Recently, the kings of the drone manufacturing industry, DJI, have launched DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Phantom 4 Pro. There has been plenty of obfuscation among drone enthusiasts about whether the DJI Mavic Pro is of the same quality as the DJI Phantom 4 or even the DJI Phantom 4 Pro? The question that springs to one’s mind is that if DJI Mavic Pro is better than the Phantom 4, then why does the latter cost $200 more than the former? Let’s try and figure out if DJI Phantom 4 Pro is really better than DJI Mavic Pro.
You can watch the video above to get a better idea of the wind test and differences in terms of video quality for the two drones. Keep in mind that this video shows a comparison of the DJI Mavic Pro with DJI Phantom 4 and not with DJI Phantom 4 Pro. We believe that DJI Phantom 4 Pro would be able to win the contest hands down in terms of camera quality. You can visit the Mavic section to get more detailed information about it.
How they Handle the Wind
The obvious difference between the two is that DJI Mavic Pro is considerably smaller in size. Being smaller in size casts doubts about Mavic Pro’s ability to endure strong winds? The answer is a plain NO! We made use of a strong leaf blower to test both the machines out in strong winds and both were able to display pretty encouraging results surpassing our expectations. There’s a small thing that we were able to notice in Phantom 4’s performance though. In strong winds, the DJI Phantom 4 drifted a bit higher than its competitor. As a matter of fact, we were forced to shoot the video a few times since the Phantom 4 kept drifting upwards out of the reach of our video camera.
The Mavic on the other hand was able to keep itself a lot steadier. However, the video did not look as jerk-free as in the case of Phantom 4. The prime reason behind it is the narrow field of view in Mavic which exacerbates even minute movements of the drone in the recorded videos.
In natural weather conditions, we expect the two drones to be able to perform better than they actually did in the test. Real wind does not have as much turbulence as the artificially generated wind. This is similar to how the drones would show up in case of gusty winds.
In case you weren’t aware: the Mavic has a novel camera that is a lot smaller in size than that of Phantom 4. The DJI Phantom 4 has a lens that is similar in size to that found in a GoPro action camera. Mavic, on the other hand, gives a semblance of an expensive, feature-rich smartphone powered by Android. The Mavic is small in size, but to the bewilderment of most of us, it is mighty effective at what it does. The videos captured by the Mavic are not as digitally sharp as those obtained from Phantom 4.
However, you can deal with this aspect in the post production stage as well by enhancing their sharpness. You can also enhance the sharpness a bit in the DJI Go App to get a digital sharpness that is almost the same as that of videos recorded with Phantom 4. In my personal opinion, I’m not that impressed with the digital sharpening available in Phantom 4 since it create eccentric items in the images. These strange artefacts were not observed in the video obtained from Mavic Pro.
When it comes to low light performance, Mavic Pro is quite decent at it but Phantom 4 takes a lead here only be whisker. Both the machines can go as high as ISO 3200 but I would prefer not to go beyond 800 since things begin to deteriorate beyond this range. This strange behaviour can be observed in all small sized cameras including GoPro Hero 4 and Hero 5.
As discussed above, Mavic Pro boasts a narrower Field of View (FOV) as compared to Phantom 4. Hence, the images and videos that you capture will appear as if they were recorded with a 28mm lens on a full scale camera. The Phantom 4 is not as wide as the GoPro action cameras, but still it boasts videos taken similar to 20mm lens. This is almost equivalent to ultra wide lens range. I prefer the Mavic’s Field of View personally since it lets pilots capture videos and photographs that are much closer to action without getting in the harm’s way.
I cannot show you an example right now but what I noticed while flying Mavic was that I was able to tilt the direction of its camera in the upward direction when hovering over a spot. What was interesting that I was hardly able to see the propellers at all. Even during forward flight, the propellers are not as visible as one would expect.
The final fact that you should be aware of regarding the Mavic Pro’s camera is that it does not boast the fixed focus as the Phantom 4. This implies that you have to turn back to your DJI Go App and tap a portion of image that you want the camera to focus at. Having a fixed focus is a double edged sword: it can be good as well as bad. It is good since with this feature you can focus on objects that are placed closer while the background will appear out of focus similar to a DSLR camera. This feature also makes the target object look far more sharper. What makes it bad is that you have to keep in your mind every time to make the image look sharper, else the resulting images would come out as fuzzy.
