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DJI Mavic Mini beginner’s guide: Understanding your new drone

Drone Photography

Reducing size and making a product cheaper almost always means compromising on the components and features. However, there’s also a chance that you might produce something really special.

This is exactly what DJI Mavic Mini encapsulates. Brimming with all the great features of the company’s more expensive drones, the Mavic Mini is a palm-sized alternative that is also easy on your pocket!

The Mavic Mini is the second in the line of tiny drones, after Spark, also produced by the same company. It supersedes the previous model, offering many more features. Although the Spark was great, it made too many compromises to achieve the signature tiny size – it was still 50g heavier than the Mavic Mini and around £100 more expensive.

The Mavic Mini is lacking in some respects, for instance, it doesn’t offer 4K video. It shoots in 2.7K though, which is good enough, especially given that it weighs slightly more than a standard smartphone.

The mini drone is available to purchase online for £369.99 and is an entry-level drone developed by the company. It comes with a range of features that make it worth a look at. With 25 minutes of flight time and a considerably small size, it can prove to be a great investment. Let’s delve into some of the features of this mini-drone with our Digi Helpdesk beginner’s guide.

dji mavic mini beginners guide Best Cheap Drone For Photography
DJI Mavic Mini beginners guide – Image by Thomas Ehrhardt from Pixabay

The drone features a palm-sized body

With a small, lightweight, and extremely portable body, the Mavic Mini is perfect for camping trips, hiking, or even backpacking. It weighs only 249 grams, which is important since it doesn’t need to be FAA (or CAA) approved.

The Federal Aviation Administration (or Civil Aviation Authority) has a threshold weight of 250 grams, above which any “unmanned aerial vehicles” need to be registered and cannot be flown in the US or UK air space without an order. Even though the process is pretty simple, the exemption does save a lot of time.

The controller is also the same weight as the drone. So, if you’re planning on carrying it over a long trip, you will have to carry 500 grams around. Featuring a battery life of around 25 minutes, given the size, this is pretty impressive. Wind and temperature variations can, however, affect the flight time. The use is not suggested in extremely windy conditions though, as it might topple over or completely fail to fly.

The drone is foldable and is almost the same size as your palm. The battery is placed in the rear compartment, along with a microSD card slot and a micro USB port.

The drone can reach an altitude of 1600 feet and has a range of 2.5 miles. This is a little less than what DJI’s other drones can do, but it is still good enough. The only problem is that you might lose sight of it due to its small size. So, you’d have to constantly keep it in your line of sight to prevent any damage.

Moving onto the camera, the drone features a 24mm lens with an f/2.8 aperture. It also has a CMOS image sensor that produces 12 megapixels still images – JPEG only, and shoots video at 2.7K/3p and 1080/30p. Although, not 4K, the results are still pretty impressive.

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DJI Mavic Mini remote

The DJI Mavic Mini comes with a remote. Overall, it is pretty simple, with removable joysticks and some buttons. The joysticks can be stored within the main body of the remote when not in use. In regard to the controls, the left stick is for altitude and rotation, and the right one is responsible for moving the drone left, right, forward, and backward. It also features and records and a photo button for capturing images/videos.

A control wheel, located on the left, is used to adjust the pitch, however, there is no dial for adjusting the brightness. To see the camera view, you have to connect your phone via the DJI Fly App that can be easily downloaded through the Google Playstore or Apple App store. It works fine on iOS, but there have been some complaints about the application not being compatible with certain handsets.

The remote also features clamps to hold the phone. They are pretty durable and can hold a phone of almost any size. It also has a removable cable to connect to the data port.

Connectivity of the DJI Mini drone

According to DJI, the Mavic Mini can communicate with its remote control over a distance of 2.5 miles. However, in areas where there are wireless interferences, the connectivity might show some glitches. The drone has shown some ‘’jumps and stutters” in the video, starting at around 500 feet, along with RC interferences messages at around 800 feet, which didn’t pan well with the company’s stance.

Due to the small size, it is easy to lose the drone, therefore, it comes with GPS and GLONASS to provide some safety in case of a mishap. The features stabilize outdoor flight and also have an automatic ‘return to home’ function.

