DJI Mavic Pro @ Melbourne Australia

Had the privilege to go to Melbourne’s famous Great Ocean Road Trip. Together with my wife and a little helper “Mavic” we had some amazing holiday. Mavic was small and light and almost un-noticed when I bring it along. I did not encounter any issues when I pass through custom check at airports and etc. The batteries were all kept in a fire-safe battery bag while in transit.

At the coast of Melbourne, the wind conditions were very high and I need to fly with extreme caution. Mavic can still handle it, but it will always complain that the wind speed is too high and must fly with caution. So I normally fly out to the max of 25% to 30% battery utilization, reserving 70% battery life to fly back, just in case Mavic needs to fight against strong head wind. If you encounter strong head wind and Mavic is not making much progress, try either flying lower or higher to see if there is a change in wind direction at different altitude. I did encounter in one occasion when Mavic complain that the battery is too cold as well. If that happens, you can either takeoff and hover at 2 meter height for a short while to allow the battery to warm up by itself or remove the battery and warm it up with your body heat.

For me I always fly within line of sight(LOS). It is always tempting to have a “One take” shot, but flying beyond line of sight is extremely risky especially when you do not know the place well. There are also some rocks in Melbourne that cause magnetic interference. So be sure not to just fly high too quickly, always allow Mavic to takeoff and hover at a low altitude for a while to observe the flying behaviour. Some how, in Melbourne I also encounter the GPS switching to alternate / backup GPS a few times. So if such incident happen, start bringing the Mavic back and don’t risk flying too far.

Melbourne seems to be a drone friendly place, and some people even applaud me when I landed Mavic. There are some places with helicopter flying around. Be sure to check if that area is a no fly zone for UAVs before flying.

One last tip, please have a few memory cards. Each time the Mavic returns safely, swap out the card and put in a blank card before flying out again. Why? In case the mavic never return, at least you still have some footages captured. Not all is lost.

Do enjoy the Video of Beautiful Melbourne.

DJI Spark

DJI SPARK

The much rumoured mini drone from DJI is being launched on 24th May (25th May in Singapore).

My first impression of this drone is “Oh it is so cute and pretty!”. Then came the question of “Who is the target customers?”. From the specs of very short setup time, 2 axis gimbal, 1080p video and ultra portability, I guess it is aimed at people who does loads of selfie photos and videos for social media that do not requires very high quality video.

At this point, a close contender to this drone is the Hover Camera sold by Apple. The price point is similar (US$499), flight time is similar, weight is similar, but comes with dual battery and 4K video in a very safe cage not guard. The down side of the Hover camera is the lack of 2 axis gimbal and the option to have a dedicated remote controller. Both drones are targeting at the same group of consumer.

Overall, I think the SPARK might have a slight advantage over the Hover Camera in terms of overall video usability for social media due to the 2 axis gimbal and the obstacle avoidance ability. But each drone has it own advantage over the other. ┬áIf you are a first time drone user, spark might be a good entry point due to it’s portability and the ease of control via gesture. However, if you want a higher quality video, then start with at least the Mavic Pro.

For Quick Guide to drone selection click here.