You must be surprised that I have not yet discussed the new camera that has been introduced in the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. The reason is that there is absolutely no comparison between the camera mounted on DJI Phantom 4 Pro with that of DJI Mavic Pro. The camera that comes with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro beats all other drone cameras including GoPro Hero 5 to dust. It boasts prolific low light performance, provides higher resolution images, offers less compression while recording videos, provides greater frame rates and includes features such as tap-to-focus and aperture control.
In spite of being small in size, Mavic Pro’s radio controller fits quite nicely into my hands. Personally, I like how the Phantom 4’s transmitter feels in my hands since it is similar to the more traditional sort of controllers that we have got so accustomed to seeing with drones. However, as I am getting used to Mavic Pro’s controller, my love for it is also increasing gradually. As far as the configuration of buttons is concerned, both the controllers boast almost the same kind of keys for performing basic operations. Mavic, however, offers a specialized stop key for the smart mode flight which is a nice addition. It helps you abruptly stop your drone in case something gets in the way of its flight.
This is where Mavic’s transmitter gets the cutting edge over the Phantom 4’s controller: a basic LCD display provides some fundamental flight parameters; gets charged via USB, it is quite responsive; and it is very sleek. Where Mavic’s transmitter gets it wrong is that you can’t attach a handheld device to it and no sun hood is available to protect it from the heat of the sun.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro comes with numerous enhancements to DJI Phantom 4. A focus button is built into the shutter button. It includes HDMI out port alongside a SD memory card slot that lets you watch the captured video footage on an external display if you have one. Moreover, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro also offers an auxiliary transmitter that looks similar to a tablet and can be purchased if you want one.
Obstacle Avoidance and Smart Features
Both Mavi Pro and Phantom 4 come with collision avoidance mechanisms in addition to TapFly and Active Track features. Mavic offers a few novel techniques such as its ability to recognize rocks, railings and other hindrances while landing. This implies that the drone will not land unless it feels that the area for landing is absolutely secured. You can also capture the images of the ground underneath the machine when Mavic Pro starts flying. These images can then subsequently be used by the device to land almost exactly where it had taken off from.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is just an altogether different animal when compared to Phantom 4 and Mavic Pro. The rear cameras and infrared sensors on the sides grant it omnidirectional collision avoidance capabilities. These sensors and gadgets let you fly in all the directions forward, backward and even sideways without being anxious about crashes and accidents. What’s more you can even make it soar in the air at a speed 10 mph faster than the other two drones even with the obstacle avoidance feature triggered on.
In addition to the safety mechanisms, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro also includes a newly added flight mode known as Draw. In this flight mode, you just have to sketch a line on the display screen and the DJI Go App generates a flight route mapped out on the screen. In the Draw flight mode, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro flies on a directed path while you pan and tilt the camera anyway you want.
The Little Things
Since Mavic is a new beast in the arena, so auxiliary articles such as ND Filters and propeller guards will be released with the passage of time. Since the DJI Phantom 4 is an old machine, so there are plenty of add-ons that have been produced by third parties. One does not need to purchase a carrying case with Mavic Pro though. It has such a small size that one can just stuff it into any backpack or carrying case and take it anywhere.
Now here’s a functionality that most of us would never even have imagined. The Phantom 4 contains motors and propellers that are large in size and hence the device can carry heavy signs and even deliver your packages to your loved ones. It is white in color and with its big size it becomes easier for the pilot to identify it in the sky even when the conditions dark.
Which One You Should Buy
Are you in possession of a standard smartphone? Can you not survive without a sunhood? Do you want your packages delivered? Do you love to capture videos while your device moves forward? Can you compromise on portability or the video quality? Are you worried by the price factor? These are the questions that will help you decide what option to go for!
For at least three dronies out of four, we believe the Mavic Pro is a pretty good way to go. But for those one out of four professional cinematographers, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is an excellent choice because of the high quality camera and cutting edge sensors that provide for effective safety mechanisms.
For professionals, though, Inspire 1 & Inspire 2 is another monster that comes in a ready to takeoff configuration and is worth a try!