The Ultimate DJI Mavic guide

Posted by
Korey smith
November 21, 2018

The Goal Of This Mavic Guide

This is the ultimate Mavic 2/Mavic Air/Mavic Pro guide for anyone who is interested in what a Mavic is, how a Mavic works, what to do with a Mavic, how to buy a Mavic, how to use a Mavic etc…

If there’s information about the Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Air, Or Mavic Pro that you’re looking for, you will probably find it here. We’re going to try to provide you with all of the Mavic info you need so you can go from buying to flying, shooting video and even editing.

How To Use the Guide

There’s going to be a lot of stuff on this page, all of it being very useful information, but depending on how much you already know, you may want to skip over some parts to get to the stuff that will be more useful to you.

In the beginning, we’re going to start off slow. We’ll go over things like what a Mavic is and how it works, but after that, you’ll find more detailed information, like how to go about buying, what to do after getting your Mavic, how to shoot video, and more.

In the future, this page may be updated with even more resources, but in the meantime, if you have any further questions you can leave a comment or send us and email.

The Ultimate Mavic Guide and Manual
  1. 001 What is a Mavic?
    • What Can a Mavic do?
  2. 002 Mavic Model Differences
    • DJI Mavic Pro
    • DJI Mavic Air
    • DJI Mavic 2
    • Our Mavic 2 Comparison Articles
  3. 003 Mavic Buying Info
    • Accessories You Should Consider
    • Get DJI Care
    • Mavic Model Pricing
  4. 004 Getting Started With The Mavic
    • Don't Be A Mavic Dummy
    • Charge Your Mavic Batteries
    • Set Up Your Mavic
  5. 005 How To Fly The Mavic?
    • Go Fly In The Simulator
    • Understand The Mavic So You Don't Crash
    • Do a Final Flight Check
    • Take Flight And Have Fun
  6. 006 How To Shoot Videos & Photos
    • Understand The Basics of Cameras
    • Learn About Exposure
    • Learn Advanced Exposure Controls
    • Find All The Camera Settings
    • Learn What Camera Settings To Use
  7. 007 How To Edit Videos & Photos
    • Get Video Editing Software
    • Get Photo Editing Software
The Ultimate Mavic Guide and Manual
  1. 001 What is a Mavic?
    • What Can a Mavic do?
  2. 002 The Differences Between All The Mavic Models?
    • DJI Mavic Pro
    • DJI Mavic Air
    • DJI Mavic 2
    • Our Mavic 2 Comparison Articles
  3. 003 Mavic Buying Info
    • Accessories You Should Consider
    • Get DJI Care
    • Mavic Model Pricing
  4. 004 Getting Started With The Mavic
    • Don't Be A Mavic Dummy
    • Charge Your Mavic Batteries
    • Set Up Your Mavic
  5. 005 How To Fly The Mavic?
    • Go Fly In The Simulator
    • Understand The Mavic So You Don't Crash
    • Do a Final Flight Check
    • Take Flight And Have Fun
  6. 006 How To Shoot Videos And Photos
    • Understand The Basics of Cameras
    • Learn About Exposure
    • Learn Advanced Exposure Controls
    • Find All The Camera Settings
    • Learn What Camera Settings To Use
  7. 007 How To Edit Videos And Photos
    • Get Video Editing Software
    • Get Photo Editing Software
What's a Mavic?

What is a Mavic?

The Mavic is a type of drone from the company DJI. Technically the Mavic is a specific type of drone called a quadcopter, which gets its name from the four rotors that generate lift and allow it to fly. Here’s a super quick history lesson. Quadcopters have been around since the 1920s, but only recently has the design been used for radio controlled aircraft. One of the first RC quadcopters available for consumers was the Parrot AR Drone in 2010, but it didn’t have any serious uses at the time. A few years later, DJI came out with the Phantom which was the first real camera drone. Now, the most popular camera drone available is the DJI Mavic.

By now, you might be wondering… what is the difference between a camera drone and a normal drone? Don’t all drones have cameras? Well, not exactly. Some drones do have cameras, but they can be used for other things like drone racing.

Camera drones are simply drones that have stabilized cameras on them. They are usually used for taking high quality photos and videos. Most camera drones also allow you to control them from very far distances (the Mavic 2 has a control range of 8 Km) while viewing a live video feed on the drone controller, or your smartphone.

What Can A Mavic Do?

The Mavic is an awesome drone. You could say it’s the jack of all trades. Most people use the Mavic for shooting aerial videos, but you can also use it for photography, mapping, search and rescue, surveillance, or really anything that requires a birds eye view.

Before getting into the details, you should know that DJI has made many different Mavic models, but all of the features that I’ll mention in this section apply to every model available. Later we will cover the differences between all of the different models, but for now just keep in mind that they are all able to do these core things.

Fold It Up And Go Anywhere

Fold It Up And Go Anywhere

Unlike most drones out there, the Mavic is foldable so you can take it with you anywhere. If you’ve never owned a drone, you might overlook this feature, but trust me, you don’t want to be carrying a big heavy drone with you on a plane, on a boat, riding a bike, hiking up a mountain, or doing whatever it is that you do.

With larger drones, you end up not getting the amazing shots that you see online because it’s hard to travel with them, but with a Mavic, the controller, batteries, charger, and drone fit into a bag that’s smaller than most DSLR camera bags.

Get Flying Immediately

Get Flying Immediately

If you’ve never owned a drone before, it can be a bit scary going for your first flight, but with the Mavic there’s nothing to worry about. When you get one, it comes almost completely assembled. You will just need to mount the propellers and charge up the battery.

Once you have the drone on, before flying there’s a flight simulator that will allow you to learn the controls before you even start flying.

When it’s time to fly for real, the app will start you off in beginner mode. This limits some of the functionality to keep you from flying too fast or too far. Once you get the Mavic in the air, you’ll see that it’s super easy to fly. You really just tell it where to go with your fingers and it heads in that direction.

Shoot great 4K Videos

Shoot great 4K Videos

No matter what model you get, if you buy a Mavic, it will enable you to capture super smooth 4K videos. If you don’t want to shoot 4K, you can also record in 1080p to save hard drive space, or shoot slow-motion shots.

Mavic's are very good at capturing stabilized video thanks to the 3-axis stabilized gimbal which holds the camera. Having a 3-axis gimbal is a must-have feature if you want your videos to look cinematic. 2-axis and digitally stabilized cameras are just not good enough to get smooth shots.

Capture Great Photos

Capture Great Photos

Videos are all the rage these days, but when you buy a Mavic, you’re also getting a pretty decent camera for still photos.

12 megapixels is the standard resolution on all of the models and if you get the Mavic 2 Pro, it will capture 20 megapixel photos. All of the Mavic models will also shoot in the Adobe DNG RAW format (for those of you who are photography nerds).

Use Automatic And Manual Camera Controls

One of the best things about the Mavic is that you can have as little or as much control over the camera as you want.

If you are new to cameras, the Mavic camera comes in auto mode, so all you will need to learn is how to press the record button and switch from photo mode to video mode.

If you’re a little more advanced, you can do things like adjust the white balance, or maybe make the picture sharper. You can even make the exposure a little brighter or darker without messing with the more advanced controls.

If you really want to have full control, you can do that too. You have full access to advanced features like shutter speed, ISO, white balance, sharpness, color profile, frame rate, and more.

If you want framing guides for lining up shots, you can do it. If you want to change how fast the camera moves up and down, you can do that too.

Use Automatic Flight Features

Use Automatic Flight Features

Just like with the camera, when you’re flying a Mavic, you have lots of flexibility. If you want to keep things simple, you can use the Quickshot feature to get pre-defined shots that are simple to set up.

If you want the Mavic to automatically track and follow something, you can use the Active Track feature. If you’re more serious about getting cinematic shots, you can fly manually.

There are lots of different ways to fly a Mavic, so no matter how you want to fly it, the Mavic is flexible enough to handle almost any application.

