Camera drone DJI Mavic Mini 2 in the test: 4K, RAW & fat range
DJI has revised the Mavic Mini presented at the end of 2019 and added a lot. In addition to 4K resolution and RAW format, the drone now also has OcuSync transmission on board. TechStage tested them.
Drones for aerial photography are very popular with hobby pilots. However , top models such as the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom (test report) cost more than 1000 euros. Such prices are fine for professionals and professional photographers, but for amateur directors it is often too much. The manufacturers have also understood this; there are now a whole range of entry-level drones such as the DJI Mavic Mini (test report) , the Parrot Anafi (test report) or the Yuneec Mantis Q (test report) . With the Mini 2, DJI has dispensed with the suffix Mavic and is bringing a new contender for the crown among entry-level drones into play. Since Skyepics is based on the Gold Coast, we naturally have a tonne of aerial photographs of both the Gold Coast and Brisbane, check out photos which can be viewed here.
The design of the new Mini 2 hardly differs from the first Mavic Mini. The most obvious changes are the new status LEDs on the front and back and the lettering with the name. The new model is also light gray and has the popular folding mechanism of the motor boom, powerful brushless motors, a camera and a three-axis gimbal for image stabilization. DJI has revised the outriggers and made them more stable and torsion-resistant overall. Overall, the new Mini 2 leaves a more stable impression than the previous model.
The 4K camera mounted on the front is reminiscent of the DJI Pocket 2 gimbal camera (test report) . When transporting the drone, the camera and gimbal are protected from damage by a transparent plastic cover. A new addition is the propeller protection for transport in a bag or backpack. This ensures that the ends of the propellers do not get caught and get caught on the bag.
In addition to the appearance, the take-off weight of just under 250 grams has remained the same – despite the reinforced boom. This allows the Mini 2 to fly without proof of knowledge – even after the future drone regulation. However, model flight insurance is still mandatory. The maximum flight time has increased by one minute and is now 31 minutes. Due to the low overall weight, the Mini 2 should survive minor falls largely unscathed.
When folded, the drone measures just 138 × 81 × 58 mm. When unfolded, the dimensions are 159 × 203 × 56 mm. This makes the Mavic Mini a little bit larger than the DJI Spark (test report) with the dimensions 143 × 143 × 55 mm and significantly smaller than the Mavic 2 with the dimensions 322 × 242 × 84 mm. Here is a size comparison between the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom (test report) , Mavic Air 2 (test report) and the Mini 2.
Like the Mavic Mini, the Mini 2 has two-piece folding propellers. There is no quick-change system, as with the Mavic 2 series (guide) . A screwdriver is therefore required to change the propeller; this is included in the scope of delivery. The advantages of the two-part propeller are the weight savings and the very low aircraft noise. In practice, the drone attracts far less attention.
The memory card slot and USB-C socket for recharging the battery are on the back of the drone. The flap of the battery compartment is located directly above it.
However, the handheld transmitter of the Mini 2 is no longer reminiscent of the remote control of the Mavic Mini. Instead, DJI relies on the controller design of the Mavic Air 2. We like that because we have a better view of the smartphone above the controller. We will soon try out whether the remote controls of the Mini 2 and Mavic Air 2 are compatible with each other and add them here.
In addition to GPS and Glonass, the Mini 2 now also receives its position data via the Galileo system. A barometer and downward position camera are also back on board. As with other video drones, the revised photo and video camera is stabilized with a three-axis gimbal.
The new Mini 2 does not have automatic obstacle detection using sensors. While it looks like it has the forward-facing obstacle sensors familiar from the Mavic Pro, this is deceptive. Anyone who is out and about with the Mini 2 cannot blindly rely on the technology like with more expensive DJI drones – the new version of the entry-level drone does not recognize obstacles either. The automatic subject tracking Tracking 3.0 known from the Mavic Air 2 is not implemented. Those who plan pursuit flights must control them themselves.
Now for one of the Mini 2’s biggest innovations, the maximum range. Instead of WLAN, the drone now uses DJI’s OcuSync system, which is known from Mavic-2 or Mavic Air 2. The maximum range, with the setting compliant in Germany and the EU (CE), is now a whopping 6 km; in the USA even up to 10 km are possible. In practice, the Mavic Mini flies much further than the currently valid drone regulation allows. According to the regulation, the pilot must be able to recognize the aircraft without any aids and assess its position, which is difficult with the Mini 2 from a few hundred meters.
Now the second major innovation of the Mini 2: the camera. This now records in 4K and uses a 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with a fixed aperture of f/2.8 and a field of view of 83 degrees. The bit rate of the recordings is a whopping 100 MBit/s (H.264 codec). For comparison, the previous model only records with a bit rate of 40 MBit/s (H.265 codec). The maximum video resolution (4K) is now 2840 × 2160 pixels at a maximum of 30 fps. Videos in 2.7K are also possible with 30 fps. With Full HD recordings, the refresh rate is up to 60 fps.
