The DJI Mavic Pro footage looks like a cheap HD action camera compared to the Phantom 4

Sep 29, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The DJI Mavic Pro footage looks like a cheap HD action camera compared to the Phantom 4

Sep 29, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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For some, the image quality is going to take a distant second to ease of use and convenience. There’s no doubt that the new DJI Mavic Pro is super convenience. Fitting into a small bag, or a large pocket, it’s easy to take wherever you go. But, is that convenience going to be enough? Is it going to make Phantom 4 owners sell up and replace it with a drone that costs almost as much and doesn’t offer the same quality?

Well, for Casey Neistat, the answer is a definite yes. To satisfy some of the haters from his previous video showing off Mavic footage at a mere 1080p, Casey shot today’s video in 4K. In it, he puts the DJI Mavic Pro head to head with the DJI Phantom 4. He also includes the GoPro Karma. Ok, well, he sort of includes the Karma. He doesn’t have a Karma yet, but he does have a GoPro Hero 5 Session, which is the camera the Karma uses.

But, here’s the footage, check it out for yourself.

YouTube video

Here in the UK, the price on the DJI Mavic Pro is £999 ($1,300). The Phantom 4 has now been reduced to £1,169 ($1,515). So, for me, there’s just no contest. No amount of convenience is going to make me pay that much if this is the quality we should all expect to see.

Considering it’s supposed to have the same sensor as the camera found in the Phantom 4, one can only surmise that they’re either using a much crappier lens or way more compression.

For the sake of completeness, in the USA the Mavic Pro is $999 with the Phantom 4 at $1,199. The price there is a little more reasonable, but even at that price, it still isn’t enough for me to sacrifice that much quality.  Even when scaled down to 1080p and sharpened the Mavic footage just looks terrible.

But what do you think? Will you happily sacrifice quality for the sake of convenience? Did Casey just get a bad sample? I mean, Jon Olsson’s footage didn’t look that bad for the most part. Or will you just keep on using your current drones and wait for the next generation of Mavic to see what it has to offer? (that’s what I’m doing). Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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34 responses to “The DJI Mavic Pro footage looks like a cheap HD action camera compared to the Phantom 4”

  1. Dan Avatar
    Dan

    Somewhere down in the multitude of comments, is one by Casey, in which he states that after he made the video, he discovered that there is a way to adjust the settings on the Mavic to improve the image quality. I expect we’ll see another video from him on this issue.

    1. David Hovie Avatar
      David Hovie

      Oh,.. you replied a few seconds earlier ;)?

      1. Keith Avatar
        Keith

        LOL they deleted the comment. Looks like clickbait.

  2. David Hovie Avatar
    David Hovie

    Omg.. come on with the hate. Just read the update from Casey. He said he didn’t Focus properly…

    1. Dan Avatar
      Dan

      There’s no ad hominem in John’s post. Why is it these days that any disagreement with anything gets referred to as “hate”?

    2. Tweakie Avatar
      Tweakie

      Yip read the tweet as well , hopefully we have an update today… secretively I am waiting for the PH4 prices to drop even more… mmmmmmmmm

  3. Paul Iştoan Avatar
    Paul Iştoan

    Not really. Your article title sucks…

    1. Jon Ceballos Plus Avatar
      Jon Ceballos Plus

      I think it’s pretty spot on. The difference in image quality is not small, it’s massive.

    2. Gilly Áron Avatar
      Gilly Áron

      Jon Ceballos Plus Casey forgot to focus. Check this video out showing the difference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tthf4guYCo

  4. Ryan Jones Avatar
    Ryan Jones

    As others have said the Mavic has actual adjustable autofocus. DJI neglected to tell the early users how to use it. Casey figured it out and posted a photo on twitter. Looks night and day.

  5. Tod Heckert Avatar
    Tod Heckert

    the writer of this is fucking idiot.

    1. Tor Ivan Boine Avatar
      Tor Ivan Boine

      idiot? really?

  6. Jon Ceballos Plus Avatar
    Jon Ceballos Plus

    Does look terrible though!
    I can understand why Casey will easily take the trade off (ease of use and travel) but as a fan who watches the vlog everyday I am really not excited for it.

