as it is, I didn’t really like the image output from the one inch sensor. Whenever I use cameras with a sensor like this, I often need to do a lot of tailoring to the images. This is no exception and thankfully they both shoot DNG RAW files. That’s nice!

The problem? Personally speaking I’ve become more spoiled by Four Thirds sensors and anything above. If a system is going to call itself a Pro system then I’d at least want an APS-C sensor in there. This would allow me to get even more details, dynamic range, color, etc from the images. As it is, I feel like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom deliver pretty flat photos. I’ve seen great images from the cameras in good lighting. And in that way, they remind me almost of phone cameras.

To ensure that I wasn’t overthinking this, I took to the web look for other images from the camera. Everything seems over-processed. And in my mind’s eye, I’d love to get more natural beauty of the land and less stylized looks.

Thoughts

I think that for the hobbyist and enthusiast, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom do a good job as much as your phone will do for you. But if you really want to use it for more serious work, you should spend the money and go bigger.