A Beginners Guide: DJI Mavic Mini

I’ve been fascinated by drones for years but I’ve never taken to the skies with one myself. There has always been something holding me back…until now.

Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight – Home of Bayside Beach Hire

But there are so many good reasons not to buy one unless you’re an expert or so it seems. The tech, the registrations and restrictions, plus the bad publicity. Where do you even start?

I wasn’t sure if buying a drone was really worth it. Plus, the cost of most can be a little daunting. I wasn’t convinced I had the skills or know how to buy and validate ownership of a fancy, flying camera.

That all changed when DJI launched the Mavic Mini back in October 2019.

unsplash-logoHarry Cunningham

Okay, so I’m a little late to the party but oh boy, am I glad I turned up for this one!

I am no drone expert. I don’t have any history with drones. For a complete beginner the Mavic Mini is perfect! Marketed for the newbie with quick shot features and the sneaky 249g weight means there is no need for registration.

However, it is important to note that all drone users must follow the UK Drone Code.

So, what did I learn on my first ever flight…?

#1 Don’t forget your pre-flight checks

unsplash-logoŁukasz Nieścioruk

I got carried away! I ordered the drone on Friday, it wasn’t due to arrive until Monday, it turns up on Saturday. I mean, does it get any better. Really?!

Obviously, I get stuck straight in. Charging… download app… setup… test flight… forget to take off gimble protector.

I know the experts will be cringing right now but come on, who hasn’t forgotten.

Right guys?… guys?

Okay, so I won’t mention the time I didn’t unfold the arms but what I’m saying is, calm the f**k down. It’s awesome! I know! But you won’t be laughing when you break it within a week. I have no doubt the Mavic Mini can withstand some form of beating but no one wants to see an amazing piece of kit hit the deck like a sack of… well anyway you get my point.

#2 Always look up

 Pre-check. Check. Check again.

It’s so tempting to look at the screen when you’re flying. If you’re like me and your first love is photography and videography then it is almost impossible not to watch what you’re filming. But it turns out that rule ONE of drone flight is keep your drone in line of sight.

Simple! Or not…

Let’s just say I managed to scratch a window, trim a bush and crash land (I use the word land loosely) in the space of about 5 minutes. Fortunately, there was no damage other than a few grass stains… and a scratched window. Although, I haven’t wiped them off as a small reminder to pay attention next time.

Oh, and one last point on this one. When flying your drone at height or distance, it’s really difficult to fly it back if you can’t see where it actually is. Just saying!

#3 Plan your flight

unsplash-logoTom Wheatley

Now you’ve found an open space to practice and you’re ready to have a go at filming. Plan your shot. The more experienced film-makers among you will know this already. However, it’s super easy to get lost in the moment of a new gadget.

Think ahead.

You have so many new options including altitude, speed and trajectory. You don’t want to be throwing in a sharp change of direction mid shot. Unless of course that is the angle you’re going for. I had a few shots veer off to the left or right as I juggled watching the drone and the camera (still working on tip #2) Not easy but a great tip for collecting your first flight footage.

There is nothing like the disappointment of an epic shot unfolding on your screen as you find yourself feeling rather smug, this is easy… spin, drop, turn. Shot ruined!

The Mavic Mini exceeded expectation!

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect but I am stoked that I finally took the leap into the world of drones. If you’re thinking about your first drone, I would highly recommend the DJI Mavic Mini. You can check out the full spec here.

I have no doubt that I will be exploring more of the DJI range in the future! And by future, I mean as soon as I learn to fly properly.


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