I’ve been fortunate enough to have a loaner Mini 2 since just before the product was released. It will be sent back to DJI soon (but hopefully not too soon). And then? I’m just going to have to buy one. Let me tell you why.
We’ve obviously written about the Mini 2 before. So why are we writing about it again? Well, because the longer we have this thing around, the more we appreciate what it does. And while we love features like the 4K video and RAW shooting capabilities, what we really love is something you won’t find in a menu. What’s that, you might ask? It’s simple: the weight – or lack thereof.
Why? Because it opens all kinds of doors.
The DJI Mavic Mini and Mini 2 are super convenient
I’m a pilot that plays by the rules. I live in Canada, which means you need to have an Advanced Certificate issued by Transport Canada if you want to fly in controlled airspace. I have that. I also have an additional qualification as a Flight Reviewer, meaning I can vet pilots who have passed their online Advanced License but still require someone to actually watch them fly and ask some specific questions.
As a result, I always get permission from NAV Canada if I want to fly anything 250 grams or more. And all of my 250+ gram drones are registered with TC, which is another requirement in this country.
Sub-250 is so much easier
The other night, there was a pretty amazing sunset in Toronto. Everyone was grabbing it and posting to Twitter, Instagram, etc. I took one look and thought, “This would make a great drone shot.”
The airspace above my home is controlled. That means, with a heavier drone, it would have required an online application to NAV Canada. And while the staff there are great and approvals can come quickly, even a 30-minute wait would have lost me the sunset shot.
With the Mini 2 this was no problem: Simply pop up the drone and don’t do anything stupid. In other words, obey the other common-sense rules that are there for a reason.
And so, quickly, I grabbed this shot. I’m not holding it out as anything super awesome, and this is a JPG straight from the camera, but it’s a shot I wanted. And, to me, it was worth the effort.
No, it wasn’t dark out
The rules with drones are that you can fly from 30 minutes prior to sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Some of you looking at this might say, “Whoa…. You can’t go flying at night!” And had I been flying at night, I would accept that slap-down. But the reality is, I tweaked the shutter manually, making it appear darker than it really was. Here’s an image taken one minute before the above, only in auto settings:
And while these were straight off the card, I also was able to capture DNG RAW files, giving me about 18MB or so of detail to play with in post, if I get there…
Others got out their drones
I wasn’t the only one with the idea of popping up a drone. Friend and drone journalist pro Patrick Morrell put up his as well. Check out these amazing shots from his Instagram feed:
Remember: Sub-250 isn’t a free ride
I’ve heard some pilots say that flying a sub-250 gram drone means you don’t have to obey the rules. Not true, at least not in Canada. You’re still expected to employ common sense, as well as some of the other rules that apply to heavier drones. Don’t fly this above the altitude permitted for other drones. Don’t fly it near an airport. Don’t fly it near traffic, where it might cause a visual distraction, etc. Use your head, and you should be fine. Point being: It’s not an excuse to fly recklessly.
Plus…the Mini 2 shoots great video…
Of course, the Mini 2 also shoots amazing video. I shot all of the content in this video and shot all of it in auto mode. One commenter disbelieved that the Mini 2 could produce video of this quality. Let me reassure you, this was all shot with the Mini 2.
You can’t beat this drone for the price
Seriously, you can’t. Now it’s a big world out there, and it’s possible I’m somehow unaware of a drone that can do this much, is sub-250 grams, and has all of these features. If you know of such a beast, please point it out in the comments! Unless there is something like that, I’m planning to order the Mini 2.