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Footage out of the DJI Mavic Is Much Worse Than the Phantom 4 [Update: There Is Still Hope]

DJI recently announced the new Mavic drone which appeared to be the greatest aerial product ever created. It's extremely portable with all of the incredible features of the Phantom 4. Today though my dreams have been shattered because the footage out of the Mavic looks pretty bad, especially when you compare it to the P4. Update: Wait! There is still hope!

Casey Neistat just tweeted that he failed to focus the Mavic correctly and this test is not legitimate. 



After watching the promo for the Mavic I was extremely excited. The hardware itself for this drone is incredible and I couldn't wait to conveniently travel around the world with a drone without getting hassled in every airport. One thing worried me though. The footage in the promo video looked muddy. The colors looked bland and at times I might even say the footage looked blurry. I put these thoughts out of my mind and hoped that it was all in my head. Sadly, my fears have become a reality. The Mavic's camera is pretty bad.

Casey Neistat has once again created another video with the Mavic, this time comparing it to the Phantom 4. It's pretty easy to see how much better the P4's camera is. Had the Phantom series never existed I'm sure the Mavic would be beyond acceptable, but I'm so used to the incredible quality out of the Phantom 4, I'm not sure I can ever be happy with anything significantly worse.

Although Casey didn't have a GoPro Karma to compare to the P4 and Mavic, I'm not sure he needs to. I've personally flown a Phantom 2 with a GoPro 4 Silver for years and the footage is great, although arguably a bit too wide. You can see some of the footage shot at 2.7k and downscaled to 1080p totally ungraded in the video below. 

This leads me to believe that the Gopro Karma will have significantly better footage, but I can't imagine the Karma will fly as well as the Mavic. DJI has such a head start when it comes to drone technology, I'm assuming that it will take GoPro years to catch up. 

As Casey says in the video above, he creates a video every single day of his life and he is happy to give up image quality in return for the convenience of the Mavic. I am also, to an extent. But from what I've seen, the Mavic's footage is so much worse that I may wait for the second version to buy it. At this point I'm putting all of my hope in the GoPro Karma

Update: At this point it looks like the Mavic still may be a reasonable replacement for the Phantom 4. We need to wait for a new test.

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jurian kriebel's picture

I think the footage of the Phantom actually looks a little oversharpened compared to the Marvic. If you would just throw some sharpening on the Marvic footage, it will look a lot better and closer to the phantom!

Lee Morris's picture

I've thought that too but it's still much worse. It looks to me like 4k out of the Mavic is 720p footage upscaled.


Uhg... Casey is being generous with his "a little bit of quality tradeoff". It's closer to that POS Parrot then to the Phantom.

...we're soooo close! I'm sitting this one out - you can safely bet that a camera upgrade is coming 6 months from now. Charge me $200+ more for it and it'll still be worth it.

jurian kriebel's picture

This makes sense:
Looks like it was a sharpness, not a resolution problem. Still it is not as good as the Phantom, but I personally think that is gotta be expected.

Curtis David's picture

That tweeted image is HORRIBLE. Looks like a shot from a flip phone. DJI better fix the image quality or it's going to suffer in sales. No where near close to 4k video. It's less then 720p.

Rick J's picture

Probably twitter's compression of the image.
Let's give DJI some credit here; is it more likely for them to announce a 4K camera drone and put out such a subpar product... or is it more likely to be initial user incompetence?
edit: actually, "user incompetence" is probably a bit harsh. Maybe "reviewer overzealousness" is more accurate.

Mike Moses's picture

Watched the video in 4K and yes the quality difference is noticeable. What I was very impressed with was the Mavic's handling in the wind. Will be interesting to see as more real world tests come online. Thanks Lee

Jason Vinson's picture

hopefully they are still making adjustments and it will be better when fully released...

LA M's picture

Mmmm I would slow down on that...I would want to see the footage from a production unit and make a comparison between the SOOC and D-Log results.

Also I agree with his conclusion. This drone is better than anything else on the market because of the size and flight ability. The price you pay for that convenience is likely to be a reduction in IQ or flight stability.

Getting my Inspire 1 to mesh with my active lifestyle is tough. It requires a real commitment to bring it along on hikes or kayak tours. I'm going to wait until I can actually try the thing out for myself to see just how much less IQ is there before selling the big quad.

