5 best dji drones with camera 2018
DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter
The sleek looking Mavic Air comes with four outward rotating arms which create an illusion of the device flying even while it is on the ground.
The drone is about 6.5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide when folded expanding to 7 inches not including its rotors with the arms strewn wide.
A three-axis gimbal and 4k camera similar to the one found in the premium Mavic Pro model is housed in the front of the drone.
The Mavic Air is speckled with sensors in the form of two sensors each at the rear and underside and two forward-looking sensors above the main camera which help the device in navigating its environment.
The removable battery located at the bottom of the drone comes with four indicator lights revealing the quantum of charge left.
You get three colour options of black, white and red for the Mavic Air dji drones, however, the black and red versions act as major fingerprint magnets. The white one undoubtedly looks the best but might become difficult to locate against a bright sky.
The Air’s controller makes use of physical cable for establishing connectivity with the smartphone which is held in place by its dual arms extended from the main body.
Altitude and motion is controlled by the dual joysticks while the shoulder buttons swivel the camera for taking photos and videos.
Its controller sticks can be unscrewed and stowed in the body making it easier to be carried around.
For establishing drone to controller connectivity, the Mavic Air uses just the Wi-Fi instead of also putting radio frequency to use. While using the controller, the Mavic Air’s transmission range stays limited to 4 km or 2.5 miles.
The Mavic Air is extremely easy to fly even in 35 km/hour winds just like its other dji drones. Strong wind gusts however can cause the drone to zip around.
Its Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) feature helps the Mavic Air in flying automatically around objects like bushes and trees although the drone flies much slower with the same activated.
Once the Air has dodged an object, it has to be reoriented manually for being returned back to its original course. DJI has claimed that the Mavic Air can hit up to 48 miles per hour of speed.
Photo and Video Quality
Using the 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, the Mavic Air does a commendable job of adjusting to various lighting conditions although the pictures might have a little noise when clicked in darker areas.
The Air can shoot up to 30fps of 4K video at 100Mbps of bit rate. By dropping down the resolution you can capture 2.5K video at 60fps and slow-motion Full HD video at 120fps.
The Mavic Air can click 25 shots of a single scene which are collated to produce a breath-taking 32MP panorama. Compared to the low-resolution files, saving 4k videos could take a tad longer.
While shooting in HDR mode, three different photos at varying exposure levels are clicked by the Mavic Air which are ultimately combined into a single shot.
Each photo is stored individually by the drone for being edited at will.
The DJI model can keep track of 16 subjects simultaneously. The QuickShots mode aid in capturing dramatic video while the Asteroid mode causes the drone to fly up to a present altitude following which it takes a 360-degree photo.
Thereafter the photo is combined along with a video as the drone flies down to you.
Using the DJI application, you can adjust the shutter speed, exposure and much more although finding the spherical mode or panorama might be a bit tricky while browsing through the menus.
Hand movements can also suffice the controller for launching the Air and moving it accordingly for taking photos and videos.
However, the range of the device gets limited to 20 feet while operating in this mode as the camera needs to maintain a proper line of sight with your palm.
Coupled with its 2375 mAh battery, the drone can stay aloft for 20 long minutes.
A low-battery warning is displayed whenever the drone reaches 15% of its power capacity providing a couple of minutes for landing it back to safety.
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The video also seves as an quick comparison between mavic air and mavic pro drones.
2. DJI Mavic Pro
The Mavic pro takes portability to a whole new level with its one sixth size when folded in comparison to other Phantom cousins.
The aerodynamic airframe weighing only 743 grams comes with a gimbal mounted camera which might feel a bit delicate although the clear plastic cage supplied by DJI can protect it from harm while being carried around.
The 3-axis gimbal assembly is held in place using four small rubber bands which might pose significant difficulty in stabilizing the camera if any of the bands snap.
Apart from this sole designing flaw, everything else seem to be crafted to perfection.
The camera paired with 1/2.3-inch sensor can click 12MP pictures in DNG RAW or JPEG format along with videos in an array of frame rates and resolutions such as 4K at 30fps and 1080p at 96fps.
The gimbal helps in turning the camera by 90-degrees for capturing tall architecture and portraits. Its 28mm lens offers the perfect balance for getting optimum frame coverage without being too wide.
The ultimate view is almost similar to that of smartphones although the level of exposure control goes way beyond just a naïve point-and-shoot compact.
You can set the focus, ISO sensitivity (100-1,600) inflight and white balance by simply taping on the screen and selecting whether you wish the final output to be in JPEG or DNG or both.
Aperture and shutter speed are displayed on the screen so that you can make out if the ISO level needs to be boosted up or not.
