The DJI Mavic Pro: A Video Drone Built for Adventure Travel

I have been traveling with a quadcopter drone and shooting aerial video for over three years now, capturing some excellent footage in remote locations. And while I’ve always been pleased with the results as my experience grew with the technology, I can’t help but think of all the amazing shots I missed simply because I did not yet have a DJI Mavic Pro.

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DJI Mavic Pro (photo: DJI)

First of all, the Mavic is small. When it’s folded up and in its carrying case, the thing is no bigger than an SLR camera with a telephoto lens. While my previous drones always attracted attention in airports due to their ominous security profiles and unwieldy, oversized carrying cases, the Mavic Pro often gets less attention than my safety scissors.

The small size of the Mavic Pro also lends itself to convenience. I can have the drone out of the case and in the air in less than five minutes, a critical attribute when you’re trying to capture that fleeting rainbow or take advantage of a brief lull in the Icelandic wind.

But the small size doesn’t mean you are sacrificing stability or features. In fact, the Mavic is beefy enough to endure 15 mph winds and still maintain position.

The Mavic’s intelligent flight mode includes Watch Me, Follow Me, and Point of Interest settings. 

In fact, the Mavic Pro boasts so many features that I would recommend many hours of practice before you attempt to shoot video of something irreplaceable. If you’re like me, you will probably ignore that bit of advice. But then, like me, you will end up regretting that when you accidentally shift the white balance during flight, turning the Dark Hedges into the Stark Hedges.

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On the left, a screen grab from the video with the white balance out of whack. On the right, the corrected balance from a subsequent flight through the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland.

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Photo art of the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, famous from many movies and television shows, including the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Your cell phone (both Apple and Android are supported) attaches to the Mavic remote, acting as a corollary to the controller and serving as your point of view (POV) screen as you’re flying and shooting video. While it’s possible to fly the Mavic without being connected to a cell phone, just as it’s possible to fly the Mavic by cell phone alone, I have found that the best experience includes both devices.

However, the system will seriously tax your cell phone battery. I am currently using a two-year-old iPhone 4s and have found that my phone will often die before the drone battery does, forcing me to land blind on occasion. Additionally, the DJI app is a bit of a memory hog. I’ve had to delete all music from the phone and keep my photos to a minimum just to make room for the DJI updates. So, while I feel a bit odd saying it, my drone needs me to buy a new phone.

We’ll be sharing more photos, videos, and travel tips from our recent visit to Northern Ireland, Ireland, Isle of Man, England, and Scotland later this week, including more from the Dark Hedges. You can also follow us on Instagram (@aesballard) for photos from all of our adventures.