This winter, in addition to a new camera system, I also invested in a Mavic Pro drone.  I’ve always wanted to do more aerial video and photography, and I’m having a blast with the Mavic Pro so far.  Winter is one my favorite seasons to photograph, and I was out photographing and flying the drone as much as the weather would allow.  I wanted to share some of my favorite clips I captured this winter with the Mavic Pro.  I hope you enjoy the video.

I also wanted to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned using the drone for a few months.

  1.  There are far more places you are not allowed to fly than places where you are.  Designated wilderness, national parks, some state parks, and anywhere within 5 miles of an airport are all restricted.  I had high hopes to fly in and around my home city of Bend, but the entire town is restricted air space.  I could fly in town if I really wanted to, but I would have to notify up to 5 different heliports, and airports that have overlapping restricted airspace each time I want to fly.  This makes practicing a little more challenging as I have to drive out of town to find unrestricted airspace.
  2. A lot of people are easily annoyed by drones, including myself :).  I always try to fly my drone well away from people, I don’t want take away from the experience of anyone out enjoying nature.  I haven’t had any confrontations with anyone yet, but I have talked to several other drone pilots who have been harassed and confronted by people, even though they hadn’t done anything illegal.  Some folks are just opposed to the idea of drones in general.  This is another reason I try to fly well away from any people.
  3. Drones are easy to crash and expensive to replace.  You’re supposed to keep your drone in your line of sight at all times, but even when you do it’s easy to mis-judge distance and crash into something.  I haven’t crashed my Mavic yet, but most drone pilots I’ve talked to have and say it’s only a matter of time.  For this reason, I did invest the DJI refresh program.  If I crash my drone, DJI will send me a replacement for a $100 deductible, which is a lot better than $800 for a new one.
  4. Flying a drone is even more fun than I thought.  They are actually quite easy to fly and capturing cinematic aerial shots is even more fun than I imagined.  I really enjoy the challenge of capturing different types of cinematic camera movements with the Mavic, it takes a steady hand, and some practice.  They do have a lot of programmed flight modes to help beginners capture some cool, cinematic shots like orbits, and fly away shots.  I personally like to learn how to achieve those same shots with good piloting technique.  It’s a fun skill and gives you greater control, which allows you to make more complex camera movements and adapt to different situations.
  5. The image quality of the video is truly impressive, especially when viewing in 4k.  The image quality far exceeded my expectations.  I’m constantly impressed when I view the footage I capture on the Mavic Pro.
  6. You can capture some pretty decent still images as well.  My Mavic Pro will not replace a DSLR, but you can capture some nice RAW images with it.  The sensor is only 12 megapixels on the Mavic Pro, but you can see some examples of images I’ve captured with it below.  I would love to get a drone in the future that can capture even higher quality images, I love the perspectives you can capture.  Ryan Dyar, Miles Morgan, David Thompson, Cody Wilson and a lot of other photographers are using the phantom drones to capture some really excellent photos.  I highly recommend taking a look the images they are capturing, inspiring stuff.
  7. The Mavic flies surprisingly well in the cold.  Several of the shots in the video were captured in temperatures well bellow freezing and even below 0 degrees.  My fingers on the other hand did not perform as well, it becomes really hard to operate the controls when your fingers are frozen.
  8. The Mavic Pro comes with me now on most photo shoots.  As long as it’s a location that isn’t restricted, I pack the Mavic in my camera bag.  Even though I wish I had one of the Phantom drones for the increased photo resolution, the Mavic is so small and fits in my bag like any of my lenses.  This makes it so easy to take along.  Even if I don’t use it, I like to have the option and it’s so light, I don’t worry about the extra weight.

I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Mavic Pro so far, and can’t wait to capture more stills and video this year.  Subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to see more aerial video.  I also have a post processing series and Vlog series on the channel.

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