Tech review: Mavic Pro drone – avoids obstacles, is easy to use and filming is very steady

With foldable rotors this drone is super portable, and its gimbal-mounted camera allows for professional looking photos and video footage

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 6:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 6:32am

The Mavic Pro (HK$7,759) is one of the latest drones from Chinese manufacturer DJI and its first to target more casual users. It has a compact form, a small remote control and foldable quad rotors. Rated to fly for 27 minutes and at up to 64km/h on a full charge.

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The Mavic Pro’s design is a departure from the Phantom’s curvy body and not quite as futuristic looking as the Inspire. It’s more angular and masculine but folds away to just bigger than a large hand. A transparent shield protects the camera which can be removed or kept on during flight with a slight drop in image quality.

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The remote control holds your phone and acts as a second screen. Various options can be used via your phone, and the viewfinder shows essential information such as air speed, battery levels and altitude. It’s an ingenious combination, giving you information without having to swipe and tap while you fly the drone.

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Obstacle avoidance is one of the main features. The Mavic Pro has two front-facing sensors that stop it from smashing into objects (such as walls or trees). More importantly, when you activate RTH (return to home) or when it automatically initiates this mode due to an issue, the avoidance feature is also kept on.

The Mavic Pro has two flight modes – “positioning” and “sport”. When the latter is engaged, the drone can fly at top speed, bank and turn more sharply and let you twitch respond your way out of danger.

The Mavic Pro is very stable when hovering and since it employs radio technology as well as Wi-fi, the connection is far more reliable than, say, the Bebop models from Parrot.

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The 12 megapixel camera can record 4K videos at 30 frames per second and slow-motion 1080p videos at 96fps. It is attached to a three-axis gimbal, meaning photos and videos stay perfectly level.

The camera system is truly made for aerial filming. It doesn’t come with internal storage but accepts micro SD cards of up to 64GB.With the “follow me” feature, you simply use physical gestures to tell the Mavic to locate you. It will follow, stay still while keeping you in frame, and even follow you up and down slopes, automatically maintaining a constant altitude.

The videos that accompany this review are from a second outing (DJI considers footage shot during our first outing to be too poor to be shown). The camera has a few flaws, fast pans sometimes reveal the spinning propellers that flank the camera.

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The Mavic Pro is truly a drone made for aerial filming. Its gimbal and other features allow for professional footage. It straddles the line between the casual and professional user and is very portable with its foldable propellers.

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