DJI is taking one of its most popular drones and splitting it in two. Today, the company announced the Mavic 2, a true successor to the Mavic Pro, which has only seen iterative updates since its 2016 unveiling. But instead of just one drone, DJI is selling the Mavic 2 in two flavors: the Mavic 2 Pro, which is armed with a Hasselblad-designed camera and a big image sensor, and the Mavic 2 Zoom, which features 2x optical zoom. They’re on sale starting today: the Mavic 2 Pro starts at $1,449, and the Zoom starts at $1,249.
Both drones shoot 4K footage at up to 100 megabits per second and have 8GB of onboard storage, which can be increased via microSD. The drones have a top speed of 44 miles per hour and offer a flight time of up to 31 minutes. Building on an earlier Mavic update, they’re now quieter than ever. They’re each equipped with 10 sensors for obstacle avoidance in all directions and have been outfitted with a new image transmission system (DJI’s OcuSync 2.0) that beams a live 1080p view to the remote (via your phone) up to just under five miles away. Both fold up in the style that the original Mavic Pro helped pioneer.
Information about the two drones dripped out all summer after DJI decided to delay their release, but today was the first time we’ve gotten a full look at what’s on offer.
Let’s start with the Mavic 2 Pro. Marrying Hasselblad’s top-notch camera design with DJI’s drones has seemed inevitable since the Chinese drone maker bought a majority stake in the storied imaging company in 2017. While tech companies often cut deals to put the names of camera brands on their products, it doesn’t always mean there’s an appreciable bump in image quality. DJI’s close ties with Hasselblad mean there’s probably more to this integration than just a sticker on the side of the drone.
IT’S A CHOICE BETWEEN QUALITY AND VERSATILITY
Buying the Mavic 2 Pro over the Zoom is about making a choice on quality. It has a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor — the same size found in the company’s more expensive Phantom 4 Pro drone — and a bright, variable f2.8-f11 aperture. There are pro color profiles for video, like 10-bit Dlog-M, which will make it easier for editors to manipulate the footage to their liking after shooting. It also supports 4K 10-bit HDR.
The Zoom is more about versatility. It uses a smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor, but it has the ability to zoom from a wide 24mm view to a slightly more telephoto 48mm perspective on the fly. It shoots smaller 12-megapixel photos, though there’s a “Super Resolution” mode where the drone will take nine photos and stitch them into a larger 48-megapixel image. And there’s a “dolly zoom” mode that can mimic the popular technique used by cinematographers.
Both drones have new shooting modes that capture hyperlapses (sped-up time-lapse videos that come straight out of the camera) in different ways. DJI also says it has improved its subject tracking and obstacle avoidance software, meaning it should be easier than ever to set the Mavic on a particular path and let it do some of the work for you.
When DJI debuted the Mavic Air at the beginning of this year, a question many people asked was: what does this mean for the Mavic Pro? The original Mavic Pro was something of a revolution at the time for its mix of pro-style features and portability. The head of DJI’s North American operations even pulled the drone out of his back pocket onstage to emphasize its compact size. But the Mavic Air did all this and then some, adding things like more advanced obstacle avoidance in an even smaller body.
The Mavic 2 shows the genius of DJI’s product lineup strategy. By filling out the lower end with 2017’s Spark drone and placing the Mavic Air in the middle, the company gave itself room to improve on the original Mavic Pro. The result is a drone (or two drones) that resemble the company’s best prosumer option — the Phantom series — in a form factor that’s still more portable than basically anything else on the market. It’s also resulted in a far higher price tag than the $749 and $999 options of the original Mavic. But with cheaper options below, there’s less pressure to shell out all that money.
Our own Vjeran Pavic has already spent a few days with the Mavic 2 Pro — here’s a quick look at the kind of footage it’s capable of capturing: