DJI has been on a tear with breakneck product announcements and releases. Well, a slow release of the Mavic Pro. The drone company is essentially competing with itself as the GoPro Karma has yet to find traction, let alone the power to stay in the air.
It leaves us all in a state of flux. Lots of options for the hobbyist, prosumer and professionals. Do you go ultra-portable with the Mavic Pro? Prosumer with the Phantom 4 Pro? Or a complete professional package with the Inspire 2?
DJI Mavic Pro vs. Nothing
The holiday was supposed to be a battle between the portable drones – the Mavic Pro and the GoPro Karma. Instead, the GoPro Karma had a full recall and the Mavic Pro suffered shipping delays. Luckily those are getting worked out, and those after a pocket-sized drone have one with the Mavic Pro.
It is truly a go anywhere drone thanks to the fact you can stuff it in a shoulder bag. If you are rocking cargo pants, you can shove it in a pocket. Not the best recommendation, but your call. And the price with enough batteries to keep you flying sits at $1299. DJI is backed up on orders from its earlier shipping SNAFU, and it will take 6-8 weeks to receive it.
Mavic Pro Features and Benefits
DJI’s headline feature for the Mavic Pro is absurd portability. It’s this feature that leads to the benefits for its other drones. The company tipped its hand when it introduced the Mavic with an increased range over the Phantom and Inspire series. We knew there was an Inspire 2 and Phantom 4 Pro waiting in the wings.
Professional photographer or videographer? The Mavic Pro offers the best scouting drone around. And the 12MP camera with 4K capability means it’s no slouch to capture stunning video and images. It matches the Phantom 4 in everything spec wise and far exceeds it when it comes to range and capability.
Phantom 4 Pro
Launched alongside the Inspire 2, the Phantom 4 Pro was DJI granting the wish list of Phantom owners. A massive upgrade in camera, jumping to a one-inch sensor and 20MP. 4K video a 60fps. Bitrates at 100mbps – you’ll need a UHS-2/U3 rated microSD card to take full advantage. The card needs the ability to write 100mbps. The usual suspects like Lexar, Sandisk, and Samsung all have them. Always look for the top line number.
The Phantom 4 Pro has all the benefits of the Mavic Pro’s range and the additions of a better camera, a mechanical shutter, solid top speed and up to 30 minutes of flight time. For me, drones are aerial cameras first. Yes, the price is a bit more than the Mavic Pro, but if you want quality over portability, it’s no contest at $1499.
And the Phantom 4 Pro is pretty damn portable. We’ve reviewed the Phantom 4, and it’s light and sturdy. It breaks down into a backpack, and you’re ready for your next adventure. Yes, you’ll want extra batteries. The 30-minute flight time is under perfect conditions. Shave a few minutes off, and you have a real world battery life.
DJI Inspire 2
The destroyer of bank accounts. Damn DJI and their marketing videos. It is meant for professionals, though DJI won’t turn down the buyer who wants the latest and greatest. What’s different over the first Inspire is essentially everything. New airframe. Better battery life. Top speed of 67 mph.
And it is truly a dual operator drone now thanks to the front facing 720p camera for the pilot. One person focuses on the best flight path, while the other controls the 360-degree camera.
Videographers can record in DNG RAW and Apple ProRes with the X5S camera, while the X4S (cheaper) is similar to the camera on the Phantom 4 Pro. Extra still burst modes push the Inspire 2 to capture 14fps in both JPEG and DNG. The CineCore 2.0 image processing system also allows still photography while recording video.
The Inspire 2 releases in January and the airframe costs $2999 – the X4S camera retails for $599. Those wanting the professional capability of the X5S can order the Inspire 2 combo which includes the complete platform with an X5S and a CinemaDNG and Apple ProRes license key for $5999.
DJI Drone Trio But Which?
Let your needs dictate your purchase, not wants. Professionals will gravitate towards the Inspire 2 thanks to its ability to attach other Zenmuse cameras to the airframe. If that’s not you, then focus on building one hell of a Phantom 4 Pro kit for well under the Inspire 2 cost. You can have both the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro with extra batteries before you even have the camera on an Inspire 2.
Yes, the Inspire 2 is gorgeous and it has its place, but for the average consumer looking for a great aerial camera platform? The Phantom 4 Pro checks all the right boxes and is a proven airframe. Portability fans will gravitate towards the Mavic Pro, while people like me will clamor for both.