There are even third party apps that can provide additional functionality to the Mavic, like 3D mapping, advanced waypoint missions and even VR support.

Fly Reliably And Safely

Fly Reliably And Safely

If you go to the DJI website, you will see all of the latest and greatest features of each Mavic model, but what they don’t mention is all of the important safety features that make the Mavic worth buying.

Flight time estimation, automatic return to home, sensor redundancy, obstacle avoidance, intelligent battery management, radio interference rejection, automatic braking, in-flight alerts.

The list of safety features just goes on and on...

All of these features are standard in the Mavic, and this is one of the reasons why so many people choose DJI drones over the growing number of “competitors” on the market.

Three Generations of the DJI Mavic

What’s The Difference Between The Mavic Models?

In this section, I’ll take you through all of the different Mavic models and point you in a direction of which one to look at. There are five different Mavic models that have been released so far.

DJI Mavic Pro

The Mavic Pro was the first Mavic ever made. It came out in late 2016 and has all of the functionality that I mentioned in the “What Is A Mavic” section.

It’s not the Best Mavic money can buy, but if you’re on a budget, you might want to consider it over the newer models. There is also a later generation called the Mavic Pro Platinum which had more flight time, quieter propellers and a lighter silver color.

DJI Mavic Air

DJI Mavic Air

The Mavic Air came out in early 2018 and has almost all of the features of the original Mavic Pro, but in a smaller form factor and at a slightly lower price.

It does lack some features of the original Mavic Pro, like having a super reliable video feed using DJI’s Ocusync technology, but it also has features like backward facing obstacle avoidance (something the old Mavic Pro didn’t have).

There’s one other big feature that The Mavic Air has called Smart Capture. This is a feature only available on the DJI Mavic Air and DJI Spark.

With Smart Capture, you can launch the Mavic Air, record video, activate Active Track, take pictures, and even position the drone without using a controller.

That's right, no controller, no phone, you can literally fly the Mavic Air with just your hand gestures. It’s a pretty cool feature if you just want to take a quick selfie or record some video of yourself doing something epic.

DJI Mavic 2

DJI Mavic 2

The Mavic 2 is the replacement for the original Mavic Pro. It builds upon what DJI learned with the Original Mavic Pro and The Mavic Air. The Mavic 2 has many different improvements over the old models, but here are the most important ones:

  • Improved flight time (31 minutes in ideal conditions)
  • Backward and side facing cameras for obstacle avoidance
  • Top and bottom facing IR TOF sensors for obstacle avoidance
  • Faster top speed of 45mph
  • LED Fill light for navigating at night
  • Quieter propellers
  • Longer 8Km range using Ocusync 2.0
  • H.265 video recording
  • Improved Active Track
  • HDR Photos
  • Hyperlapse mode

There are actually two different Mavic 2 models, so let’s talk about that now. The cheapest Mavic 2 you can buy is the Mavic 2 Zoom. The more expensive one is the Mavic 2 Pro.

In general, the two drones are the same. That means all of the features that I mentioned above apply to both of them. The only difference between them is the camera that they come with.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

As the name implies, the Mavic 2 Zoom comes with a 2x optical zoom lens. This means you can zoom in while recording video or taking photos and get closer to the action that you’re trying to capture. There are also a few additional features of the Mavic 2 Zoom that aren’t available on the Pro model.

The first is called Dolly Zoom. This is a Quickshot feature that automatically flies the drone backwards while zooming in to create a dynamic perspective shifting effect.

The other feature only available on the Mavic 2 Zoom is called Super Resolution. This feature uses the zoom lens to take nine zoomed in photos and then it stitches the photos together to make a super high resolution image.

Mavic 2 Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

This Mavic 2 doesn’t have optical zoom like the other Mavic 2, but it does have a few other features that make it better for professionals.

The biggest feature of the Mavic 2 Pro is the 1-inch image sensor. This makes your videos and photos have less noise and gives the Mavic 2 Pro better low light capabilities.

For photos, the Mavic 2 Pro has a 20 megapixel camera (the Mavic 2 Zoom has only 12 megapixels). It also uses technology from Hasselblad to produce better colors than the Mavic 2 Zoom.

For Pro video shooters You can shoot in a special color mode called 10-bit DLog-M which gives you more dynamic range and color resolution. There’s also an HDR video mode that lets you record true HDR videos that can be viewed on an HDR TV.

Our Mavic 2 Comparison Articles

The information in this guide should give you a basic idea of what all the different models are, but really we’re just scratching the surface here. Before you buy a Mavic, you should  read our full comparison articles that compare each model in more detail.

Mavic Buying Info

Here you will find links to products that we recommend, advice on what accessories to buy, Info on DJI Care, and more.

Accessories You Should Consider

To take full advantage of a Mavic, you’re going to need multiple batteries, a case, and maybe some extra propellers just in case you clip some trees. Here are all of the accessories that may be useful to you.

DJI Aproved SD Cards

Micro SD Cards

This is a must have item if you’re shooting video. When you get the Mavic, depending on the model you have, it will come with 16GB of internal storage, or a 16GB SD card. Either way, 16GB of space is not enough for shooting 4K video. If you shoot 30 minutes of video, that will equal about 22GB of data, so get at Micro SD card with at least 32GB of space. I personally use 128GB cards which allows me to go through at least a day or two of shooting before needing to transfer everything to an external hard drive.

DJI Mavic Batteries


If you were thinking about buying a Mavic without getting any extra batteries, that’s a bad idea. If you only have one battery, obviously you will only get 30 minutes of flight time (with the Mavic 2), but more importantly, when you go to charge the battery again, the battery will blink indicating that it needs to cool down before charging.

This means that you will need to wait up to 20 minutes just before your battery starts charging again. With two batteries, you at least have more flight time and can have one battery cooling down and charging while you use the other to fly. Having three or four batteries is ideal for getting lots of footage, but at least get one extra battery or you will regret it later.

DJI Mavic Carrying Cases

Carrying Case

Depending on how you use your Mavic, you might not need a case, but I personally use my DJI cases all the time.

If you’re just going somewhere for a few minutes, you can throw the controller and drone into any small bag and go, but for traveling, the DJI bags help me carry everything from batteries and chargers, to extra props and ND filters. They are a bit expensive, but the build quality is great.

DJI Mavic: Neutral Density Filters (ND)

ND Filters

If you are just getting into cinematography, or you don’t care about it at all, you won’t need ND filters, but if you want your footage to look as cinematic as possible, get them.

DJI has ND filter sets, but if you don’t get a set, make sure you get ND32 for the Mavic 2.

ND (neutral density) filters have one purpose. They create motion blur. For photos, you might want them for long-exposure photography.

For video, they are great for creating motion blur which makes motion in your videos look much smoother and more pleasing to the eyes.

DJI Mavic Prop Guards
(Mavic Air guards shown above)

Prop Guards

If you’re going to be flying indoors a lot, or close to people, you should get the DJI propeller guards. They’re cheap, they snap on and off really easy, and they don’t add a lot of weight to the drone.

When flying outside, the prop guards do affect the overall performance and flight time of the Mavic, so you should take them off when you don’t need them.

Fly More Combo

If you buy the Fly More Combo you can save a bit of money by buying everything in a bundle. It usually comes with two extra batteries, extra propellers, a car charger, carrying case, charging hub for multiple batteries, and a USB power bank adapter (for using your drone batteries to charge USB devices).

When buying the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro, the Fly More Combo is sold with the drone as one big package.

With the Mavic 2, the Fly More Combo is sold separately from the drone, so you can choose to buy it later if you don’t want to spend all your money at once.

The Fly More Combos come with most of the stuff you need, but what you don’t get is SD cards and ND filters.

Get DJI Care

I highly recommend that you get DJI Care. If you crash your Mavic, DJI Care is a damage protection program that allows you to send your old Mavic back to be repaired or replaced for a small fraction of what it would cost to buy a replacement normally. This adds a little over $100 to your order, but it can save you $1,000 or more if an accident occurs.

