Things I’ve Learned After Flying My DJI Mavic Mini Drone
At the end of 2019, I spent about a month in Northern Thailand with the DJI Mavic Mini drone, soaring around gorgeous historical parks and breathtaking temples, mainly playing on this little beast and seeing what the DJI Mavic Mini drone had to bring. Oh, for the good old days when we could all go anywhere we wanted without worrying about the COVID-19. Yes, those were the days, When we can travel freely, anywhere around the globe.
Anyway, getting back to the topic. I’ve heard a lot about the DJI Mavic Mini and flying my first drone in general, I learned a lot about this tool. I must say this not only enhanced my graphics quality but also helped me reach the places I couldn’t personally, Well, that’s its’s job to do and Yes it did that perfectly.
Allow me to take you the journey of how I spent my time playing with this beast and what cool features I find interesting in it. I will be sharing all the pros and cons that I felt about this drone while I have been using this personally. Also, there might be some features or cons that you personally may not like or not have any use of so you may ignore those as well. This is my personal review DJI Mavic Mini Drone.
So without wasting further time, here I am with tips and tricks with you for your new DJI Mavic Mini drone. Based on what I’ve learned and experienced while traveling with the DJI Mavic Mini Drone, I wish I had it much before when I started my first trip. So, Let’s get started.
Stuff I Wish I’d Known Before Purchasing a DJI Mavic Mini Drone
1. Determine whether your Home is in a no-fly zone
Imagine paying USD 400 for a drone to discover that you can’t fly it around your house because you’re in a no-fly zone. That’s a lot of money for a paperweight.
Both DJI drones feature Geofencing Technology, which uses the GPS signal to detect where you are and stops the drone from taking off if it detects that you are in a no-fly zone, which is approximately a 9-kilometer radius from the nearest airport.
Seriously, you can’t even get it off the ground if you’re in a no-fly zone, even if you’re inside your own house or in your backyard, so make sure to try it out before buying your first drone.
To see if your house is in a no-fly zone, download the DJI Fly app, open it, and look at the top-left corner of your device to see if you are in a recommended zone or not. You can also check it online by going to the official DJI Fly Zone Map page, selecting your location and the drone you want to purchase, and you can see all of the restricted and recommended flying zones.
2. Purchase The Fly More Combo
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 Fly 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.
3. Before buying, review the country’s regulations
Even though the DJI Mavic Mini’s 249g weight, which is less than the FAA’s drone registration criteria, is the drone’s key selling point, it only applies in the United States and a few other countries.
4. Ensure that the firmware is up to date
Before you go out to a place to fly your drone, make sure that the software on your drone and the DJI Fly app are both up to date, ideally when connected to WIFI.
The software will often notify you that you need to upgrade your firmware before you can travel, which is something you certainly don’t want to do when you’re out and about.
You will not only be draining your valuable batteries, but you will also be using your phone’s data to download hundreds of megabytes, just to have to stand there and wait for it to install for another 5 – 10 minutes. This is potentially avoidable if you review and refresh the app before starting the day.
5. Decide If Your Destination Is In A No-Fly Zone
The same is true if you are flying anywhere with your drone. Test your DJI Fly software to see if the area you’re visiting is a no-fly zone. You don’t want to be hauling all of your drone gear just to discover that you can’t go anywhere until you arrive. That was me in Chiangmai, Thailand, where the airport is right in the heart of the city.
6. Check that you are lawfully allowed to travel in the field
Once you’ve checked that you can fly in the area you’re touring, keep an eye out for a sign banning drone flight before you arrive. Sometimes, such as outside an old monument or a busy area, drone flight is outright forbidden, and you can be told off or, worse, arrested even though you do it unknowingly.
My cardinal rule is to stop landing in busy areas or major cities, which is often illegal anyway. Instead, travel around rural areas where there is no one around, avoiding getting in trouble with local officials, which you don’t want to encounter as a tourist.
7. Ensure that it is adequately powered
The first thing I discovered while flying with a drone is that the number of items I have to charge is getting out of control. When traveling with a drone, you must charge the battery inside your drone, all replacement batteries, and the remote control while ensuring that your phone has enough power to control your drone.
You don’t want to be out at a place and know you just have half a drone battery. You won’t be able to go too far with anything less than 30 minutes of flying time per fully charged battery.
We haven’t even considered the fact that you’ll need to save at least 30 – 50 percent of your battery for the return ride, so make sure to charge all of your batteries the day before.
8. If not, the battery charger should be used as a power bank
Find yourself in a position where your remote control is not entirely charged, which happens more often than you’d expect. You can use the three-pack battery adapter that comes with the Fly More Combo kit as a power bank to charge your remote control or other electronic gadgets.
You will be losing the extra batteries, but at least you will have the ability to fly around, which is much superior to not flying at all.
9. Double-check if you’ve set your video to record at the correct format and frame rate
I made the mistake of not knowing anything about the DJI Fly app settings and using my Mavic Mini to capture footage during my trip to Thailand in 30 FPS format, even though my standard camera is set to 25 FPS.