The drone’s suite of sensor in collaboration with the tiny motorised gimbal aids in keeping the drone levelled at all times by making near-instant adjustments.
The drone comes with four other cameras although the same are not meant for photography but to enhance its safety and flight stability.
The image analysis algorithms and camera of the Mavic Air help it in sensing obstacles and tracking objects paired with the Optical Flow and ActiveTrack software of DJI.
The dual downward facing cameras keep the drone from wandering in areas having poor GPS coverage while another front facing pair prevents the drone from hitting objects which are detected in a forward arc.
The obstacle detection functionality is effective only when the devices comes across something solid in its front.
The tiny controller unfolds for accommodating the Android or Apple smartphone in its grip.
A short cable can be used for plugging in the phone into the controller which then connects automatically to the Mavic through RC or Wi-Fi.
This can be of great help in changing the settings through the DJI Go app while viewing the camera’s live feed simultaneously.
DJI promises interference resistance and super long transmission range of up to 4.3 miles, coupled with its dynamic video transmission system termed as OcuSync.
This tech can even stream 1080p resolution footage and allow video and photo downloads at 40Mb/s in shorter ranges.
The Mavic Pro can hit up to 40mph when flicked to the sport mode. This responsive and spry flier acts instantaneously to your control inputs with its regular settings.
You can also make precise changes if you are too fussy about the footage quality.
The satisfying rapid pelt at which this device ascends and descends can be of great help in positioning the same for clicking those aerial shots and videos optimally.
The Point of Interest Mode can help out in setting the Mavic to orbit a particular point in space whereas the Waypoints mode aids in repeating flights along a predetermined path.
You can use the Follow Me mode for following your own movements whereas the Course and Home Locks can help out with the responsiveness of the drone to adjustments in joystick control. In the Terrain Follow mode, the Downward Vision System of the drone is put to use for keeping a certain distance from the ground.
This mode particularly helps out in filming over terrain with variations in elevation.
Gesture mode helps in snapping a selfie by simply standing ahead of the camera and waving your arms before making a picture frame shape using your fingers.
In spite of having a compact form, the Mavic pro possesses an impressive battery power.
The drone can stay aloft for longer spans of time when it is in motion compared to hovering coupled with the optimized rotor system accentuating its forward flight.
According to DJI, the device can hover for 24 minutes however its robust aerodynamic design helps this quadcopter in staying airborne for 27 long minutes when flown at optimum speed for bringing about thorough energy consumption.
3. Dji Phantom 4 Pro Rc Quadcopter
The Phantom 4 comes as a refinement over its predecessor which has already curved out its niche among both professionals and hobbyists paired with ‘smart’ flying controls and high quality camera.
Design and Build
Featuring an ultra-lightweight magnesium alloy body, the Phantom 4 dji drones weight 100 grams more than its predecessor.
The refined physical design is characterized by partial integration of the gimbal in the drones’ body along with a larger battery.
The design of the propellers is another big change which comes with a quick-release style much similar to the quadcopters of the Inspire lineup.
The flexible top bracket can easily hold a 9.7-inch tablet or a smartphone.
A physical wired connection is used by the Phantom 4 for synchronizing the handset with the mobile device.
This helps in securing the connection which does not require the backing of Wi-Fi connectivity while out in the field.
The time required for establishing GPS connectivity ranges between a couple of seconds to minutes.
The return to Home mode gets automatically enabled whenever the drone takes off although the same can also be manually set.
Both the app and the handset comes with RTH buttons which can be used for bringing back the drone to the take-off point.
The pause button on the controller can prove to be especially handy if you lose the orientation or the depth perception.
The maximum height and flight distance can also be set in advance for tackling the flight restriction scenarios.
Image capture becomes extremely straightforward using the direct controls available both in the app and the handset.
Clicking the scroll wheel present in the right of the handset helps in toggling between shutter speed and sensitivity (ISO) settings.
The app interface can also be used for changing resolutions and frame rates. Auto and Manual options for video and still can also be selected using the app.
The Manual mode helps in adjusting sensitivity settings from ISO100-1600 for stills and ISO100-3200 in video mode. The shutter speed can also be adjusted from 8 seconds up to 1/8000 sec.
The auto take-off and landing feature of the Phantom 4 can be of great help to the new pilots.
You can also avail of the beginner mode for setting an upper limit on the distance and flight speed of the Phantom 4 from the home point.
The ActiveTrack flight mode has been developed especially for the photography enthusiasts where a subject is selected for the drone to follow automatically.
This mode is perfect for engaging in extreme sports such as water skiing and mountain biking since an additional pilot is not required for the drone to film visuals in such a case.