Curtis David's picture

I was ready to plunk down cash as this would fit nicely in my F-stop gear bag with my DSLR. No more one or the other, it could be both. But the image quality is certainly a deal break at this point. Come on DJI fix this junk

LA M's picture

The footage (most) so far has been user error. It's a tap-n-focus system. The footage actually looks decent when properly focused and exposed.

Austin Burke's picture

Doesn't the Marvic have a focusable lens and is not stuck at infinity? Looks like it could be improperly focused. Heres another video where it looks much sharper

LA M's picture

Took a look at that myself...don't see a huge difference from the P4. I also pushed it hard in Final Cut Pro X with sharpening and holds up. For reference, I'm viewing it on a TRUE 4K monitor....

Lee Morris's picture

Thanks for posting this. This footage does look way better. Now I'm very confused.

Pat Black's picture

Casey may also have a preproduction mavic, i doubt thats the case but still possible

Rick J's picture

It's explained pretty well here:

I think some people were jumping the gun a little with Casey's (and some other fast reviewer's) Mavic footage, and some of these early reviewers didn't realize there was an entirely new focus function. Tbh I think we all should've thought something was up when Neistat's Mavic footage was **that** subpar, considering this is DJI we're talking about.

Christian Zimm's picture

Casey fucked up big time by rushing the video without proper focus or reading any instruction, and created a big mess. LOL, now millions of his followers think Mavic has a faulty camera and are spreading false information all over internet. He should honestly delete his review and redo it

Check these crop comparisons, Mavic looking as good as Phantom 4, only with a slightly smaller FOV

This one shows how to change focus from close distance to infinity with one tap

Bill Peppas's picture

Still noticeably less detailed image than the Phantom 4.
Better than the previous samples, but not groundbreakingly better.
You can see the softness in the nearfield trees.

Ty Poland's picture

Looks to me like a big difference, if that is the quality.. I would probably just get one

Curtis David's picture

Better, but still not a great image. Lots of softness and artifacts all over that video. My iPhone takes better video with same sized or smaller lens. The go pro done kills this in image quality.

Bill Peppas's picture

Exactly my thoughts Lee.
GoPro's Karma offers a better package, you get more "bang" for your cash ( instead of just a drone you get to have an action camera, a handheld gimbal stabilizer ) and better Image Quality than the DJI Mavic.
The Mavic has a better drone and drone features, but the camera is disappointing.

I'd personally wait for a Mavic 2 from DJI with a proper camera/lens.

Taylor Osborn's picture

Uhh you do realize the Mavic's being tested right now are pre-production models right? I'll go ahead and wait to pass judgement until it is actually released. Hopefully that issue is resolved regardless.

Lee Morris's picture

I don't think I've ever tested a "pre production" unit only to have the actual unit that comes out a month later be way better. I think the issue is with the lens and sensor and I doubt they will be swapping it out before production. I also don't think they would have allowed Casey to do a comparison video if they knew the image quality was bad and would be improved later.

Taylor Osborn's picture

Good points but when have you known DJI to actually make they're release date? Mid October in DJI's calendar means January 2018. haha. Remember when the X5 first came out and there were people saying it wasn't sharp? Turned out that the AF had to calibrated which caused the issue. Hopefully that's the culprit with Casey's footage? Who knows though. This thing better be damn good!

Lee Morris's picture

Well looks like it was user error. There's still hope!

Taylor Osborn's picture

Interesting so I wasn't far off then. From one of the DJI guys in reference to casey's video; "Yeah he was not focused to infinity .. This will be a common error until people learn this function."
There's hope indeed!

Corey Frey's picture

To be honest, I would like to know all the settings Casey had on the Mavic. Seeing that it's essentially the same sensor as the Phantom 4, I don't think he had the settings sync'd up between the two. I know, with the Inspire, I had the sharpness too low on my first flights and it looked about as bad as his Mavic footage. Simply adjusting it until I felt the image was right (with intentions of post sharpening) made the image much better. I don't think you should sharpen in-camera with these small sensors.

Pat Black's picture

THE P4 and the Mavic have different sensors

Taylor Osborn's picture

That's a negative ghost rider. They both have "1/2.3” (CMOS)" sensors

Pat Black's picture

they have the same sized sensor but they are not the same sensor

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