DJI were close to perfection with the original Mini: it weighed in at under 250 grams and was easy to operate straight out of the box. However, with a 12 megapixel camera that could only capture images in JPEG format and film video at a maximum resolution of 2.7k resolution – at 30fps – the DJI Mini felt a little bit undercooked.
DJI have listened to the criticisms of the Mini in their development of the Mini 2 – and it shows.
What’s in the box?
The DJI Mini 2 Fly is available in two flavours to whet your appetite.
Out of the box the DJI Mini 2 (RRP £449.00) comes with one battery, a controller, prop holder and a single set of peripheral spare parts e.g. rotor blades, controller cables and screws. Whereas the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo (RRP. £549.00) includes a controller, prop holder, three batteries, a battery pack multi-charger that can charge all three batteries simultaneously and double up as a portable power pack as well, plus three sets of peripheral spare parts rather than just the one.
DJI have refined rather than wildly reinvent the look of the Mini 2 when compared to its predecessor. The airframe of the Mini 2 is the same as that of the Mini, meaning the placement of the battery and the exposed micro SD card remain at the rear of the body. The retractable arms of the drone need to be opened in a specific order (front then back) and closed in the opposite order, but once you get used to that it will soon become second nature.
For those familiar with DJI you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d seen the controller design before, and that’s because you in all likelihood have – it’s the same as the DJI Mavic Air 2. Gone is the plastic-like handset that resembled something the ‘Ghostbusters’ would use to hunt the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with, now replaced with a sleeker and much more serious looking design. DJI boast that with the Mini 2 ‘The OcuSync 2.0 holy trinity is now complete’ which means the controller connection will now be secure rather than temperamental – a common complaint with the Mini.
On face value the camera of the Mini 2 is much the same as the Mini, set on a 3-axis mechanical stabiliser with the same 1/2.3” CMOS 12 mp sensor. But don’t let this fool you as the image & video capture capabilities of the Mini 2 are impressive for such a lightweight and compact quadcopter.
The Mini 2 now records in 4k video (compared to the previous 2.7k of the Mini) and they’ve boosted the maximum video bitrate from an abysmal 40mbps to 100mps. The drone also features a 4x zoom while shooting at 1080p, as well as being able to capture images in JPEG as well as RAW.
DJI clearly envisage the Mini 2 as being the affordable ‘go to’ for casual pilots, content creators and influencers alike and the set of complimentary shooting modes are obviously designed with this in mind. You have the familiar range of DJI ‘Quickshot’ flight options such as Dronie, Helix, Rocket, and Circle. However, they’ve now included Boomerang into the mix which enables the drone to fly around the subject, starting and stopping the video in the same place.
In addition to this the Mini 2 can also capture a range of panoramic photographs ranging from:
Sphere : The drone captures 25 images and stitches them together in the DJI Fly app to create a spherical ‘tiny planet’ effect.
180° : The drone captures four photos in order to create sweeping landscape shots.
Wide-Angle : The drone captures a wide 3×3 image consisting of nine images.
It’s important to note that the rumours of a tantalising 4k hyper-lapse mode for the Mini 2 don’t seem to have any basis in fact for the time being.
Changes in the law
With the recent changes in UK legislation the Mini 2 now requires an Operator ID by law, which means you will have to register your drone at a cost of £9 per year before you take to the skies. The UK Civil Aviation Authority provides a simple straightforward ‘one-stop shop’ that will provide you with both the Operator ID as well as the Flyer ID in one place.
What’s it like to fly?
When you connect your smartphone to the controller the DJI Fly app will guide you through the preflight checks before you launch, and I’d strongly recommend you fight the temptation to skip through the details and start flying immediately. The user interface is clean and streamlined, balancing simplicity and control. The controller design comes into its own when you’re flying the DJI Mini 2, it’s comfortable to hold, responsive and with the refinements in connectivity (Hello there 10 kilometres of HD video transmission) you feel confident and in control when the quadcopter is in flight – make no mistake the OcuSync 2.0 connection is rock solid.
Shooting content is a dream on the Mini 2, and the controller feels very similar to a DSLR grip. The placement of the shutter release button and gimbal control wheel at the top of the controller makes shooting video and photographs feel almost intuitive.
The Mavic Mini 2 uses a new alert system called DJI AirSense that uses ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) technology to provide location information from passing aircraft fitted with ADS-B transmitters, meaning drone pilots can be alerted to potential risks whilst flying. The Mavic Mini 2 also retains the DJI FlySafe geofence system, restricting flights over unauthorised airspaces.
The upgraded capacity of the motors in the Mini 2 makes it a deceptively nimble beast. Improvements in motor efficiency & performance means that the Mini 2 can quite happily fly around at 36 mph for up to 31 minutes, with an equally impressive level 5 resistance to strong headwinds to boot. For a drone that comes in at under £500 to be able to retain stabilisation under these sorts of conditions is a pretty big deal.
My biggest gripe with the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo is the lack of a landing pad or propeller guards. The low-profile of the unit means that blades of grass will keep the drone grounded – so you’ll need to find level ground for takeoffs and landings. The Mini 2 also doesn’t include obstacle sensors or subject tracking, so you want to avoid flying into a tree because the drone quite literally won’t see it coming.
Is it worth the money?
The original Mini was a fantastic ‘first-time’ concept but was inherently flawed from the outset. With the Mini 2 DJI have built on the successes of it’s predecessor and made significant and satisfying refinements; although there is still plenty to work on for the inevitable arrival of the DJI Mini 3 such as battery compatibility between models. Overall for experienced enthusiasts and beginners alike the Mini 2 provides the satisfaction that the Mini was so sorely lacking.
– The DJI Mini 2 & the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo is available from the DJI store.