As I wrote, I lost my Phantom 4 Pro in Vietnam about a month ago when it launched, forgot to hover, and ploughed into the mast of a ship on Halong Bay, before whirring across the deck on its back in what proved to be its death throes. I’m still not sure why, though I’ve come close to concluding it was either damaged in transit or I forgot to properly set my gps settings on take-off.
Still, with only a day between that assignment and another in the Cook Islands, I decided the Mavic Pro 2 was the way to go.
I’ve been asked how the two drones compare by a few photographers so, after three weeks of flying it in the Cook Islands, I thought I’d post my initial impressions:
Better suited to my needs: The Mavic is vastly better suited to tourism/travel photography. Fact is, the whole kit fits into a small backpack i can carry onto the plane (along with my camera bag which I still manage to convince aviation authorities weighs less than seven kilos). The Phantom Four and associated bits n pieces however needed to be packed into a sturdy camera case and was consigned to cargo. It’s size also drew unwanted attention passing through security in some of the countries I’ve photographed.
Easier to unpack n fly: It takes about half the time to set up and launch the Mavic.
Superior lens: I’m not technical enough to explain the reasons why, but I can see the quality produced with the Hasselblad lens. The clarity and detail – particularly at height – is simply remarkable. I have always been impressed by the shots captured by the Phantom 4 Pro but the Mavic Pro 2 is another level, and both now shoot 60 mg Tiff files.
Control Console a bit fiddly: I prefer the control console of the Phantom. It was larger and it felt more secure to hold, the buttons and sticks were bigger and more user-friendly, and it didn’t have that suspension plate for my I-pad between me and some of the instrument readings. That said, I guess it was a compromise to ensure everything is smaller and more transportable so I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
Battery Convenience: the Mavic’s batteries are much smaller and lighter with the same flying time which is a big plus, and they come with a convenient docking device that allows you to charge four batteries at once.
Maneuverability: They are much of a muchness. On sports mode, they both fly fast, far and high (though I was a bit reluctant to test the Mavics limits on this shoot, still fresh from my crash). Both are stable in high winds. I found I was comfortable flying both out of beginners mode within a few days. The Mavic is black (while my Phantom was white) which makes it a bit easier to spot against clouds in the sky.
Annoying: The clearance between the Mavic and the ground is way too short on those tiny legs which threatens the fragile gimbal. Taking off on grass or uneven surfaces is a nightmare, while on the Phantom, the land bars provided ample clearance. Also catching the Mavic isn’t anywhere near as easy. You’ll only need to shave the top of your fingers off once to make you aware of it?). I ended up disengaging the landing sensor to make it easier but I still dread catching it in a big wind with only a few centimeters between the rotors and the base of the body). I vaguely recall there’s an accessory you can buy to extend the legs. I’ll be getting it when I get back. Also, that plastic gimbal protector is exasperating to put on when you’re in a rush, as are the clip-on filters.
Price: I think they are on par. I paid around (AUD$3,000 for the Mavic with the three batteries and bells and whistles including polarizing and ND filter set). I vaguely recall the Phantom cost me about AUD$4,000. But I expect prices for the later to be dropping rapidly now, ‘cause I can’t think of any major reason someone would buy the Phantom 4 over the Mavic 2.
There’s no competition. If you’re weighing up both and you’re planning a lot of travel, you’d be crazy not to get the Mavic 2 Pro.
….but don’t launch to close to the mast of the ship.