Consider my expression as I sat at a computer table after a month-long journey, attempting to edit my Timeless Thailand travel video and finding the skip framerate. Don’t be like me. Be a bit smarter and balance the video format of your drone with cameras you are using so that you can use all the videos together.
Link your drone to the DJI Fly app, press the video icon on the right, pick the resolution you want to capture (2.7K for me), and align your target framerate with your other cameras. The DJI Mavic Mini will capture video at 2.7K resolution at 24FPS, 25FPS, 30FPS, and 1080P resolution at 50FPS and 60FPS.
10. Before flying, set the return to home altitude
The Back to Home mode, which helps your drone fly back to the take-off position automatically with the click of a button, is one of the best features that has saved my ass countless times.
Return to Home is also a fallback feature when the remote control’s signal to the drone is lost. Using the Return to Home function, the drone will automatically return to you.
The drone concisely accomplishes this. It will fly up to the highest altitude listed in the app to avoid obstacles before returning to the take-off spot.
This is why it is vital to map the area before launching, identify the highest obstacle in the area, and set the Return to Home Altitude in the DJI Fly software to be above that obstacle so that if anything goes wrong, the drone can quickly return to you without colliding with something.
To adjust the Return to Home Altitude, tap on the status indicator on the top left of your DJI Fly window, which you use to determine whether you are in a no-fly zone or not, and a panel will appear on the right where you can display and configure your Return to Home Altitude.
11. Find an open area for your initial test flight
It is safer to practice your first flight in an open environment with enough room for you to fly your drone. Do not try it indoors, if this is your first time flying a drone.
There is a greater risk that you will collide with anything, mainly if you are indoors, where the GPS signal cannot reach the drone, and it cannot maintain its position very well. Furthermore, it is best to monitor the trigger first to see how quickly it flies, and indoors is not the best way to do so.
12. Ensure that the flat side of the antennas faces the drone
For remote control, the two antennas mounted to the top of the Mavic Mini send and receive signals through the flat surface on its body, so when controlling your drone, do not point the antenna’s tops towards the drone to boost the signal, but rather adjust your antenna such that the flat surfaces face the drone.
Tips and Tricks for Flying the DJI Mavic Mini
13. DO NOT TAKE OFF NEXT TO AN Obstacle
We’re 12 points in, and I haven’t even listed any tips or tricks for flying the DJI Mavic Mini drone, so here they are: Take off as far away from an obstacle as possible. The DJI Mavic Mini drone bounces a little as it takes off and stabilizes itself, and there’s a fair risk it’ll hit anything if you’re not careful.
My advice is to stop setting off on a bench or a floor near a fence or a wall. You should be fine if you take off in an open field.
14. Keep an eye out for the WIFI Intrusion Warning in the app
The DJI Mavic Mini drone is controlled with an improved WIFI signal, which can be quickly interrupted by interference. I discovered that traveling in congested environments, such as a district, or areas with dense trees high above me often resulted in signal loss, nerve-racking.
You’ll see a tiny red satellite icon at the top of the system interface and a warning if the app senses transmission interference or a low signal. When you see this, do not want to drive the drone to see how far it can go; return it to find a new way to ride.
When I tried to push it when the signal was low, I lost control of the drone for around 9 minutes before it began its fallback procedure and triggered the Return to Home feature. That is why it is important to set your Return To Home Altitude before each flight!
15. If There Is A Heavy Breeze Use THE RETURN TO HOME Functionality AT YOUR OWN RISK
When it comes to the Return to Home feature, it is fantastic, but there is one case in which you can not have it: when there is heavy wind.
When you’re in the woods, more frequently than not, the higher the altitude, the heavier the breeze. In my analysis of the Mavic Mini, I discussed how light the drone is and how it struggles in high winds as a result. If you find yourself in that situation and your drone is floating away due to strong winds, do not use the Return to Home button.
The Return To Home feature would cause your drone to fly higher, where the wind is expected to be heavier, and then you can wave goodbye to your drone as it drifts ever farther south. Instead, lower your altitude as low as possible and begin manually flying it back to you.
Typically, the wind would be calmer at your altitude, and the drone should be fine. If not, why the heck did you take off and launch your drone in the first place when there’s a heavy wind!?
16. Confirm That You Are Still Recording
Hey, it happens to the best of us, and I can’t tell you how many amazing stunts I’ve performed with my drone (not necessarily, but you’ll never know) just to realize after many minutes that I hadn’t pressed the record button.
Please ensure that the red circular record button on your right in your DJI Fly App is squared out and that there is a ticking timer underneath it signalling that it is recording before you begin flying around and practising your drone tricks.
17. Allow the Gridlines
In the DJI Fly app settings, you can also allow gridlines so that you can coordinate your subject with the gridline and get the shot you want without being off-center.
To unlock the gridlines, open the DJI Fly window, tap the 3-dots icon in the top right corner of the app, navigate to the Camera tab, and then tap the Advanced Shooting Settings button at the bottom.
