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FIRST 30 DAYS WITH THE DJI MAVIC PRO BY A DRONE ARTIST/CREATOR

"The best drone is the one you have with you."

The DJI Mavic Pro is as good as you want it to be as long as you know its weaknesses.

DJI Mavic Pro - Just look at that little guy.

WHOA THAT THING IS TINY! This is what I screamed to myself (inside) as I ordered the DJI Mavic Pro the day it was announced. I somehow got mine well before anyone else, and it seems many are still waiting on their orders. I thought since I have had mine for some time and put some nautical miles on it, I would share my thoughts from my perspective as an artist and creator.

The DJI Mavic Pro is perfect for my drone style - which is more 35mm film look than 4K. Nice to be able to do both!

First impressions

WHOA IT IS EVEN SMALLER THAN I EXPECTED! That was my first thought. It is still inconceivable that drones are getting this good at this size. I unfolded it and started flying it immediately. I have not flown my Phantom 4 since - let's just get that out there. It flies true and cleanly, responsively, and is a blast to fly. The Mavic Pro was a joy right out of the box. You don't have to mess with propellers, and the kit I got afforded me 3 batteries to begin with. The battery life is great. The controller... I will get into that. I just want to do a quick good, bad, ugly here.

Exploring the Cumberland River in West Nashville with the DJI Mavic Pro - the perfect drone for exploring.

The good.

- flies very well and is very responsive

- stable in the air

- image quality is solid

- easy to travel with

- great battery life

- durable and well made

- narrower field of the optics actually makes for more cinematic video than the Phantom series

- batteries are cheap

- you can fly it in tight spaces

- the memory card slot has a cover

- propellers are always on so launches are quick

- it is a lot quieter than the Phantom series

- video transmission quality from the drone to controller is far better than prior Phantoms

- range is beyond legal awesome

- controller feels great and tactile

This shot was taken with the DJI Mavic Pro looking down on an old reservoir in Nashville. Much of my creative drone work is around abandoned, forgotten, or endangered historic places.

The not so good.

- the propellers often cast shadows across the lens, especially at sunrise and golden hour, so you have to be very careful or you will lose great shots

- the imaging does show artifacts in certain sunlight angles and weirdness sometimes, and some jitter. You have to fly very smoothly and always be aware.

- the molded plastic controller connection to the phone is poorly designed, and sometimes just getting your phone plugged in can take longer than launching the drone from a cold start.

- the controller battery life is far less than say the Phantom controller... you have to charge it often.

Exploring the Nashville Speedway at the Fairgrounds. A real classic that still has cars screaming around it. The Mavic Pro works great for quick, on the drive home kind of shoots like this.

How it landed with me.

The DJI Mavic Pro is like what a Rangefinder camera is to a photographer. It packs well, makes great images, and it can be always at the ready. It is not all things. It is not an Inspire or bulkier more powerful drone with prosumer optics. But, you can fly this thing in places where you would never fly an Inspire or other expensive rigs which means you get shots you would never get otherwise.

I use it everyday. I make sketches for creative ideas, or outright film them. I use it for scouting. I use it for taking a preliminary look at a site before I film for a commericial application. I can be on site with a commercial real estate client - discussing the project, while filming generally around to understand how the light is working and identifying hazards, etc.

 

The best aspect of the Mavic Pro for me - I use it as a conscious limitation and method of constraint as an artist. I love constraints. The people consumed with gear are usually the least creative. I have seen this in my music industry life as well. Have limits. And honestly, the Mavic is hardly limited. I have used it more in one month than I have my P4 in its entire life with me. It is that good. Buy it. You will always find a use for it, and it will be the camera you have, at some moment, where you will thank yourself forever for having it in tow.

Exploring an abandoned hospital with the Mavic Pro. I would never take a more expensive drone into situations like this, that is for sure.

I have 20 years of professional creative work in photography, music, media production, documentary film, and B2B marketing as Creative Director. In that time I have learned how to work with people to get ideas to manifest and stories get told.

My independent projects are immersed often in abandoned and forgotten places, and endangered historic properties. I see endless potential to use drones for artistic and commercial projects that expand perceptions - and for social good.

I am a FAA Part 107 certified remote pilot. I founded Those Drones, LLC because I am FASCINATED with the medium and its possibilities. I live to make things, and get stories told.

- Brian Siskind [THOSE DRONES]

 

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