I always wanted to buy a drone ever since DJI released its first portable Mavic drone back in 2016. Some of you guys may know that I love to travel and love recording my travel experiences in photographs and short videos, And as I travel more and more I felt that having a drone to be able to see places from above would have added a new dimension to my travel videos.
But there is a reason that was restricting me from buying one. It’s the size and quality ratio. Well, all my traveler friends here can understand and agree with me on this that the lighter you pack your luggage, the better you move while you travel. And I am a light traveler, but not on purpose.
The places I travel often require me to hike around for days, and whatever weight I have with me, I have to carry it all on my back. And adding one more weight just to enhance the graphical experience didn’t allow me to buy a drone camera. Well, what’s the use of sharing the experience with others if you are not experiencing the moments yourself to the fullest.
Before now, the DJI drones either comes with a great camera, but are heavy in weight. Or few of them are super light but have a poor camera quality.
The DJI Mavic Pro was way too bulky for people like me who like to travel light. It will definitely add a lot of weight for me to carry around in my backpack along with my other travel gears (a tripod, 2 more lenses, etc.) and the DJI Spark’s camera leave a lot to be desired.
But then came the DJI Mavic Mini, a drone released in 2019 that bridged the gap between light-weight, camera quality, and affordable price, a drone I was looking for. Looking at it gave me a feeling like I just found my soulmate on my travel map. Well, if you find this joke bad, then you need to travel more to understand this.
If you are looking to buy your first drone for your next trip or you are just looking for a light-weight but capable drone, this is the article for you. So without further stories, here is a quick DJI Mavic Mini Drone Review, by the traveler for the travelers.
Summary Of The DJI Mavic Mini
If you are short on time, here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of the DJI Mavic Mini and a link to see the recent price of the drone:
Small size and light-weight
Shoots video at 2.7K resolution
Long flight time
Easy to fly
Starting at only 399 USD
No active tracking
No object avoidance
It doesn’t handle strong wind very well
WIFI interference causing loss of signal
DJI Mavic Mini Specifications:
Let’s start with the basics and go through the main specifications of the DJI Mavic Mini that travelers should be aware of and that we will be covering in this post.
This is by no means an exhaustive set of specifications, but it is one that I believe applies to us, travelers. Visit the official DJI Mavic Mini website for a complete list of requirements.
Weight: 249 g
Dimension: Folded: 140×82×57 mm (L×W×H), Unfolded: 160×202×55 mm (L×W×H)
Max Flight Time: 30 minutes
Max Flying Distance: 4000m for Model MR1SS5 and 2000m for Model MR1SD25
Max Still Image Resolution: 4000×3000
Max Video Resolution: 2.7 K: 2720×1530 25/30 p
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals let’s get into the DJI Mavic Mini’s specifics and my experience using it while traveling.
Things to Look For in a Travel Drone
As previously reported, a traveler like us who loves hiking and making high-quality travel content needs a light-weight drone that can catch breathtaking moments at any time.
Weight and Dimension:
The weight and dimensions of the drone, mainly when folded, are the most important features we look for in a drone. The weight and dimensions of the drone will be constrained by the size of your daypack, which is the backpack you will be bringing around when you go out and explore a place, so make sure to calculate your daypack and see how the drone, including its remote control, spare batteries, and other necessary accessories, fits in your daypack.
Suppose you’re looking for a day pack to carry your drone. In that case, I’ve been taking this retro-looking Herschel Supply’s Little America Backpack (Large 25L) on most of my trips, and it easily accommodated everything from a tripod to the DJI Mavic Mini drone and all of its accessories.
Flight time is critical, mainly when you are on the go and do not have the luxury of charging your drone at any time. Furthermore, the longer the flight time, the more likely it is that you will be able to return your drone until the battery runs out. It will also allow you more freedom to set up shots and play with your drone while it is in the air.
Last but not least, the camera should be able to accommodate a variety of scenarios under differing lighting conditions. It should also have at least a 3-axis gimbal to deliver smooth video footage while also recording adequate data to ensure consistency in the accuracy of the travel video.
In my view, these are the three most critical characteristics to search for in a travel drone, and before the introduction of the DJI Mavic Mini, all other drones failed to follow one or more of these standards.
Now that the DJI Mavic Mini has been launched and meets all of the specifications mentioned above to varying degrees let’s see if the drone is as good on paper as it is in operation.
Why Is the DJI Mavic Mini Ideal for Travelers?
One of the lightest and smallest drones around:
Let us now discuss the weight and proportions. The DJI Mavic Mini is one of DJI’s lightest drones, weighing in at 249g. This is significant because, in the United States and many other countries, drones weighing less than 250g do not need to be licensed with the FAA or the country’s aviation association.
This gives us a lot of freedom to fly our drones without dealing with bureaucracy than most bigger drones. With a lighter weight, you’ll have more ability to bear other accessories when traveling without slowing you down as much as other drones.
As folded, the DJI Mavic Mini measures 1408257mm, which is smaller than the iPhone XS MAX! The Mavic Mini will save you a lot of room in your daypack, enabling you to bring more important gear.
People sometimes forget about the drone’s dimensions and weight because you will have to bring more than just the drone while you are out and about. You’ll need to transport the remote control, propellers, tubes, replacement batteries, charger, and protective case, which adds up quickly.
The DJI Mavic Mini measurements and the case that comes with its Fly More Combo Pack (which I suggest you buy) are 265x195x85mm, which takes up less than a third of the space of my Herschel Supply daypack (25L), leaving room for other camera gear.
Excellent Camera Quality For Its Size:
The DJI Mavic Mini is outfitted with a 35 mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, resulting in some of the sharpest photographs and smoothest videos from a drone of this height.
The drone will record JPEG images up to 4000×3000 resolution and videos up to 2.7K resolution, supplying us with extra pixels that result in more precise video imagery when downsampled to 1080p, which is what I do on all of my trip videos.
People noticed that they couldn’t monitor many simple camera settings, such as white balance and aperture, which led the video to be overexposed under certain situations when it was first released. Still, with the latest firmware upgrade (v01.00.050), you now have better control over your drone’s camera.
Color me surprised, but I didn’t expect a drone this compact to be able to shoot 2.7K video, let alone be filled with more features than DJI’s previous smallest drone, the DJI Spark.
Packed With Useful And Simple-To-Understand Features:
The DJI Mavic Mini is my first drone and my first time flying a drone, and I had no trouble wrapping my head around its new DJI Fly software or the power and navigation of flying this drone.
The DJI Fly software has an easy-to-use onboard experience with videos that teach you precisely how to shoot, fly, and land your drone safely without the assistance of someone else.
The Mavic Mini also includes the Quickshots feature, which allows you to instantly take intricate cinematic shots and execute epic drone maneuvers with the click of a button, which has helped me diversify my travel videos.
You will have no problem flying the drone around for the first time as a first-time pilot. After testing out the software and all of its capabilities, I started flying my drone in less than 10 minutes.
The Drone With the Longest Flight Time:
Flight time may not seem like a big deal to someone who has never flown a drone before, but once you get your drone in the air and start flying, you may never want to land it. It’s all great fun!
Even particularly if you’re into travel photography or filmmaking, you’ll find yourself spending 5 – 10 minutes just setting up shots and tests while the drone is in the air. With the Mavic Mini’s 30-minute flight time, you’ll have plenty of time to experiment, search for a better shot, and capture all the video you need before landing and replacing the battery.
What I Like Most About the DJI Mavic Mini Drone
After a month of nonstop travel, here are some of the features of my DJI Mavic Mini that I appreciate:
The 30-minute flight time:
helps me to catch too many footages without needing to land and change the battery every so often. With the Fly More Combo Pack, which comes with two additional batteries totaling a whopping 1.5 hours flight time, it is more than enough for me to fly my drones all day without having to rest and wait for the battery to be charged so that I can fly again.
The Return to Home Button:
enables the drone to return home with the press of a button. It is also used to return the drone in the event of a signal failure, which has saved my butt a few times while riding.
The way it works is that you must first set a target height before takeoff, which should be higher than the largest obstacles around you (trees, houses, etc.). When you press the “return to home” button, the drone can fly up to the maximum height to clear all obstacles and return to your position and land safely.
The Cinematic and Sport Modes:
allowed the drone to fly at various speeds, which significantly helped me diversify my footage from slowly panning cinematically to flying high and low above the ground. The sport mode is also helpful in returning your drone until the battery runs out, and all of this can be done effortlessly in the app when your drones are in the air.
Sample footage of the DJI Mavic Mini’s Helix Quickshot feature. With the DJI Mavic Mini, you can get a shot like this with the click of a button.
Especially the Helix Shot, which automatically flies my drone in a spiral with a focus point in the center, is one of my favorite drone features. Even though I am an inexperienced pilot, the result was professional.
The Negatives Of The DJI Mavic Mini
Even though I adore my DJI Mavic Mini, there are a few features that would have made my life as a solo traveler a lot simpler.
