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Let's face it, most of us aren't pilots and won't ever be -- let alone the even fewer of us who have a private jet at our disposal. Sure, maybe you can hop on a helicopter tour or private jet charter every now and again, but that can also get very expensive very quickly. If you are dreaming of aerial views from above without all that work and investment involved, maybe it's time to consider purchasing a DJI Mavic Mini drone.
Though DJI is already preparing for the release of their 3rd Mini in the series and I'm sure it's amazing, but I am the proud owner of a first-gen Mini and it continues to serve me well despite being one of DJI's cheapest aircrafts. I use my drone often, not only for photography and videography, but also just for fun -- and what's more fun than seeing Florida from a whole new angle! I've witnessed manatees in the hundreds gathered together for warmth, heights level with the top of lighthouses, and so much more that I could never see from the ground, and it's all thanks to the Mavic Mini.
What attracts many people, including myself, to DJI's Mini series is how lightweight and easy-to-operate these particular drones are. Weighing in at under .55lbs, these tiny aircrafts are easy to liftoff, land and maneuver in-flight, there is truly no other drone out there comparable to them. They have a camera with a built-in gimbal so you can get steady shots like a pro (check out my video below for reference) and their GPS locator/homing is perhaps one of the most appealing features -- anyone who has owned a cheap $50 drone knows what I mean. (Don't learn the hard way, like I did!)
I often find myself touting the abilities of this drone specifically for beginners, but there are some limitations as to be expected for a moderately-priced piece of equipment. Notably, because of the lightweight feature, they are prone to experiencing a lot of turbulence even with the slightest wind gusts, blowing your drone off-course, out of range, or just totally out of the air (though this hasn't happened to me as I don't fly in high-gust weather, and warnings are presented on the controller as soon as your drone feels resistance). Another notable downfall (however, it can be upgraded with aftermarket parts) is how the built-in controller antennas are relatively small and can lose signal well before 300m. Losing contact with your drone once in a while is to be expected with the Mini, but again, thanks to the homing device it's usually recoverable.
Obviously, a Mini isn't the right fit for everyone. It's great for me as I can use it commercially thanks to the great camera specs and software, and I don't have to worry about it flying off on me, which is common complaint of cheaper drones. Basically, I think the software is great. It's very compatible with modern phones and it makes flying very easy. Alternatively, it does leave some to be desired in the hardware department since it's so small; the battery is also tiny which greatly limits flight time to >30 min on average. The range of the drone is stated to be up to around 300m away, but I've had a very hard time keeping my drone in contact with the controller up to that distance. Also, lightweight = less carrying capacity -- there is no room to add a GoPro to the mini.
But with these limitations in mind, and they are some big ones, how do I make it work?
One thing I have come to understand is the art of knowing and being comfortable with the limitations of the drone -- including where I am are allowed to operate the drone; this is undoubtedly the first key to operating a safe, enjoyable flight! Through a lot of trial and error like flying in the wrong places, less-than-perfect conditions, etc, I finally have a great understanding of what my Mini and I can handle, and here's what that looks like -- and what I would recommend for anyone else interested in flying a Mini around the Sunshine State:
If you want to learn more about flying a drone in Florida, you should check out my other article about laws and regulations here! I'm proof that nearly anyone can learn how to operate a drone with a little time , perseverance, and, most importantly, good equipment.
Still need some convincing? Check out my Youtube channel for drone videos -- all shot on my Mini.