Updated: Nov 6, 2022
When I started out in photography, I never thought I would own a flying robot that could shoot video and photos with cinematic quality, but that day came in February 2020. It was when I finally received my back-ordered DJI Mavic Mini. I had plans for the drone. BIG plans. I was gearing up for a trip to Utah and the Mavic Mini was the perfect piece of gear for an incredibly picturesque state with plenty of open Bureau of Land Management land to fly it. Then the pandemic hit, and let's just say my drone was grounded for a while. But let's take a look at the drone and my experience thus far.
I won't bore you with every tech spec the drone has to offer, because quite frankly I don't care much about that stuff. This is a practical look at the drone. So is it for someone that's like me? A primarily still photographer who wants to dabble in the drone world? Hell yeah!
Follow the rules
The most important thing to keep in mind when entering the drone world is that there are new rules to play by. There are a lot of commonsense drone regulations that I would strongly suggest every new flyer familiarize themselves with. Even for a small drone like the Mavic Mini. Stay up to date with the FAA regulations and use common sense when flying.
Back in the day, and by that I mean 10 years ago, if you wanted to film something from above, you would need a camera man to climb into a helicopter and shoot from the sky. A very expensive and fairly complicated thing for a film production. Enter the drone. Now you can launch a drone from the comfort and safety of the ground, it's also substantially cheaper than booking a helicopter and a pilot for the shoot.
The drone sports a 2.7k video and 12MP still camera, and the gimbal that it uses to stabilize the camera is incredibly smooth. The above video is a short sample of some of what it can do. It's easy for even a novice to get cinematic shots. One of the biggest selling points of the drone is its size. It's only 249g. This means it does not require FAA registration for the casual user.
One of its biggest assets, the compact size, is also at times one of its weaknesses. It’s small, very small, so it’s easier to lose site of it in the sky at higher altitudes. Its size can also play a factor in how it handles in windy situations, this whoever seems to have been addressed in the new version of the drone, the 4K DJI Mavic Mini II. While it’s still the same size, it offers some more handling capabilities than its predecessor. In addition to 4K video capability.
It’s a camera with wings!
You’re not just flying a drone. You’re composing shots in the air. Keep this in mind when it’s time for liftoff. It’s not a toy. You’re up there to make great photos and video. Having the ability to look and compose from a very different perspective was the main selling point for me. It’s amazing how different your environment looks from above. For me, the best part of flying a drone is not the flight itself, but the download. Keep in mind, video eats up storage space, so be prepared to upgrade your hard drive at some point. It’s worth it though. The ease in which you can capture professional results is amazing, and for me it's worth the investment.
In conclusion, if you are interested in entering the drone world, the Mavic Mini is an excellent choice to get you started in creating content with drones. Be safe a responsible with your drone and you’ll have fun!