When you get DJI Care, it will last for two years (You will want the newest DJI drone once the time is up). In that time you can get two replacement drones for a small fee.

IMPORTANT: If you buy your drone from DJI and select DJI Care with your order, that will get DJI Care activated automatically.

If you buy your Mavic from somewhere else, you can still get DJI Care, but you will need to go through the DJI activation process and you must do this within 48 hours of turning the drone on (otherwise you will not be able to buy DJI Care).

Mavic Model Pricing

Here’s all of the pricing info for the different Models. The thing to remember here is that you will need more than just a drone if you want to go out and start capturing good content.

  • Mavic Pro $999
  • Mavic Pro Platinum $1,099
  • Mavic Air $799
  • Mavic Mini $399 (estimate)
  • Mavic 2 Zoom $1,249
  • Mavic 2 Pro 1,499

Getting Started With The Mavic

In this section, we’re going to be going over How to Setup Your DJJ Mavic for the first time. You will learn everything you need to know about how the drone works before learning to fly. That way, you won’t have any “problems” later when you go out flying.

Don’t Be A Mavic Dummy

Don’t be that guy who appears on the news for hitting a plane, or crashing into the White House!

As a new drone pilot you should educate yourself on the airspace regulations of your country, and the general rules of safe flying, but for now, if you want to stay out of trouble, here are the best practices that will apply to the US.

  • Register your drone with the FAA.
  • Stay at least 5 miles away from all airports.
  • Don’t fly more than 400 feet above the ground.
  • Don’t fly over people without permission
  • Don’t fly over government facilities.
  • Don’t fly in national parks.
  • Don’t fly over private property without permission.
  • Don't fly over fires or crime scenes.
  • If you are ever approached by police, be polite.

Register Your Drone

Register Your Mavic

When you buy your Mavic, you should also get it registered with the FAA (for USA Mavic owners).

Most likely, nobody is going to report you if they see you flying without a registered drone, but if you run into the police, they could fine you.

To register your drone, you will need to go to Don’t worry, it’s an inexpensive and easy process.

Once you register, you will get an ID number that goes on your Mavic. You can use the same ID on all of the drones that you own. The best way to attach an ID to your drone is to use a labeling machine and print a few sticky labels.

If you don’t live in the United States, check the laws that apply to your country and find out if there’s any registration process you need to go through.

Charge Your Mavic Batteries

IMPORTANT: The Mavic has a great battery management system that tries to keep your batteries safe and lasting as long as possible, but don’t be fooled. These aren’t your typical household batteries.

They are not completely dummy proof, so you need to handle them with care. Mavic batteries use a special chemistry called lithium polymer, or LiPo for short. LiPo batteries are used in most drones because they have a high power-to-weight ratio. This allows the Mavic to have longer flight times and more power.

Unfortunately, LiPo batteries are one of the most dangerous batteries on earth. They will catch fire if overcharged. They will shoot flames if punctured or damaged. Basically, they’re like little mini fires waiting to happen.

The good news is, LiPo batteries require a special LiPo charger which DJI has built into each battery to keep them as safe as possible. It does this by managing the cells in each Mavic battery just like a Tesla car does.

LiPo Battery Fire

Unfortunately, LiPo batteries are one of the most dangerous batteries on earth. They will catch fire if overcharged. They will shoot flames if punctured or damaged. Basically, they’re like little mini fires waiting to happen. The good news is, LiPo batteries require a special LiPo charger which DJI has built into each battery to keep them as safe as possible. It does this by managing the cells in each Mavic battery just like a Tesla car does.

How To Use Mavic Batteries

The nice thing about DJI batteries is that they all work in the same way. Once you learn how to use a Mavic battery, you will know exactly how to use the batteries for any other DJI drone.

To turn the Mavic on, you press the button on the battery once and release, then press and hold until the lights turn solid. To turn the Mavic off, you just do the same thing until the lights turn off.

When the Mavic is on, there are four LEDs that indicate the battery level. For example, If two lights are on then the Mavic has a 50% charge. If all four lights are on then it’s fully charged (or close to fully charged).

Since the power button is located on the battery instead of on the drone, you can check the status of each battery even when the battery is not connected to anything.

The built in battery on the Mavic controllers work just like the drone batteries do. Press once and then again and hold to turn them on, then do the same thing to turn them off.

To charge a Mavic Controller, just plug the USB power cable into the port where the Smartphone cable goes. You can use any Micro USB charging cable you want.

As I mentioned earlier, each Mavic battery has a built-in charging unit. When the battery is connected to a power supply, it will automatically start charging and distribute the perfect amount of power to each battery cell.

Usually, the charge time is about an hour, but the time will change depending on how much power is left in the battery after flying.

If you’re flying in a warm environment, the Mavic batteries may get hot (never too hot to touch), so it’s a good idea to keep them out of the sun and away from anything that will make them stay warm.

After flying, If you try charging a battery while hot, don’t be surprised if the lights look a bit different. The on-board charger will not start charging until the battery has cooled down.

Battery Safety Tips

Safety and battery longevity should be your #1 concern, so here are some things you can do to be safer and keep your batteries in good health.

  • Never store Mavic batteries in temperatures higher than 100°F
  • Pay close attention to a battery if it has been damaged.
  • Never charge in an area where there could be flammable fumes in the air.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the building just incase.
  • When you are done flying, charge up all of the batteries to 100%
  • Never store the drone with dead batteries.

If you keep your batteries charged, your Mavic will always be ready to fly. They will also automatically discharge to 50% when not in use for more than a few days.

Discharging to 50% keeps the batteries in good condition. Make sure that you don’t store dead batteries!

If you store your Mavic with a fully drained battery for too long, the voltage in the cells will drop too low and you will not be able to charge the battery again.

Set Up Your Mavic

In this section, we will go over how to set up your Mavic so it’s ready to fly. There’s not much to do here and it’s a pretty straight forward process, so we won’t spend too much time in this area.

DJI Mavic Controller Setup

Connect Your Phone To The Controller

To connect your phone, unfold the controller and use one of the included USB cables to connect it. In all of the newer Mavic models, there should be a USB C, Lightning, and Micro USB cable included in the box, or pre-installed on the controller.

DJI Go App in the App Store

After connecting your phone, download the “DJI Go 4” app, not “DJI Go”. You will need to create an account to use your Mavic. If you got your drone from DJI, you should already have an account you can use.

Once you sign in and activate the drone, if you have DJI Care, you don’t need to do anything. If you don’t have DJI Care and you want it, make sure you get it within 48 hours from activation.

Depending on where you live, The DJI Go 4 app may also ask you to complete a short knowledge test. You can skip this test, but it’s a good idea to complete it at some point.

The app might also pop up with a tutorial showing you how to use the app and asking if you want to put the drone into beginner mode. If it does this, that’s fine. If not, I’ll show you how to do all of that later.

DJI Mavic 2 Firmware Update

Update Firmware

Most likely, if you go to the DJI Go 4 app home screen, it will show that an update is available. If you see this, go ahead and do the update process.

The app will guide you through how to update the drone. It’s a very easy process. Just make sure your phone is charged because the updates can take a while and bad things can happen if your phone, controller, or drone dies in the middle of an update.

If you have extra batteries, you may need to put them on the drone and update those too. The app might also ask you to update the no-fly-zone database. This is just a file that tells the Mavic where it can fly and where it can’t.

Mavic 2 Pro Propellers

Mount The Propellers

After your Mavic is activated, the last thing to do before learning to fly is mounting the propellers. There are two types of propellers. One set will have white markings on the hub.

The propellers with the white markings on them go with the motors that also have white markings. To mount each one, you just push down on the propeller and then turn it clockwise or counterclockwise to lock it in place.

The Mavic has small propellers and you might think that the folding design helps lessen the amount of damage when they hit things, but this isn’t true. They can still mess up your walls in the house, cause cuts, bruises, and even loss of eyesight if you aren’t careful.

