DJI unveils Mavic 2 drones and yes, now you can zoom - Stuff

DJI unveils Mavic 2 drones and yes, now you can zoom

Drone- and gimbal-maker DJI has taken the wraps off its newest devices, a pair of updates to the Mavic Pro range — called the Mavic 2 series — that include new object-avoidance sensors to help pilots avoid crashing into things, and a choice of two cameras: a Hasselblad camera with a large, 1in CMOS sensor, and a more conventional 1/2.3in sensor camera that includes a zoom lens, which will enable area snappers to get closer to the action, or mimic the famous Hitchcockian ‘dolly zoom‘ without needing to muck about in post production.

Choose your weapon

As expected, you can look forward to two new Mavic drones. First up, there’s the Mavic 2 Pro, which includes an integrated Hasselblad camera with a 1in CMOS sensor, and a 28mm lens with a variable aperture of f2.8-f11. That’s a huge sensor for a drone, and should mean more detailed images with more dynamic range — handy given much drone shooting happens at dawn or dusk.

Next up, there’s the Mavic 2 Zoom. It keeps the 1/2.3in image sensor found on the Mavic Pro, but adds a zoom lens with a range of 28-48mm. It’s that zoom lens that enables the new Dolly Zoom Quickshot mode that zooms on the subject to keep it the same size in the frame while the drone flies backwards.

The Zoom also gets a new ‘Super Resolution’ feature that uses optical zoom to shoot nine images and then stitches together a 48MP image. The best bit? All the stitching happens on-board the drone, so it’s ready to go as soon as it’s back on the ground.

Full-length feature

Both drones get video upgrades, with support for 100Mbit/s bitrate, the new H.265 codec, and an enhanced HDR mode that captures and stacks multiple images at multiple exposures into one.

Another new feature called Hyperlapse lets users create time-lapse videos. There are four Hyperlapse modes to choose from: Free, Circle, CourseLock and Waypoint. As with DJI’s various Quickshot modes, Hyperlapse videos are processed on the, err, fly. Professionals will also be pleased to know they can save courses in case they miss a shot and want to try it again.

DJI’s ActiveTrack technology has also had an update, and now creates a 3D map for better subject tracking. That means it should be able to keep track of a subject even if it loses it behind a tree or other obstacle for a few seconds.

Spec this out

Other additions to the Mavic 2 range include more powerful, quieter motors that are also more power efficient. That translates to up to 31-minute fly time, and a top speed of 70km/h. Meanwhile, OcySync 2.0 uses the 2.4GHz and 5.8Ghz bands to reduce interference, and separated uplink and downlink channels means the best live view yet — 1080p at up to 8km.

Also welcome is the ability to save original-resolution images straight to your mobile device… so you don’t have to wait to land before checking your shots or sharing them to social media. And like the Mavic Air, both new drones include 8GB of on-board storage, along with the usual microSD card slot.

10th sense

Each new generation of DJI product gets new sensors, and the Mavic 2 series is no exception. The sensor count is now up to 10 sensors, which includes side sensors. Plus, there’s a new downward-facing LED light to illuminate the landing area, which should come in handy for those sunset shoots that go on a little longer than expected. DJI’s also updated the built-in GEO system, so users don’t go droning where it might get them arrested.

Buy now combo

Traditionally, DJI has given consumers the option to buy its drones on their own, or in a “fly more kit” that includes extra batteries and other kit. But if they chose not to get the combo upfront, they’d have to buy all of the accessories separately. Now the company is offering a fly more kit for the Mavic 2 devices, which includes two additional batteries, a charging hub, additional propellers and car charger for $319.

Unfortunately for DJI, today’s announcements don’t have as much zing as they could’ve, thanks to an accidental leak of the details of the newest device’s specifications by a UK retailer earlier this month. But it did give the company time to find something else to get users excited about. In this case, it’s the option to buy the new drones immediately from its US website. The Mavic 2 Zoom is priced at $1,249, while the Mavic 2 Pro will cost you $1,449.

Naturally, it’s a little too soon for local pricing, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have it.

Craig is Stuff magazine's editor. He provides tech analysis and commentary for TV stations like eNCA, CNBC Africa and BusinessDay TV, and radio stations like 702, CapeTalk, PowerFM, MetroFM and Classic FM. You can contact him via craig@stuff.co.za

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