After a disastrous experience with my first ever drone, the GoPro Karma, I was reluctant to try any new ones, but I ended up buying the Mavic Pro and wow…
It quickly became my favorite drone of 2017 and I loved it so much, that even in 2018 (and 19) I will keep using it. It’s just such an extremely convenient and all around great drone for anyone, beginners, intermediates, advanced fliers.
Update: Since getting my hands on the Mavic Pro, I had also accumulated other models:
Despite having these other models, some of which are arguably better than the original MP, I still keep and use my original MP and for good reasons!
The perks this drone has are what today’s high end models are mimicking.
Name: Mavic Pro.
Typical flight time: 20-27 minutes per battery.
Range: 7-8 KM (4-5 miles).
Size: Without the wings/propellers, it’s a little bit bigger than the palm of an adult hand.
Price: $800+ for just the remote/drone. Combo package is $1,000 and I strongly recommend that one as it includes money saving extras.
Camera quality: 12 MP, shoots in 4K. Honestly it’s amazing footage in my opinion.
Rating of product: 80 out of 100 points. One of the most recommended drone I’ve reviewed so far. It’s fantastic, has an overwhelming amount of positive perks but I will also list a few honest cons about it. Get it here.
Update: Mavic Pro 2 released. Here’s what you need to know:
I got myself ones and still keep my original, but the MP2 is now my #1 recommended drone. Click here for a full review and details on this drone.
Currently, I have restructured my recommendation list. The Mavic Pro is still HIGHLY recommended, but while it was once the TOP drone on my list, it is now fourth.
Here’s a updated list of the best drones:
While this drone is currently at the top of my list, there’s others worth considering. Here’s #2:
And #3 would be the Autel Evo, which was under the Mavic Pro at one point, but with updates, rose above it.
Now while I listed these other 2 above it, they are not that much above it, you’re still getting a TOP of the line level drone in the original MP, so just know this.
My history and initial thoughts on this drone:
The first time I ever heard about it was from a Casey Neistat video where he reviewed it. On a few occasions he mentioned that it’s his favorite one too because of it’s portability and shooting abilities and I would have to agree with him in hindsight. And this is a guy who has many different drones, high end cameras and knows much more than I do about filming, shooting photos and making videos.
Although I first heard about it from him, I didn’t buy it until way later, after I had a bad experiences with a different drone (GoPro Karma) and was reluctant to make another big purchase.
But in any case, after I looked at both Casey’s experiences and did a lot of browsing/research from other people, the choice was pretty clear in that almost unanimously, people agreed that this is a great, high quality drone.
And so I purchased it. Here she is (I still gush over it):
The very same day I got it, I took it to a park and invited my grandfather who loves anything technology related to come with me. I unfolded it, set it up as instructed, and flew it in beginner mode. Both of us were amazed because this was our first experience with it.
From that point, we continued to go out, visit different places with it and shoot mainly videos. I also went on several road trips, took it with me and captured some amazing photos of mountains, flying over streams and in some very tight places.
Footage I captured on the MP 1:
Though the flights were risky because the areas were “tight” in space, I am happy to report that the drone is (so far, phew) safe and the footage was WELL worth capturing. I typically like to film nature and here are some of the images this beauty picked up:
And here’s a recent one I captured while at a park, during the “blooming fall”:
And one more (by the way, ALL these photos are unedited):
Looking past the initial “dronemance”:
After I first got the MP 1, I was crazy about it and overtime, as I learned more about how to use it, the experiences I had from flying it, I learned a lot and have been amazed as to it’s capabilities, which there are many off (listed below).
However, as I said, I am doing an unbiased review here, so I will list some of the things I am not a big fan of when it comes to the Mavic, but first, I have to address the MANY pros I have come to conclude about it based off the many flights I’ve done so far:
The Mavic’s many pros and few cons:
Before the Mavic Pro came around, any of the existing high end drone did not have much portability. They were typically huge (Phantom, Yuneec Typhoon H), could not be folded and needed to be carried with large backpacks.