How To Fly The Mavic

First we’re going to cover the basics of flying and learn the controls. After that, I’ll talk about what I think about before I go out flying and then what you should do on your first flight.

Go Fly In The Simulator

Before flying, I highly recommend that you read through this area and get some practice in the simulator if you’ve never flown a drone before. You can also use it to test out some of the aircraft settings and learn what each setting does.

Turn Everything On

To use the flight simulator, the first step is to turn everything on just like you would if you were getting ready to fly for real. After that, start up the DJI Go 4 app and tap on the menu icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Go to the academy section and tap on flight simulator.

Mavic Flight Simulator

Once you enter the simulator, the app will automatically talk to the drone and put it into simulation mode. This allows the drone to run the simulation as if it was flying without turning the motors on. After flying in the simulator, the motors will be disabled until the next time you power up the Mavic.

Before you go flying in real life, you should know how to takeoff, land, activate the return-to-home mode, and all of the basic flight controls for moving around.

Make The Mavic Hover

If you have the Mavic controller, you will be using the joysticks to fly the drone around. On the left side of the screen, you will see an arrow that points up. Tap on that and use the slider to start the auto-takeoff sequence.

Mavic auto-takeoff sequence

If you have the Mavic controller, you can also manually takeoff by pushing both of the control sticks inward and down. At this point, the motors will be spinning and you can push the left stick up to make the Mavic fly up.

4 Mavic 2 Primary Controls

Once you enter the simulator, the app will automatically talk to the drone and put it into simulation mode. This allows the drone to run the simulation as if it was flying without turning the motors on. After flying in the simulator, the motors will be disabled until the next time you power up the Mavic.

Before you go flying in real life, you should know how to takeoff, land, activate the return-to-home mode, and all of the basic flight controls for moving around.

Make The Mavic Hover

If you have the Mavic controller, you will be using the joysticks to fly the drone around. On the left side of the screen, you will see an arrow that points up. Tap on that and use the slider to start the auto-takeoff sequence.

If you have the Mavic controller, you can also manually takeoff by pushing both of the control sticks inward and down. At this point, the motors will be spinning and you can push the left stick up to make the Mavic fly up.

Learn These Four Controls

Once the Mavic is flying, you will have four different ways of moving around. This might seem complicated at first if you’ve never flown anything before, but like most things that are hard, it gets easier with a little bit of practice.

  • Left stick: up/down will make the drone fly up/down.
  • Left stick: left/right will make the drone rotate left/right.
  • Right stick: up/down will make the drone fly forward/backward.
  • Right stick: left/right will make the drone fly left/right.

Learn Different Orientations

One thing that you will notice is that the controls seem to change depending on what direction the drone is facing in. This happens because the controls are always based on the drone’s point of view. For example, if the Mavic is facing you, pushing the stick right will actually make the drone go left. This is because from the drone’s perspective, it is still going right.

Before flying in real life, you should be able to rotate the Mavic in any direction and know which way it will go when you push the sticks.

As a training exercise, try flying the Mavic in circles with the camera facing forward, then do the same thing with the Mavic facing backward. If that becomes easy, try flying with the Mavic facing left, then do the same thing facing right. In the simulator, there will be a white square that the drone sits in the center of. While doing the exercise, try to keep the drone inside of the white square.

Land It

Landing is just as easy as pressing the takeoff button. You can either push the left stick down until the Mavic is on the ground and the motors stop, or push the landing button in the app. The landing button will appear in the same place as the takeoff button once the drone is flying.

Mavic Pro Return to Home Button

Try Coming Home

To activate return-to-home, there’s a virtual button under the takeoff and landing button. Tapping and sliding it will cause the drone to return to the takeoff point and land. You can also activate return-to-home by holding down the button on the top left of the controller (it looks like the letter H) until you hear a constant beeping sound.

While the Mavic is returning home, if you need to cancel, there’s a red X on the screen or you can press the H button on the controller. If the Mavic isn’t landing exactly where you want it to, you can also reposition it with the control sticks without canceling the landing sequence.

Don’t Forget You’re In A Simulation

Flying in the simulator is very similar to flying in real life with one difference. When you’re in the simulator, the app will show you a virtual drone that you can fly around instead of the onboard video feed.

Flying in the simulator will give you an idea of what line-of-sight flying is like, but flying using the FPV video feed is a completely different experience. Flying from the live video feed is the only way to get good looking cinematic shots and right now, there is no way of simulating that, so don’t expect great looking drone shots until you’ve had a few hours of real-world flying experience.

Understand The Mavic So You Don’t Crash

In this section, you’re going to learn a bit more about the sensors on the Mavic that are flight-crucial, and how to keep them working properly. I’ve been flying DJI drones for about 5 years now and I’ve never lost a drone thanks to the knowledge that I’m about to share with you.

It might seem like once you know the basic controls, you’ve mastered flying, but there is more to flying than moving control sticks around. The process that you go through before liftoff is almost more important than how good you are at flying. You could be a terrible drone pilot, but if you know that all of the sensors on the drone will work, you also know that the drone is capable of flying itself back home and landing safely.

Most drone crashes are not because someone didn’t know how to fly. Drones crash when people fail to understand how they work and what to expect when a sensor isn’t doing its job.

DJI Mavic GPS Signal Issues

GPS: You Should Have A Good Signal

If you’ve ever tried walking around with your eyes closed, that’s how drones feel when they don’t have a good GPS signal! DJI drones don’t need GPS to fly, but flying without it will greatly increase the risk of crashing.

After turning the Mavic on, when you hear your phone saying “the home-point has been updated” that means the GPS has acquired enough signals to establish where it is and set the home-point.

If you plan on flying farther than a few feet away, do not take-off before the drone has set the home-point. If you do, your Mavic will not know how to return home if it needs to.

Typically, the GPS will need to be connected to at least seven satellites to establish a home point. If you see any number of satellites over ten, it should be completely safe to fly. If you only have seven you might want to consider moving to a different location.

The GPS uses radio signals to communicate with satellites, so anything that can affect radio signals will affect your GPS. To get a good signal, the GPS should have a clear line-of-sight view of all the satellites.

Flying indoors is one place where you will notice a drop in GPS signal, but with close proximity flying, the Mavic does a good job of holding its position using the onboard cameras. Flying near tall buildings or mountains will also block GPS signals.

DJI Mavic Compass Error

Compass: It Might Fool You So Be Careful

While in flight, Just like how a real compass will move when there’s magnetic interference, the digital compass on the Mavic will not work properly. If the interference is not bad, you won’t notice a difference in how the Mavic flies. If the interference is bad, the drone could start flying in large circles until eventually crashing.

The Mavic will try to use the onboard cameras to fight back and fly even without good compass data, but the reliability of cameras is not always the best, especially when the drone is flying too fast or too high for the cameras to detect what direction the drone is flying in, or when it’s too dark to see.

If you want to avoid compass issues, you just need to know what causes them. Anything that is magnetic can affect the compass. Obviously, magnets are very bad to be around, but the more silent killer of drones is iron and steel. Sometimes, mountains can have large amounts of Iron in them, so if you’re on a mountain and getting a compass error, that could be one reason. Most buildings, pipes, and vehicles are made with large amounts of steel, so landing on the roof of your car, on a park bench, or on top of a building might not be a good idea. You should also stay away from anything that generates electromagnetic interference. That includes things like high voltage power lines, bullet trains, and power transformers.

When you first get your Mavic, you will need to calibrate the compass. The calibration process is very easy to do and I’ll talk more about it in a later section, but for now just know that you shouldn’t need to calibrate the compass more than once.

IMPORTANT: If you get to a location, turn the Mavic on and it asks you to re-calibrate the compass, that’s a sign of interference in the area. In this case, do not re-calibrate the compass.