No Active Track:
The first notable omission is the DJI Active Track, which helps the drone pursue a subject without your intervention. This feature would have been great for me as a solo traveler because it would have helped me record myself hiking and doing other things without controlling it.
No Obstacle Avoidance:
There’s a reason DJI didn’t have Active Track in the Mavic Mini, and it comes down to another aspect I wish the Mavic Mini had. The Obstacle Avoidance system senses whether a drone is about to crash with something using sensors around the drone. The DJI Mavic Mini lacks these sensors, most likely to save money and keep the weight under 249g, so Active Track is not accessible.
Hindered and even interrupted my flying experiences to the point that I couldn’t fly the drone too long without the signal falls.
Since the DJI Mavic Mini uses a WIFI signal to power the drone rather than other technology such as the OcuSync 2.0 on the DJI Mavic Air 2, the ranges on this drone degrade due to WIFI interference while operating in a congested environment such as a region.
But bear this in mind if you’re flying in an environment with a lot of WIFI congestion. When you take off, the app should advise you of this, so keep an eye on the alarm and not take any chances. Also, set the maximum highest point such that even though the drone loses signal, it can still return to you.
Can’t Handle Strong Wind:
Due to its low weight, the DJI Mavic Mini struggles to handle strong wind, which is often the case when I’m hiking in the mountains. If there is a strong wind, the drone may have difficulty stabilizing, as seen in the slightly shook video, or it may not even fly forward, which is a significant concern, mainly if the drone is already far out. I frequently stop flying when the wind kicks up and only travel when it is calmer.
Why Not Buy Other DJI Drones
Now that I’ve emphasized the importance of the DJI Mavic Mini, you’re probably curious about the other drones, especially the latest DJI Mavic Air 2.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is superior in almost every way except two vital ones: size and price. Though you get a better camera and more functionality, you give up the two most critical criteria we’ve addressed in this post.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is substantially bigger than the DJI Mavic Mini, with measurements that are more akin to the DJI Mavic Pro than the Mavic Mini. Not only has the drone’s body grown in bulk, but the DJI Mavic Air 2’s remote control has almost doubled in size. With these two considerations combined, the payload you would carry in your backpack for the DJI Mavic Air 2 rises significantly, which is not suitable for a backpacker.
Not to mention that the DJI Mavic Air 2 costs USD 400 more for the drone and USD 500 more for the Fly More Combo Pack than the DJI Mavic Mini, so you are growing not just your payload but also your investment, which is huge, particularly for an inexperienced pilot like myself.
It all comes down to what you expect from a drone. As a solo traveler, I considered the Mavic Mini to be much more cost-effective to bring around when hiking and visiting remote areas.
Overall, with the perfect combination of price, scale, and capability, as demonstrated in this post, I am convinced that the DJI Mavic Mini is the best drone a traveler can get.
The DJI Mavic Mini follows all of the specifications I was searching for in a travel drone. The drone’s compact size and light weight make me want to bring it around more while I’m out traveling, something I can’t tell for other larger drones.
The drone’s new insight helps me view the world in ways I would not have seen otherwise, and it supported me in making a travel video that is more entertaining and enjoyable to watch.
BY FAR, the DJI Mavic Mini is the best drone for travelers searching for a light-weight drone with a high-quality camera without compromising scale. I can’t think of any drone that offers more bang for your buck than the DJI Mavic Mini, and I highly suggest you get one if this is your first drone.
Looking To Buy The DJI Mavic Mini?
For the DJI Mavic Mini, there are two options: the standard Mavic Mini option, which includes the drone, a remote control, one charger, wires, and one set of spare propellers for USD 399, and the Travel More Combo Pack, which includes more for USD 499, which is a much better option.
The Fly More Combo includes everything in the standard pack and two more spare batteries for a total of three batteries, a three-battery-pack booster that can also be used as a power bank, three sets of spare propellers, more spare screws, and many more.
The replacement batteries supplied with the Fly More Combination pack are now worth more than the additional USD 100 you pay for the package. With three batteries, the flight time improves from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, which you would surely enjoy when flying.
Furthermore, the 3-battery-pack adapter can act as a power bank, allowing you to charge your remote control and other electronic devices as required.
Overall, I strongly advise you to purchase the Fly More Combo rather than the standard DJI Mavic Mini pack. This is it from my side on this cool gadget review of DJI Mavic Mini Drone. I hope you find it valuable to make up your mind.
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I will see you in another interesting review of another cool travel gadget. Till then, Don’t Stop, Keep Exploring, Keep Traveling. Good Luck