Drones, drones, drones. If you haven’t heard about them by now, you’re likely living under a rock. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, one thing is for sure – they’re here to stay. That’s why we got two.
Hidden Woods is lucky enough to own a Mavic 2 Pro and an Inspire 2 + X7 sensor. Both have their strengths, but in short, the Inspire is our dedicated commercial-ready drone, and the Mavic is our timesaving anytime, anywhere drone.
Yes, they both fly – but these flying machines have several important points of distinction.
Fixed Lens vs. Swappable Lens
Up until the Inspire series, the market hadn’t offered a drone solution that allowed an operator to use a variety of focal lengths without resorting to mounting your actual camera on an octocopter, or the like. Most prosumer drones out there, the Mavic 2 included, have a fixed lens that hovers around the 16-24mm mark. This is perfectly fine for a variety of applications, but at the end of the day we were left wanting more.
For me, this was one of the most exciting parts about buying the Inspire. Right off the bat, we pulled the trigger on DJI’s 16mm, 24mm, and 50mm lenses. I’m sure you can guess which lens we tossed on first…yep, the 50. It gives us the compressed field of view that shines when stacking layers of depth in an image. It’s the epic look, and there’s no better place to watch this lens shine than in the mountains.
Don’t get me wrong, the Mavic’s lens isn’t something to scoff at. The 28mm fixed lens is impressively sharp. And yes, as all of the advertisements will tell you, it’s made by Hasselblad, one of the grandfathers of beautiful photographic imagery. However, for better or worse you’re stuck with it, and as technology dates and lenses evolve the Inspire will be 3rd party lens friendly, and the Mavic will not.
Much like the lenses we mentioned above, the sensor on the Inspire2 is also swappable. DJI is currently on their third generation of sensor, the X7 being the latest. We love this because it gives us the flexibility to upgrade the sensor if we ever need to.
The X7 is a powerhouse. It offers multiple recording options, including up to 6K at 30 fps, and UHD 4K at 60 fps in Cinema-DNG format; it also supports 4K in ProRes. Whew. Yes, it’s that good. In short, this means you can record all that high-resolution goodness in codecs that offer you extreme control of the image in post-production. On the flip side, the Mavic has 4K capabilities, but records in H.265/HEVC, a more compressed codec. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re paying attention to your exposure there’s nothing stopping you from getting beautiful, vibrant images out of the Mavic. Also, since the data is more compressed, the file sizes are substantially smaller, saving you money on storage.
Now that I’ve sufficiently gushed over the Inspire, it’s time to bring the conversation back to reality – and the reality is that the Mavic is 10x more portable.
If you’re a commercial drone operator and have ample time for scouting and setup, the Inspire makes sense. However, most of our shoots are a little more documentary-centric than that, and often we simply don’t have the time and manpower to be hauling a 60LB case everywhere we go. When you consider the fact that the Mavic’s takeoff weight is just under 2 pounds, the impressiveness of its image quality really begins to dawn on you.
Having the Mavic around allows us to get aerial footage anytime, anywhere. Being Colorado-based, there are so many moments where we find ourselves driving through the mountains and the vista is just too good not to pull over and capture. If the sun is setting and we’re chasing light, I’m grabbing the Mavic 10/10 times. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if we have clocked more hours on our Mavic than the Inspire.
At the end of the day, we’re just happy to be living in an age where we don’t have to hang ourselves out of a helicopter to get beautiful aerial imagery anymore.
Cheers to that!