I've been fascinated by drones for a number of years and tempted to get one for ages. The thing that has always put me off is how big and bulky they are. Even a smaller drone like the DJI Phantom is a cumbersome object that fills it's own backpack. There's no way I could see being able to incorporate a drone like that into my shooting kit, which I like to keep as small and lightweight as possible. I knew that what would happen with a drone like that would be that it would get left behind more often than not as taking it with me would mean leaving other things behind or carrying very large and bulky bag.
So when DJI announced the Mavic Pro back in October I was really intrigued. After reading the first reviews, I ordered one and then waited for it to arrive. And waited. And waited. Colorfoto, the shop where I'd ordered mine told me I was first on their list, but even then it was only late January when they called me to tell me they'd received one (just one) and would I like it. It arrived the following day and I was pretty eager to learn how to fly it.
I made a film of my first impressions, basically about how easy I found it to fly from the standpoint of someone who's never flown a drone before, and also how easily I felt I could fit it into my shooting kit. The size and portability really is incredible, it takes very little space or weight in my bag so it's very easy to take it along with me when I go out shooting. I also found it incredibly easy to get up in the air and flying - it takes less than two minutes to turn on, connect and get in the air, which means it's great for when you see something and want to quickly shoot an aerial photo or video, but it doesn't get in the way of photography. On a couple of occasions, I've been able to set up the composition of my camera, then quickly get the drone in the air to shoot some video, before landing and switching back over to photography. That ease of use and portability make it incredibly useful, and I know it's something I'm going to use lots and lots going forward. There are a number of projects in the pipeline this year that the drone will add an extra dimension to, and I really can't wait to use it more.
In terms of video quality, as you can see in the video I had some issues which were almost entirely my fault in setting up the camera badly. After some research and playing around I found settings that gave me film quality that I was really happy with:
4K | Cinelike | Sharpening -1, Contrast -1, Saturation -1 | Manual exposure
I adjust the shutter speed manually till I have an exposure I'm happy with and then keep an eye on light levels in the same way I do when shooting still images.
This is only the beginning and this is in no way an in depth review. There are loads of features I haven't even touched, and I've barely even looked at the quality of the RAW photos (although a quick glance the other day showed me that RAW was surprisingly good, although the JPGS really weren't very nice), and I've used Active Track and Tripod mode once. Over the coming months I'll be diving in further and getting more and more confident with it, I've already flown it a number of times since I completed this film when making another short film for Fuji X Passion and was really pleased with the results I got there. I'll write more blogs about it as I learn more and get better at using it and incorporating it into my shooting and videos. Video is still a brand new thing, and drones are an extra dimension of that, so this is very much a learning process.
Still, I find it fun to use and I'm excited about it's potential, and when a new piece of gear can change the way you think an open up new doors and ways of creating...well, that can only be a good thing.