A year ago the compact DJI Mavic Mini arrived. It weighed in at 1g under the newly imposed 250g weight limit, which meant that there was no need to register the drone. Now, almost exactly a year on, the DJI Mini 2 is here, just as small, just as light, but with new technology that pushes the resolution to 4K and adds a few very subtle new features. It's a neat package for beginners, and the video quality will equally satisfy many enthusiasts who want a cheap imaging drone.
What is the DJI Mini 2?
On the 30th of November 2019, everything changed in the drone world. New laws meant that anyone wanting to fly a drone had to register and pass an online test, then all of the CAA approved course and qualification were overhauled to regulate drones and their use.
However, if that drone weighed in at less than 250g, no licence to fly was required.
The original DJI Mavic Mini launched a year ago, just as those new laws were being rolled out. As a small compact drone, there was very little to fault. It’s fun for those just getting into flying, and it’s still one of the easiest to fly drones out there.
Although it was great fun, the 2.7k camera held back the Mavic Mini’s imaging potential.
With the DJI Mini 2 DJI has given the small drone a turbo boost. It can capture higher resolution video and has some beefed up electronics.
Our initial impressions of the new DJI Mini 2 are excellent, it’s one small and surprisingly solid feeling beast, despite being so compact and lightweight.
In this DJI Mini 2 review, I’ll be looking at the Combo kit, which includes the drone, controller, charger and three batteries.
Once again, as with the Mavic Mini, weight is a big feature and the Mini 2 has a take-off weight of under 249g. The smallest of size reductions is also apparent in the new drone which measures 138×81×58 mm when folded, and with props fully unfolded 245×289×56mm. The size difference is quite literally 1mm.
The previous Mavic Mini had an impressive flight time of around 30 minutes, and now the quoted flight time from DJI is 31 minutes.
The original Mini suffered from the effects of wind, but the new Mini 2 has a set of more powerful motors and boasts level 5 wind resistance. This means the drone will still operate normally in more windy conditions and will still be easy to control.
Image and control transmission is something the DJI has excelled at, and like DJI’s other drones the operating distance of the Mini 2 goes well beyond what we’re legally allowed to fly in the UK.
The max distance is 10k using the OcuSync 2.0 Video transmission, but I’m not going to test this for obvious reasons.
Intelligent Flight Modes and Easy Control
As with the Mavic Mini, the fun features are the intelligent modes and Quick Shots. With a tap of a button in the DJI app, you can send the drone off to do some impressive aerial work, capturing intricate flight paths that would test even an experienced pilot.
These modes have been seen on DJI drones before, but I’m always surprised with how well they work, these include Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle and the latest addition Boomerang.
Boomerang, as the name suggests, gives you a Boomerang flight pattern.
Unlike the controller that arrives with the Mavic Mini, the Mini 2 controller is almost identical to the Mavic Air 2. It’s a decent piece of kit and like the drone feels exceptionally well made and solid.
As before the camera is set on a 3-axis mechanical gimbal stabiliser, this looks much the same as the predecessor.
The camera this time around features a 4K camera capable of 30fps and retains the ability to capture 12mp stills. A nice feature is a digital zoom that enables up to 4x of magnification.
When I tested the DJI Mavic Pro a couple of years ago, I was impressed by the quality of the stills, especially panoramic. Herewith the DJI Mini 2, DJI has added this feature, and again it works with spectacular effect with a choice of wide-angle, 180º and Sphere panoramas.
It’s difficult to tell in the camera has been completely overhauled as it retains the 1/2.3-inch CMOS 12MP sensor fronted by an 83º FOC f/2.8 lens.
What is different is the step-up in resolution for video and the ability to capture Jpeg and raw images.
Video resolutions top out at 4K 30fps which is a step-up from the Mini’s 2.7k, and you also have the option of 2.7k at 30/25/24fps and FHD 24/25/30/50 and 60fps.
For video and stills, there’s an ISO range of 100-3200, and you can select to alter this manually or automatically.
The shutter speed can be adjusted from 4sec to 1/8000, which enables you plenty of scope for creative effects.
As is now standard with all DJI imaging products the max video bitrate is 100Mbps, so a big leap from 40MB/s on the Mavic Mini.
For such a small drone, these specifications are impressive.
You would have thought with the boost in the camera resolution, greater power and other small changes the aesthetics may have changed. Still, visually there’s very little to tell the difference between the DJI Mini 2 and Mavic Mini.