This added a lot of weight to people’s backs who needed to do things like go hiking and reach a high point to start shooting. In addition to that, the set up of these large things was also a pain. You would have to do a checklist of things before you could fly (propellers, guards, firmware checkups, ect…). This added extra weight and time on your experience.
Though you did get good footage in the end, it came at the expense of a lot of physical efforts in carrying it. However, that all changed with the Mavic.
Because it folds up, is pretty small and light, suddenly those huge backpacks are no longer necessary. You can stuff this thing in a regular backpack or in my case a small briefcase I purchased for it. You don’t really feel the weight.
Here’s an image of how big my hand is next to it. It’s literally about the same size:
Furthermore, the propellers are already attached to the wings as you can see which means there’s less time needed to set things up. Normally taking out this thing from it’s case and setting it up takes less than a minute for me. Afterwards, when I’m done filming, I fly it back, land it on my hand, fold it up, then proceed to go to my next destination.
When it comes to portability and drones, the Mavic is the original KING. Now that we have another one called the Spark out, this portability is being copied over to other models, but if you want great footage and portability, the Mavic is still the best one to buy.
2) Camera and video quality.
I’ve owned some decent phones with OK cameras and I never considered myself a professional photographer. To me the whole thing about buying expensive lenses wasn’t something to worry about and I didn’t even know what 4k meant before I got the Mavic.
Then I looked at the video footage being produced by this drone (which can shoot in 4k), as well as the photos it was taking and that all changed, very suddenly in fact.
I started looking at wonder at how such a little thing, with such a small camera could produce such amazing imagery and video and to this day, I am still stunned by it, despite my ever growing experience with drones and the other models I’ve gotten since.
In fact, I am not the only one who thinks this when they first see the footage of the Mavic. Again, have a look at one of my favorite photos taken by it:
Tell me that’s not amazing!
Do note, that the quality of the pictures you see are from the DEFAULT picture/video settings on the Mavic. You can TOTALLY adjust this stuff if you wish (here is a manual guide I use). I personally like to keep it on the default settings because I am not too keen on how picture/video editing works and I think the existing footage is good enough for me until I can figure it out better.
I’ve had a few people and kids look at the footage and be floored by it’s quality and these are people who typically own iPhones and other high end phones that have some superb cameras on their own. Yet when they see the footage the Mavic produces, they are amazed. That says something about this product.
Now granted, the footage isn’t DLSR quality (a very, very high quality camera) or the type of footage you’d see on something like the Inspire Drone, but I’ve got to tell you, doing a side by side comparison, the difference is not easy to spot and when you’re comparing Mavic’s picture/video taking ability to the most high end cameras on the market today, you’d find little differences between them unless you really look hard, that’s my personal opinion.
3) Many intelligent flight modes:
There’s 12 technically, but if you include the regular flight mode, beginner and sport mode, there’s 15, but those are self explanatory, here are the specific 12:
Active track: This product will track any object you tell it to, be it yourself, a car, a moving object, ect… and will follow it while avoiding obstacles.
Gesture: The drone is in the air, you put up your hands, make a gesture and it takes a picture. This can happen hands free, meaning you will not need the remote to use this.
Way points. You can have this thing go to 3 different locations, record those as way points, then have it automatically fly around those points on it’s own.
Point of interest. Imagine yourself sitting a top a mountain. There is gorgeous scenery all around you, but you want the drone to show you in the middle of the video, circle around you and capture the scenery. This is where point of interest becomes awesome.
You can have it set to use you at a “center point” and then circle around that point. Now it can also be an object if you want.
Terrain follow. This is a form of active track, but in a different circumstance. Imagine you’re going up a hill and want the drone to follow you. Naturally, as you walk higher and higher, if it follows you in a straight line, it will get closer and closer to the ground. Luckily, thanks to terrain follow, it will not crash into it and will keep staying in the air away from the land.
Home lock. It’s basically like point of interest, but the point itself is the home location set by the drone before it takes off.
