The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is a different view from the high-level drone – instead of the large one-inch sensor on its brother Mavic 2 Pro, it has a 2x optical zoom lens. This was a fairly new approach when the two drones were launched in August 2018. In essence, we are used to camera manufacturers who introduce slightly different variants of the same body design. However, this was a new strategy for drones and reflected its growing status as serious photographic tools, rather than just air-based toys. This is our Review of DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.
Both the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and the Pro remain an important figure in the DJI line of drones, so what is the case with the purchase of this variant of optical zoom? As the name suggests, this drone has an optical zoom lens with a smaller sensor than the Mavic 2 Pro. Still, it is especially useful for aerial photographers who need to get closer to their subjects than current drone laws allow. It’s not just about getting closer – a zoom lens offers creative possibilities that are simply not possible with a prime lens.
Except for the cameras, the two Mavic 2 Zoom and Pro are identical and offer a number of improvements over the previous model, the DJI Mavic Pro. The question is whether you should choose the one-inch 20MP sensor model or the model with 12MP sensor and optical zoom lens. Let’s find out.
Review of the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Design
The Mavic 2 Zoom offers a foldable design similar to the Mavic 2 Pro, which means that the drone can easily be folded up to almost half the size of your flight for transport. Add to that the fact that it only weighs 905g and it soon becomes clear how portable this drone is. Obviously, this can be done with even smaller drones, with the same 1/3 inch sensor, but they do not offer an optical zoom lens and, because they are smaller, they are not as stable in the air as the zoom when there is . it’s really a small amount of wind.
The Mavic 2 Zoom’s body is compact and rectangular – the front arms rotate outward, while the rear arms rotate upward and into the correct position. It is worthwhile to use the included cardan protector, if you are carrying the drone between sessions, as it can be a little vulnerable if not protected. When connecting the drone, remember to remove the gimbal protector, as the drone calibrates the gimbal as soon as it is turned on. To activate the zoom, simply press and hold the button on the top of the battery.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Review: Controller
The Mavic 2 Zoom has a controller identical to its cousin Mavic 2 Pro. It has space for smartphones of all sizes (up to a maximum length of 160 mm or a maximum thickness of 8.5 mm), which can be connected to the controller via the data cables provided. With the DJI Go 4 app installed on your tablet or smartphone, you can access the drone settings, control the camera and view the image from the camera. You can control the drone during the flight using the two joysticks.
Obviously, the movements you make will be different from those of an RC car, so it is worth familiarizing yourself with them before your first flight. In addition to the joysticks, there are several direct access controls to control the cardan, camera zoom and lighting. However, most camera controls are accessible via the DJI Go 4 app, which is incredibly clear and intuitive software. Anyone familiar with a compact camera will feel at ease here, because the camera’s controls are comparable to those of a premium compact. In total, 11 direct access controls can be configured as desired.
Features and flight
Flying with the Mavic 2 Zoom is very similar to the Mavic 2 Pro model and incredibly comfortable, thanks to DJI’s on-board technology. With GPS, you can see the drone’s position on a map in the app and hold it in the air. In “Atti” mode, drones maintain altitude, but can be blown away by the wind; therefore, GPS mode is incredibly convenient. Another useful feature is collision avoidance, which uses omnidirectional obstacle detection to avoid collisions. But, like any security feature, it is not foolproof and you cannot just trust that you and our drone are protected from damage.
Collision avoidance, in most cases, causes the controller to issue visual and audio warnings to warn you of a potential hazard. At the same time, the drone slows down to avoid a collision when you get too close to an object. According to specifications, the Mavic 2 Zoom can fly for up to 31 minutes, which is more realistic in 20 to 25 minutes, at a maximum speed of 45 mph / 72 km / h; therefore, losing control or braking is not something that takes a short time.
One feature that helps is the controller’s default setting to take the drone home when the battery capacity drops to 25%. This can be changed, but it is best to keep it at a minimum of 15% or more to prevent the drone from automatically landing in an undefined area due to a dead battery. When the battery reaches the lowest possible point, the drone lands wherever it is, and that is far from ideal.
The three main modes of manual flight can be accessed from the DJI Go 4 application or via a button on the side of the controller. Tripod Mode (T) slows down the drone and makes it less sensitive to allow smoother video. Positioning Mode (P) is the standard flight mode and offers an intermediate level of control, while Sports Mode (S) makes Mavic the most responsive and allows you to fly at the highest speed.
For manual flight, these modes include all bases. Still, if you’re looking for assistance, there are also several automated flight modes, designed to make it easier to shoot specific types of photos and videos. All of this can be achieved manually, and results are usually better if delivered in this way, but to help you on your way, “smart flight modes” take control of many film and flight maneuvers.
