Dji’s Mavic Pro

Bringing aerial photography and cinematography

to the palm of your hands.

Photography is one of my main spare time hobbies. After finding John Coates’s Apple TV screensaver for OSX I became interested in aerial photography and cinematography. Benjamin Mayo’s aerial footage was used for this screensaver and is available for download on his website. I found out he was using DJI’s Mavic Pro. This triggered my attention for this drone.

Being a rookie in piloting drones I wasn’t sure the Mavic Pro was a good choice to start with. After reading some articles and reviews about the device, the Mavic seemed to tackle the gap of professional use and rookies pretty well. I decided to buy one, start flying and make some test footage with it. This article is purely based on my first experience using the Mavic. If you do not agree, just let me know. But please keep in mind, I’m still a rookie 😉

Camera & Drone Specs

Most important specs

Of course all the specs are listed on DJI’s Mavic Pro page. I’ve listed the specs I care most about below:

Camera

  • Video Resolutions
    • 4096×2160 @ 24 fps
    • 3840×2160 @ 24/25/30 fps
    • 2720×1530 @ 24/25/30 fps
    • 1920×1080 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/96 fps
    • 1280×720 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/120 fps
  • Recording
    • format: mp4 & mov
    • bitrate: 60 Mbps
  • Photo Resolution
    • 4000×3000 in JPEG or DNG (Raw)
  • ISO
    • video 100-3200
    • photo 100-1600
  • Shutterspeed
    • 81/8000

Drone

  • Speed
    • Ascending 5 m/s
    • Descending 3 m/s
    • Flight 65 km/h (Sport mode)
  • Dimensions
    • Folded 83mm x 83mm x 198mm
    • Radius 335 mm (no propellers attached)
  • Weight
    • With gimbal cover 734 g
    • No gimbal cover 743 g
  • Positioning
    • System GPS / GLONASS
    • Max altitude 5000m (above sea level)
First rookie mistake

Shutter speed vs. frame rate

My first captured footage showed some flickering. Turned out this had to do with using incorrect shutter speed settings. Since I moved from photography to cinematography I learned shutter speed relates to the chosen frame rate. Thanks to this video, the relation between the two became clear to me in just a couple of minutes.

Conclusion (rule of the thumb): using a frame rate of requires a shutter speed that’s equal to 1/(x*2).

Example: using NTSC’s 30 fps needs a frame rate of 1/60, 1/120 etc.

Preventing overexposed footage

Make us of ND-filters

After noticing my first recorded footage showed some overexposed spots in it I decided to buy some additional ND-filters, which reduce these effects.

DJI’s has a set containing ND 4, 8 and 16 for about €40,- ($35). The popular Polar Pro set costs around double the price of DJI’s set. Looking only at how the filters reduce the overexposing effects, this review helped me choose between the two sets. I bought DJI’s set.

Choosing your colorspace

Luts and Colorspace

As I was new to cinematography I was new to LUT’s and colorspaces used in video capturing. There are two best colorspaces to select when recording video with the Mavic Pro. Differences between the two profiles below are mostly the range of colors.

D-Cinelike

D-Cinelike records footage in colors which are pretty good “out of the box” and doesn’t necessarily require post production. Ideal for starters.

D-Log

Captures footage in a “flat”, less contrast, greyed shadow and not-too-bright on the highlight area format.
The benefit of it is having more dynamic range from dark, shadow to bright and highlight regions in your footage.

LUT’s

For me D-Log was pretty hard to apply post grading at the first couple of times. Luckily there are some other enthousiasts setting up LUT’s to bring back the colors in your D-Log captured footage. I decided to give their LUT a try for a couple of bucks and learn post grading on the go.

Conclusion so far

DJI’s Mavic Pro really nails it when looking at controls during flight. In my experience it is hard to crash the drone when flying with focus.

When chosing style profiles, go for custom. Although I’m having some problems with sharpness lately. When settings sharpness below 0, it seems noise in the footage is mostly gone but causes trees to gain some waterpainting-like-blobbyness. Setting it to +1 prevents this effect but needs noise reduction in post production.

These are my findings on the usage of the Mavic for the time being. I will post more specific blog posts in the future when relevant.

Some pro’s and cons:

Pros

  • Compact and easy to carry with you: fits in your regular photography lenses bag
  • Compact controller: literally fits in your pants
  • Easy to control during flight
  • Active track let’s you focus on moving (non)human targets. This also pretty well works with cars etc.
  • Durable design.
  • D-Log and DNG format for best post production results
  • Did I mention compact?
  • Stabilization

Cons

  • Takes some time to get the best video and style settings right
  • Angle of camera only goes from 0 to 120 degrees compared with the Phantom (0 – 130 degrees)
  • If it really matters: price, although for me it was worth every hard earned penny 😉
jeroenboumans

Author jeroenboumans

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