DJI Mini 2
$449 | DJI.com
A little over a year ago, DJI introduced the Mavic Mini. Its most notable feature was a takeoff weight that fell below the threshold of 250g (0.55 lbs). Now DJI is back with the Mini 2, which addresses the most important requests from users and still checks in at 249g. In the process, the Mavic branding has given way to a shorter name: the DJI Mini 2.
The original Mini was packed full of features and easy to operate; the DJI Fly app was introduced at the same time with a slick, pared-down and intuitive interface. But the drone also came with limitations that frustrated users, including spotty transmission and the ability to only capture JPEG files were frequently cited shortcomings.
The Mini 2 addresses these concerns and more. Users will pay slightly more for a drone with a higher quality camera that can record up to 4K/30p video, capture Raw+JPEG files, and features DJI’s robust OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology instead of relying on Wi-Fi. So, is it worth upgrading from the original Mini? Let’s find out.
- 249g total weight
- OcuSync 2.0 transmission
- 1/2.3″ CMOS image sensor
- 24mm equivalent lens (84º FOV)
- F2.8 aperture (fixed)
- 12MP photo resolution
- JPEG + RAW images
- 4K/30p and 1080/60p video (100 Mbps bit rate)
- Up to 4X (2X lossless) zoom
- 31-minute flight time
Let’s start by comparing the Mini 2 to its predecessor, the Mavic Mini. Though some specifications are similar, those that have changed are significant.
|Mavic Mini||Mini 2|
|Flight time||30 minutes||31 minutes|
|Drone size (Folded)||140x81x57 mm||131x81x58 mm|
|Camera Sensor||1/2.3-inch CMOS, 12MP||1/2.3-inch CMOS, 12MP|
|Max. Video Resolution||2.7K/30p @ 40 Mbps||4K/30p @ 100 Mbps|
|Lens||F2.8, FOV 83º, 35mm equivalent at 24mm||F2.8, FOV 83º, 35mm equivalent at 24mm|
|Photo File Type||JPEG||JPEG + RAW|
|Video File Type||.MP4||.MP4|
|Zoom Capabilities||None||2X @ 4K, 2X @ 2.7K, 4X @ 1080p|
|Return to Home||No||Yes|
|Image Modes||Timed Shots||AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) Triple Shot, Timed Shots|
Not much has changed when it comes to the overall design of the Mini 2. Its body is compact, its propellers need to be screwed in, the legs are foldable, the battery and MicroSD slots are located in the rear, and the vision positioning sensors are placed on the bottom of the aircraft. If not for the ‘4K’ lettering imprinted on the camera and a ‘Mini 2’ logo on the top left-hand arm of the vehicle, it would be difficult to tell them apart.
Registering the Mini 2 with the FAA, or other regulatory agencies with a similar 250g cut-off isn’t required
Also worth noting: the Mini 2’s 249g weight doesn’t exempt anyone from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rules and regulations for operating unmanned aircraft. It just means registering a Mavic Mini with the FAA, or regulatory agencies in other countries with a similar 250g cut-off isn’t required.
The Mini 2 has a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor with a 12MP camera, much like the original Mini and Mavic Pro. The camera has a 24mm (equiv.) fixed-aperture F2.8 lens with an 83º FOV, and an ISO range of 100-3200. What many buyers will appreciate this time around is the ability to capture Raw images in addition to JPEG.
|The camera on the Mini 2 fits into an impressively small, but effective, 3-axis gimbal.|
For those not familiar with the Mavic Mini and looking at a Mini 2 for the first time, you’ll be impressed with the 3-axis gimbal DJI managed to place on such a tiny machine that easily fits in the palm of your hand. The footage captured is typically smooth and stable. DJI also claims this particular drone can withstand wind speeds up to 24mph, thanks in part to upgraded motors.
For those looking at a miniature drone for the fist time, you’ll be impressed with the 3-axis gimbal
A useful feature that seasoned photographers will surely make use of is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB); the Mini 2 can take up three shots, one underexposed, one normal, and one overexposed. While DJI says the shots are automatically stitched together, I found all three appeared separately on my memory card. Either way, they can be combined in post-processing for an HDR image.
The original Mavic Mini could only capture up to 2.7K/30p footage at 40 Mbps. The Mini 2 now allows you to record in resolutions up to 4K/30p, 2.7K/30p, and 1080p/60p at 100 Mbps. You can also zoom in on subjects while recording. Both 4K and 2.7K allow up to 2X zooming, and 1080p resolution allows you to hone in on a subject up to 4X, though the quality only remains lossless at 2X zoom.
DJI decided it was time to do away with the remote from the first Mavic Mini. Replacing it is a remote that replicates the design and functionality of the controller on the Mavic Air 2. This upgrade makes sense for a lot of reasons; it’s easier to hold and despite the fact that I still find it challenging at times to clamp my smartphone in, its placement above rather than beneath the remote makes viewing the display screen way more convenient.
|The remote for the Mini 2 follows the trend of the new Mavic Air 2, mounting a smartphone above the control sticks instead of below for improved visibility.|
The front of the remote contains a ‘Return to Home’ button on the left-center area. This is a useful feature for beginner pilots who may not be comfortable with flying back to the home point – especially when battery life is running low. In the center is a switch that allows you to navigate between three flight modes – ‘Cine,’ which slows the drone down to 13 mph for cinematic-type footage, ‘Normal’ (22 mph), and ‘Sport’ which lets you fly up to 36 mph. To the right is the ‘Power’ button. I’m a fan of this simple layout as it gives you instant access to necessary commands.
