DJI today unveiled the DJI Mavic Mini, a portable HD camera drone that weighs in at 249g. Not coincidentally, that’s just below the 250g cut-off at which the U.S. federal government requires unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to be registered and regulated.
That’s right — DJI’s Mavic Mini is so small you don’t need to register it (as of this writing) with the FAA or with Transport Canada. You’ll want to research the law yourself, of course, and the line isn’t always so bright. For example, EASA, the European Union agency overseeing aviation safety, is considering a law that does require certification and registration of a drone weighing less than 250g “when it is not a toy and it is equipped with a sensor able to capture personal data.” Know your local laws!
(There’s nothing dastardly about this, by the way; a very lightweight drone is simply considered to be much less of a safety hazard in flight and thus less deserving of legal scutiny.)
Is the Mavic Mini good enough for pro use? As with any inexpensive prosumer action-style cameara, that will likely depend on the particular application and overall standards of any given production you might try to cut the footage into.
The Mini has a 1/2.3-inch sensor, and video resolution maxes out at 2.7K 30p, although a 1080p/60 mode is also available. The camera is on a three-axis motorized gimbal for stabilization. DJI quotes a flight time of up to 30 minutes and says the drone has GPS receivers and downward visual sensors. It also incorporates geofencing, AeroScope remote identification, altitude limits, and automatic return to the launch point if the unit loses contact or runs low on battery power. Maximum range is 4 km unobstructed, a reflection of the strength of its Wi-Fi communication signal.
A new DJI Fly app has been designed to simplify operation, with four pre-programmed flight modes called “QuickShots”: Rocket, for flying straight up with the camera pointing down; Circle, for circling a subject from a constant altitude; Dronie, for flying backward and upward while tracking a subject; and Helix, for flying up and way in a spiral pattern.
The DJI Mavic Mini starts at $399 for a version with the drone, remote, one battery and extra propellers; or $499 for the DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo, which adds a 360-degree propeller cage, a two-way charging hub, two extra batteries, three sets of extra propellers and a carrying case. The Mavic Mini is set to ship November 11.