DJI Mavic Mini Review – Good Enough for Pro Filmmaking?

October 30th, 2019 icon / message-square 20

DJI just announced the Mavic Mini, the smallest and lightest foldable drone they have ever made – it’s only 249 grams with the battery, which qualifies it as a toy in many countries. We have already tested it – is it good enough for pro filmmakers?

Mavic Mini – Image credit: cinema5D

Mavic Mini weighs only 249 grams – Why does that matter?

DJI’s newest entry into their Mavic line of drones is the Mavic Mini, the lightest and smallest foldable drone they ever made. At 249 grams including the battery, it’s below the minimum of 250 grams which in many countries means that it’s in fact defined as a toy, not a drone – which means you don’t need a drone license or permission to fly. However, drone regulations are complex and different all around the world, so please be sure to always abide by your local regulations!

Mavic Mini Fly More Case – Image credit: cinema5D

What’s inside the box?

In the Fly More Package, the drone comes in a nice carrying case, with three batteries which give you around 30 minutes of flying time each, and of course the remote controller and more accessory cables and replacement rotors. The battery holder is also a very compact charger, which is nice, plus you can use it to charge your phone using the USB-connector. 

The supplied 3 batteries charger (Fly More Option) – Image credit cinema5D

How easy is it to fly the Mavic Mini?

I took the Mavic Mini for a spin to see how easy it is to fly and how the footage looks. And as someone who has flown every single iteration of the Mavic line over the years, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised about how easy and stable this thing is to fly, even on a bit of a windy day. It really does seem like a perfect beginner’s drone from how it feels when you operate it. It’s very hard to describe but it feels very “secure” in the air, even more so than other Mavic drones, which is certainly because of less inertia due to the very low weight.

Flying Modes

There is a Position (P) mode that will help beginners with basic operation of the drone, the typical Sports (S) mode for more advanced operation, and a new CineSmooth (C) mode that lengthens the braking time of the drone for smoother shots and more cinematic footage. I recorded most of what you see in the video above in that mode. 

Mavic Mini – Image credit: cinema5D

Simplified Operator’s Interface and Functions

If you have flown any Mavic before, you will be very familiar with the interface. The only difference is that it’s much simpler than for example the interface of my higher-end Mavic 2 Pro. For fun, there are the QuickShots that were first introduced with the Mavic Air, which can create some interesting professional-looking pre-programmed movements around your subjects. 

Other than that, you have the most important information laid out in front of you, but little chance to actually influence your image.

Video Image Compression & Resolutions

You can only shoot video in 1080p or 2.7K 25p or 30p with the Mavic Mini, and photos with 12 megapixels. Video is also highly compressed with a maximum bitrate of 40 Mbps – and it’s only H.264, not H.265 like in the Mavic 2 Pro. 

Mavic Mini – Lovely Vivid Images. Image credit: cinema5D

No Picture Profiles, Only Auto Shutter – For Now

There are also no ways to tweak your video image in the gimbal camera. There is no D-Log or any other kind of picture profile or way to change or optimize your image – no sharpness settings, not even white balance control – which, unfortunately, of course, results in some weird color shifts when the light is changing in your shot. 

Now, all of these things would be acceptable even for a professional if you consider that this drone will retail for $399 in its basic package. However, one thing that is really annoying for me is the fact that in the version I tested, you can’t manually set the shutter speed in video mode. It will always adjust your exposure. This means that of course there will be overexposed parts of your image in high-contrast scenarios. Yet on average scenes, the auto shutter does a pretty good job at adjusting dynamically so that you don’t see it too badly in your shot, but it’s still unnecessary to force this auto adjustment onto users.

Especially considering the fact that only in photo mode, you can switch to manual shutter speed for some reason. This is something that DJI could fix with simple firmware update immediately and I certainly hope they will!

