DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Review: An Eagle-Eyed Aerial Ace

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom: Specifications, Features, and Overall Impressions

Let me say right off the bat that I am not the guy you want flinging $1,200 drones through the sky, especially around cliffs, the ocean, and dense forests, all of which are common where I live. But I took one for the team and decided to check out the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom anyway. You see, I have issues with both directions and spatial relationships; I can get lost in my shower, and concepts such as "north," "south," and "up the road" are foreign to me. Thus, on the road, I simply drive where my wife points. (Also, I should mention that I'm old and cranky. Possibly because my wife is always pointing and telling me where to go.) The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is simply too valuable a piece of equipment to entrust to someone like me.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone
DJI's Mavic 2 Zoom - A 2 lb quadcopter with obstacle-avoidance and a 3-axis camera gimbal.

And yet, in spite of all this, the HotHardware team insisted that I should be the one to test DJI's new Mavic 2 Zoom. Perhaps Dave and Marco are secretly recording my adventures, eating microwave popcorn, and snickering in a corner, while praying that I don't crash DJI's latest creation into the Pacific Ocean. Let's live fearlessly, they thought I'm certain.

But you know what? Even I can fly this thing.

DJI Drone In Sky Angle

I've looked at other drones, including earlier iterations of DJI's fleet, but the Mavic 2 Zoom covers a wide swath of use cases and pilot types. It's simple enough for even a complete novice to fly, but sophisticated enough for serious videographers, content creation professionals and aerobatics enthusiasts. Like any well-designed user interface, the Mavic 2 is easy to use for simple tasks and just getting airborne quickly, but capable of complex maneuvers (and frightening speeds of ~ 45 mph) that only a true expert should attempt. And yet, when you require that complexity or desire that speed, it's all fully accessible.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
Specifications & Features
Aircraft: Size: 3.6 in. X 8.4 in. X 3.3 in. (W/L/H) (folded; 14 in. diag. / arms unfolded, 22 in. from tip to tip)
Speed: 44.7 mph max speed in Sport mode
IR obstacle-sensing on all sides, APAS mode allows aircraft to avoid obstacles, auxiliary low-light bottom light to assist sensors
Takeoff weight: 32 oz.
Service ceiling: 3.7 miles above sea level
Dual-system navigation: GPS and GLONASS
Camera: 3-axis gimbal
Autofocus with FOV: 24-48mm optical zoom
12MP 1/2.3" CMOS sensor
Aperture: f/2.8 to f/3.8
Shutter speed: 8-1/8000
Photo formats: JPEG and DNG (RAW)
Video formats: MP4 / MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265)
Video Resolution And Frame Rate:
4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2688×1512 24/25/30/48/50/60p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
ISO: 100 - 3200 (video), 100 - 1600 (photo, auto), 100 - 3200 (photo, manual)
48MP "stitched" super-res still images
Dolly zoom and other specialty modes (see below)
Image Storage: Save to controller, SD card (up to 128GB, not included), or mobile device
Battery: 3850 mAh, 31 minutes max flight time, weight: 10.4 oz.
Video Transmission: 4.97 miles, with 1080p live video
2.4/5.8 GHz, auto-switching
40 Mbps download speed
120ms latency
Video Modes: ActiveTrack 2.0: Tracks moving people and objects
Panoramas: 4 sub-modes: Sphere, 180, Horizontal, Vertical
Quickshots: POI 2.0, Asteroid, Boomerang, Rocket, Dolly-Zoom
Hyperlapse: Free, Dronie, Circle, Course Lock, Waypoint
Price: $1,249 MSRP / $1,160  on Amazon

mavic 2 zoom style
We noted videography here, and drone enthusiasts will want to take note that the Mavic 2 Zoom is very well-equipped in that area. Shooting 1080p video with a camera mounted on a 3-axis gimbal is a piece of cake, especially when combined with DJI's automated Quickshot video modes.  Looking for a sweeping panorama of the coast? Just pick a mode and tap an icon. Want that cool "dolly shot" in which the subject stays stationary and in focus while the background zooms out? Just select the Dolly Zoom icon. And speaking of zooming, the Mavic 2 Zoom has a 2X optical zoom (which you can combine with another 2X digital zoom to get 4X, if you can handle a bit of image degradation) that you can control via a thumb-wheel on the controller. This means that there's some added safety, given that you don't have to get quite as close to your subject to get that photo or video you want -- fly a few feet within your comfort zone instead of beyond it, and just zoom in a bit instead. The Mavic 2 Zoom's namesake is a useful tool for various skill levels and use cases.

As an aside, the Mavic 2 Pro takes even better photos, thanks to its Hasselblad optics and humongous image sensor, but it lacks the less expensive Mavic 2 Zoom's...uh, zoom feature. It does, however, add great optics and manual aperture control, which serious photographers may want and for which they may be willing to pony-up another couple hundred bucks. In all other respects, the two drones are identical.

Nonetheless, the Zoom's ability to shoot 4K stills and video and to zoom while doing so, is no small feat, even lacking the Pro's superior optics. Note that 4K images cannot be downloaded from the drone directly to your mobile device, although smaller images can. The larger images must be saved to the unit's SD card or else sent over via USB from the drone directly to your computer.)

Here are a couple 4K still images, the first one at normal focal length (24mm), the second one zoomed (48mm).

4K Photo Lesley
Lesley In 4K At A Focal Length Of 24mm - Shot On The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

4K Photo Lesley zoomed
Lesley In 4K Zoomed In To 48mm - Shot On The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

The bottom line is that the Mavic 2 Zoom is a great platform for photography and videography of all sorts, from casual snapshots to the most exacting professional still shot use cases and videography.

And speaking of video...

Like previous versions of the Mavic series from DJI, Mavic 2 Zoom's 3-axis gimbal is its secret sauce. The gimbal offers an amazingly stable platform for any shot mode, for video or still shot production. As you can see in some of the footage above, even along a brisk, breezy beachfront with a fair amount of surf, the Mavic 2 Zoom's positioning holds stable and firm while its gimbal keeps footage smooth and steady. It quite literally makes even novice drone pilots like me look good. Optically-speaking, video shots are met with crisp rendering, great auto-focus response and accurate color balance. We only wish 4K 60fps shooting was in the cards, but as you can see, 4K30 with the Mavic 2 Zoom is pretty crispy and smooth none-the-less. Also the Mavic 2 Zoom shoots up to 1080p 120fps (60fps as well) and has a max bitrate of 100mbps. Unfortunately, even the Mavic 2 Pro doesn't offer 40K60 shooting, however.

Let's dig into how the Mavic 2 Zoom brings all its cutting-edge drone technology together for the user...

Related content