The photos of the Mini 2 no longer only end up as JPEGs on the memory card. If you want, you can finally save them in RAW format (DNG) and get a lot more out of the pictures afterwards. The resolution is again a maximum of 4000 × 3000 pixels.
The new 2-cell battery is not compatible with the Mavic Mini batteries. Instead of a Li-Ion battery, a Lipo battery with a capacity of 2250 mAh is now used. From our point of view, this has a decisive disadvantage. While the batteries of the Mavic Mini could lie fully charged in your pocket for weeks until they were needed, this is no longer possible. Since the Lipo technology is relatively vulnerable, DJI has now also implemented automatic self-discharge in the battery of the Mini 2. After about five days, the battery begins to empty to a charge level of 72 percent, the so-called storage voltage. If you want to use the drone, you should always charge it one day before the flight. This is significantly less convenient than handling with the Mavic Mini, especially for those who fly infrequently.
The battery is pushed into the drone from behind and protected by a flap. According to DJI, the maximum flight duration is 31 minutes. Under real conditions – with wind and sporty maneuvers – we achieve about 26 minutes flight time before we get the message to return to the starting point. The charge status of the battery is monitored throughout the flight and displayed on the smartphone using an app. Charging takes place directly in the Mini 2 or in the triple charger of the Fly-More combo. A USB-C cable is now used for charging directly in the drone.
The remote control feels good in the hand and, when unfolded, offers enough space for the Huawei P30 Pro with a 6.47-inch display used in the test. The two control sticks are only screwed on and can be stowed in a recess in the transmitter for transport.
The live image for monitoring on the smartphone has a resolution of 720p at 30 fps. During the test flights (at a maximum distance of around 600 meters), image transmission with a Huawei P30 Pro was smooth and very stable. Those who had range problems with the Mavic Mini will be particularly happy about this.
Here is a direct comparison of the most important data of the Mavic Mini and Mini 2:
|DJI Mini 2||DJI Mavic Mini|
|Weight||< 249g||< 249g|
|dimensions folded||138 × 81 × 58mm (L×W×H)||140 × 81 × 57mm (L×W×H)|
|Dimensions unfolded||159 × 203 × 56mm (L×W×H)||159 × 202 × 55mm (L×W×H)|
|frequency range||2.4GHz, 5.8GHz||2.4GHz, 5.8GHz|
|navigation||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo||GPS, GLONASS|
|Maximum range CE/FCC||6km/10km||500m/ 2km|
|Maximum Operating Altitude||4000m||3000m|
|ambient temperature||0° to 40°C||0° to 40°C|
|flight time||31 minutes||30 minutes|
|flight battery||LiPo 2s (7.7V) 2250mAh||Li-Ion 2s (7.2V) 2400mAh|
|Rate of Climb (S/N/C)||5/3/2m/s||4/2/1.5m/s|
|rate of descent (S/N/C)||3.5/3/1.5m/s||3/1.8/1m/s|
|Maximum wind speed||8.5 to 10.5 m/s (approx. 38 km/h)||8 m/s (approx. 29 km/h)|
|live image quality||720p@30fps||720p@30fps|
|image lag||about 200 ms||240ms|
|memory card||at least UHS-I Speed Class 3||at least UHS-I Speed Class 3|
|swivel range||-90° to +20°||-90° to +20°|
|image sensor||1/2.3” CMOS||1/2.3” CMOS|
|native resolution||12 megapixels||12 megapixels|
|Field of View (FOV)||83°||83°|
|ISO||100 to 3200||100 to 3200|
|shutter speed||4 to 1/8000s||4 to 1/8000s|
|Photo resolution (4:3/16:9)||4000×3000/4000×2250||4000×3000/4000×2250|
|Image formats photo||JPEG, JPEG + RAW (DNG)||JPEG|
|Videos 4K||3840 × 2160 @ 24/25/30 fps||–|
|Video 2.7K||2720 × 1530 @ 24/25/30 fps||2720 × 1530 @ 25/30 fps|
|Video FHD||1920 × 1080 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps||1920 × 1080 @ 25/30/50/60 fps|
|Maximum bit rate||100Mbps||40 Mbps|
|Aspect Formats Video||MP4 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC）||MP4 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC）|
|Quickshot modes||Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle, Boomerang||Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle|
The free DJI Fly app is used to monitor the flight. Nothing has changed here compared to the Mavic Mini and so we found our way around the test without any problems. Compared to the Mavic 2 app, there are fewer setting options overall. This is significantly less confusing for beginners and simplifies operation. Thanks to satellite navigation, the Mini 2 automatically recognizes no-fly zones around airports or prisons and does not even take off. Even if DJI prevents abuse in this way, pilots should still familiarize themselves with the drone regulation.