There is also a Geofence function in the application that prevents the drone from flying off in restricted airspace. It also lets you choose a maximum range for flight – suggested: 1000 feet, along with helping you stay away from legal problems.

  • Find My Drone

The flying application has a Find my Drone function, that can help track down the Mavic Mini in case of an incident or unplanned landing. The application records the landing spot and provides you with directions to reach it safely.

  • Camera Hardware

The camera and the drone are made of significantly durable material. The lens is pretty clear and lacks visible barrel distortion. The camera is mounted on a three-axis gimble that keeps the video stable even in case of bumps. You also have full control over the camera and can adjust or tilt it manually. There isn’t much freedom in case of video control.

There’s a default colour profile – which slightly “over sharpens” the picture. Furthermore, unlike other drones, it also doesn’t offer filters, even simple black and white ones. The image quality, however, is pretty good.

Overall, the Mavic Mini can be a drone for everyone. It’s simple to operate and has some straightforward functionality that can be controlled from the Fly application. You also don’t have to register with the FAA/CAA to fly one, which is great. Given the near-on £400 price tag, it is an impressive drone and suitable for basic photography and videography.

The flight time is also reasonable. It can be improved with a Fly More Kit, available for around £460. The kit comes with two extra batteries, propeller guards, multi-battery charger, a carrying case, and a few ‘sundry extras’.

This Mini drone comes with tonnes of features and offers great value for money. Here’s our list of the ‘good’ and the not so good’ points.

Pros of the DJI Mavic Mini model

  • Low cost
  • Comes with remote control
  • Good battery life with 25 minutes of flight time
  • Crisp 2.7K, 1080p video and 12MP pictures
  • Gimbal stabilisation
  • ‘Find my drone’ function
  • FAA/CAA approval not required
  • Automatic cinematic camera movements

What are the cons?

  • Some connectivity issues, especially in areas with Wi-Fi interferences
  • No obstacle detection sensors
  • Does not have 24fps video option
  • No support of Raw or HDR images

Once you have purchased a DJI Mavic Mini, we are pleased to inform you that set up could not be easier. Below, we have provided a quick guide to assist and get things underway for its first flight. Chocks Away!

DJI Mavic Mini beginners’ guide

  1. Charge the batteries

The batteries are rechargeable and can be popped out of the back of the drone, for replacement. You can also easily charge them through a USB port located beneath the battery compartment door.

  1. Download DJI Fly App

The application is necessary for the advanced functioning of the drone. So while charging your phone pre-flight, download away!

  1. Insert MicroSD Card

Under the battery door, there is a slot for inserting a MicroSD card. The card goes in with a slight push. Click it again and release it after a flight to transfer the shots.

  1. Unfold the controller

Open the phone clamps at the bottom of the remote and pop out the joysticks.

  1. Connect your phone

Connect the cable on the left side of the controller and attach it to your phone. In case the cable isn’t correct, swap it with the right version. It comes with Lightning, micro USB, and USB-C cables.

  1. Unfold the DJI Mavic Mini’s Arms

Folded into a small size, the Mavic Mini’s arms need to be unfolded carefully and in a certain order. Fold-out the front arms first – they are uppermost arms with ‘Mavic Mini’ written on them. Push down on the back arms- that pivot around in their socket – to open them behind the drone body.

  1. Remove Gimbal Protector

The gimbal and the camera are covered with a plastic cover that needs to be carefully removed before you take them out to fly.

  1. Power up

Press the power button located below the drone body to turn it on. Release and long-press it again until a series of lights appear. Repeat the same process – press, release, and long press, to turn on the power for the controller.

Problems with my DJI Mavic Mini: Check the firmware

If you do encounter an issue when setting up you new drone, make sure you download the latest firmware as this tends to solve most of the problems that you might find.

Place the drone on a flat surface and launch the DJI Fly application on your phone. You’ll need to make an account to log in to the application. Once the controller and the drone connect, you’ll be able to see the camera view on your phone. Several firmware upgrade messages and notifications will also start popping up – it’s best to update them before you use the drone.

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