Gear Reviews

Because perspective is everything!

DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo Reviewed

More often than not, our 4X4 adventures are about the destination, instead of just about getting bogged up to our sills and going bat-sh!t crazy trying to get out. Chances are, most of the places we end up offer some pretty spectacular scenery, but even more so from the air. Enter the humble drone and its rather unique perspective.

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There are a billion and three drones currently on the market, ranging in price anywhere from $20 all the way up to tens of thousands. What you want to use the drone for will determine how much you spend.

 

If you want something that’ll get airborne and take some pretty reasonable pics, a DJI Spark will do you wonders, and can be had for a few hundred dollars. If, like me, you want to get just that much better images and video, it may be worth the step up to the DJI Mavic Pro.

I recently got myself a Mavic Pro Fly More Combo to use for my photography work, and to be able to get a unique perspective on what’s around me on trips out in the bush. Gotta say, I absolutely love it! But this is a product review, you don’t need to hear me gushing about it … so let’s get into the details.

Awinya Creek, Fraser Island, from 450 feet
The Tech Stuff

The design is where the Mavic Pro really is awesome – it’s small, lightweight, packs up to half the size of a shoebox (in the included bag – with controller), and really doesn’t take up much room at all. Looking at its bigger brother the Phantom 4, you can understand why these puppies are so popular; no need for a fridge-sized case to lug it around in.

Down to the ins and outs of the Mavic Pro. It will record 4K video at 24fps (frames per second) quite happily, or 3.8K (3840×2160) at 25fps in a 16:9 aspect ratio (the majority of screens – phones, tablets, computers, etc., run this ratio). Plus, it’ll shoot photos at 12MP, and don’t stress if you don’t know much about photography or videography, the auto mode is actually pretty good!

The two little black cameras are part of the avoidance system – works for the front only… Ask me how I know

It’ll fly for about 25 minutes (27 claimed, but I’ve never gotten that much out of it), will run to seven kilometres range away from you, and do 65 kilometres an hour with no wind (in sports mode). It has GPS tracking and location services, will return home at the click of a button if you get lost, has auto take off and landing, and can track a target.

Think: set your 4WD as the target, and so long as you don’t go over 65 kilometres an hour, it’ll orbit, or follow you as you drive. Where the Mavic Pro really shines, is getting a different perspective on the world. Sure, your first half-dozen flights will be nerve-wracking as you try not to bin it first time out, but once you get it airborne, it’s just amazing.

That’s it, packed up, ready to go. About the size of an iPad mini.
Is it the right drone to throw in the 4X4?

Yep! Again, you may want to start out on something cheaper if you’re afraid of binning it, but being able to go for a decent wheel, and then sending up a drone at the destination, is amazing.

I recently spent a week on Fraser for a holiday and put the drone in the air every chance I got. All of the little creeks and inlets from the air look incredible. Take, for example, Awinya Creek over on the western side of Fraser. We headed out here for a day trip and sent the ‘little-drone-that-could’ up after lunch to see what was about. Besides just getting some photos and footage of Awinya Creek, we also found a couple of little campsites we wouldn’t have seen from the ground.

Design and functionality is just top notch, even if you use a phone the size of a small tablet!

Sending the drone down a rutted-out track and filming you and your mates will look pretty awesome too, but you’ll need to be very wary of trees, powerlines, and angry birds (no, not the ones you throw at pigs). There are a bunch of things that can bring a drone down, so just make sure you’re bloody careful!

That said, the Mavic Pro has front obstacle avoidance, so it’ll stop you flying it into things at full pelt forwards. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for things behind it or to the sides. A heart attack, set of props and a quick dusting off later, I learnt a valuable lesson that I’m now passing on to you good people – don’t fly sideways into trees; you’re gonna have a bad time!

Verdict

End of the day, it’s a lot of money for a drone, especially if you’re just getting into it. That said, it’s also a lot of drone for the money. I feel reasonably safe flying mine, never having flown one before, and I’ve still not proper binned it yet, and gotten some great shots. My personal opinion (and I reckon everyone who now owns a drone would agree): I absolutely should have gotten one sooner. You just miss such an awesome perspective and view from up there on what you’re doing, and where you’re going. But enough reading … we all came here to look at the photos anyway, right?

Specs:
  • Price: $1799
  • Drone Size when packed: 83mm x 83mm x 198mm
  • Bag size with controller & batteries: 175mm x 125mm x 210mm
  • Weight: 743g
  • Speed: Up to 65km/h
  • Camera: 12.7 Megapixels with 78° field of view
  • Video: 4K gimbal stabilized
  • Flying time: 27 minutes (no wind)
  • Range: 8km
What we liked:

Size, quality, ease of flying, range, 4K video, flight performance and can be used with POV goggles.

What we disliked

Not much really; just from a photographers perspective, you have the ability to change ISO & shutter speed, however Aperture is locked to 2.2/f.

Brushless motors, easy connect rotors. Welcome to the future.

Note: The Mavic Pro has been around for about two years now, which means two things: A Mavic Pro 2 is coming soon, which will have plenty of improvement. You might be able to use this model’s age to your advantage and bargain bit harder as well.

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