When I tested out the Mavic Mini a year ago, I was impressed by the compact size and speed of the small craft, especially when it was switched to sports mode.
Again here, after all the pre-flight checks that DJI runs you through, I was impressed by the speed and agility.
The small size makes it feel faster than it is when switched to Sports mode, and although it’s designed for imaging it’s agility gives it that feeling of an FPV drone, although nowhere near as fast especially on the cornering.
Compared to the Mavic Mini, the DJI Mini 2 has a 3m/s maximum speed boost to 16m/s.
Again despite the size, the drone is incredibly steady in flight, reacting quickly to changes in direction and it doesn’t suffer from the slight drift that I found with the slightly heavier DJI Mavic Air 2.
When the wind does pick up, you can see the DJI Mini 2 working hard to stabilize, and if left in hover, you can see it being buffeted by the wind and correcting itself.
In-flight, you can feel the difference between the Mavic Mini and Mini 2, there seems to be a touch more power, and there’s far less drift compared to the previous model.
Checking out the footage and the quality looks good, that upgrade from 2.7k to 4k pays off on quality. It’s great to see such a range of framerates available, and while 1080p is still where this drone produces the most versatile content, the 4K at 30fps is great for scene setting and smooth gliding shots.
Again the field of view is 83º rather than 80º, but as with the original Mavic Mini, that isn’t an issue.
What does make a huge difference is an update to the camera. Going from 40MB/s to 100MB/s means that the quality of the footage is far better, with more tone and detail captured, especially at faster travel speeds.
The preprogrammed flight modes such as Drone, Rocket, Circle and Helix are back with the addition of the new Boomerang flight mode. As before the visual effect of these is outstanding, especially when you consider these are man oeuvres that would have taken quite some time to skill manually.
Mavic drones, although the Mavic has been dropped in this instance, are known for their image quality, video, as well as stills, and here the small Mini 2, is well equipped.
The Panoramic mode enables you to capture stunning vistas, and after a short time with the DJI Mini 2, you start to see the potential. This might not be the DJI Mavic Pro 2, but it’s still outstanding.
While the drone and the image quality is still excellent, one issue remains. The colour of the drone seems to be designed to blend into the background. Selecting and applying a neon skin of some type would be a good idea as the line of sight for the Mini 2 isn’t a great distance unless you have eyes like a hawk.
DJI Mini 2 Sample Video
The video shot on the DJI Mini 2 in 4K 30p with the exposure set manually, using the screen on an iPhone 12 Pro to assess the result. The opening section was shot using a manual white balance setting to emphasise the warmth of the autumn leaves, but when indicated, it switches to the auto white balance setting.
For most of the filming the Mini2 was set to normal flight mode but there’s a brief spell in Cine mode.
This next video was shot in 4K 30p with the exposure set manually, again using the screen on an iPhone 12 Pro to assess the settings. The white balance was set to auto.
Some of the footage is straight from the camera, but some has been graded slightly – this is indicated in the video.
Watch to the end to see the result of using Helix mode.
The compact DJI Mini 2 has a great deal to offer all levels of a drone pilot. Primarily, its small compact size and weight mean that it fits easily into your kit bag alongside the rest of your kit.
It may not have the visual quality of the more powerful and more weighty Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom, but it will always be with you when you need it to shoot stunning aerial shots.
However, the pro and amateur photographer is not where this drone is aimed. This is for all those just starting and who want to capture stunning shots without needing to worry about breaking the law and going through the drone registration.
You will, of course, still need to adhere to the drone code, but it does open up a wealth of opportunity for families and others looking for something fun.
The small camera, despite its limitations, is still an excellent access point for those looking to use a drone for filming and stills photography.
The updated DJI flight controller is as solid as ever enabling anyone to fly with no prior experience. The built-in flight modes add an extra level of creativity, allowing you to get amazing sequences without hours of practice.
DJI has been savvy with the feature set of the Mini 2; it offers enough for anyone to get a great deal of enjoyment out of this small drone and what’s more, it’s a fantastic price.
An area I can see the small Mini 2 coming into play for pros is for recognisance, before the main flight. Especially if you’re using an Inspire or similar which takes a little longer to set-up, in these situations the Mini can quickly be set free, check out the area and survey before setting up the main drone.
The size and price of the Mini 2 make this perfectly possible, and the upgraded 4K video quality is quite exceptional.
Once again DJI has taken a massive step forward with the quality and usability with the DJI Mini 2, from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts there’s a lot to like about this small drone.