Have you ever been to an event where someone was flying a drone around? The first indication is usually a buzzing sound, like a swarm of bees.
It seems like this is happening more frequently, and a big reason for that is drone technology has come a long way. And it doesn’t hurt that the price is going down while the features get better.
In 2016, I decided to take a big step and buy a DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone.
The Phantom 3 was my first REAL drone that used GPS positioning to stay in place. It also had a video camera on a gimbal that could record video in 4K resolution and take 12MP still photos. I had so much fun with this drone! I took it to the lake and shot video of jet skis while worrying about the birds swarming it. And I took flyover videos of some local businesses (and donated the video because flying a drone for profit is a lot more complicated to be in compliance with the FAA.)
But the biggest problem with the Phantom 3 Pro was how big it was. And how big a case it took to store the drone, the batteries, the remote and everything else I needed to fly it. It was about the size of a carry-on suitcase. And because of that, I didn’t take it with me to fly as much as I would have liked.
As with all technology related gizmos, a lot can change in 2 years. DJI, arguably the most popular manufacturer of drones, recently released the Mavic 2 Professional drone. It’s a drastic departure from the Phantom 3… and they got here through many iterations of drone improvements including the original Mavic, Spark and Air.
The first thing I noticed (and loved) about the Mavic 2 Pro is how small it is. I can put the drone, remote control, 3 batteries, a mutli-battery charger and all the cables in the same footprint as the Phantom 3 drone by itself. In other words, everything packed up looks like a large camera bag instead of a carry-on suitcase. And there are a TON of new features, but I won’t bore you by listing them here. You can see the features of the Mavic 2 Pro on their website.
Here’s an example of a Point of Interest video I took with the Mavic 2 Pro this past weekend. The Point of Interest feature lets you fly the drone up and then highlight a building or structure as a point of interest. With the click of a button, the drone will fly a 360 degree pattern around the point of interest you specified while shooting video.
(Trista and I went with two other couples to the Cedar Crest Lodge in Pleasanton, Kansas for the Labor Day weekend. If you’re looking for a great bed and breakfast about an hour away from Kansas City, you should check them out. It was a great place to relax and recharge.)
There are still plenty of rules to follow, and they depend on whether you’re flying as a hobby or commercially. At a minimum, you’ve got to register your drone with the FAA. And you have to follow some specific rules including line-of-sight, no higher than 400 feet, and not being near an airport to name a few.
But once you understand the basics, it’s a lot of fun to fly a drone and be able to take photos and videos from 400 feet up. I was flying at Shawnee Mission Park recently and the footage was spectacular. It gave me a new perspective and sense of appreciation for Shawnee Mission Park. And it took me 5 minutes from parking my car to being in the air. The DJI Mavic 2 Professional drone is easy to operate and has a ton of powerful features.
If you’re a drone enthusiast, or if you have any questions about drones, let me know! As always, thanks for reading.