Follow me. I don’t know why DJI made this mode when you already have active track. It basically does the same thing, although active track in my experience appears to be superior and easier to use.
Course lock. The product is set to fly in a particular line, but at it does, you can regulate the turn of it, WHILE it stays on the line of flight. I’d say this is a GREAT way to film yourself doing things like riding a car, bicycle riding, running, ect… as it adds an action type of footage to your activity.
Tap to fly. If you’re someone who doesn’t fly well and wants to capture slow, steady footage of an object or have the drone fly somewhere specific, tap to fly is the mode you need. Let’s say I am at a lake, see an island or mountain in the distance and want to capture a beautiful, slow, steady flight to it. I can select the island or mountain as the target and have the drone fly there on it’s own.
Wing mode. The Mavic turns into basically a plane and operates like one swaying left and right when it flies forward. If you’ve ever played a game like flight simulator and had a first person view of the cockpit, this is what it feels like to fly this drone in this mode (just with way better images and video).
Tripod. It’ll fly VERY slow and allow you to take slower videos and pictures. Tripod mode in my experience is best to use in very tight spaces where flying around like crazy is super risky.
I have personally not mastered all of them because I haven’t had the occasion to test all the possibilities, but I do love the options.
4) Crazy range! Up to 7 kilometers.
I will admit I didn’t test this personally, but when I said earlier I was doing research on the Mavic, one of the things I was looking at was the range. Some tests showed the Mavic hitting several miles in range, another went as far as 6+ miles which is well over 8 kilometers.
In short, this thing is without a doubt one of the best for distance flying, provided you’re in the right altitude and conditions permit you to do this.
Update: I’ve done range tests with the Mavic Pro, but in areas where there’s not much open space. With the exception of the Mavic Pro 2, the original MP 1 flies the furthest out of any drone I’ve ever tried. You can easily get several kilometers out of it in interference areas and way over 5 kilometers in open areas.
This is one of the best drones to rely on for connectivity and assurance the connection between you and the model remains clear. This is thanks to it’s “ocusync” technology.
5) Amazing stability/precision.
Out of the 5 drones I’ve tested so far with the wind and just staying up in the air in general, I would say the Mavic takes the win in addition to the MP 2. It’s small yes, YET I have on several occasions took it outside when winds were hitting 15-20 mph, thinking there’s no way I’d be able to fly this thing, yet when it took off and I just let it stay in the air, it almost didn’t move from it’s original position.
As for precision, the home point lock is as phenomenal as ever on this thing as it is on others (Phantom, Spark, ect…) meaning if you lose connection, fear not, it’ll come back to you (provided you set the return altitude high enough to avoid obstacles like trees and buildings in it’s way), otherwise you risk fly aways.
6) It’s pretty quiet.
I like a quiet drone. I don’t like annoying people or loud noises in general, so this thing is perfect for that. In addition, there are currently low noise props being sold for this model, which I got and YES it is way quieter and even more so, their difference in look actually gets the Mavic Pro an extra minute of flight time.
7) Hard to spot.
In addition to being pretty quiet, because this thing is gray in it’s base color (there are skins available), it is VERY hard to spot so if you’re worried about people stopping by and giving you and your drone unneeded attention, it’ll be very difficult for them to do it if you’re flying the Mavic.
I will never forget how on a recent trip I took, I was standing on a bridge flying it over a river and even when it was literally 13 meters away from me, and just a little bit above the water, I still couldn’t spot it. I could see the water moving from the wind caused by the propellers, but I could not spot the drone no matter how hard I tried.
Now if I was looking for this thing and couldn’t find it, I doubt anyone who ISN’T looking for it, whose looking for trouble will spot it. Of course, you should NEVER use this thing to spy on others or do any other unethical/illegal practices. I’m just saying this thing has less chances of getting attention and attracting crowds, which I personally love.
So many times, I’ve sat near a road and had the drone in front of me and had cars pass by me without realizing what I was doing. Had I been flying a bigger drone, it would have been easier to see for these people.
8) Great flight time.
