DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Is it the Best Drone of 2018?

It’s Andrew from djibestdrones.com and now I’m going to review the brand new DJI Mavic 2 Zoom that has been released a few hours ago and we are going to see if this is the best drone of 2018.

Model DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Size (LxWxH)
  • 8,4 x 3,5 x 3,3 inches (folded)
  • 12,6 x 9,5 x 3,3 inches (unfolded)
Diagonal Distance 14″
Ascent & Descent Speeds
  • 16ft/s
  • 9,8ft/s
Maximum Speed 44mph in Sport Mode
Weight 1,99lbs
Position Systems GPS, GLONASS
Camera 1/2.3″ CMOS Hasselblad 12MP; f/2.8, 4K video (3840×2160 24/25/30p)
Gimbal 3-axis
Video Bit Rate 100Mbps
Live Transmission 1080p at 30fps
Internal Storage 8gb
Supported SD cards Micro SD up to 128gb, UHS-I Speed Grade 3
Range 5 miles
Hover Time 31 minutes (advertised), 27 minutes (real)
Price $1249 (Discount on Amazon.com)
Release Date August 23, 2018

New Features: Camera, Design, Sensors, Zoom

I’m here surrounded by all my favorite DJI drones – we got the Phantom 4 Pro, we have the Mavic Air, we have the Mavic Pro. On August 23rd, 2018 DJI has announced a couple new products: the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom and I’ve got the Mavic 2 Zoom as soon as I can.

As you can see they’re still holding true to their original Mavic Pro design with foldable arms and foldable propellers. The camera right here is on its three axis gimbal and this is the Zoom lens right there.

The Mavic 2 Zoom is a little bit taller and a little bit longer. DJI also announced the Mavic 2 Pro that has a better camera – it might be better for more cinematic photography and videography but the Zoom version has the zoom lens and it’s a 2X optical zoom lens. Then, if you’re shooting in full HD you can use 2X digital zoom so you’re getting 4x lossless HD zoom. That pretty impressive I must say!

A few of my other favorite features about the Mavic 2 is OcuSync 2.0 which gives us up to 5 miles of full HD footage streaming on your controller on your display device. As you’re flying this drone also has 8 gigabytes of internal storage just in case you forget your SD card or fill it up.

The drone folds out just like a regular Mavic Pro that we all have. The Mavic 2 Zoom weights almost 2 pounds which is slightly bigger than its predecessor (1,62lbs). So we’re definitely talking about a heavier drone that feels heavier. And I think a lot of that weight comes from the battery.

Folded Mavic 2 Zoom looks really cool

The Mavic Pro battery is much shorter than the Mavic 2 battery and that’s going to give us more flight time. With the Mavic 2 we’re getting 31 minutes as opposed to 27 minutes with the original Mavic Pro or 30 minutes with the Platinum battery.

One of my favorite things about the Mavic 2 drones is that they have surrounding obstacle avoidance sensors. I mean, surrounding all over the place:

  • Sensor on top
  • Sensors on the bottom
  • Back sensor
  • Front sensors
  • Side sensors

The Mavic 2 Zoom has these low noise propellers with updated ESC’s for quiet flight. And finally, it goes 45 miles per hour in Sport mode which is as fast as this thing goes the Phantom 4 Pro. I’ll also mention that the Matic 2 Pro has the same size imaging sensor as the Phantom 4 Pro.

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom controller looks just like the Mavic Pro 1 controller. But it does have the feature that the Mavic Air has where these little thumb sticks are inside of the controller so you can screw them in if you’d like to do that or it makes it easier for stowing into a bag. You can keep them in if you want but this is a nice feature. Also, I’m using iPhone 7 plus for my display device.

I’m going to take off the propellers – I don’t want to power it on. We’re going to start the remote control by pressing once on the power button and then again and hold it. Then pressing the button on the battery of the drone and then again and hold it. Now I’m gonna hit record so that we have our image, check it out:

I actually just updated the firmware a few minutes ago so the drone is still a little bit warm. We can tilt up and down our camera using our little scroll wheels located on the rear side of the remote. The camera tilts up and down really fast!

I did have to download a new DJI Go 4 app on my phone because of the different things that have been added to the program. For instance on the right you see 24.0 millimeters that’s the lens zoom control. So now if we scroll up with our thumb we can set it to 48 millimeter which is the max zoom this lens is going to allow us. And we can zoom all the way in as far as it can go. You can also zoom part of the way or all the way back out. As far as I can tell the speed of that zoom is fixed – you can’t just zoom in really quickly.