If there is interference in the area, doing a compass calibration will give the drone bad data, causing it not to fly right when the interference is gone. Instead, move the drone to a new location and see if the error is still showing up. If the error goes away, then that means that there was interference in the last location. If it is still asking you to calibrate the compass and there’s no magnetic material around that you can see, then it may truly need to be recalibrated.

The only times when you should re-calibrate the compass on your Mavic is when you update the firmware, or move to a location that is hundreds of miles away from where you last did the calibration.

DJI Mavic Interference Issues

Radio Signals: They’re Not Invincible

Sometimes the Mavic may seem like it works on magic, but it doesn’t, and a lot of people often forget that. Just like how your phone connects to cell towers, the Mavic connects to your controller or your phone over high frequency radio waves. Radio waves are a lot like sound waves. The farther you get, the more faint the signal becomes.

If you’re flying in a city with lots of radio signals, it’s a lot like a guy in a baseball stadium trying to yell to someone on the other side. If there’s nobody in the stadium, you can clearly hear the guy yelling, but if the stadium is full of people, you won’t be able to hear anyone from more than a hundred feet away.

Solid objects will also get in the way of radio waves and the effects will vary depending on how far away you are. If you’re flying close, a wall might not make any difference in your signal quality, but if you go out 2000 feet while flying, now that same wall could be strong enough to cut out your signal completely. Additionally, radio interference from other devices will work in the same way. The farther you get, the more of an issue these things become.

Do a Final Flight Check

In this section, we will go over everything that you need to check first flight. There isn’t much we need to cover here, so you should be ready to fly in no time! There are five simple steps you can take that will insure your flying success.

  1. Go to a park or an open space.
  2. Check your battery levels.
  3. Calibrate the Compass.
  4. Check GPS and radio signals.
  5. Check your surroundings.
Where Can you Fly your DJI Mavic

Go Somewhere With Space

Go somewhere with lots of open space, like a park, or a large field. Anywhere with more than 30 feet of room in all directions will provide plenty of space for you to hover around. If you don’t have a space like this, you can fly in your yard, just don’t fly indoors until you have more experience.

How to Check Mavic Battery Status

Check The Batteries

Check the battery level for the Mavic, the controller, and your phone. When your phone is running the DJI Go 4 app, it will go through the battery just as fast as if you were playing games or recording video, so you shouldn’t start flying if you only have 20% battery. If you’re using the controller and your phone dies, you will still have control over the Mavic, but if you’re flying with just your phone, the Mavic will go into return-to-home mode.

Calibrate the Compass

Doing a compass calibration is easy and you only have to do it on your first flight. After the initial calibration process, you shouldn’t have to worry about calibrating again. To get started, turn everything on, connect to the drone, set it down on the ground, then go into the DJI Go app. Inside of the app, tap on the Start Flight button to enter into the main flight screen.

DJI Mavic 2 Flight Status Bar

Now you should see a colored bar at the top of the screen (It will change colors depending on what the status of your drone is). Tap on that and then press the Calibrate button under the Compass area.

DJI Mavic 2 Compass Calibration

The instructions on the screen will tell you to rotate the drone 360°. The LED lights on the front of the drone will turn yellow and then green after your rotate 360°. At this point, the instructions will say to turn the Mavic on its side and rotate it 360° again. After that, you should see the LED lights flash green really fast. This means you’re done! If you don’t see the green lights, try recalibrating.

DJI Mavic 2 Flight Modes

Check the Status Bar

At the top of the main flight screen, you will see a colored bar and a quadcopter icon. This is the Mavic Status Bar. It tells you if you’re flying in GPS, Vision, Sport, or ATTI mode. It can also show alerts and errors.

GPS: means that the Mavic is communicating with enough satellites to fly using vision and the GPS for positioning. This is a good thing.

Vision: means that the GPS is not being used for positioning, but the cameras are. You should wait until GPS shows up here before flying.

ATTI: means that there is no positioning system (GPS or vision) available. In this case, the drone will be unstable and drift around in flight, so never take off if you see this.

Sport: means that you have the drone in Sport Mode (for fast flying). This will only show up if you enable Sport Mode in the settings and activate it.

Check your GPS and Radio Signals

To the right of the flight mode indicator, you should see signal strength indicators for GPS, obstacle avoidance, and radio. Before flying, the Mavic should be in the GPS flight mode, and the radio signal strength should be showing full bars.

Check Your Surroundings

Remember what we talked about earlier? You should stay away from power lines, radio towers, large amounts of steel, or anything that could cause radio or magnetic interference. For your first flight, you might also want to stay away from trees, buildings, or anything that you might crash into.

DJI Mavic 2 in Flight

Take Flight And Have Fun

If you’ve made it this far, flying for the first time will be easy! You’ve already learned how to work the controls in the simulator. You learned all about GPS, compass, and radio signals to avoid anything bad from happening. You know how to get the drone home if it gets too far away. There really isn’t much that you don’t know!

Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself

If you’re wondering why I haven’t talked about any of the intelligent flight modes, or the advanced gesture features, there’s a good reason for that. The Mavic has a lot of cool features and there’s many different ways of flying it, but for your first flight, you should avoid doing anything other than getting off the ground, flying around, taking some photos, and landing.

All of the extra features will just make flying more complicated at first. They will also distract you from flying safely and enjoying your very first flying experience.

While flying, you should keep the Mavic close so you can get a feel for how it flies in real life and practice moving in different directions. When the Mavic is facing you, the controls for moving around will be reversed just like they were in the simulator, but if you fly by looking at the FPV feed, the controls will always be the same.

DJI Mavic 2 Shutter & Video Record Buttons

Take Your First Picture!

If you want to take some basic photos, just use the shutter button on the right side of the screen. To shoot videos, there is a button directly over the shutter button that switches the camera between picture mode and video mode.

Back View of the DJI Mavic 2 Controller

To tilt the camera, use the tilt wheel on the back of the controller. There is also a shutter and record button on the back of the controller if you prefer to use the physical controls instead.

Land Your Mavic Before It Dies

At some point, a message will appear saying that the aircraft battery is low. If you are far enough from the home point it will ask if you want to activate return-to-home, otherwise it will ask if you want to land. You can also press cancel and land manually just like in the simulator.

How To Shoot Videos And Photos

This is the section I’m sure a lot of you have been waiting for. Here we’re going to dive deep into the camera settings of the Mavic and show you all of the most important features and what they do. I’ll also talk about how cameras work and what things like shutter speed and ISO mean for those of you who want to learn how to shoot in manual mode.

There are two kinds of people. Those who want to get the best video quality and those who just want to get decent video quality. To get the best video quality, you will need to learn a lot of random stuff that might seem unnecessary at first, but believe me, if it wasn’t necessary you would see a lot more high quality drone footage on the internet.

So, if you don’t have time to learn how to capture amazing content, that's fine. You can skip over most of this technical stuff. If you really do want to shoot amazing videos and photos, read this section carefully. Read it multiple times if you need to until you understand it. Practice makes perfect.

Understand The Basics Of Cameras

Before learning about technical details that pertain to each Mavic model, you should first have a basic understanding of how to shoot video and take photos manually.

You don’t have to know how to shoot in manual mode if you don’t want to, but it will make your content look much better over time and allow you to do things that are impossible using just the automatic features.

Most of the things that I’ll be talking about in this section will be extremely helpful for shooting good videos, but also for taking more advanced photos.

How the Mavic 2 Pro Camera Captures Light

Cameras Capture Light

A digital camera is no different than your eyes. Light from the sun (or any light source) hits objects, bounces off and a small portion of that light will make it to the lens of the camera. Cameras simply take the incoming light from the lens and convert that light into electrical signals that make a picture.

The chip behind the lens that captures that light and converts it is called the image sensor. You can think of an image sensor like a massive array (or grid) of tiny boxes that capture the different rays of light. Each tiny box is called a pixel.

