Although DJI's original Mavic drone is two years old now, it's still hovering at the top of its class. But not content to rest on its laurels, DJI has now launched the Mavic 2 series, which extends that lead by equipping a 2x optical zoom onto the Mavic 2 Zoom, and teaming up with Hasselblad to kit out the Mavic 2 Pro with a 20-megapixel, 1-in CMOS sensor. So how much of an improvement are they over the old drones? New Atlas compares the specs and features of the new Mavic 2 Zoom and Pro, as well as the older Mavic Pro, Pro Platinum and Air.
Measuring 354 mm (13.9 in) diagonally, the two new models are a bit bigger than the earlier generation. the Mavic Air is still the baby of the group, with a span of just 213 mm (8.4 in).
The takeoff weight for the new drones is approaching a kilogram. All that extra gear means the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom are quite a bit heavier than the original Pro and Pro Platinum, and more than twice the weight of Mavic Air.
The battery capacity of the Mavic 2 lineup has had a marginal increase of 20 mAh, which would be nigh-on impossible for the average schmoe to tell the difference. Meanwhile, the Mavic Air has the smallest battery of the bunch, as reflected in its flight time.
That small battery increase – as well as a reported 19 percent decrease in body drag – lets the Mavic 2 drones stay aloft for up to 31 minutes. That's one whole minute more than the Pro Platinum, four minutes over the Pro and a solid 10 minutes over the Air.
A little side note here: the props on the Pro Platinum and the two new Mavic 2s have been redesigned to be much quieter in the air than their predecessors.
You can fly the Mavic 2 drones up to 8 km (5 mi) away from you before the connection is lost, which is 1 km (0.7 mi) further than the Pro and Pro Platinum and twice the distance of the Air. That's thanks to the new OcuSync 2.0 wireless transmission tech, which DJI says allows for a full HD video livestream from that distance, with a latency of just 120 ms.
The drag decrease that boosts flight time is also responsible for a faster top speed in the Mavic 2 Zoom and Pro. Both drones can clock in at 44.7 mph (72 km/h) in Sport mode, just pipping the zippy Mavic Air.
Obstacle detection is pretty damn important, and the Mavic Pro and Pro Platinum have sensors to avoid running into stuff in front of and below them. The Mavic Air added sensors in the back, for when the drone is moving in reverse. But the Mavic 2 series has gone above (literally) and beyond, with what DJI calls Omnidirectional sensors. These allow the new drones to detect obstacles in front and behind them, above and below them, and to their left and right. That should make it safer and easier to pull off some of the nifty flight modes and camera tricks.
The cameras, understandably, are the main point of difference between the old and new generations of Mavics, as well as between the two new models.
The key selling point of the Mavic 2 Zoom is, as its name suggests, the 2x optical zoom integrated into the camera. That opens up far more options for framing your subjects, and could let you get some fantastic tight shots of animals without spooking them.
If still photography is your bag, the Mavic 2 Pro blows the rest out of the water thanks to the beastly Hasselblad camera it lugs around. Using a 1-inch CMOS sensor the 2 Pro can take 20-megapixel stills, and in a wider range of lighting conditions with an ISO range of up to 12,800.
Of course, the cameras on the older models are nothing to sneeze at either, with about 12 megapixels and otherwise decent specs compared to other commercial drones.
All five drones are capable of shooting 4K video, with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, at 30 frames per second. The older models can also bump that up to what's known as Cinematic 4K (C4K), which stretches the image horizontally to 4,096 pixels at 24 frames per second.
Slow motion video
All five Mavics can shoot in slo-mo at 120 frames per second, but where the original Mavic Pro and Pro Platinum can only do so with a 720p resolution, the Air, 2 Zoom and 2 Pro crank it up to Full HD.
All five drones can write to a MicroSD card with a capacity of up to 128 GB. The Mavic Air, Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro also carry 8 GB of internal memory, in case you get airborne before remembering you forgot to slot a card in.
Most of the usual flight modes are carried across to the new models. Sport ditches the finesse and just focuses on fast flying, which is where the top speeds are hit, while TapFly lets you tap on the screen to tell the drone where to go. Waypoints lets users set up a path of points to follow, and then there's the usual settings like Course Lock and Home Lock to help keep you oriented.
Gesture controls seem to be missing from the Mavic 2 lineup, but that's no big loss.
DJI is making good use of the new toys on the Mavic 2s. The Zoom's headline act is the new Dolly Zoom mode, where the drone locks onto the subject then slowly flies backward while simultaneously zooming in. The mind-bending end result is that the subject stays where it is but the background warps closer, in a once-difficult-to-pull-off cinematic trick made famous by the likes of Hitchcock, Jaws … and um, Everybody Loves Raymond.
The Zoom can also take what DJI calls Super Resolution photos, which are made up of nine zoomed-in shots stitched together to form one massive 48-megapixel panorama.
Both Mavic 2s can also shoot a range of panoramas stretched horizontally, vertically, 180 degrees or into an entire sphere. Hyperlapse is a new mode where the aircraft shoot a series of still shots while following a set path, then automatically processes them into a timelapse video. Both new drones also have more advanced versions of ActiveTrack, the system that helps them follow moving subjects.
And of course, there's the usual QuickShot modes like Circle, Boomerang, Point of Interest and Asteroid, which all focus on and orbit the subject in different ways.
The original Mavic Pro is getting a little long in the tooth as it approaches its second birthday, while the Pro Platinum is almost one year old. The Mavic Air is a bit of a generational stopgap, having launched at the start of this year. And the Mavic 2 Zoom and Pro have just gone on sale in the last few weeks.
It's no surprise that the brand new Mavic 2s are the priciest, with the Zoom starting at US$1,249 and the Pro from $1,449. For a more casual drone pilot or Instagrammer, the Mavic Air is a steal at $799, and you'll still get plenty of bang-for-buck with the original Pro and Pro Platinum.
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