18. Play with different flight paths and angles to diversify the shots
Now that we’ve explored the environments let’s look at how you can develop your drone filmmaking abilities. Drones are great tools for filmmakers to bring a new perspective to our travel videos, but if you only use one flight pattern, your video can become boring.
As I mentioned in my previous post, it is vital to diversify your shots to keep your video entertaining, so play with your flight patterns so that you will have the ability to mix and match your drone footage while you are in the editing room.
Try out the DJI Quickshots feature, which simplifies complicated movements and helps you to fire classic shots like the Dronie or the Helix with a single button click. Instead of flying straight, you should turn your camera down and spin up to show more scenery.
There are various flight patterns of different degrees of complexity, so make sure to play with angles, altitude, and perspective before arriving at a destination. As you can see from above, one of my favorite flight patterns is to fly straight while increasing altitude as the camera seamlessly tilts down to focus on the topic.
19. To build a sense of motion, fly low to the ground
One of the aspects that makes drone video so captivating to watch is the sense of motion that it imparts to the world, but to do so, your footage must include some surface to produce motion.
Consider flying the drone as far as you can and then starting to go forward. You won’t be able to see any movements in your video because the drone is so far up that there is nothing in the picture to indicate that the drone is moving.
That is why I suggest flying the drone low to the surface so that the viewer will sense the motion of the drone as if it were flying above them.
20. Reduce Tilt Speed for Smooth Pan
When you first fly your drone, you will notice that your video is jerky and not smooth when you tilt your camera using the wheel on your remote control. I had the same issue and could not catch a cinematic tilt shot until I remembered that the tilt level could be set to any speed you choose.
In the DJI Fly app, set the pitch speed and smooth settings for the Mavic Mini.
To change the tilt speed, press the three-dot button in the top right corner of your DJI Fly app, switch to the Control tab, and then select the Advanced Gimbal Settings. You will be able to adjust the Pitch Speed (how easily the tilt responds to control) and Pitch Smoothness (how fast the tilt ramps up to the speed).
I usually set the Pitch Speed to 6 and the Pitch Smooth to 30 because I want the tilt shot to be as smooth as possible, but this is just my personal preference; please experiment to find the right speed for your pictures.
21. When filming, make sure the exposure is set to manual or locked
Instructions for setting the DJI Fly app’s exposure to manual on the Mavic Mini.
The biggest concern with drone video is the change in illumination that happens every time your drone’s camera shifts due to the Mavic Mini’s automatic exposure. This does not look good in a frame, so before you press the record button, I suggest that you either set the exposure manually or lock it before you begin filming.
To lock your exposure, change your EV value in the bottom right corner of the DJI Fly app to compensate for brightness, and then tap the AE lock icon to prevent the exposure from changing as you fly your drone when filming.
To set your manual exposure, tap the AUTO icon in the bottom right corner of the DJI Fly app, and the shutter speed and ISO options will appear.
22. Do not fly further if the battery is less than 50% charged
If your drone is still flying away from you and your battery is at 50%, it may be a good idea to start flying it back to keep it from running out of battery before landing.
I’ve found that 50% is a decent signal for me to begin flying my Mavic Mini back when the drone is nearly out of my line of sight, and 30% is the lowest I’d go at draining the battery before flying around when the drone is clearly in my line of sight.
Anything less than that increases the likelihood that the drone would run out of batteries before returning to where it took off, something I will not do with my new drone.
23. Use a 4:3 aspect ratio when taking pictures
This is an immediate environment that you may forget while flying your Mavic Mini for the first time. Set the preferred aspect ratio to 4:3 rather than 16:9 for the best quality images. As a result, the shot you take with your drone will have a higher pixel count, allowing you to crop it later in post-processing to your taste.
To adjust the picture aspect ratio, tap the three dots button in the top right corner of your DJI Fly app, then go to the Camera tab and pick the size option.
24. Play With Quickshots, But Keep Obstacles in Mind
As previously mentioned, the Quickshots feature is a fantastic way to diversify your video, but keep an eye out for obstacles in your direction. Some Quickshots, such as Helix, will take up a wide area, and since the DJI Mavic Mini drone lacks Obstacle Avoidance sensors, you must avoid crashing your drone when executing these incredible shots.
Quickshots can be performed only when there are no obstacles nearby that are high enough that the drone could inadvertently strike them. Otherwise, keep your eye on the Cancel button ready in case the drone collides with an obstacle.
25. Keep the drone in the line of sight at all times
Last but not least, as you first start, it is wise to keep your drone in your line of sight at all times so that you can properly judge how to handle the room around you.
I’m still not used to flying my Mavic Mini backward after a month of using it. It always takes me longer to fly my drone back than it does to go anywhere because I fiddle with the controls trying to go left rather than right.
And there you have it 25 tips and tricks for flying your DJI Mavic Mini drone, stuff I wish I learned before purchasing the drone, and things you should do before your first flight. I am by no means a specialist in drone piloting, but if you have any additional tips to add to the list, please share them in the comments section below. I would be happy to use and review them for you.
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