After conquering fans of shooting with its foldable Quadriotors Mavic, DJI back cover with a drone even more compact and lightweight, to take with you everywhere: the DJI Mavic Mini. The real substitute of Spark?
Thanks to their foldable design, Mavic drones have been able to reach the backpacks of many amateurs and even professionals of the image who no longer hesitate to take their drone with them everywhere. The general public and the more nomadic have for their part gladly turned to the Spark and Mavic Air, substantially more compact than the models "Pro" (Mavic Pro then Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom). Miniaturization helping, there was still room for even better, and DJI shows it with a new Mavic even more compact: the Mavic Mini, a quadrotor with the collapsible design of its elders, but weighing less than 250 g this time. having the best autonomy of the family (30 minutes announced).
Clearly intended for the general public and positioning itself at the entry level, it comes with a new simplified smartphone app, but keeps the essence of the Mavic with its stabilized camera, its low latency radio transmission, its different modes of view and its simplicity piloting. A little gem on paper, therefore, despite some limitations related to its compactness and to preserve the rest of the range of drones DJI, which we will of course address more in detail in this test.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Easy to use.
- Good autonomy.
- Charging micro-USB directly from the drone.
- Quieter than other Mavic.
- Real radio control provided.
- Definition limited to 2.7K at 30 fps.
- No obstacle detection.
- No detection or tracking of people and vehicles.
- Connection and charging in micro-USB and not USB-C.
- No charge directly on the battery.
- Monobloc propeller protections, not very transportable.
- Photo only in Jpeg, no Raw.
- Only 4 automatic modes, lack panoramas, timelapses, 360 °
DJI Mavic Mini Review
Noticeably more compact than the Mavic Air - which already made the Mavic Pro pass for a mastodon - the Mavic Mini really holds in the palm of the hand, since its dimensions are reduced to 13.5 cm in length by 8.5 cm wide and 5.5 cm high. A great feat since it becomes less bulky than the one that until then occupied the position of the manufacturer's smallest drone, the Spark. The secret ? Its foldable arms, of course, feature the most striking drones of the Mavic series, significantly reducing the size of the device for transport.
Once unfolded, the Mavic Mini shows a greater wingspan than the Spark (14.3 cm on the side), since it measures in width (without taking into account the propellers) 20 cm in the front and 18.5 cm in the back, for a total length of 16 cm. What gain a little stability and especially away from the propeller field of the camera. It remains nevertheless more compact than a Parrot Anafi. Small size and lightness, the Mavic Mini looks like a miniature UAV, and one could even believe in a toy at first, like countless low-cost devices such as Eachine E58, for example. The comparison ends happily there, the Mini being, like its big brothers, a real flying camera and not a gadget just to have fun. Certainly, its manufacturing quality is still down a notch compared to other Mavic and even Spark, evidenced by the thin plastic and flexible now used, but the finishes are still very correct.
We feel that DJI has made efforts to preserve a certain seriousness of construction despite the goal of going under the 250 g mark. A limit not to be exceeded for a drone in certain countries like the United States if one wishes to be free of a declaration (to the FAA concerning the United States). In Europe, however, this limit is likely not to change much, the future regulation providing as early as June 2020 mandatory registration of any drone "which is not a toy and equipped with a sensor able to capture data personal ". We encourage you anyway to follow the free online training of the site AlphaTango, resulting in the issuance of a certificate (also authorizing the piloting of drones over 800 g), but allowing especially to learn the flight rules and regulations in place that will concern just as much this Mavic Mini.
That being said, let's finish this overview of the Mini, which still shows several differences compared to other Mavic. First of all, the location of the battery. It now fits into the device under a hood at the back, unlike previous quadrotors DJI on which the battery was to complete the body of the device and remained visible. The placement and removal of the Mavic Mini's battery is simple, and it seems unlikely that it could come off after a crash. There is a little more doubt about the robustness of the hatch, including its plastic pins that keep it closed, but it is difficult to really judge its resistance in a week of use.
