Since the release of the DJI Mavic Pro drone in 2016, drone enthusiasts and aerial cinematographers in the mid-to-pro segment are spoilt for choice. On one hand with the Phantom series you have bulky but powerful workhorses (the Phantom 4 and now the Phantom 4 Pro), and on the other hand you have a revolutionary product that is so small it doesn’t even need a dedicated bag, you can just throw it in with the rest of your gear in your camera bag, it’s about the size of a telephoto lens.
This guide is intended for the cinematographers out there who would like some advice on which one to buy.
|DJI Phantom 4||DJIMavic Pro||DJI Phantom 4 Pro|
|Dimensions (without props)||Diagonal 350mm|| Folded: H83mm x W83mm x L198mm
|Diagonal 350 mm|
|Weight including battery and props||1380g|| 734 g/1.62 lbs (exclude gimbal cover)
743g / 1.64lbs (include gimbal cover)
|Bitrate in 4k||60 Mbps||60Mbps||100 Mbps|
|Bitrate in 1080p30||60Mbps||Unknown||60Mbps|
|Slowmotion support||1080p 120p||1080pHD 96p||4k 60p|
|Operating height||19685 feet (6000 m)||16404 feet (5000 m)||19685 feet (6000 m)|
|Sensor Size|| 1/2.3” CMOS
Effective pixels:12.4 M
|1/2.3” (CMOS), Effective pixels:12.35 M|| 1’’ CMOS
Effective pixels: 20M
|Maximum image size||4000 x 3000||4000×3000||5472 × 3648|
|Video recording modes|| UHD: 4096×2160 (4K) 24 / 25p
3840×2160 (4K) 24 / 25 / 30p
2704×1520 (2.7K) 24 / 25 / 30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p
HD: 1280×720 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60p
|C4K: 4096×2160 24p
4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2720×1530 24/25/30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p
HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
4K:3840×2160 24/25/30p @100Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @65Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 48/50/60p @80Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @50Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 48/50/60p @65Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 120p @100Mbps
HD:1280×720 24/25/30p @25Mbps
HD:1280×720 48/50/60p @35Mbps
HD:1280×720 120p @60MbpsH.264
C4K:4096×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
4K:3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60p @100Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 24/25/30p @80Mbps
2.7K:2720×1530 48/50/60p @100Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 24/25/30p @60Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 48/50/60 @80Mbps
FHD:1920×1080 120p @100Mbps
HD:1280×720 24/25/30p @30Mbps
HD:1280×720 48/50/60p @45Mbps
HD:1280×720 120p @80Mbps
|Flat picture profile/ Raw video support||Color profiles/no raw||color profiles/ no raw||color profiles/ no raw|
|Size of bag||Large, but not huge||TINY||Large, but not huge|
|Top Speed||72 kph | 20meters/sec | 45 miles/hour||65kph | 18 meters/sec | 40 miles/hour||72 kph | 20meters/sec | 45 miles/hour|
FCC Compliant: 3.1 mi (5 km)
FCC Compliant: 4.3 mi (7 km);
| 2.400 – 2.483 GHz (Unobstructed, free of interference)
FCC: 4.3 mi (7 km)
CE: 2.2 mi (3.5 km)
SRRC: 2.5 mi (4 km)
5.8GHz (Unobstructed, free of interference)
FCC: 4.3 mi (7 km)
CE: 1.2 mi (2 km)
SRRC: 3.1 mi (5 km)
|Obstacle avoidance sensors||Front facing, down facing||Front facing, down facing||Front facing, down facing, back facing, side facing Infrared)|
|Field Of view/ Focal Length of cam lens||FOV 94° 20 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.8 focus at ∞||OV 78.8° 28 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.2 Focus from 0.5 m to ∞||FOV 84° 8.8 mm/24 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.8 – f/11 auto focus at 1 m – ∞|
|Flight time||Upto 28 minutes||Upto 27 minutes||Upto 30 minutes|
|Cost||1199€ | $1200||1199€ | $999||1699€ | $1499|
|Purchase links from DJI store||Buy the Phantom 4 from Official DJI store||Buy the DJIMavic Pro from Official DJI store||Buy Phantom 4 PRO from Official DJI store|
Key: Strengths are in bold and drawbacks are underlined.
