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Drones

After looking at many drones, I have selected 2 that I believe tick all the boxes in respect to value for money, reliability, quality, usability and features. The DJI Mini 2 and the DJI Mavic Air 2 are produced by DJI, considered the world leader in drone manufacturing.

DJI

DJI manufactures commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for aerial photography and videography. It also designs and manufactures camera gimbals, action cameras, camera stabilizers, flight platforms, propulsion systems and flight control systems. DJI accounts for around 70% of the world’s consumer drone market with no other company accounting for more than 5%. Its camera drone technology is widely used in the music, television and film industries. 

DJI Mini 2 

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DJI Mini 2
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DJI Mini 2 Folded

The DJI Mini 2 is regarded as the best beginner-friendly and powerful mini drone with exceptional performance, stunning image quality (4K Video and 12MP Photos) that allows you to create eye-catching videos in just a few taps.

DIMENSIONS:  14.5cm x 14cm x 18.7 cm
WEIGHT: 249 Grams
AVERAGE PRICE: $600 – $800

  • PACK LIGHT, FLY FREE: At less than 249 g, it weighs about as much as an apple and fits in the palm of your hand. Compact and convenient, this small drone is your ideal travel companion, transforming how you capture your favourite memories.
  • 3-AXIS GIMBAL WITH 4K CAMERA: A 12MP camera in the sky delivers content guaranteed to impress. Along with 4K/30fps video and a 3-axis motorized gimbal, Mini 2 ensures stunning image quality that is consistently smooth no matter how adventurous your piloting gets.
  • OCUSYNC 2.0 VIDEO TRANSMISSION: Mini 2 supports up to 10 km of HD video transmission and has excellent anti-interference capabilities, giving you the ability to fly farther and see clearer.
  • POWERFUL PERFORMANCE: With a max battery life of 31 minutes, DJI Mini 2 grants more than enough time to compose the perfect shot. Mini 2 can resist level 5 winds and take off at a max altitude of 4,000 meters, so your footage is stable even when flying along a windy coastline or high above an alpine forest.
  • 4X ZOOM: There’s no need to get so close for your dream shot. 4x digital zoom makes it safer and more convenient when transitioning between shots of varying distance and composition.
  • QUICKSHOTS: With just a few taps, DJI Mini 2 automatically records and shoots professional-level videos to share directly on social media. Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced flyer, the DJI Fly app helps you produce impressive results complete with soundtracks and filters.

DJI Mavic Air 2 

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DJI Mavic Air 2
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DJI Mini 2 and Mavic Air 2 Size Comparison

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the bigger brother of the Mini 2. The Mavic Air 2 weighs in at twice as much as the Mini 2 which would allow for more stability under windier conditions. Both drones pack the same industry leading features with the bigger Mavic Air 2 coming with a couple of extra features which may or may not be important to you. I will detail these further down.

DIMENSIONS: 18.3cm x 7.7cm x 25.3 cm 
WEIGHT: 507 Grams
AVERAGE PRICE: $900 – $1,500 

  • Up Your Content: Capture impressive 48MP photos with a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor while the 3-axis gimbal lets you create extra smooth 4K/60fps video
  • Up Your Flight: The impressive battery life of up to 34 minutes allows you to pull off epic while the obstacle avoidance system uses forward, backward, and downward sensors for improved safety
  • Up Your Tracking: Spotlight 2.0 keeps the camera locked on a subject while you fly freely, ActiveTrack 3.0 allows the Mavic Air 2 drone keep subjects in the center of the frame
  • App Compatibility: DJI Fly App requires iOS v10.0, Android v6.0 or above
  • What you get: Mavic Air 2 Aircraft, Remote Controller, Intelligent Flight Battery, 3x Propellers (Pair), RC Cables, Control Stick, Gimbal Protector, Charger, Manuals, AC Power Cable, Type-C Cable 

Controller 

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Both drones come with the same controller. Supports slide out from the top of the body where you mount your phone. The apps installed onto your phone add extra functionality to flying the drone as well as adjusting the multitude of camera options.

Quickshot

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Quickshots are a set of built-in pre-defined flight plans and camera angles that allow you to automatically produce cinematic style video captures easily and seamlessly. Select the type of shot you desire, set the parameters and the drone automatically takes care of the rest for you, returning back to it’s starting point once complete. Quickshots is built into both drones.

This short video will give you a brief overview of what each Quickshot function does.

Optional Extras

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Fly More Combo Pack

There are several optional combinations when purchasing your drone. They can be bought as a single item where you get the drone, the controller, one battery, the charger and the necessary cables.

Worth considering though is the Fly More Combo Pack (as pictured above). Included in the pack are extra propellers, 2 extra batteries, a charging block which can also be used to charge your phone, additional cables, screws as well as a carry case to keep all the associated items together in one place. I’ve roughly calculated that all the additional items included in the pack would cost about $250 to buy individually. The combo pack however adds about $120 to the price of a stand alone drone.

If you don’t feel a need for all these extra items, you could just as easily keep the components wrapped in some bubble-wrap or tea towels inside one of those 6-pack padded carry bags that you bring to BBQ”s.

Conclusions

Having looked at many many drones, I myself would definitely look at buying a drone built by DJI if I was in the market for one. Both of the drones shown here share the same leading edge qualities with a couple of exceptions.

Features included with the larger Mavic Air 2 but not with the Mini 2

  • Obstacle avoidance system. The Mavic Air 2 has collision avoidance sensors on the front, back and bottom. The Mini 2 has no avoidance system so care must be taken during flight.
  • Both have 4K video capture with the Mavic Air 2 having 60fps, HD, HDR and a 48MP camera. The Mini 2 has UHD at 30fps with a 12MP camera.
  • The Mavic Air 2 features “Follow Me” or “Active Track” functionality where you can set the drone to keep you or an object centred in the shot as you move about your surroundings.
  • Both drones have active GPS. Both will return to their start point if their batteries are about to expire.

Personally, I would be more than happy to buy the DJI Mini 2 as I don’t think the extra $500 or so for the better video quality is something I care too much about. I do however like the slightly bigger size of the Mavic Air 2 and the Crash Avoidance System but again, for the extra cost of those features, I could live without them. I think I’d rather get the cheaper Mini 2 and spend the extra few bucks getting the Combo Pack with the extra bits and pieces.

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