A typical image sensor has millions of these pixels, and when you gather the data recorded from them, this creates an image that can be saved to the SD card or processed further.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Lens Inside View

The Mavic 2 Can Zoom

If you bought the Mavic 2 Zoom, it will have a 2x optical zoom lens. This means that the different lens elements inside will move to create a more zoomed in image. A zoomed out image is simply called a wide shot. A zoomed in shot is called telephoto.

When you zoom in and out, there is a number that is used to describe what zoom setting your lens is at. This number is called the focal length and it looks like this “24mm”. The Mavic 2 Zoom has a zoom range equivalent to a 24mm to 48mm lens. I won’t go into detail on how this number is calculated, but just know that it is calculated based on the field-of-view of a traditional film camera.

All of the other Mavic models have fixed lenses. That means you can’t zoom in and out using the lens. On the Mavic 2 Pro, if you’re shooting video, you do get to zoom in digitally using a setting called 4K HQ mode. This mode gives you a 1.4x digital zoom in 4K, meaning there’s no loss in quality compared to the optical zoom. This is only possible because the Mavic 2 Pro has a sensor with more megapixels than the other models, so it uses the extra pixels to zoom in.

Resolution And Pixels Are The Same

If you’re looking at camera specs and you want to know how sharp the images will be, the image resolution is what you’re looking for. There are two ways of describing resolution. The first is the megapixel count. There are 1 million pixels in a megapixel, so if you have a 12 megapixel sensor, that means there are a total of 12 million pixels (those boxes that capture light) on the sensor.

The other way of measuring resolution which is more accurate is to look at the image dimensions. For example, 1920x1080 means that the image is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels tall. 4K is just another way of saying 4000 pixels wide, although the actual resolution of 4K is 4096x2160.

Interesting fact: the Mavic 2 technically only shoots UHD video which is 3840x2160 (not technically 4K but it’s close enough). Most computer monitors and TVs are also UHD, not 4K.

White Balance Is Color Temperature

If you’ve ever seen a photo at night and everything looks too orange, that’s a bad white balance. If you see a daytime shot and everything is too blue, same problem. The white balance is a setting in your Mavic that controls the color temperature of your pictures and video.

Most cameras have an auto white balance that works pretty good, so if you’re taking photos you probably won’t need to worry about this. If you’re shooting video, white balance is something that you should worry about, but I will explain why later.

Mavic 2 Deconstruction of a Video

A Video Is A Bunch Of Images

Once an image has been captured, it can be processed and compressed into an image format like JPEG, or the image can be saved into a special container file. A container file is like a box that can hold a bunch of images and tell your computer how to play them back. You should know of these as video files. An example video file might look something like “DJI0014.MP4”.

Available DJI Mavic 2 Frame Rates

All Videos Have A Frame Rate

The images in these video files are referred to as frames. Most videos on the internet were shot with cameras that record 29.976 frames of video in one second. This is called the frame rate. It’s usually abbreviated as FPS or fps (frames per second). Some cameras can shoot at higher frame rates like 60FPS which when played back at 30 FPS creates a 2x slow motion effect.

All Mavic models can shoot at 24FPS or 30FPS in 4K (technically it’s UHD). If you want your videos to look smooth, you can shoot at 30FPS, however, most movies are shot at 24FPS which makes them look more cinematic. Since this is what people like seeing when watching movies, and most drone videos should look cinematic in my opinion you should shoot everything at 24FPS unless you want to shoot slow-motion shots. Mixing 24FPS footage and 30FPS footage together is a very bad idea, so don’t do that. I’ll explain why later.

Learn About Exposure

We know that cameras capture light and that light gets turned into an image and even video, but there’s more to shooting video and taking photos than that. To take full advantage of a Mavic camera, you should understand what exposure is and how to control it, so that’s what we’re going to go over next.

What is Image Exposure

Using Exposure Is Not Complicated

The word exposure sounds scary, but it’s really not. When you take pictures or shoot video, all you are doing is exposing the image sensor to the light that comes into the lens. Adjusting the camera exposure just means that you are changing how light hits the sensor. When a shot is too dark, that means it is under exposed. When a shot is too bright, that means it’s over exposed.

Sometimes, the camera will under or over expose your images, so to compensate for this you can change the exposure settings. If you want to change the image exposure, you can do it in a simple and automatic way, or do it the manual way. To easily adjust exposure there is usually a value in the camera settings called EV. This is the exposure compensation value.

To make an image or video brighter, turn the EV up. To make it darker, turn it down. It’s as simple as that! There are also settings like exposure lock that will lock the exposure so it doesn’t change. This can be helpful if you are doing a panning shot for example and you don’t want the exposure to get darker when pointing at the sun.

Learn Advanced Exposure Controls

I can’t guarantee you will understand everything in this section, but if you can understand just 50% of it, you will probably be smarter than most drone owners! There are four things that can affect the final exposure of your images and video. All of these settings will change how bright the image is, but each one has different unique side effects.

DJI Mavic 2 ISO Sensitivity

ISO is sensitivity

ISO is like a gain setting (sensitivity) for the image sensor. When you change this setting it will increment by 2x (ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 etc...) and each increment will make the image twice as bright as it previously was.

For low light shooting, you will need to raise this setting up depending on how dark it is outside, but be careful. The higher the ISO goes, the more image noise (grain) you will have. There is literally no advantage to raising the ISO on the Mavic unless it’s dark out and you can’t do anything else to get the image brighter.

DJI Mavic 2 Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed is Exposure Length

ISO is simple, leave it as low as possible. The shutter speed is a bit different. It controls how long the sensor captures light for each photo or frame of video. A shutter speed of 1 second means that you would be recording light for a full second before the final picture is taken and saved. This would produce an overexposed photo in the day time, but it would most likely work well right after the sun goes down.

Turning the shutter speed up (4000 for example) means that the sensor will capture light information for a smaller amount of time making the final image darker. Doing the opposite (50 for example) will make the Image brighter.

In the DJI Go 4 app, these numbers will look like standard numbers, but in reality, they are actually fractions of a second. 4000 for example really means 1/4000th of a second. The numbers will really be fractions all the way until you get to a full 1 second exposure or lower. When you get down to whole numbers (not fractions) it will look like 1”, 2”, 8” etc… Just remember that these numbers are really fractions unless you see a double quote in front of it, then it means seconds.

For photos, keep the shutter speed as high as you can make it without needing to raise the ISO. For video, the shutter speed should be twice as fast as the frame rate. If you’re shooting at 24FPS, set the shutter speed to 50 (1/50th of a second). For video at 30FPS, set it to 60 (1/60th).

Having a proper shutter speed is very important if you want to shoot cinematic video. Can you guess why? The reason why shutter speed is so important is because it controls the exposure time. If you have a short exposure time (fast shutter speed), the image will be captured almost instantly. This means that there will be no motion blur. THAT IS BAD.

As humans, we like seeing motion blur in video because it makes everything look more smooth and natural. It turns out that having a shutter speed that is twice as fast as the frame rate gives video the perfect amount of motion blur. So long story short, your shutter speed should be set to “frame rate x 2” for most situations.

Why use ND Filters on your DJI Mavic 2

If It’s Video, You Need ND Filters

This all seems pretty straight forward right? You just keep the ISO as low as it goes and make the shutter speed twice the frame rate number, so what’s the problem? Well, remember how I said that all of these settings change how bright the image is? That’s a big problem. This means that if we want to shoot cinematic video, we now have no control over the exposure brightness. That will result in crazy blown out daytime shots where all you can see is whiteness. This is a physics problem, and to fix it, there’s only one thing you can do. Get ND filters

ND stands for neutral density. ND filters are like sunglasses for your Mavic. With the current exposure settings that I recommended, your drone will be blinded by the light “literally” so by using ND filters we can turn the brightness down and get the shot exposed properly.

If you get the DJI ND filters for the Mavic 2, you will get ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32. You will need to use ND32 for the brightest days and go lower as the sun goes down. If you have the Mavic Air, there is no ND32 from DJI, so just use ND16.

