The DJI Mavic Mini is a lightweight drone that’s finally making flying in cities more friendly.
When DJI invited us to their DJI Mavic Mini event, we didn’t know what we’d be seeing. But the DJI Mavic Mini is surely the first drone that has really caught my attention. It’s under the 250-gram weight that the government puts restrictions on. Additionally, the DJI Mavic Mini has image stabilization built-in and isn’t to terribly built either. It folds down and is lightweight. So finally, photographers who dwell in cities have a better option to work with that sort of skirts the laws for drone flight. Of course, you need to exercise caution and common sense. If anything, you should always be a bit more conservative when flying with a drone like this and act responsibly.
Pros and Cons
- Very small, can fit into jean pockets
- Very stable camera
- Pretty stable flight abilities
- It’s designed to be used by consumers and that makes it so much more accessible to other photographers
- Transferring images is fast
- The entire thing folds down into a small case
- It’s really cost-effective
- No RAW image output, but that’s not as much of a problem as you’d think
We tested the DJI Mavic Mini by itself with the remote control and an iPhone 8+.
- 249 grams
- With this light frame, it is in the safest category of drones for flying
- 12MP, 3-axis stabilized camera
- 30 minutes of flight time
- 2.7K video at 30p
- 1080p at 60p
- $399 price point
The DJI Mavic Mini is super duper small. The company has made small drones before, but this is one of their smallest if not the smallest. Here’s what the DJI Mavic Mini looks like with the legs expended. It’s available in this drab grey color and I really wish it came in something a tad more fun. However, I’m sure the minuscule amount would add to the weight that DJI is touting.
The fans fold up in the same way they do for pretty much every other drone. Again, if you’re familiar with DJI products, the DJI Mavic Mini will be a lot of the same.
With the legs folded into the body, the entire package becomes smaller. Here’s what it looks like. It reminds me a bit like a small mammal that is doing everything it can to make itself look smaller.
Here’s a side view of the DJI Mavic Mini. The legs are folded in here and it’s incredibly compact.
With the DJI Mavic Mini in its collapsed form, the body is small enough to fit into a jean pocket. That’s incredible. With the weather starting to get more brisk here in NY, our jacket pockets will surely be enough.
The front of the DJI Mavic Mini has ports. You can insert your SD card there for example. Of course, you’re using a mini SD card here.
During our testing with the DJI Mavic Mini, its propellers ran into things. For example, upon takeoff in Flushing Meadows Park, the propellers were too close to the grass. So it gave us a warning that it couldn’t effectively take off. We moved it. It also ran into chairs and a window in my apartment. During all of those times, I didn’t put the protectors or the camera cover on. But time after time, the DJI Mavic Mini kept working. There has been the talk of the build quality not being there, but in practical use, we really can’t see how that’s the case. As long as you don’t do something intentionally dumb, you’ll be fine. Unfortunately, with the latest batch of photographers thoroughly enjoying sneaking onto rooftops to get photos, I’m going to need to say this: use common sense. You know better. You’re only sorry because you got caught or otherwise you wouldn’t have done something stupid in the first place. As that applies to the DJI Mavic Mini’s build quality, don’t be dumb. If the drone is telling you that there is a lot of wind, then don’t fly it too far out and too high. Always keep it in line of sight. Don’t fly it into birds. Don’t go too close over water. And keep an eye on the batteries.
Ease of Use
First and foremost, the DJI Mavic Mini has fantastic battery life. With a rating of around 1/2 hour, the DJI Mavic Mini can keep flying for a long time. If you purchase the three battery kit, you’ll have lots of fly time. But where that varies is depending on how strong the wind is. The safest and most legal places in NYC to fly are also oddly enough the windiest in the autumn. But despite this, the DJI Mavic Mini was pretty seamless to fly. I don’t have a whole lot of flight experience and this was Review Editor Paul Ip’s first time flying a drone. He was a bit more daring than I was, but he got the hang of it pretty easily. Part of this comes from the control pad.
The control pad for the DJI Mavic Mini folds up nicely to go into your pocket or the case it comes with. You plug your phone in, then you power it on. You’ll be using the app and the remote for the best control. The remote works just like every DJI controller pretty much. During the earlier part of this review, the DJI Fly app was in a very early beta stage. So it was giving us a few problems with flight. It didn’t help that Trump was also in town. When he’s here, it creates a lot of problems for drone flight. The DJI Mavic Mini and the app won’t let you fly if you’re in an illegal area like very close to an airport. But in other spots, it will warn you to fly with caution.
All of this is a hot point of debate here in NYC. While the DJI Mavic Mini is legal to fly for recreation, it isn’t legal in NYC except in a few small areas. Just like with actual photography though, I believe that intentions need to be checked. Are the people are you consenting to your flying it and taking photos? Even though they’re in public, that’s still something that should be cleared. There are lots of other points that we can talk about. But either way, the DJI Mavic Mini is simple enough that it lets you do most things.
So here’s the thing: the DJI Mavic Mini doesn’t shoot RAW but they’re exploring the possibility of doing it. Lots of folks have told us, “Yeah it sucks that it doesn’t shoot raw.” But to be honest, I didn’t find that to be a limiting factor. The images right out of the camera pale in comparison to any DSLR or Mirrorless camera. To get any sort of magic out of them, you need to edit them. In RNI films for the iPhone, I was able to create some beautiful images with the DJI Mavic Mini. If the DJI Mavic Mini got RAW, it would get even better. But this isn’t bad still.
- Small size
- Build quality
- Affordable price point
- Easy to use
- You can fly it mostly anywhere.
- Good battery life due to the light weight
- I wish it shot RAW, but that isn’t too much of a problem.
We’re giving the DJI Mavic Mini a lot of high marks for a solid reason. While most of you can easily fly a drone almost anywhere, it’s very difficult for city dwellers to do so. But with the DJI Mavic Mini, you’ll have a much easier time doing it. It’s small enough to fit into a day bag and also small enough to fit into your jacket pocket. To boot, the DJI Mavic Mini has a pretty solid build quality. This is by far the company’s cheapest flying drone, but it still feels solid enough for most flight needs. In fact, it was for most of ours. The camera is okay. While the image quality straight out of the camera isn’t that great and it basically just a glorified phone, the photos can be edited easily and shared to your favorite social media platform. I don’t think we should be making big prints from this, but for posting on Instagram the image quality is wonderful. The video also isn’t bad; but since we’re a photo site we’re primarily testing the DJI Mavic Mini for photography.
The DJI Mavic Mini by and large is a drone for the city dweller. It’s smaller than most conventional flashes and has great battery life. Again, it’s also just simple to use. I can’t really fault it.
The DJI Mavic Mini is being given five out of five stars and our Editor’s Choice award for catering to a crowd of photographers and the market that otherwise were sort of forgotten. Sure, you can fly a drone illegally, but this one is at least a bit more iffy. Want one? They’re super affordable over at Adorama.