Mavic Mini – The new Controller. Image credit: cinema5D

Conclusion – Impressively Vivid Image Considering the Compression

Other than that, the image is pretty impressive considering its high compression. Yes, it does have the over-sharpened look that we have gotten used to from footage from the first-generation Mavic Pro, and fine details still fall apart if there is too much going on in a shot – but as a one-off establishing shot even in a professional documentary, footage from the Mavic Mini is certainly more than tolerable, and actually quite amazing, for a drone that costs merely 400 Euros.

Is the Mavic Mini a “toy”? Controversy Ensured …

And considering that this thing can probably legally fly where all your other drones can’t without permission, it’s going to be a no-brainer for many camera operators to have one of those super light drone wonders always in their bag with them. I expect to see a lot of controversy about the weight limit popping up soon as the Mavic Mini will most certainly show up a lot even within cities around the world, for better or worse. I expect this to become DJI’s most popular drone to date, even more than the amateur-level Spark drone. 

If you want to support cinema5D in our unbiased reviews, please consider buying the DJI Mavic Mini through our links below! It costs you nothing more and will help us A LOT to sustain!

Music courtesy of MusicVine.com – Get 25% off any Pay-Per-Use license with code C5D25 (valid for one use per customer).

What do you think about the DJI Mavic Mini? Can you see this in your camera bag as an extra tool for easy drone shots, or as an inexpensive “emergency drone” if the other one crashes? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jan Šimůnek
Jan Šimůnek
Guest
January 22nd, 2020

Hey Nino, great article! Just wondering, is the registration in Austria still mandatory due to it having a camera or is it somehow bypassed by the 250 grams? Thinking about bringing it with me for a skiing trip and I am not quite sure if the Austrocontrol registration still applies. Thanks :D

Sebby
Sebby
Guest
November 12th, 2019

Image quality looks better than on my Spark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBz2wQkB-E4 . It is very smooth, the gimbal works damn well

Francisco Falcão
Francisco Falcão
Guest
November 7th, 2019

Hey Nino great review! I’m considering buying one but I’ve seen some youtube footage videos that show alot of compression artefacts when filming moving things like wheat fields or foliage, have you noticed if it happens? or is it from youtube?

only thing i need to know before buying hehe

thank you.

Anders
Anders
Guest
November 6th, 2019

„… this thing can probably legally fly where all your other drones can’t without permission…”
It maybe quite the opposite due to geofencing

Anders
Anders
Guest
November 6th, 2019
Reply to  Anders

Errate: …may be guite the opposite…

Daniel Lass
Daniel Lass
Guest
November 3rd, 2019

It seems, that the video is not always to 100% smooth. It’s sometimes hop a little bit. Could that be? I recognized the same at my DJI Spark …

 Алексей Меринов
Алексей Меринов
Member
October 31st, 2019

before the authorities in Russia introduced hard and very unpleasant restrictions on everything flying,
which is heavier than 250 grams, as DJI showed us a very worthy device weighing 249 grams!

I don’t know if this is connected with Russian punitive measures.
If so, my next respect is DJI. Only the camera was very disappointing.
A small device is not a reason to degrade the camera.
Now I would be ready to abandon my Mavik Pro 2017 and replace it with a Mavik mini.
I’m even ready to pay the same amount for this as I paid for my Mavik Pro.
But I’m not ready to abandon the 4K Mavik Pro camera.

We are waiting for Mavik mini S (4K) !!!

 Brogino Gibroni
Brogino Gibroni
Member
November 1st, 2019

Now that you mention it– a ‘Mavic Mini 2’ or ‘Mavic Mini Pro’ does sound likely (or maybe I’m just being hopeful?); as soon as they can figure out how to keep the weight down but add collision detection and 4K back in the mix, they will have my $$, that’s for sure! Now that I’m really thinking about it though, if they *do* figure out the weight while keeping those features, it will likely make it up in the $700-1000 range, which, at that point, you might as well buy a Mavic Air or similar (and just deal with the FAA registration!)… still on the fence about this one altogether…

