I’m no expert in flying a drone. You can see that from my first flight that ended in a Mavic-destroying crash. But while my drone awaits repairs, I decided to dive deep in learning to make sure I have some best practices under my belt before taking to the skies again.
YouTubers Jeven Dovey and Aldryn Estacio offered up some tips aimed at new DJI Mavic Mini users that I wish I had known before starting with the drone myself.
While many of the tips are ones that photographers and cinematographers will already know — how to set up and plan for establishing shots, where to point your camera in relation to the sun, and so on, there’s a lot that photographers who have never flown before wouldn’t even think of.
Two of the best tips shared were about batteries. I chose to by the standard Mavic Mini package, and while the half-hour battery life is pretty much best-in-class, that short window might not leave you with enough time to get all the establishing shots or b-roll you might need.
It makes it clearer now why there are so many “Fly More” packages on DJI drones: shooting aerial photos is pretty fun and addictive, and you’ll be disappointed when the batteries run out before the shots are all taken. The Fly More package on the Mavic Mini includes 3 batteries instead of the usual 1, extra propellors, propellor guards, and a nice bag and a charging hub. The batteries alone make the extra $100 worth it for the second reason that Estacio shared: It’s good practice to bring the drone back when you’re at 30-40% battery life, just in case of emergency. If nothing else it’s always nice to have a dedicated battery hub and charger, as many manufacturers aren’t throwing those in these days and there’s only so many things a beleaguered spare iPhone charger can charge. It also means you don’t have to take the whole drone out to charge the battery through it.
One thing Mavic Mini pilots don’t have to worry about is registering with the FAA, but as Dovey points out, that doesn’t mean that you can be a cowboy and fly where you aren’t supposed to, as one mistake ruins things for everyone. One helpful tool that I found when reading about FAA drone regulations was their “B4UFLY” app, which, while poorly named, does a good job of letting you know of any potential issues in the area you are intending to fly in.
There are a few other good tips in there, especially ones about flying that I wish I had known, but you can check out the video for yourself to learn some more.
Do you have any tips for new drone pilots? Share them in the comments below.