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Intro

The Mavic 2 Zoom has a lot going for it, excellent battery life and fantastic range, but the unique feature is obviously the zoom lens. While the dolly zoom is a fun effect, the flexibility that the zoom lens brings to the table is what’s most exciting.

The Zoom Lens

Of course, you can more discretely shoot from further away. But more than that, you can compress the scene with longer focal lengths, bringing foreground and background together. This opens up a lot of possibilities for your compositions and gives you a new perspective.   

Composition 

While in Jamaica for a shoot, I wanted to show off the landscape. Shooting straight out towards the water produced bland shots, so I decided to shoot along the coast. This is where the flexibility of the Mavic 2 Zoom came in handy. I backed up and zoomed in to compress the scene, which allowed me to include foreground interest. With a wider lens,  I would have otherwise been too far away for a shot.

mavic 2 zoom at 48mmAdding layers by zooming

 

mavic 2 zoom at 48mm
Mavic 2 Zoom at 48mm



I’ve never come away from a single location with a higher number of unique compositions. 
The long lens compression helps you come up with new shot ideas, flattens out your straight down shots, and makes it easier to cut out distracting elements.

Quick Tip

Try flying in Tripod Mode for shots with foreground. This will keep you from flying too quickly past the foreground, which can be distracting for the viewer.

 

Back Parallax 

Shooting telephoto while flying will introduce more background movement to your camera moves. It looks elegant and isolates your subject within the scene. You’ll need to keep the camera locked on to your subject so that it doesn’t move within the frame, which will make the background whirl around your subject.

The Point of Interest Intelligent flight mode gives you a more accurate flight path for circular movements. You should practice this manually so that you can pivot around moving subjects as well.

48mm manual pivot 

Camera Setup

With all of the flexibility that comes with the zoom, you’ll need to make sure that the camera is set properly. This is very subjective, but I have a few tips from testing. 

For a simple and nice looking image straight out of camera, I like a Color setting of Normal with a custom style setting of 0 sharpening, -3 contrast, and 0 Saturation. The boosts in the shadow range will give you more dynamic range, but it still looks nice and poppy. 

For more dynamic range and flexibility while grading, try Color Setting  D-Cinelike with custom style setting of 0 sharpening, -3 contrast, and 0 saturation. You’ll have a surprisingly flat image and more shadow detail than normal mode. You’ll need to color grade this in post, so I helped to develop SkyGrades presets specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. SkyGrades Natural gives you beautiful, natural colors and the SkyGrades Cinema makes your footage pop with rich, bold contrast. Blend them together for unique looks!

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Preset LUTs

Overall thoughts

The Mavic 2 Zoom is hands down the most fun I’ve had flying a drone. It’s important to remember that the Zoom can go to 24mm as well, giving you about 15% more field of view over the Mavic 2 Pro. The range and battery life are incredible, and the variable focal length opens up new possibilities in every situation.

Matt Harris

Matt is the lead filmmaker and educator at The Film Poets.

4 Comments

  • John Kling says:

    Hello
    I just bought the zoom!
    I had a couple cheap toy drones but decided I wanted to learn to fly and shoot professional.
    I work in a Surveying Office drawing plats. W ed dont use drones there. But I see them as the future in the industry. My thoughts are to try moonlighting in the real estate market. Any suggestions from a pro would be greatly appreciated.
    Thx -John K.

  • Matt Harris says:

    That sounds pretty cool John. It’s always great to own a professional tool if you can, even if it’s just for fun. It makes it much easier to transition when you start doing pro work. Have fun with that zoom!

  • Robin Bailey says:

    Well Done Matt,
    A Very Useful Video with the added bonus of written and visual explanations below.
    I feel I learnt a lot in just over five minutes.
    Cheers!

  • Chris says:

    I appreciate the clarity of your writing. I have a slightly different query concerning the camera on the Mavic 2 Zoom: the FC2204. The barrel distortion is horrendous – I know that with short focal length zoom lenses this is inevitable – but it is playing Hob with work I am trying to do orthomapping archaeological sites and Heritage features. I have been trying to find a sensible lens correction profile for this camera. I use Darktable and GIMP v.3. So far? nil… nada… bupkiss… lens corrections for the Hasselblad(?) totin’ Mavic 2 Pro? oh yes… but nothing for the Zoom. Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted and tried.

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