The Mavic Mini is the Right Drone for Most Photographers

The Mavic Mini is the Right Drone for Most Photographers

Consumer drones were first released in 2010, and over the years, the technology, size and price have improved considerably. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro, for example, folds up to the size of a brick, features a Hasselblad-badged 20MP camera, and cost about $1550. But unless you’re a photographer who specializes in aerial photography, the cost is still steep for a “see if you like it” approach.

And although there are a number of inexpensive mini drones on the market, none have the features, marketing muscle nor brand cachet of DJI. Enter the Mavic Mini.

At 249g and $399 (realistically, you’ll spend $499 for the Fly More kit which includes extra batteries, serial charger, etc) the Mini is light enough to avoid registering the device with the FAA (to be clear, commercial usage still requires conformity to the FAA’s Small UAS Rule – aka Part 107), and cheap enough that photographers can seriously considering adding it to their toolbox alongside a strobe kit, gimbal or tilt motor. I believe DJI will sell a ton of these, but for photographers, how you use it will determine its utility.

It’s still somewhat rare to shoot an entire photo project from the air, but there’s no doubt that drones shots are becoming more prevalent in a myriad of niches from photojournalism to corporate marketing. Aerials simply tell the story from a different and sometimes better perspective.

The “Fly More Combo” include 360° Propeller Guards, which will protect your fingers, but also push the weight above 250g.

The Mavic Mini can shoot 12MP JPGs and H.264 video at 2.7K and 30fps. The lack of RAW support or 4K video will inevitably disqualify it from being used for more intensive applications. And like any small sensored camera, the Mavic Mini isn’t appropriate for low light usage (That said, some of the sample video of a sunset that I saw at a press event looked impressive, and very usable). 

The Mavic Mini weighs less than a single Mavic 2 Pro battery. The unit is small enough to comfortably sit in the palm of your hand. It can easily fit into a small compartment of your camera bag. The legal benefits of having a drone under 250g will have little bearing on professional photographers who intend to use it for business/commercial purposes, but the size and weight certainly aligns well with the shift towards smaller/lighter mirrorless cameras. The unit doesn’t have the same crash avoidance sensors of its older siblings, but the 30 min flight time is pretty mind blowing. 

With the propeller arms folded up, the unit is the size of your hand.

If you haven’t tried out a drone yet, the Mavic Mini might be the appropriate entry-level device for you. 

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Cristian at 4:42 pm

    It is not so much the lack of 4k but the low mbps that will give a low video quality to that footage. I hope they can improve it via firmware. We are all used to 100 mbps so this is a huge step back.

    • Allen Murabayashi Author at 11:35 am

      it’s the combination of price and features that make it a good entry point for photographer who haven’t tried a drone yet. I’m not disputing that RAW is the more useful format, but on the other hand, news and sports photographers regularly shoot JPG. The format in and of itself isn’t disqualifying if you have enough light and know your application.

  2. Saquan Stimpson at 10:32 am

    I think this product is for those folk who aren’t looking for the best features per se. But, a price point thats affordable, this is a nice entry-level drone. If you need RAW file capabilities etc, then you’ll have to look at the Mavic Air, Mavic Pro or Mavic 2.

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