- If you keep it in the air and don’t move it, I swear, this thing can get over 40 minutes easy.
- If you fly it on normal mode, you’ll get over 20 minutes.
- If you fly it on sport mode, maybe 15 minutes.
In any case, there is plenty of flight time and entertainment available on just one battery.
9) Perfect for flying through tough areas.
Flying in an open field is easy, but I like to challenge myself and fly in areas where footage is harder to get and those flights typically are more dangerous for the drone because it can quite easily hit something and fall.
I love to film waterfalls, lakes, nature, mountains, ect… and here are some of the risky places I’ve filmed at:
I’ve flown on top of river beds with trees right above it. The space between the water and trees was about 10 feet.
I’ve flown through “caverns” that were very narrow in width.
I’ve flown through trees, underneath bridges and overall tight spaces that bigger drones would be nearly impossible to fly with, through those same areas.
Yet with the Mavic, it is possible and at the same time, I can still capture fantastic footage. Have a look at this one. Although the “tightness” here isn’t much, I would be hesitant to fly a bigger drone through here. Yet with the Mavic, I can risk more in places like these and tighter:
10) Easy to catch and fly off your hand.
I would practice this first, but in my cases, I often don’t have the convenience of finding a flat area to have the Mavic fly from, so I often resort to holding it in my hand and having it take off there, as well as land there. With the size of the Mavic, it’s pretty easy to do this, though be VERY careful not to bend your hand too much, because you then risk having the propellers hit your fingers which did happen to me once.
11) Great sensors.
Despite having sensors only in the front and bottom, they function quite well. I’ve had moments where I tried to fly in between a hill right a bridge right above it and the Mavic would NOT do it. Whenever I came close, the “air brakes” would activate and it would push back to avoid the obstacle.
I’ve also seen videos of this thing completely stop when flying at full speed (which can be 20-35 mph), when a bird flew in front of it. This is a great safety mechanism that DJI made and I love it.
12) You can adjust the controls, the battery, the sensitivity, the camera, ect…
As I said earlier, I love the default footage, but if you’re really good at editing photos, you will love the extra ability to edit the imagery/video on this thing.
This feature is only available on the highest end drones and luckily the Mavic fits into that class. You can change the control sensitivity so it can be a more comfortable flight. You can adjust when the battery should discharged as well as track when it loses it’s juice (or lifespan).
In short, there is a lot of customization available for flights, the camera settings and much more to play around with.
13) I’ve seen the Mavic recover after being in water…
For whatever reason, the persons/s who put up the YouTube videos I saw, crashed their Mavic in a lake or river, it was there from several hours to days. Yet in both those cases, the Mavic was recovered, put in rice to drain the water and still was able to fly fine afterward:
Obviously the Mavic is NOT waterproof and you should NOT play around with this, but the fact that I have seen this happen multiple times speaks to how amazing the technology and durability of this thing is. Here’s info on what to do if drones fall in water.
Note: It’s VERY hard to crash this thing in my experience because there’s so many safety precautions in place and unless you turn them all off and fly in atti mode, it is pretty safe to fly this thing. Of course, you should be smart enough to not fly near people or places where you annoy people.
14) There is stunning imagery you can capture that would otherwise be dangerous with other models.
When I said this thing has portability, I didn’t mean just in regards to carrying it around. Because it’s so small, I can capture incredible footage in tight spaces that would otherwise be difficult, risky and likely impossible. For example:
The space here is about 5 feet wide and when you’re relying on the screen to measure the distance of the rock walls, it feels like they are inches away from you. I made this type of fly through several times with the Mavic. Had it been a larger drone like the Phantom, it’s sensors would have been going crazy within that same space as would my heart.
Frankly, I would never risk such a shot with a Phantom or any large drone and that’s where the Mavic again stands out. While I don’t recommend beginner fliers risk such dangerous shots, the fact is, some places that you’ll want to film in require that risk and by doing it with the Mavic, you maximize the odds that you’ll actually do it (smaller drone = more ability to fly through these types of tight spaces).