On the back of the device there is also a microSD memory card slot that is not protected by the battery slot cover, but avoids having to open and close it even more frequently. . In fact, if you only use one battery, it will remain in the drone since it will recharge only by the micro-USB jack located next to the microSD slot, for lack of dedicated charger in the base pack or charging plug on the battery itself.
DJI Mavic Mini Drone
As mainstream as it is, the Mavic Mini comes with a real radio control, the design also very close to that of other radio controls for Mavic. However, we lose the control screen and several buttons. The finishes are also slightly lower, but it is already amply satisfactory and we find with pleasure the compactness of these models as well as the handles of removable analog sticks. We always appreciate the position of the smartphone on the bottom, which avoids an imbalance forward.
As for other Mavic, this radio control works in conjunction with a smartphone on which we will have installed an application. Point DJI GO 4 however, this is a lite version, called "DJI Fly" and offering a more streamlined interface, with only the essential information on the screen (flying height and distance of the drone compared to radio control, map of the area with GPS location, radar indicating in which direction the drone is located, remaining battery life (in minutes), battery level and signal strength, as well as photo and video adjustment and triggering controls.
Only controllable with the supplied radio control, the Mavic Mini is even easier to use than its big brothers. Takeoff: is done by simply pressing the virtual button of the touch interface or manually by pointing the sticks down and the center of the remote control. In automatic mode, the drone takes off and stabilizes at about 1 m 50 above its starting point. The unique sensors of the device, located on the bottom, then serve to maintain it in horizontal and vertical position, with some efficiency, even in case of wind. He is also quieter than the other Mavic, approaching the Anafi.
While it is inevitably slower than the Mavic Pro and Mavic 2 of the world, the Mavic Mini can still count on good engine power, allowing it to quickly gain height, withstand winds up to 28 km / h and fly up to a speed of 29 km / h in Position mode and even 47 km / h in Sport mode. Make no mistake, it still moves much more slowly than its big brothers (72 km / h for the Mavic 2, 68 km / h for the Mavic Air), filmed footage will be more asked. The range is anyway lower than the Mavic 2 and we will not have to venture too far at high speed to reach a place to film in particular. DJI still announces a distance of up to 2 km. During our tests, we could quite easily fly up to 1.5 km when there were not too many obstacles between the radio control and the drone. In the wooded area, however, we lose the signal well before (500 m during our tests along the Loire), but this is the case with any drone. Results equivalent to those obtained with the Mavic Air, finally. The video feedback signal is 720p on the smartphone. It is quite stable and recovering well when the drone returns to range.
Good news, in case of loss of signal, the Mavic Mini automatically triggers a return to its point of departure (function RTH, for "return to home" in English), flying at the height it was indicated in the application (30 m by default). However, care must be taken not to venture behind or under obstacles that the drone could hit on its way back, since it is devoid of obstacle sensors and so steals blindly when automatically returns to the fold. A loss probably inevitable to get a device as light as possible, but that does not really inconvenient in practice, to the extent that it must still be careful when piloting a drone and in principle keep it in direct view to comply with French legislation (forget the idea of flying 1 or 2 km, therefore ...).
This loss of obstacle sensor on the other hand a more unfortunate impact: the Mavic Mini does not offer the famous Follow Me function of its elders that allows you to follow a moving subject. No doubt to limit the risk of accident during imprudent use. This would have been possible despite everything, with for example a screen display of precautions to take (no obstacles between the subject and the drone), Parrot offering such a function on his Anafi. Likewise, DJI has also crossed out on the Active Track, the image recognition technology that allows other Mavic to keep the camera focused on its subject in all circumstances. Shooting abilities suffer the consequences. However, this recognition of subjects does exist on the Mavic Mini, through the famous QuickShots modes used to take automated shots. The Mavic Mini has Drone, Rocket, Circle and Spiral modes. We would have appreciated to take advantage of other functions to realize such panoramas, timelapses, etc.