Intelligent flight modes for videos include Hyperlapse, Active Track, Quickshot, Point of Interest, TapFly, Waypoints and Cinematic Mode. Still, image capture modes are more about in-camera shooting modes than smart flight modes, except Pano, which handles flying for you. They include Burst Mode, Single Shot, HDR, HyperLight (Night Mode), AEB, Interval and Pano, which offer several different panoramic shooting modes, including an exclusive for the Mavic 2 Zoom – Super Res.
Super Res mode takes nine photos stitched together as a high resolution 48MP JPEG. If you want to do this with Raw files, you need to configure the camera to save the original images in Raw and then manually process the Raw files in Lightroom, for example, before merging the images in Photoshop.
It is a pity that Mavic 2 cannot produce Raw files stitched on the camera, but at least there is a way around this, if you want and need more control. One thing to keep in mind is that scenes with moving elements may not merge well, regardless of whether you use JPEG files on the camera or mix the Raw files manually.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Review: video quality
The image and video quality is impressive, considering the size of the sensor, but it is generally not the same as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro or a standard camera. The 1 / 2.3-inch 12MP CMOS sensor is similar to what you would get on a smartphone, but the image quality is generally better, thanks to the lenses used by the Mavic 2 Zoom, which offers a frame-equivalent focal length range 24 -48mm whole. This is incredibly useful for approaching people when recording or filming, and this alone can be a deciding factor for many people in the market for a drone.
The zoom quality is excellent and shows minimal distortion in images that measure approximately 13x10in / 34x25cm. Due to the small camera, sensor and lens, the Mavic 2 Zoom has a fixed aperture of f / 2.8, making the depth of field large enough for landscape shots. Like the Mavic 2 Pro, which houses a larger one-inch sensor, the Mavic 2 Zoom shows noise up to ISO 100, although this is easy to process in Raw photo processing software and not a problem for video.
However, this means that the drone does not perform much above ISO 100 compared to the Pro, which in itself is not optimal above that setting. However, with the fixed aperture of f / 2.8, maximum amounts of light always reach the sensor, so that even in low light conditions, it is possible to obtain reasonable shutter speeds. Before testing it alongside the Mavic 2 Pro, we assumed that the image quality of the Zoom would be minimal compared to the brother, but that was not the case.
Obviously, the Mavic 2 Pro is noticeably better and the print sizes are much larger, but Zoom is not as late as expected and can produce impressive photos and videos. Video can be recorded in the equivalent of JPEG video, using image profiles to define color styles, if you simply want to download your images from the memory card without the need for color grading. But if you plan to record images in a professional workflow, you can also record in D-Cinelike, a Raw video format that allows you to classify colors and make it easier to match recorded images in this or any other Raw video format.
Regarding video formats, the video can be recorded in 4K with up to 30p (including the options of 24p or 25p), 2.7K with up to 60p and Full HD with up to 120p. The video can be recorded in MP4 or MOV (MPEG-4 AVC / H.264, HEVC / H.265) formats, so it is identical to Mavic 2 Pro in that area, although it uses D-Cinelike instead of D-Log M and does not have a 10-bit HDR.
Like its brother, the Mavic 2 Zoom remains the best drone for those who need professional-grade images from an easy-to-travel form factor. The choice between this and Mavic 2 Pro depends on the type of subject you are likely to shoot. If you don’t mind having a fixed focal length of 24 mm – and this wide-angle field is good for most aerial photography – you may prefer the slightly higher image quality of the Mavic 2 Pro.
But, for situations where you need a more accurate image of a subject, be it a person or an inanimate object, the zoom allows you to take great photos or videos while staying within the minimum legal distances for people. Also, if most drone photos are likely to involve crowds, whether at weddings or sporting events, Zoom is probably the best option for you.
The Mavic 2 Zoom is easy to fly thanks to the integrated technology, and its intelligent flight modes allow specific video effects at the touch of a button. The image quality, for both photos and video, is good enough for professional use, despite the small sensor, but the real jewel in the Mavic 2 Zoom’s crown is the optical zoom lens. In that sense, it remains unique when it comes to foldable and consumable drones.
That’s it for our DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review. Check out our list of the best drones if you are looking for one of the best drones at the moment.
Last updated on March 5, 2020 4:41
9.5 Total score
Use DJI’s advanced flight modes and the Mavic 2 Zoom’s lightweight, foldable design and you’ll have a drone that is still one of the best and most versatile on the market.
- Easy to fly
- Intuitive camera control application
- Impressive image quality
- 24-48mm optical zoom lens
- Foldable design
- Comparatively small 12MP sensor
- Fixed f / 2.8 aperture
- Noise is problematic above ISO 100