The DJI Mavic Pro – “Jenny”

Few drones on the market today can really compare with what the DJI Mavic can do, and what it has done for me, in such a short time.  It kind of rattled most of my drone expectations – and one feature that I particularly love gave my drone her name.

The return to home function makes sure that your drone always comes back.  Just like Jenny in Forrest Gump, who goes and has her fun, but always comes back, my little Jenny (or, more accurately, JENNNNAAAAYYYYY) always comes back to me.  Haven’t lost her yet.

I went from regularly crashing the $100 toy drone that I started out on, to feeling like a pro (pun intended) with DJI’s most comprehensive and portable quadcopter.  A lot of people might think that the more you spend on a drone, the harder it is to fly, but its really not the case.

To begin, lets go over what I do like, and some of its key features.

  • Flight Stabilization – the DJI will stay in almost the exact same spot when you take your hands off the controls.  It uses its GPS and vision sensors to combat the wind, and hold itself in place.  I have tested the Mavic in wind speeds in excess of 30mph, and she does just fine, while still creating excellent video.  This also includes when the drone is moving – the movements are smooth and easy to control.
  • Return-to-Home Function – by tapping a button on the controller or your phone screen, the drone will rise up to its highest programmed height, and then return to the gps coordinates that it took off from.  It will watch for obstacles along the way, as well as on its way down.  Also – if you lose a connection with your drone, it can be set to automatically return to the same spot.
  • Obastacle Avoidance – you know how some cars will watch in front of them for pedestrians, other cars, or large animals, and brake the car before you can react? The DJI Mavic does that too – it watches for obstacles and prevents you from crashing into them – even if it is flying autonomously.
  • Smart Batteries – the Mavic Pro will beep at you and attempt to return to home, and then eventually do a forced landing, if it is running critically low on battery.  It will not let the drone fall out of the air when it runs out of juice.
  • Portability – the Mavic folds up all four arms into a compact size, about the size of a running shoe.  If you opt for the Fly More Combo, you also get an over-the-shoulder leather bag that has space for the Mavic, the remote controller, and two extra batteries.
  • Auto-Follow Mode – I love this feature, because it lets you set the Mavic onto an object, and the Mavic will not only fly to keep the object in view, it will avoid obstacles, and keep the camera centered along the way.  Parts of this video were filmed using the auto-follow mode.

Now that we’ve gone through some of the basic features, lets cover some of the real world specs that I’ve seen across nearly 60 miles and 17 hours of flying the Mavic.

  • Battery Life – How long does the DJI Mavic‘s battery last in the real world? Figure about 22 minutes or so of flight time.  You never want to take the battery to a critically low level – DJI recommends usually beginning your return with at least 30% of your battery life remaining.  I usually fly my drone close around me, so I have lowered this warning setting to 20%.
  • Top Speed – How fast can the Mavic actually fly? Most of the time, you will fly in regular mode, where throttle mashing, full speed maneuvers will be at about 20mph or so, depending on the wind. When you fly at DJI’s quoted max speed of around 45mph, you will be doing so without the obstacle avoidance and steady flight of regular mode. Plus, the best videos are filmed at slow speeds.
  • Vertical Height – How high can the Mavic Pro actually fly? The Mavic can go really really really high. But legally, you can not fly above 400 feet above the ground.  Don’t go higher than that.  Consult the FAA rules for the specific rules in your area.  There’s no need to really go any higher than that, as just about everything looks the same once you get to a certain point.
  • Wind Stability – I’ve had her up in 30-40mph gusts, and while it can be a little scary when you realize you’re moving backwards while going full throttle, but if you work with the wind, and use breaks to move back upwind, you can do just fine. Or go wild and run downwind.
  • Flying Temperatures – some websites will tell you that you can’t fly the Mavic in freezing and below freezing temperatures.  While this is conservative, its more important to make sure the batteries warm up a good amount prior to taking off.  i usually keep my cold weather flights on the shorter end, but mostly due to my fingers becoming hard to move. You’ll want to get gloves that are thin enough to fine tune the controls while you fly.

Now, the few things that I don’t like about the Mavic, or think that could be improved.  Perhaps DJI will address some of these with the Mavic Pro 2 Release.

All in, the DJI Mavic is an incredible value, and with DJI releasing a new model soon, you can probably snag one for a great price. After you get one, not only will you be addicted to flying, but you will also be flying like a pro, and getting some incredible video in the process.

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