On the Original Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, and Mavic 2 Zoom you won’t be able to get the exposure perfect by using ND filters, but you can get it close enough. Usually on bright sunny days, you will still need to turn the shutter speed up to something like 1\80th of a second, but that will still give you a good amount of motion blur and greatly improve the quality of your videos.

Mavic 2 Aperture Settings

Aperture Is The Missing Link

With ND filters, your exposure will be almost perfect, but what if you want even more motion blur? What if you want to adjust the exposure in flight to compensate for lighting changes. You can’t change the shutter speed. ND32 isn’t dark enough. What now? That’s where aperture is useful in my opinion.

Aperture is the missing link that will allow you to shoot perfectly exposed videos. On a traditional camera, you will almost always have aperture control, but for drones, aperture control is only available on the Mavic 2 Pro. This could be a good reason to go with the Mavic 2 Pro over the other Mavic models.

So what is aperture? The aperture is a physical element in the lens. It’s like a hole that opens and closes letting more or less light hit the sensor. Really, how and why the aperture “works” is very complicated and that may be out of the scope of this guide, but you should be able to understand what the aperture “does” with no problem.

Just like the other tools for adjusting exposure, the aperture can control the brightness of the final image. In the DJI Go 4 app, if you have the Mavic 2 Pro, you will see the aperture setting with all of the other exposure settings. It increments by f-stop numbers. Don’t worry about what an f-stop is right now, it’s another one of those things that will melt your brain. Just know that you will see numbers like f2.8 or f5.6 and even higher numbers like f11.

If you’ve set up all of the other exposure settings properly and your video feed still looks too bright, you can raise the aperture value from f2.8 (the lowest value) to something like 3.5 or f5.6 (somewhere in the middle). This will make the image darker and allow you to keep your shutter speed locked at 1/50th of a second (to get all that motion blur goodness). Just don’t raise the aperture too high or all of your footage will start looking soft (not sharp). I usually don’t go higher than f5.6 for any reason.

Mavic 2 Aperture Comparison

There is one other effect that aperture can have on your image called depth-of-field. By using the aperture, you can create a blurring effect on the background which can make your foreground subject stand out more. You can see this effect in portrait photography all the time. To do this, use the lowest number possible (f2.8) and make sure your subject is no more than about 10 feet away.

You’re Now An Exposure Master!

This is an incredibly complicated subject, but hopefully you were able to understand most of it. If so, congrats! All of these settings are not something most people can learn in just a few minutes. If you don’t understand, try experimenting with all of these different settings in the real world. Adjust each setting while trying to keep the brightness the same and see if you notice any effects. The more you practice, the better you will understand.

Find All The Camera Settings

Here you will learn where all of the different camera settings are in the DJI Go 4 app. There are a lot of settings to cover, so let’s get right into it.

Mavic 2 Camera Settings Button

Almost Everything Is In One Place

If you’re wondering where all of the camera settings are, they are all in one place. When you open up the DJI GO 4 app and go into the main flight screen, look over at the shutter/record button. Right under the record button, you will see a settings icon. This is where all of the camera settings for the Mavic are located. There are three tabs in the camera settings window.

Mavic 2 Camera Settings Tabs

The first tab that looks like a camera lens is for adjusting the camera exposure. The next tab that looks like a complete camera is for changing other important camera settings like white balance, picture profile, video resolution, picture modes and more. The last tab that looks like a gear is for changing advanced settings that are less important. These are settings that you won’t need to change very often because they’re more like user settings.

Mavic 2 Camera Settings Tab 1

Tab1 Is Exposure

If you read the exposure section, you should be pretty familiar with everything in this tab. You can adjust the ISO, shutter speed, aperture (if you have the Mavic 2 Pro), and exposure compensation value all from one place. You can also press the auto and manual button at the top to change the exposure mode from auto to manual mode. On the Mavic 2 Pro you will also see A and S mode which will allow you to control the shutter speed or aperture without worrying about the other controls. More on that later.

Mavic 2 Camera Settings Tab 2

Tab 2 Is Everything Else

Anything that is not exposure related, you will find it here. The settings here will change depending on if you are in photo or video mode, so make sure you change to the shooting mode that you want before looking for a specific setting. In Photo mode, you will see Photo, Image Size, Image Format, White Balance, Style, and Color. For Video mode, you will see Video Size, Video Format White Balance, Style, Color, and Camera Video Coding (the Last option is only on the Mavic 2).

Mavic 2 Camera Settings Tab 3

Tab 3 Is Mostly User Settings

I won’t mention everything in this tab because some of the settings here will be different depending on what Mavic model you have. The most important settings in this area are Histogram, Overexposed, Grid, Save Original, Storage Location (for Mavic 2 and Air), Format SD Card, and Reset All Camera Settings.

We will learn more about these settings in the future, but for now, just remember that if I’m talking about a setting and I mention that it’s in the Camera User Settings tab, this is the place I’m referring to.

Mavic 2 Main Screen Camera Controls

The Main Screen Has Additional Settings

The last place where you will find camera information and settings is the main flight screen. If you close the camera window, right under the Mavic status bar there are additional settings on the top right of the screen.

If your Mavic has focusing capability, you can switch from auto focus to manual focus using the AF/MF button. This will bring up a slider that you can use for manually focusing.

In the same area, you will also see a button called AE with a lock icon. This locks the auto exposure so it won’t change during your flight.

If you’re in Photo mode, you will also see a button that is green or yellow with a target on it. This allows you to toggle between selecting your exposure and focus area. You know, like how on an iPhone you can tap what you want the camera to focus on.

If you have the Mavic 2 Zoom, you will also see a zoom slider for zooming in and out.

Learn What Camera Settings To Use

This section should give you a good idea of what camera settings to use and why. If you haven’t, please read the previous section so you know how to find everything.

Mavic 2 Resolution Settings

Choose Your Resolution and FPS Wisely

You will find both resolution and frame rate in the camera settings under tab 2.

I’m not going to tell you to always shoot Mavic videos in 4K 24FPS, but honestly that’s what I do 99% of the time. I don’t like switching between 24FPS and 30FPS for a few different reasons.

The big reason is, if you’re working on one project that was shot in 24FPS and then you want to use some older footage you have that was in 30FPS, having both formats in the same video project can cause playback issues (mainly stuttering or slightly too fast playback).

That’s why I choose 24FPS. Whatever frame rate you choose, you should stick with it throughout all your projects unless you want to shoot slow motion video.

If you want to add 60FPS footage to a 24FPS project, that is fine because you’re still trying to make the footage play back at 24FPS. The extra frames will just make the footage play in slow motion.

If you want to shoot 1080p or 2.7K, that’s fine, but you will have more options in the future for editing if you shoot everything in 4K.

The only reason why you might want to shoot in 1080p is if you have a computer that can’t playback 4K footage, but most new computers these days can do that.

The Mavic 2 Pro Has Two 4K Modes

If you have the Mavic 2 Pro, in the resolution settings you will see two 4K shooting modes. The first is 4K HQ and the other is 4K FULL FOV. 4K HQ is the digital zoom mode that I mentioned earlier.

This mode is only on the Mavic 2 Pro. 4K FULL FOV is the standard wide angle shooting mode. I personally use the 4K HQ mode for most shots, but that’s just me. Try both modes out and see which one you like better.

Mavic 2 White Balance Settings

Don’t Forget About White Balance

The white balance is just a few settings down from the resolution. For photos, you can leave the white balance on auto. For video you should really set the white balance manually.

Since a video is a series of frames (not a single photo), that means that in some frames, the auto white balance might think that it’s sunny and make everything more blue, then in later frames, change its mind and make everything more yellow.

Since the white balance can constantly change through different frames of the video, you can’t easily fix the white balance later in your editing software.

The names of the different white balance settings are pretty self-explanatory. If it’s cloudy outside, set it to Cloudy. If it’s sunny, set to Sunny.

