I’ve always had slight envy for all the amazing drone shots that I have seen across Instagram. DJI drones have been something on my list for the longest time. The problem is, when is the right time to drop a large amount of money on a second camera that you are going to hover hundreds of metres in the air? The truth? There is never going to be a right time. Then why get one? Because life will never be the same again. And as a creative it’s one of the most exciting ways to flip your view on its head.
My right time happened to be shopping online at Outdoorphoto. They are the Tomorrowland of camera equipment with amazing prices and an even bigger range than you could imagine. The only criticism I have is a personal one; I don’t have a trust fund to really fulfil my wish list with them.
Trust me… It’s big.
The DJI Mavic Air is the latest addition to the DJI drone collection. It’s smaller than the pro and in my opinion better than the Spark in terms of durability and image quality. So it’s the perfect pocket size accessory for anyone looking to take amazing images and video. The drone is as big as a small shoe and weighs in at an astounding 570g.
I opted for the Fly More Combo because well, I wanted to fly more. It comes with two additional batteries and extra propellers in case you have a little accident as well as propeller protectors and all the chargers and cables you will need. Basically, it’s a full kit to go out and kick some major drone butt.
The thing I was the most excited about is not only is it small making it perfect for me as a woman, but it has a three-way axis gimbal and a built-in camera that shoots 4K video and 12-megapixel stills.
It can take 32-megapixel panoramas of your chosen landscape (rice terraces, beaches, mountains, an evacuation) and packs a major punch!
The drone has several shooting options from sphere 360, panoramic QuickShots to, the major exciting one, ActiveTrack. Now I just need a fast car and major skills to shoot myself living the high life like all the major YouTubers out there.
With sensors on the front and back and warnings that go off like a jailbreak should you go too close to a solid object (or the battery starts running dangerously low), the Mavic Air is designed for everyone and anyone. It’s very easy to learn to fly and with a Beginner Mode, you can’t go wrong. Its next to impossible to crash.
(Side note - always make sure the firmware is updated along with the remote. This is done by setting up and connecting the remote to the drone. You definitely don’t ever want to fly with outdated firmware… otherwise, you very well might be calling Mayday.)
So – my final thoughts on the Mavic Air?
Well… after having written this article praising this little bug’s awesome capabilities; it just so happened that I was caught in the earthquake in Indonesia on a small little island 4km off the mainland of Lombok (the epicentre) called Gili Trawangan.
I was able to capture the most dramatic images of my career thanks to the Mavic Air.
In the maelstrom of people jostling and fighting to board rescue boats during the hair-raising evacuation; I put on a brave face and launched my Mavic Air in an effort to capture the desperation of the unfolding situation on the ground.
The result? You decide for yourself.
It was my first image ever to go viral and it was quickly picked up by international newsagents, Reuters, and the footage and images were broadcast around the world on various outlets; CNN, Sky, BBC.
For a photographer and content creator – perhaps one of the biggest moments of my career that could have just as easily gone undocumented.
Even though my very valuable but cumbersome gear bag was subsequently stolen and I lost the majority of my camera equipment during the evacuation due to the chaos on the beach – It was somehow the consolation of the century that I had my lightweight Mavic Air over my shoulder ready to launch and she was not lost with the rest of my gear. (Another consolation is that I never travel without insurance.)
She performed beyond my wildest expectations.
So for anyone serious about photography who is on the fence about whether purchasing a drone is excessive or a necessity – all I can say is the opportunities for pushing the limits of creativity and documenting experiences in such an exceptional perspective might only present themselves a handful of times in life.
I, for one, won’t ever travel without mine again.