 Brogino Gibroni
Brogino Gibroni
Member
October 31st, 2019

Hey thanks for this review Nino, seriously it is one of the best ones I’ve found so far. But for us here in the USA– can someone please please pretty please elaborate on the part about this drone not being required to be registered with the FAA? I have read quite a few articles and reviews about the Mavic Mini now, and no one is really talking about this point, which is so strange to me because it seems like this is being marketed as its biggest selling point. But when I really think about it– is this really a selling point at all?? That is my question– what does this being under 250g requirement to register *really* give us? Allowing us to avoid paying the $5 registration fee? Allowing us to avoid the ‘pain in the ass’ that most people think it is to register it and slap a number on it? I mean, to me, even these things are really not selling points at all, but maybe that’s because I’ve already done it many times and I know how easy and cheap it truly is to do.

So, essentially what we *REALLY* have here is a re-packaged Mavic Spark that has been stripped down and removed of most of the features (like collision detection and 4K!) that make the Spark appealing, all for the sake of avoiding the FAA registration. What I’m trying to say is that the Mavic Mini really does not change anything at all in terms of abiding by the established rules and regulations; you still have to know where you can and can’t fly, which most people just simply don’t know. What’s worse is that this drone has NO collision detection, so we are going to have a bunch of people out there with these tiny drones that think they are confident in their flying abilities– because I’m sure it’s super easy!– and also think that they can fly wherever they want because it’s a toy, and then they end up flying into trees and telephone wires and controlled airspace and all sorts of shit. Am I looking at this right?

 Brogino Gibroni
Brogino Gibroni
Member
November 1st, 2019

*Correction, sorry– this is more like a stripped down Mavic Air*

Jan Šimůnek
Jan Šimůnek
Guest
January 22nd, 2020

Well, FAA is not that big of a deal. But the process of registering a drone in Europe is a pain. Every country has its own rules, permits, fees and application forms. The only effective way to fly anywhere is staying below 250 grams. If you´re an amateur travel filmmaker like me, Mavic Mini will save you countless hours of researching the rules, taking tests and hundreds of dollars worth insurance and fees. At the expense of 4K, obstacle avoidance and wind resistance. That´s why I´m buying mine. Nothing else makes sense to buy.

Csaba Landi
Csaba Landi
Guest
October 31st, 2019

Can you lock auto expourse just like on the Spark?

Caleb
Caleb
Guest
December 16th, 2019
Reply to  Csaba Landi

Yes

 C B
C B
Member
October 31st, 2019

Looks like an OK toy for the consumer world. Maybe I’ll buy one for my girlfriend for Christmas.

The video samples above look kinda like the original Mavic: over sharpened, but fine detail still falls apart and goes to mush and there is a “stutter” to the video(like a frame is being dropped every half second) that is probably from poor encoding/compression or an underpowered encoder/compression engine. I saw it all the time on Mavic Pro footage on-line and even with my own. It’s possible it’s from too high a shutter speed, but can’t confirm it.

Juraj
Juraj
Guest
October 30th, 2019

Does this drone support course-lock mode and remote camera control option? Thank you.

Erno
Erno
Guest
October 30th, 2019

This https://www.firstquadcopter.com/reviews/dji-mavic-mini-review/ review says that is to possible to get 4K recording via firmware update. What do you think there is any chance for that?

Martin
Martin
Guest
November 2nd, 2019
Reply to  Erno

Frankly, I do not think. The Mini is too small for such resolution. Maybe the Mini2 will have such feature.

 Angie Garred
Angie Garred
Member
October 30th, 2019

Question: How well does the Mavic Mini calibrate? Specifically around metal or concrete? My experience with an the DJI Phantom 2 was that is was very difficult if not impossible to calibrate when on or near concrete or large metal objects (boats).

 Dan Brockett
Member
October 30th, 2019

With only auto shutter available, probably not good for pro usage?

Rob Anderson
Rob Anderson
Guest
November 3rd, 2019
Reply to  Dan Brockett

from what I understood you can lock the shutter? But not the white balance.

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