Flight characteristics and flight modes
Those who already have flight experience with drones will feel immediately familiar with the Mini 2. The good and very direct flight characteristics are fun and comparable to other Mavic models. The drone reacts precisely and reliably to even the smallest directional input from the pilot. In addition to the normal mode (N), the Mini 2 also has a cinema mode (C) and a sport mode (S). Ultimately, the flight modes only affect the speed of the drone. This has increased slightly in direct comparison to the Mavic Mini. The top speed in sport mode is now just under 58 km/h instead of 47 km/h before. Without incoming control commands, the Mavic Mini stands rooted to the air even in windy conditions. The maximum wind speed specified by DJI at which the drone will still fly reasonably.
The automatic return when the battery is empty, the radio is lost (or at the command of the pilot) works reliably and precisely in the test. It is important to store a reasonable return height in the app. In our opinion, the standard setting of 20 m is too low and there is a risk that the Mini 2 will get stuck in a tree.
The partially automated flight maneuvers also work reliably in the tests. The following maneuvers, the so-called quick shots, are available:
- Rocket : The Mavic Mini quickly flies into the air with the camera pointing down and following its subject.
- Orbit : The Mini 2 orbits its subject at a constant height and distance.
- Dronie : The Mini 2 flies backwards and upwards at the same time while keeping the camera aligned with the subject.
- Helix : The Mini 2 flies upwards in a spiral while moving away from the subject at the same time.
- Boomerang : The Mini 2 orbits the pilot in an elliptical course.
Unfortunately, the Hyperlapse function in 4K resolution is not yet available in the pre-release version of the app. We really liked this on the Mavic Air 2, so we’ll be retesting it as soon as possible.
To say it straight away, the weather during the first test flights was anything but ideal for photo and film recordings. Despite the poor conditions, the quality is very good. We will be uploading more material in the next few days for a better classification.
The video quality of the Mini 2 is, that much can already be said, impressive and does not have to hide from more expensive models like the Mavic Air 2. Due to the smaller image sensor, the Mini 2 is slightly at a disadvantage, especially in difficult lighting conditions. Image noise occurs more quickly here and overall the image dynamics are not quite as high. Overall, the recordings look a little less brilliant. However, this is criticism on a very high level, because the 4K videos actually look very good. If you don’t plan to use the recordings commercially, you should definitely be satisfied with the picture quality. The new 4K resolution makes it possible to zoom in losslessly up to 1080p via software.
The photo quality of the Mini 2 is perfectly fine for the small sensor and thanks to the RAW format, the user can now tease out a lot more from the images using an image editing program. A new addition is the panorama function of the Mini 2. This was not available on the previous model. In addition to multi-row panoramas and 180-degree shots, the drone now also creates impressive 360-degree photos. The Mini 2 automatically takes the 26 individual images required for the all-round shots one after the other and puts them together independently. In this respect, the entry-level drone is now on a par with the larger Mavic Air 2.
If necessary, the recording parameters such as exposure time or ISO value can be set manually. In the test, however, we relied on the automatic system.
Mini 2 vs Mavic Mini
Whether the price difference of almost 90 euros between Mavic Mini and Mini 2 is worth it depends on your own requirements. If the image material is only recorded and edited in 1080p and also flown at close range up to a maximum of 500 m, then the cheaper Mavic Mini is easily enough. With regard to the battery, this even has an advantage. If you choose the Mini 2, you have to charge your flight batteries regularly. Depositing the full batteries with the drone in the car only works with the older Mavic Mini.
If 4K resolution, RAW format or long range are important, it has to be the better equipped Mini 2. If you want to record automated panoramas or hyperlapse videos, you also need the new version or alternative software for the Mavic Mini.
If you prefer to rely on sensors than on your own flying skills, you are wrong with the mini series. Ultimately, only the Mavic 2 series (purchase advice) comes into question here. If you want to do without the sensors, but not without the automatic recording programs, you can alternatively take a look at the Parrot Anafi (test report) .
Variants and scope of delivery
The scope of delivery of the Mini 2 includes the drone including battery, USB power supply, hand-held transmitter, a set of spare propellers and all the necessary connection cables. DJI provided us with the slightly more expensive Fly-More combo for the test. In addition to the standard accessories, two additional batteries, a day bag and a triple charger are included in the scope of delivery. DJI has already announced a range of accessories for the Mini 2. As soon as bags, filters and other gadgets are available for the drone, we will present the most important accessories in a separate article.