  7. Craig Fouché Avatar
    Craig Fouché

    Lyle

  8. Johannes Keller Avatar
    Johannes Keller

    Tim Hasl

    1. Tim Hasl Avatar
      Tim Hasl

      So ein Quatsch

  9. Byron Christopher Avatar
    Byron Christopher

    Thanks very much for this article. I have the Phantom 4 and I’m pleased with the sharp 4K images. I’ve ordered the new Mavic and I’m hoping the images are as sharp. Here is what DJI on-line sales reps have to say about the cameras on the Mavic and the Phantom 4 … MAVIC Lens FOV 78.8 … 28 mm [35 mm format equivalent] f/2.2 … distortion 1.5% Focus from 0.5 m to ‘oo’ … [no mention of the censor or pixels. P4: sensor 1/2.3″ [CMOS] effective pixels 12.4 M; lens FOV 94 … 20 mm [35 mm format equivalent] f/2.8, focus at ‘oo’ … AND says the online sales rep … THE P4 PERFORMS BETTER THAN THE MAVIC BECAUSE IT HAS DOUBLE THE WEIGHT OF MAVIC.

  10. Sam Barnes Avatar
    Sam Barnes

    It’s going to be difficult to see how differently they perform until we’ve got both units side by side and seen some raw footage.

    A very good point to remember is that just because someone can fly a drone doesn’t make them a good photographer.

    The specs are remarkably similar.

    Good comparison of the P4, Karma and Mavic here – https://www.heliguy.com/blog/2016/09/26/dji-mavic-pro-vs-phantom-4-vs-gopro-karma/

  11. Richard Philipsen Avatar
    Richard Philipsen

    You guys do know Casey later admitted to screwing up the autofocus on the mavic, right? Amazing how quickly something like this goes viral.

    1. Yiannis Papanastasopoulos Avatar
      Yiannis Papanastasopoulos

      Exactly they should update the article

  12. Melbar Avatar
    Melbar

    john…. where can i see your 4k videos?

    i looked at your website for (i admit only 2 minutes)… found nothing

    where are the videos you need the better quality for?

  13. Trond Ueland Avatar
    Trond Ueland

    Very informable

  14. Diogo Carvalho Avatar
    Diogo Carvalho

    Calm down! Mavics image quality is great! youtu.be/1Tthf4guYCo

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      What gave you the impression I was not calm? :)

  15. Kalos Avatar
    Kalos

    so listening to the DJI cheerleader who is using this crappy drone is supposed to tapping the screen all the time over and over again just to get a “bright” LOL image. Just love DJI cheerleader, i can get you may want this chinese crap but i don’t get why you defend it like DJI WAS YOURS

  16. Matt F Photography Avatar
    Matt F Photography

    It doesn’t. He had the focus set wrong.

  17. Matt F Photography Avatar
    Matt F Photography

    It doesn’t. He had the focus set wrong.

  18. Matt F Photography Avatar
    Matt F Photography

    It doesn’t. He had the focus set wrong.

  19. Craig Nowell Avatar
    Craig Nowell

    To be honest I am passing the duchy on the Phantom 4 and going straight for the Mavic Pro, and for several good reasons:

    1) size and portability, of course. Tests also demonstrate (even with leaf blowers) that the Phantom 4 is no more stable than the Mavic Pro

    2) The Mavic Pro uses a superior wifi system to the Phantom 4’s lightbridge, and has superior distance operation

    3) it still does 4k at all the same settings as the Phantom 4, raw DNG for stills, etc. As all my footage will be shot at d-log settings anyway, post processing colour correction and sharpness can be resolved afterwards, and tests by multiple experts demonstrate footage can be brought up to the same standard as the Phantom 4 very easily (and the latter is actually OVER sharpened straight out of camera).

    4) you can manipulate the focus on the Mavic Pro, it is fixed on the Phantom 4

    5) speed, manouevrability, battery life, etc. almost the same on both

    If in my case you want a drone that you can easily carry on to a plane and head abroad with it, have a drone that possesses all the features and capabilities of a significantly larger drone, and this flexibility means something, then it is a no brainer frankly. Yes, you could argue that image quality here or there might not quite be the same, but, if image quality meant so much, you wouldn’t be going for drones at this point as much as you would for an Inspire with Zen Muse X5, or higher end Yuneec.

  20. Roy Clendaniel Avatar
    Roy Clendaniel

    I have used both, and the quality from my perspective is the same with a only a slight edge to the phantom for brightness. Certainly not enough to dissuade Mavic purchases at all. The best drone is one that gets used, and once you get a mavic, the others stay in the closet. Having said that, click to focus is a major pain in the ass and I think DJI can do better here and should roll out some intelligent focus options.

  21. ANDRES FAVARON Avatar
    ANDRES FAVARON

    No way. Probably your mavic is deffective. Mine is much better than phantom 4 pro. There are many comparatives in youtube that shows what i mean