I’ve waited a long time to get my hands on a DJI Mavic Pro and it was definitely worth the wait! With a trip planned for the Lake District I thought it would be a great time to learn to fly it.

With gorgeous spring weather and only a light breeze it was ideal flying conditions.

I’ve been taking landscape photos in the lakes for years so I already knew some great locations to take drone footage from, these included: Keswick and Derwentwater, Buttermere, Castlerigg stone circle, Ullswater and the bluebells at Rannerdale.

Practice makes perfect

I bought 4 batteries, with up to 27 minutes flying time per battery this gave me plenty of time to practice. Whilst in general it is easy to fly, getting smooth shots takes far more practice and also being able to repeat the same shot when you’ve forgot to press record! I’ve not tried sport mode, it’s quick enough in normal mode. Altering the stick and gimbal sensitivity really helps achieve a greater level of smoothness. Some people use their thumbs on the sticks, others pinch them between thumb and finger. I haven’t decided which I prefer best yet. Pinching gives greater precision but then of course it’s harder to work any of the other buttons at the same time.

I have my controller connected to an iPad mini, instead of my phone, the bigger the screen the better.

Photographic capabilities

I’ve looked at getting a drone a number of times over the years but as I was used to the quality of a DSLR I didn’t want to buy a drone that couldn’t take a decent picture. The Mavic captures 12MB raw files (the same as my old Canon 40D DSLR), great for processing in Lightroom later and big enough to produce a 18″x12″ print from. You can even flip the camera and shoot in portrait mode. There’s an auto mode or fully manual, so it’s possible to bracket a shot if the Mavic doesn’t move.

Video capabilities

Capturing videos in 4K is standard on a lot of devices now, even my phone. And whilst I don’t yet own a 4K screen the quality looks amazing even at 1080p.

Initial thoughts

The DJI Mavic Pro is a very capable drone, its portability is amazing, folded up it fits in a small shoulder bag. With a Sony RX100 in one pocket, a telescopic travel tripod in the other and the Mavic Pro over my shoulder, I can cover long distances with ease, without compromising on quality. I’m looking forward to combining my DSLR movies and stills with the Mavic’s aerial footage.

One point worth mentioning is people’s reaction to me whilst flying it. I’m new to drones, but I half expected some hostility. Most drone news stories are negative and I thought people might complain I was spoiling their peaceful walk etc. Firstly it isn’t as loud as I thought and I never fly that near anyone for it to be obtrusive. Secondly, people of all ages seemed interested in what I was doing, I even had a small audience at one point, which didn’t make filming particularly easy! OK, I’m sure some might have been less than impressed, but the genuine interest in what I was doing was a welcome surprise.