Selfie and group photo enthusiasts, for their part, will be delighted to learn that the Mavic Mini is also designed to fly indoors. In its version Fly More Combo, it has for this large protections firmly attached to the engine arm, which completely encompass the propellers. Also practical to start the piloting, since the drone is protected from all sides, even on the top (on the bottom, it can count on its sensors).
With its 12-megapixel 1 / 2.3 "CMOS sensor (same features as the other Mavic, except Mavic 2 Pro), the Mavic Mini is capable of shooting up to 2.7K (2,720 x 1,536px) 30p at an angle of 83 ° (focal length of 24 mm f / 2.8 in 35 mm equivalent) Ultra HD 4K definition point, alas, which remains the prerogative of Mavic Air, Mavic Pro and Mavic 2. It is unfortunate DJI has shown with its Osmo Pocket that it is possible to do it with very small cameras, which DJI says is due to the search for maximum compactness. Reduces costs by using less powerful components, while maintaining the autonomy of the Mavic Mini From the consumer's point of view, however, it still looks much more like a simple segmentation of the range so as not to overdo it. to Mavic Air, we could have expected at least a 60 fps recording rate in 2.7K, but this pace Available only in Full HD definition.
In the state, it's still much better than the Full HD 30p Spark and it's a safe bet that a lot of users will gladly content themselves, especially since it is much more simple to find a computer capable of editing videos in Full HD, or 2.7K, a computer capable of supporting heavy 4K files (the Core i7-2700K of 2011 attests ...). The image quality is in any case satisfactory, although lower than that offered by a Mavic Pro or a Mavic 2 Zoom. The dive is pretty good in the center of the image, but is degraded on the sides. There are also some optical deformations in the angles on our test pattern, but nothing that is very visible in practice. The color rendering is also rather flattering, the hues are more vivid compared to what we get on the Mavic Pro and Mavic 2.
Finally, apart from the loss of the definition Ultra HD 4K in video, the results in video are quite close to those which one obtains with a Mavic Air. In the photo however, the latter is a little better and produces RAW format files that give more control over editing, which is not the Mavic Mini. On the side of the settings, there is a correction of the exposure in automatic mode and a selection of the sensitivity (100 to 3200 ISO) and the exposure time in manual mode (in photo as in video).
DJI promises up to 30 minutes of flight time for its Mavic Mini with the 2,400 mAh Li-Ion 2S battery. In practice, it is actually approached under ideal conditions (without wind and at a constant speed of 14 km / h, according to DJI) if we ignore the first critical battery alerts. In normal use, however, a return to the take-off point is initiated when the battery capacity drops to 20%. We then flew about 25 minutes, which is already comfortable and sufficient to make beautiful sequences. By canceling the automatic landing commands, it is possible to gain about 2 minutes of flight. The 30 minutes are finally reached by forcing the drone to stay in the air, using the left stick of the radio control. To be reserved for emergency situations. With its propeller protection that add 50 g, the Mavic Mini necessarily flies shorter: 18 minutes maximum according to our tests.
If you want to shoot longer, the purchase of the Fly More Combo pack is recommended, since it allows you to take advantage of two additional batteries and a 3-battery charger. Since you can not directly charge the battery, unlike an Anafi that has a USB-C port, the external charger quickly becomes essential if you want to charge its other batteries while the Mavic Mini is in flight. However, it is necessary to wait about 1:15 for a battery to recharge (consumption: 0.02 kWh). So we can hope to use the other two batteries in the meantime, to finally enjoy four full loads during the same trip (still about 1 hour 40 minutes flight). Too bad the charger only charges one battery at a time and does not load faster.
The small drone of the Mavic family has no shortage of assets to seduce the general public who will ignore its few shortcomings, first of which the definition Ultra HD 4K and tracking subjects. He places himself more as a replacement for the Spark than the Mavic Air, being just as easy to control with his radio control. We certainly lose the obstacle sensors and gestural commands, but we gain an even easier to carry with you, that we will not hesitate a second to slip into a bag before going to walk, as we would do it with a small camera.