DJI last week announced shipments of the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, souped-up (and priced-up) revisions of its original, highly portable, fold-up-and-carry Mavic Pro drone.
The Mavic 2 Pro boasts a camera designed in partnership with Hasselblad, the Swedish medium-format photography specialist in which DJI has a minority ownership stake. It has a one-inch CMOS sensor, with a 10-bit Dlog-M gamma color profile to preserve latitude in post-production. In fact, the Mavic 2 Pro’s on-board color science is so advanced that DJI says you can plug it into an HLG-capable 4K TV and view HDR footage directly from the drone. It has a U.S. MSRP of $1,449 for a package including drone, battery, remote, charger, and four pairs of propellers.
A little less expensive is the new Mavic 2 Zoom, which uses a smaller 1/2.3-inch CMOS but boasts of a 2x optical zoom lens. (The effective zoom range can be stretched to 4X if you’re willing to digitally “zoom” into a 1080p chunk of the 4K image.) The Mavic 2 Zoom’s hybrid autofocus system combines phase and contrast detection to speed up focusing by as much as 40%, DJI said.
The Mavic 2 Zoom also has a “Super Resolution” feature that captures and auto-stitches nine separate still images together to create a single 48-megapixel image.
Looking for a gimmick? The Mavic 2 Zoom has a new “exclusive” mode called Dolly Zoom QuickShot — a preset that zooms in automatically as the drone flies backward, creating the reality-warping effect first deployed by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo. (Caveat: the easier this once-striking effect becomes to execute, the more common it will become.) The Mavic 2 Zoom has an MSRP of $1,249, including the same accessories as the Mavic 2 Pro.
The two new drones share a lot of technology in common. They both record UHD 4K video at up to 100 Mbps using H.265 encoding. Auto-tracking features have been enhanced, with the drones now attempting to create a depth map of the flight area and using motion analysis to calculate the trajectories of tracked objects moving at up to 44 mph. And DJI’s new Hyperlapse mode is meant to make it easier to produce an aerial time-lapse using the DJI Go mobile app.
Both of them have a new mode for producing “enhanced high dynamic range” photographs (not the same as HDR videography), blending a sequence of exposure-bracketed photos to yield a single image with extended details visible in the shadows and highlights. This pushes the Mavic 2 Pro to an effective 14 stops of range, DJI said, and the Mavic 2 Zoom to an effective 13 stops. And both Mavic 2 models sport sensors on all sides of the aircraft for obstacle detection, a first for DJI.
If you’re in the market for a consumer-level drone, how do you decide which Mavic is right for you? The choice seems pretty simple. If you’re out to shoot sweeping, dramatic landscapes or action shots that inspire awe, including HDR imagery, you’re probably a candidate for the Mavic 2 Pro, with its relatively large sensor and emphasis on pure image quality — especially if you have the time and knowhow to massage the color in post. On the other hand, if you just want the most flexible tool possible for aerial videography, the Mavic 2 Zoom will save you some bucks. And its telephoto capabilities add value if you expect to be shooting wildlife or any other subjects that may require you to keep your distance — and especially if you’re delivering full HD rather than UHD.