If you’re shooting indoors or it’s night, you might want to use Incandescent. Most of the time, you should be able to leave it set to Sunny and forget about it. If it’s sunny out and cloudy a few minutes later, you won’t see any major problems with your footage.

Mavic 2 Picture Profile

Don’t Touch The Style!

This setting is right under the white balance. Here you can change the sharpness, contrast, and saturation levels. If you’ve seen some other drone tutorials, they might say to turn the contrast down, or turn the sharpening down, don’t do this.

The picture style settings on the mavic are just fine where they are in my opinion, and if you mess with them, it can make your footage look bad.

If you’re shooting on the Mavic 2 Pro, The footage may be a bit softer than you are used to, so you might want to increase the sharpening setting by 1 and leave the other settings alone.

Mavic 2 Color Settings

Color Is For HLG and Color Grading

The Color setting is after Style. If you’re just starting out, leave it on the standard settings for now. You have enough to think about without worrying about advanced color profiles and grading.

If you’re familiar with color grading and you know how to do it, use D-cinelike, or Dlog-M if you have the Mavic 2 Pro. These flat color profiles will give you more color information to work with when you want to color grade.

If you don’t understand this, that’s fine. We will talk about color grading at some point in the future.

Mavic 2 Video Codec

Shoot In H.265 If You Can

If you have the Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom, this setting will make your videos look better. All mavic videos are created by taking raw image frames and compressing them into video smaller frames that can be put into a video container file.

H.265 and H.264 are two different ways that the Mavic can compress your videos. You don’t need to understand video compression, just use H.265 if you want the best video quality.

If you don’t have a fast computer, or your editing software doesn’t support H.265, then use H.264.

Mavic 2 Manual Camera Controls

Use Manual Exposure If You Can

On tab 1 of the camera settings, you will see all of the exposure controls. If you didn’t read the section talking about how cameras work and what exposure is, just leave the exposure on auto.

If the image seems too dark or bright, adjust the EV control and the Mavic will do the the rest for you.

If you do know more about exposure, change it to manual mode and use the sliders to change the values to their appropriate settings.

If you have the Mavic 2 Pro you can also use aperture and shutter priority mode. These modes are labeled as S and A mode.

Mavic 2 Aperture and Shutter Priority

Aperture Priority is good for taking photos where you may want to blur the background out slightly. Shutter Priority is good for video mode if you want to have consistent motion blur without worrying about ISO and Aperture. Personally, I would still shoot everything in manual mode, but if you’re in a hurry, these are good alternatives to the full auto mode.

How To Edit Videos And Photos

Video and photo editing is a massive subject all by itself. We won’t be covering everything there is to know, but Hopefully this section can point you in a direction so you know where to start.

Get Video editing Software

There are many different video editors out there, but I’m only going to mention the best of the best. These are all programs that I’ve used or at least tried over the years and have some experience with.

DJI Mavic 2 Video Editing Using Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Is Good For Mac

If you have a mac (especially one without a graphics card) then you might want to use Final Cut Pro X. Since Final Cut was designed by Apple, it runs faster than any other video editor and has all of the basic and advanced tools you need to start making cinematic Mavic video. There are two downsides to final cut in my opinion.

The first is that it costs $299 for the full version and the trial only lasts 30 days. There are also a lot of features that programs like Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve have that you won’t find in Final Cut.

These features won’t be very apparent at first, but once you start editing for a couple months and you see what people are able to do in other programs, that’s when you might want to switch.

I’m not trying to say Final Cut is bad. I used Final Cut for at least 5 years before finally switching to something else. It’s fast, easy to use, and works great for a lot of people.

However, there are definitely other options out there that you should consider before jumping into Final Cut and getting stuck in it (not wanting to re-learn how to use another editing program).

DJI Mavic 2 Video Editing Using Adobe Premier Rush

Premiere Pro Is Good For PC

If you’re on a PC, you like Adobe products, and you want something with lots of features, Premiere might be the way to go. If you’re familiar with Photoshop, Premiere pro is made from the same company.

The biggest advantage that you get with Premiere Pro is the large amount of pro features and seamless integration with all of the other Adobe applications.

Just like Final Cut, Premiere Pro is not cheap. At $21 a month for the annual plan and $31 a month for the monthly plan, within a year you could easily reach or pass the price of final cut, and you never stop paying.

The other downside to Premier is that it runs significantly slower on MacOS than on windows and it isn’t as easy to use as final cut.

DJI Mavic 2 Video Editing Using  DaVinci Resolve

Resolve Works Great For Everything And It’s Free!

You’ve probably never heard of DaVinci Resolve, or the company Blackmagic, but they’ve been silently taking over the video editing industry.

If you’re looking for a program that will run on a slow computer, this isn’t the program for you. If you want something that’s super easy to use with no thinking required, this is not the program for you.

So why buy resolve if it isn’t super fast and easy like Final Cut?

The simple answer is it’s free! No monthly subscriptions. No massive upfront costs. You can start playing around with it right now if you want to.

Oh and it’s also the most powerful video editor you can buy. In the free version, you essentially get more functionality than final cut and Premiere Pro.

There is also a paid version that gives you access to even more advanced tools like 3D motion tracking, noise reduction, timeline resolutions higher than 3840x2160, and much more.

If you do buy Resolve, you will never have to buy it again. Every year Resolve gets massive updates based on features that their users ask for. Oh, and they’ve never made their users pay for updates.

If you’re worried about how it runs on your computer, just download it and see how it goes. Resolve is my current video editor and with the right settings, I can edit 4K videos on my 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with no problems.

Get Photo Editing Software

Since photo editing isn’t really something I do all the time and a lot of you probably already have a photo editor like Photoshop, I won’t spend too much time here. Editing Mavic photos is just like editing any other photos.

DJI Mavic 2 Photo Editing Using  Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop and Lightroom Are Good

There are many photo editors to choose from, but Photoshop and Lightroom are what most people use. Photoshop is good for advanced photo work, while Lightroom is good for quick adjustments and sorting all of your files.

You can get both programs as a bundle from Adobe for $9.99 a month. This is a much better deal than some of Adobe’s other applications, but if you don’t like subscriptions then there are other options out there.

DJI Mavic 2 Photo Editing Using  Affinity Photo

Here Are Some Other Photo Editors

Affinity Photo is a lot like Photoshop, but with a fixed one time price of $49.99 and a more attractive design in my opinion.

Affinity Photo won’t have all of the features found in Photoshop, but it has all of the basic features like layers, adjustment layers, many different effects, object removal brushes, photo merging and more.

DJI Mavic 2 Photo Editing Using  Hasselblad Phocus

If you want to work with RAW files for free and you don’t need to do anything super advanced, the Hasselblad Phocus software is another good option.

You can do basic color correction and add different looks to your photos, but for features like noise reduction you will need the full version which you only get when you buy a real Hasselblad camera.

DJI Mavic 2 Photo Editing Using Apple's Photos App for Mac

What you don’t get with Affinity Photo or Phocus is a photo manager. As an alternative, if you’re on a Mac, you can use the free Photos application included with all Mac computers.

There’s also the Photos app that comes with Windows 10. If you have the money though, I would just go with Adobe Lightroom.

You’ve Made It To The End. Now What?

If you made it this far, then you’ve hit the final stretch. You should be able to fly, shoot basic videos, take photos, work the camera in manual mode and keep your drone from ending up at the bottom of a river.

The last stretch is a very long one. Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start creating things. Coming up with stories to tell, learning new types of shots, finding new ways of editing.

All of these things take time. It will probably take anywhere from 5 to 30 videos before you end up with something you’re proud of, but with every video you make, you will learn something that makes the next one better.

There’s one important thing that I think every new drone pilot should remember. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you create your content. Your drone is not the subject, so if you make a travel video, don’t just use drone footage.

Your mission should be to tell a story, and not all stories should be captured from the air. Having a mix of ground and aerial shots is almost always better than just aerial shots alone.

Let us know if you found this guide useful or if you have any questions that didn’t get answered here.