avoid obstacles in its path during any of
the autonomous flying modes and during
a return-to-home flight. They also enable
safe indoor flight when a GPS connection is
lost, provided the surrounding area doesn’t
confuse those sensors.
The Mavic Pro can hit speeds up to 40
MPH in sport mode, though Patiño tells us
owners of larger drones may feel like the
Mavic is even faster as its petite size gives it
the appearance of speedier motion.
“It’s a Transformer, how cool is that?” Patiño
tell us. And while Transformer fans will
no doubt quibble with this description, it’s
close enough to the mark. The Mavic Pro’s
propellers and landing gear can be folded up
so that they sit flush with the drone’s body.
Once collapsed, the Mavic Pro is ridiculously
small. It could be dropped into just about
any backpack or handbag without trouble.
At only 1. 62 pounds, you could throw an extra
battery in there and not notice. “Its size is its
greatest asset,” Patiño says. For one thing, he
says, you can likely dispense with the custom
cases designed for large, fixed-propeller
drones—for light day travel, you could use any
well-padded photo gear bag. The Mavic Pro is
small enough that it’s plausible that we’ll see
dedicated compartments for it and similar-sized foldable drones in photo bags in the
You would think that the Mavic Pro’s
foldable design implies a flimsy build, but
quite the contrary. It’s surprisingly sturdy.
The drone took a few unintended bumps
during one indoor flight (the obstacle
avoidance system gets confused with large
white spaces like cyc walls) and emerged
unscathed. The folding/unfolding process is
also quick—a matter of seconds, not minutes,
to have it up and flying. For outdoor/action
filmmakers and photographers, the Mavic Pro
is a compelling travel companion.
The remote control is also well designed,
durable and the joysticks are responsive. It
looks a bit like a PlayStation remote with a
mount for Android or iOS phones. However,
like other DJI remotes, the battery isn’t
removable so if it craps out on you, you’re
stuck. “This drives me nuts,” Patiño says. You
can fly the Mavic Pro with just a phone using
the DJI Go app, but that’s a much clumsier
approach if you’re manually operating the
craft. It also puts you at the mercy of your
mobile phone battery, which could be shorter-lived than the Mavic’s own remote.
Patiño says the image quality from the Mavic
Pro was excellent, given its small sensor.
While the Mavic Pro won’t deliver the wider
dynamic range shots you can expect from
DJI’s Inspire 1 or 2, the image quality isn’t
dramatically different from the Phantom 4.
Like small sensor action cams, you’re
not enjoying a very wide ISO and highlights
can get blown out. Color rendition was
accurate. For aerial work that doesn’t require
extensive pixel peeping, like some real estate
photography, Patiño says the Mavic Pro
should have no trouble fitting the bill.
If you’re considering a Mavic Pro and have
used a Phantom 4 or Inspire (or similarly
sized drone), you may be surprised by just
how much the Mavic sways under the
breeze, Patiño warns. Fortunately, the
gimbal is responsive enough that the
footage remains steady despite the
craft’s movement, Patiño adds.
The battery life is also fairly solid
at around 20-22 minutes of flight time
in fairly calm weather.
DJI has been at the forefront of
refining and advancing automated
flying modes and the Mavic Pro is the
beneficiary of advancements rolled out
in the Phantom 4. We were able to safely
fly indoors (barring the unfortunate cyc
wall bump), avoid obstacles automatically
and track subjects. Despite its tiny size, the
Mavic isn’t substantially less noisy than larger
drones, so the angry-swarm-of-bees sound
will be with drone operators a bit longer.
For Patiño, the Mavic Pro’s size (or lack
thereof ) is really nothing short of game
changing. The image quality is not on par
with the larger-sensor models, but just as
smartphone image quality has continued to
improve, so has the imaging on small chip
action and drone cameras, Patiño says. With
its compact form, durable build and suite
of intelligent flying features, the Mavic Pro
marks a welcome new era of travel-friendly
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APRIL 2017 pdnonline.com 79
DJI Mavic Pro
PROS: Tiny, foldable design; sturdy build;
excellent remote; intelligent flying features;
good image quality.
CONS: Remote battery is non-removable;
drone less stable in the wind.