I’ve flown through numerous places like this with the Mavic and others that would frankly be impossible to do with the larger models and while my heart did beat like crazy, I did manage to get the shot and was very satisfied with the footage I would later see.
The bottom line is, with the Mavic, you can risk taking more risky shots and that can often lead to some of the best footage you’ll ever capture.
Ok, now that we covered the MAIN pros, I do have to admit to a few cons I noticed:
1) I am not a fan of the “rope” they made for 2 of the wings.
Though the wings are all unfoldable and portable, the front 2 wings have a “rope” tied to it which regulates the unfolding. From what I have heard, this thing can be used up to 5,000 times before it loses it’s grip.
Now I ran the numbers for myself and came to the conclusion that I could fly and unfold this thing for years to come, at least 5 years, but it just doesn’t make sense to me why DJI would do this. Was it really that difficult to make the unfolding mechanism the same for the front wings as it is back wings (which don’t have the rope) ?
2) I would prefer there be an option to auto enhance images.
While the footage is great, do note that sometimes you have to hit the screen to have it focus on all the details and bring out the potential of the camera. Again I don’t know why DJI did this. I don’t mind tapping the screen to enhance the image and get the better photo/video, but sometimes you can forget this.
Update: Omit this con, there is a function to let it auto enhance, it’s within the camera settings you can check out on your phone once it’s connected to the remote/drone.
3) I hope they add more sensors, to the sides that is.
Right now the only drone which as side sensors is the Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2. Everything else, even at it’s highest end has sensors on the front and bottom and as I said, I like to fly in tight spaces and often I cannot see the distance on the sides. But this is for me, someone who likes to fly in tough spots.
Update: Now the Mavic Pro 2 has up to 6 sensors working. Learn more here.
My review and conclusion on the Mavic Pro:
As far as the market for drones goes in 2018, this is right up there, possibly even one of the best, depending on what you’re looking to get out of it.
I own the Phantom 4 Pro and the Spark, as well as others (and will get more DJI products in the future), but the Mavic is amazing and I have honestly yet to see a single review, website or YouTube video which disagrees with this.
I think if you were to take something like the Phantom 4 Pro, Inspire, Mavic, ect… and compare them to cars, you’d be comparing:
- A Ferrari (Phantom 4 Pro, NOT the regular Phantom 4, the Mavic is superior to that one in my opinion):
- A Lamborghini (Inspire 1 & 2).
- A very high end Mercedes/BMW (Mavic).
Though the other sports cars (and drones) are expensive and more high end, you’re not exactly a “poor” man driving the high end BMW/Mercedes an the other ones on the market are like Hondas and Toyotas. They may be OK, but they are not on the level of those 3.
My position and score of the Mavic:
85 out of 100 points. An amazing product hands down. In fact…
When it came out in 2016, I would have said it’s the best consumer drone there is, even better than the Phantom 4 original. But because other drones did come out and were based on it in body and mechanics, the Mavic Pro did fall a bit BUT it is in my opinion a top 5 or even top 10 drone to this day.
My recommendations on if it’s worth buying:
Th obvious answer is yes. Whether you’re a beginner to a professional photographer or flight hobbyist, this thing will make you very happy.
It has a very minor downsides as I expressed above, but honestly, it pales to the excellence of quality, fun and experience you’ll get from it.
I would recommend getting the package that’s available with the Mavic where you get a bunch of other things in addition to the remote control and drone:
I purchased the regular $999 package (it’s cheaper now that the Mavic Pro 2 is out) and ended up buying several other things such as a battery, car charger, a briefcase for it and propellers. I should have spent a few extra hundred and I would have saved a few extra hundred because the package gets you more than if you buy all the other things individually.
I made that same point about the Spark when I wrote my review of it and I would recommend it too. The package is $1,100, but with the extras in the package, you save $200-$300 on that, than if you decided to skip the package, buy the regular drone and the package perks individually and its well worth it.
Note: I would also consider getting an Autel Evo (instead) as it is a better filming drone and has just about the same specifications as the original Mavic Pro.