DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone review: our top pick for long-range videography and special effects

It’s been out a while but don’t discount the cinematic excellence of DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom. Here's our full review

Man on beach with DJI Mavic 2 Zoom flying above
(Image credit: DJI)
T3 Verdict

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is a superb drone for video purposes, not least because it provides the wherewithal to shoot subjects from further away and with a shallower depth of field. If aerial video is your main reason for buying a drone and you can't afford the Pro version, then this model is more than good enough for the task.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    2x optical zoom

  • +

    Striking 4K video

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    Obstacle avoidance

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    Creates great special effects

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    You may not use the zoom much

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Update: the DJI Mavic 2, and the Zoom version, are no longer in production. You might be able to still find one via third-party retailers, but for a look at the current model, head to our DJI Mavic 3 drone review instead. 

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, an exceptional camera-carrying drone for those who need to get closer to the action from a safe distance. DJI currently occupies 70% of both the consumer and commercial drone markets. Its expertise in both fields is second to none which is why this brand continues to dominate our best drone ranking. 

While this particular model hasn't hasn't enjoyed the same level of success as some of its sister products (namely the Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Mini 2 and Mavic Air 2), it's still well worth considering. There are a few good reasons why this model may be better suited to your needs than its more expensive stable mate, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Read on to get the low-down in our full DJI Mavic 2 Zoom drone review. 

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review: design & features

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review

(Image credit: DJI)

DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom shares identical DNA with its stablemate the Mavic 2 Pro. Both craft are equipped with folding propellor arms for easy transportation and they’re both the same size and almost the same weight (the Pro is a just 2g heavier). They’re also equipped with the same multi-directional obstacle avoidance systems and identical internals. In fact, the only differences between the two are the cameras they’re equipped with and, of course, the price – the Mavic 2 Zoom retails at £1,099 and the Mavic 2 Pro at £1,349.

As is the case with any modern drone worth its salts, the Mavic 2 Zoom works in perfect harmony with the DJI Go 4 app for iPhone and Android. Aside from displaying what the drone’s camera sees from up to five miles away, the app also provides access to a plethora of custom features and a variety of intelligent flight modes, including the addition of a Hyperlapse function that captures stop-frame visuals over a wide area before stitching it all together within the app.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review: camera performance

Where the Mavic 2 Pro comes with a Hasselblad camera with a one-inch sensor for professional, high quality aerial photography, the Zoom forfeits image resolution in favour of a 2x optical zoom with a 35mm format equivalent focal length of 24-48mm.

Granted, the Mavic 2 Zoom might not be in the same league as the Pro for photography purposes, but when it comes to shooting high definition 4K video, both models share the same rosy specs of 4K at up to 30fps, 2.7K at up to 60fps and 1080p at up to 120fps. In other words, if you plan to shoot more video than stills, then there is a very good argument to go for this model and save yourself £250 in the process. After all, it also features optical zoom that ranges from 24mm to 48mm. And what’s more, the zoom function can be activated while the drone is moving.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review

The Mavic 2 Zoom's camera is a boon for long-range videography

(Image credit: DJI)

So why would you want a zoom function on a drone given that you could simply fly the craft nearer to the subject you plan to shoot? Well, for starters the law prevents anyone from flying within 50 metres of people and buildings, and given that the average drone camera has the focal length equivalent to an iPhone, it means that most smaller subjects you want to shoot will look really tiny in the frame. 

With this drone you can zoom in much closer while keeping a safe distance away – and without affecting the quality of the image. The same applies to animals, which are easily stressed by the presence of a buzzing drone. Again, with this model you can hover out of sound range and simply zoom in for some striking wildlife shots without causing any grief to the animals. A zoom function also makes it much easier to create videos and photos with a shallower depth of field, ie the main subject is pin sharp against a blurred background. 

A motorised zoom function of this nature also lets you recreate the spectacular dolly zoom effect made famous by Hitchcock and used to amazing effect in Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’, when Roy Scheider’s horrified Chief Martin Brody spots a shark from his deckchair. In this scene, Scheider’s body remains the same size in the frame while the entire background bulges in around him. Normally, you would need to recreate this effect using specialised editing software but this drone does it all for you automatically.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review: flight performance

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is a doddle to fly using the supplied hand controller and your own phone

(Image credit: DJI)

As to be expected from a DJI drone, the Mavic 2 Zoom flies supremely well – the controls are butter smooth and it’s extremely stable, even in a stiff breeze. Moreover, it will stay aloft for up to 31 minutes at a time and has a commendable top speed of 44mph when flown in Sport mode. It’s also remarkably quiet for a drone of this size. In fact you can hardly hear it from just 30 metres away. 

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review: who can fly it?

As of 31 December 2020, all pilots of camera drones will need to purchase an Operator ID from the CAA and sit a short multiple-choice online examination. However, for even better flying opportunities, we would suggest going for an A2 Certificate of Competence, which allows the Mavic 2 Zoom pilot to fly in areas used for recreational, industrial, residential or commercial purposes. 

Find out more about CAA drone regulations.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review

(Image credit: DJI)

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review: verdict

When it comes to shooting high definition 4K aerial video, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is one of the very best equipped drones on the market. Its superb 2x zoom function provides excellent depth of field and extra scope to shoot from further away, while its omnidirectional obstacle avoidance is a boon for flying in confined areas. If videography is your thing, then this might be the drone for you.

First reviewed February 2021

Derek Adams

Derek (aka Delbert, Delvis, Delphinium, Delboy etc) specialises in home and outdoor wares, from coffee machines, white appliances and vacs to drones, garden gear and BBQs. He has been writing for more years than anyone can remember, starting at the legendary Time Out magazine – the original, London version – on a typewriter! He now writes for T3 between playing drums with his bandmates in Red Box (redboxmusic).