The DJI Mavic Pro is a game changer when it comes to portability and professional results. A major drawback however, is the lower bitrate of 60Mbps (which means that less information will be contained in every frame, thus limiting possibilities in post production). It’s a drawback it shares with the original Phantom 4, but the advantage the Mavic Pro offers in terms of its size might just be good enough for you to consider the lower data rate an acceptable tradeoff.
Let’s see how these drones stack against each other!
Mavic Pro Vs. Phantom 4
The obvious choice would be the Mavic Pro. To a large extent the cameras they share are similar, atleast they’re identical in terms of sensor size, but the glass is different.
You get a larger aperture of f/2.2, with a possibility to control focus. It’s not necessarily new technology, we’ve been seeing autofocus on cellphones going on for a decade now. However, this feature was seen as a problem by most YouTube Vloggers, most notably Casey Neistat, who declared in one of his videos that the image quality was poor and noticeably soft, and later admitted that the camera can indeed be focussed.
The most reliable video sample/review for the Mavic Pro is in fact by one of our favourite photographers, Michael Shainblum:
Both have comparable obstacle avoidance, camera systems, but the sheer smallness of the Mavic gives it a massive advantage. Because of its profile, you can fly more discreetly and silently. Once at operating altitude, the difference in terms of noise between these two drones is significant. That implies fewer people will notice your drone from a distance or try to interrogate you, which may possibly help you avoid a lot of harassment, because even if you have a license it won’t stop onlookers from approaching you (with questions such as “what drone is that?” “How expensive is it?” Do you have a license to fly it”? or worse still, calling the cops without knowing facts).
When flying, that’s the last thing anybody wants to focus on, since we’re obviously airborne to concentrate on getting the shot right. If you’re in a one person team, that interruption might mean the difference between getting your shot or not getting your shot at all, and for this reason, getting the Mavic might be a better idea.
Add to that, the fact that atleast in the United States, the DJI Phantom 4 is actually more expensive than the Mavic Pro, and you have a clear winner. The only reason to consider the Phatom 4 is if your clients care more about you having “a more professional looking drone”, in which case you should probably be getting an Inspire 2 anyway.
The Mavic Pro wins this round!
Mavic Pro vs Phantom 4 Pro
Between these two drones is where a more distinct difference is noticeable. While the Mavic Pro is at a price-point where amateurs and first time fliers are actively targeted, the P4pro has professional features that no other drones in the segment can currently offer, for instance it has a user-controllable mechanical aperture whereas both the Mavic Pro and the regular Phantom 4 have fixed apertures. The P4Pro is louder, can fly for longer, and it has a significantly better camera than the other two drones mentioned here.
If size isn’t a constraint , and your drone flights are more organised and scheduled, then the P4Pro model is definitely something that makes for a better purchase, especially if getting high quality shots is absolutely paramount to you. While the Mavic Pro is good for a more carefree type of aerial cinematographer who just has a more accessible primary drone that can be launched quickly and doesn’t occupy much space, the P4Pro is built like a tank and is definitely the sturdier option, not to mention the fact that it has more sensors that prevent crashes by sensing and avoiding obstacles.
Phantom 4 vs Phantom 4 Pro
Unless money is an object, it makes sense to get the P4Pro because of its significant improvements. With the P4Pro the camera is better, the battery is better, flight time is longer, and the flight experience is safer thanks to the additional sensors for obstacle avoidance. If you’re just looking for a cheapskate alternative, then getting an old Phantom 4 shouldn’t be a problem since ebay is already flooded with people getting rid of their Phantom 4’s to get the Mavic or the Phantom 4 Pro.
The mavic is currently the drone that delivers the maximum bang for your buck when it comes to price vs performance thanks to its feature packed tiny form factor, but the Phantom 4 PRO Model suits hardcore professionals much more thanks to it’s significantly better camera. Picking one of these depends strongly on your pricepoint but also on your desired application.
We hope this article helps you make a more informed decision on your purchase. Please mention any comments or questions below!