The drone circles the point of interest once the same is selected. Other popular commands include waypoints which help in plotting the flight route and ‘Follow Me.’
The object avoidance feature of the Phantom 4 stops the device or causes it to fly around the obstacles ahead.
The controller sends an audible warning whenever an object is detected which in turn causes the drone to stop mid-flight.
You can toggle between the available object avoidance options by touching the sensor icon present at the top of the app interface. Standard flight becomes a cakewalk using the Phantom 4 even in gusty conditions.
The Backwards Flying functionality literally causes the drone to back up when obstacles approach it from the front.
The TouchFly feature helps in flying the Phantom 4 by simply tapping the screen although it might take some time in getting used to especially if you have been using control sticks and a handset till now.
However, this feature makes it easy to concentrate on getting the perfect footage rather than trying to keep the drone hovering safely in air.
Eight elements of the lens pave the way for better control over chromatic aberrations and sharper pictures while recording slow-mow 120fps footage at 1080p.
With a bit rate of 60Mbits/sec, the Phantom 4 can easily shoot 4k resolution videos at 30fps and 12.4 megapixel stills.
The downward-facing movement-sensing cameras help the DJI model to be flown inside in places where GPS signal is non-existent. These sensors come with greater range options to help the device in being flown up to heights of 10 meters.
The camera footage remains steady even when the drone gets battered by wind. Photographers are also in awe of the Lightbridge live view technology which helps in beaming 720HD video signal over a distance of 1.2 miles.
In low light conditions, it is advisable to switch over to the manual mode for improving the footage quality rather than letting the auto settings save the day.
Powered by a single 5350mAh battery embedded in the rear of the craft, the Phantom 4 enables an approximate 28 minutes of average flight time which is indicated by a set of lights.
It is also imperative to note here than the older batteries of the DJI series are not compatible with the Phantom 4 dji drones models.
Dji Drones comparission
when you have so many popular versions of drones it becomes essential to have comparison between various dji drones like dji mavic vs pro, dji phantom vs dji spark, and dji air vs phantoms and various other combinations.
Comparison between dji mavic pro and mavic air.
Mavic Air sticks to the signature foldable design while thrilling us with its record portability. Mavic Pro on the other hand has redefined ultra-portability with its smaller size.
The built-in roll axis design of Mavic Pro gets replaced by a recessed gimbal which paves the way for smoother shots by reducing shake and imparting greater protection to the camera.
While going forward, the Mavic Pro starts tilting its camera down at 30mph.
You can however go up to 40mph while flying sideways with the gimbal reaching its upper ceiling.
The gimbal design of the Mavic Air limits its range of motion causing you to go about 20mph in various directions before the highest level is reached.
Both the dji drones fly at 40mph when set in the Sport mode. However, the real speed difference can be identified when the drones are controlled through a smartphone.
With the obstacle avoidance feature turned off, the Mavic Pro will max out at 7mph while Mavic Air can travel at 16mph with the APAS feature enabled.
Thus, the Mavic Air wins the battle hands down when it comes to flying the drone using just your smartphone. Both the drones go 20mph while using a controller.
The Mavic Pro can go almost at 30mph with the obstacle avoidance feature disabled.
Mavic Air with a flight time of 21 minutes can hover around for 6 minutes less than the Mavic pro.
Pro records at 60 Mbps while the Air records at 100 Mbps. Mavic Pro can also create 32MP Sphere panoramas by stitching together 25 photos within just 8 seconds apart from the vertical, horizontal and 180° pano modes of Mavic Pro.
OcuSync technology is used by the Mavic Pro for real time video transmission at 1080p and 30fps. Mavic Air on the other hand uses Wi-Fi video transmission at 720p and 30fps.
C1 and C2 customizable buttons are missing on the back of the Mavic Air model. The Air also lacks a telemetry screen unlike the Mavic Pro which comes well stocked with these features.
You can record footages in the 8GB internal storage of the Mavic Air without feeling the requirement of an SD card which comes as a significant improvement over the Mavic Pro.
Mavic Air paves the path for much realistic colours and accurate exposure and auto white balance compared to the Mavic Pro which does not have a fixed focus distance making it imperative to focus on your shots.
The Onboard Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) helps the Mavic Air in circumventing obstacles both in front and behind the device up to a distance of 20 metres.
Mavic Air offers some extra gesture modes which provide an interactive way of controlling the aircraft by simple usage of our hand. The Air model is also much more social media friendly with its Boomerang and Asteroid modes.
Your final selection will depend on the type of features you wish to benefit out from. Mavic Air can obviously serve the function of a price-conscious pilot while the Pro wins it hands down when it comes to flight time.