An ‘Fn’ button on the top-left-hand corner activates an auxiliary light that’s useful for visibility when landing in poorly lit scenarios. On the upper-right-hand side is the ‘Photo/Video toggle’ button that allows you to instantly switch back and forth between the two modes. A gimbal wheel on the top-left-hand corner allows you to tilt the camera up and down while the top-right-hand corner contains a shutter button for taking images or recording video clips. The joysticks can be unscrewed and stored on the bottom of the remote for easier transport.
The DJI Fly app
With the release of last year’s Mavic Mini, DJI also introduced the Fly app. It’s cleaner, powers the Mavic Air 2, and is more streamlined than DJI’s GO 4 app – which is compatible with more advanced drones including the Phantom 4 and Mavic 2 series. A top progress line allows you to view how much battery life is left on the drone, and the control panel can be accessed in the upper-right-hand corner.
|The DJI Fly app is more streamlined than the DJI GO 4 app used with DJI’s more advanced drones, and offers a good balance of simplicity and control for beginners.|
On the left-hand side, above the shutter button, is a rectangular photo icon. This pulls out a menu that serves as access to all the features you need to capture imagery. Starting from the inside, a menu displaying the options of Photo, Video, QuickShot, and Pano appears. From there, you can customize your settings for each mode.
On the photo end, you can select regular, AEB, and Timed Shots. Video pulls out to a menu that allows you to select resolution and frames-per-second. When you start recording, a zoom button displaying either ‘2X’ or ‘4X’ depending on the resolution appears next to the Shutter button on the right-hand side. You can also slide it up and down for smoother zooming. It’s easy to use even while recording.
The Mini 2 features five different options for QuickShots versus the original Mini’s four. As before there’s the “Dronie”, which flies up to 120 feet above its target, the “Helix” which spirals at a distance up to 120 feet as well, the “Rocket”, and the “Circle”. The latest addition, “Boomerang”, flies away from and back to the subject in an oval path. Like the original Mini, there aren’t any Intelligent Flight modes, like ActiveTrack or Point of Interest, available.
Finally, there are three different options for creating a panorama. “Sphere”, which resembles a tiny planet, captures twenty-six images. “180º” captures seven images for a landscape perspective while wide captures a 3×3 tile consisting of nine images. Unlike the Mavic Air 2, there isn’t an option to create a vertical panorama.
Other important upgrades
There are two other significant upgrades to the latest Mini beyond the camera: upgraded motors and the addition of DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology.
Regarding the motors, the Mini 2 is no longer ‘quite noisy for such a little machine,’ as I stated in my review of the original Mavic Mini, and also accelerates at a faster pace when taking off and in the air, especially in windier conditions.
As for the transmission tech, the Mini 2 doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi communication. With OcuSync 2.0, dual-frequency transmission automatically alternates between channels to prevent signal interference between the remote and drone. DJI claims connectivity up to 10km (6.21 miles). While that’s impressive, it is important to keep the drone within your visual line of sight at all times.
What’s it Like to Fly?
I was impressed with the original Mavic Mini and am even more delighted with the upgrades that the Mini 2 boasts. The updated motors really make all the difference as far as general noise and acceleration are concerned. Lately, it’s been windy where I live, and the drone handled gusts quite well, delivering smooth footage and crisp images.
What I enjoy most about this entry-level drone is how compact it is. DJI sent me the Fly More combo ($599), which also includes three batteries, a charging hub and a case. Everything, including the three-battery charger, fits neatly into the case and all components weigh a little over a pound. I found myself taking off unexpectedly in places, on impromptu shoots, where I may have hesitated with larger drones that needed the propellers snapped on. It feels effortless to launch and fly.
I was impressed with the original Mavic Mini and am even more delighted with the upgrades that the Mini 2 boasts.
The only minor snag I encountered is that the gimbal would sometimes flip back up slightly if I pointed it straight down. It may be an issue with the review unit, but I was a bit annoyed when I had to readjust the camera to achieve a top-down shot.
Who’s if For?
The Mavic Mini 2 is an excellent drone for hobbyists and beginners alike. One particular line that resonates is that this is ‘a drone that grows with you.’ The original Mini had its limitations with JPEG-only imagery, 2.7K video footage, and a Wi-Fi signal. DJI took the logical next steps to ensure that anyone purchasing the Mini 2 could accomplish a lot more with their investment.
That being said, with the recent release of the Mavic Air 2, which retails at a few hundred dollars more than the Mini 2, it’s clear that Intelligent Flight modes, which allow you to track and follow subjects, won’t ever be included. If you’re looking to upgrade to a drone with a similar camera that includes those capabilities, can produce higher-quality .MOV film clips, shoot hyperlapses, and even simulate FPV flight, all while offering obstacle avoidance, you will need to upgrade. Serious photographers may even want the 1″ CMOS sensor that the Mavic 2 Pro offers.
One final thing I found odd for drone aimed at beginners is that images taken for panoramas aren’t stitched together, or synthesized, in the aircraft. This is something the Mavic 2 series and Mavic Air 2 performs automatically. While you can pull a completed version of your pano off the media library in your Fly app and instantly share it to social channels, the quality is inferior compared to the imagery from your memory card, which stores images from each panorama in a separate folder. This strikes me as a strange move on DJI’s part since most beginners may not be ready or willing to do the extra work in post-processing.
DJI took an excellent initial concept for a beginner-level drone, listened to feedback from the community, and made some significant improvements. Despite some minor issues, the Mini 2 is a versatile little machine that is easy and convenient to transport and packs a number of sophisticated features into a small package. Mavic Mini owners will definitely want to upgrade and for those first-time buyers, the extra $100 you’ll spend is well worth it.
What We Like:
- 4K camera with zoom capabilities
- Raw photo capture
- OccuSync 2.0 transmission
- Quieter motors than predecessor
What We Don’t:
- No obstacle avoidance sensors
- No .MOV files
- Gimbal can be jerky when facing directly downward