The camera has the same sensor as the Mavic 1 Pro which is a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor. If you’re shooting in HD you can also punch in even further with a digital zoom and still get lossless 4x zoom with HD footage.

Flying the Drone

This drone is really quiet! It sounds good, it looks good and feels just like the Mavic 1 Pro. We are at 1080 resolution and 30 frames per second, so let’s let’s try and zoom in on the skyline here and see what that image looks like. That is really awesome just how far that zooms in! I do not have any ND filters or polarizers for this so we’re having to expose with just using a shutter speed. Now we’re at 1/1000 shutter speed.

The drone feels really maneuverable and really responsive. Of course the Mavic always has it but this feels really good to me. The Mavic one did have issues with 60 frames per second at 1080 I wonder if that’s fixed or not. I’m gonna go to 60 frames per second at 1080 now. Cropped in a little bit, you see that.

Cropped image

Not cropped

60 frames per second now crops in on the image, interesting. It’s also looking very responsive on the screen – you actually see a 60 frames per second display.

Now I’m gonna combine a 60 frames per second test with sport mode and see how fast we can get this thing. Obstacle avoidance is unavailable when you are in sport mode – that’s that’s not a surprise to me. Yep, there’s our 45 miles an hour! Wow, its manoeuvrable in that Sport mode!

All right I’m gonna switch to 4k – we’re gonna do 4k at 30 frames per second so we have a little wider image. Actually 60 fps kind of cropped in, even 4k at 30 is still wider than 1080 at 60. Okay, now let’s zoom in with 4k on the skyline.

There are a couple different intelligent flight modes that are unique to the the Mavic 2 Zoom: one is called the Dolly Zoom. It is when it travels backward but it zooms in on you, so you don’t really get that much smaller in frame or whatever subject you pick. The background kind of moves around you in a really weird way.

Conclusions

So it’s the end of the second day with the Mavic 2 Zoom. It’s pretty cool drone and I want to share my thoughts on it.

There are a few things that seemed a little bit cumbersome so I’m gonna share those a couple things with you guys. First of all, the switch on the side it goes from tripod mode to positioning mode to sport mode. I find it very easy to hit that switch by accident, especially when you’re putting this controller into your bag. A couple times I powered on the drone and taken off and it was stuck in sport mode – I did not know that until a few seconds into the flight when when things got crazy.

The drone is very quiet and I really liked that. The battery lasts a long time, the zoom is pretty cool, the digital zoom didn’t work initially but then DJI gave me a firmware update and then it started working again. So basically, if you zoom in it’ll go beyond that 48 millimeters and that’s just a really, really close to zoom.

The front and back sensors are on if you’re flying normally, but they’re off if you fly in sport mode. The side sensors only turn on when you are either in active track or tripod mode, they’re not normally on in positioning mode. So that was surprising to me because I was trying to fly in positioning mode and I thought “well, why the front and the rear sensors are on”. Well, that’s the reason – they’re only on if you’re in active track or tripod mode.

The Mavic 2 Zoom range is up to five miles which is improved over other drones by DJI. However, you got to think about line-of-sight you are going to be. And I am not saying about legal issues – that’s a good thing – but also our trees and buildings in the way. Because if they are in your way, you’re not gonna get five miles – you might not even get 5,000 feet. In fact, you might only get about 2,000 feet which was my case when I was flying the drone over and through some trees and some buildings and stuff. So you really have to take your environment into consideration when you think about maximum range.

Active track mode turned out to be awesome: it really followed me well when I was running full speed through some big sunflower field and it was tracking me just fine going sideways. And then it ended up stopping and not hitting something, but the the side obstacle avoidance sensors did pick up on something as it was moving to the left and it did stop the drone. So that was a good thing.

The 60 frames per second footage for 1080 doesn’t look that good – that’s problem with cropped sensor, because the Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t have this issue as it is full-frame sensor. 1080@60fps in general doesn’t look good: the edges of hard lines look really bad, looks mushy. It looks like there’s ants crawling all over the image because it’s so aliased and engrossed looking. And I really was hoping that this would be fixed with the new Mavic 2 series drones, but unfortunately with the Zoom version I don’t think that’s the case. I think 60 still doesn’t look that good and that’s in part because the Zoom camera is aside from the Zoom lens very, very similar to the Mavic 1 Pro camera and in fact, the sensors seem to be exactly the same. So if you go for the Mavic 2 Pro I think you’re gonna have a much better video experience.

At the end of the day, the Mavic 2 Zoom does look like the best drone of 2018 and if you want to get one of the easiest drone to fly with a bunch of cool features – the Mavic 2 Zoom is an ideal quadcopter for you.