DJI hasn’t had a real budget-minded drone in its lineup for some time, however the Mini 2 SE ($339 with distant) breaks that streak. This compact flier gives hi-res 2.7K recordings at as much as 30fps, flight instances of round half-hour, and handy USB-C charging for each the drone and distant. It does not embody impediment detection sensors or all the most recent options from its higher-end siblings, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a wonderful worth in mild of disappointing rivals on this worth vary just like the $239.99 Holy Stone HS360. The Mini 2 SE is thus worthy of our Editors’ Alternative award for budget-friendly drones, an honor we final gave to the discontinued Mini 2.
Makes Regulatory Weight
The Mini collection began as a response to regulatory restrictions; within the US and lots of different areas, governing our bodies determined that drones that weigh 249g (8.8 ounces) or much less are secure to fly with out registration. The Mini 2 SE makes that weight precisely, so you do not have to undergo the (minor) problem of FAA registration.
Even with out registration, new pilots should nonetheless go a free, on-line data quiz, The Leisure UAS Security Take a look at (TRUST). It is a straightforward A, so long as you learn up on the fundamentals. For extra element, learn our primer on drone laws.
The Mini 2 SE is not far off from different small folding drones in idea. Its arms collapse in for storage to create a 2.3-by-3.2-by-5.4-inch (HWD) body. To maintain prices low, the drone shares a lot of its tech with earlier fashions within the collection; its airframe and motors are from the Mini 2, and its digital camera is from the unique Mavic Mini.
A nose-mounted digital camera helps 2.7K video at as much as 30fps with 8-bit SDR colour, in addition to JPG and Uncooked DNG format stills at 12MP. The digital camera is a step again from the Mini 3 and Mini 3 Professional, which supply 4K with wider dynamic vary, in addition to the choice to document vertical video. The Mini 2 SE’s digital camera information in a 16:9 facet ratio solely, so its output appears to be like greatest on TVs or YouTube, quite than any of the vertically-oriented social media platforms.
DJI sells the Mini 2 SE in two configurations. The $339 commonplace version comes with the drone, a distant, and the anticipated cables and equipment. The $489 Fly Extra Combo consists of three interchangeable batteries, a charging dock that permits you to replenish the batteries in succession, and a zippered shoulder bag to hold your package.
DJI charges the Mini 2 SE’s flight time at 31 minutes per cost, and precise flight instances in testing do not lag too far behind. You possibly can moderately anticipate near half-hour of uptime on the drone’s commonplace velocity setting (as much as 22mph), or a bit much less if you happen to go for the high-speed Sport mode (as much as 35mph). For comparability, the Mini 3 can fly simply as quick, however its battery is nice for 38 minutes, whereas an prolonged battery choice pushes the runtime to 51 minutes.
It is worthwhile to have a look at the Fly Extra Combo (due to the a number of batteries this package deal consists of) if you happen to intend to take the drone up for longer flights or make a number of brief flights between costs. The Mini 2 SE helps in-drone charging by way of USB-C and wishes about 90 minutes to cost absolutely.
Though dearer DJI drones embody some onboard storage (the Mavic 3 Traditional has 8GB, for instance), the Mini 2 SE requires a microSD card (not included) for storage. As a result of a minute of video takes up roughly 300MB, try to be positive with a cheap 32GB or 64GB card. At press time a SanDisk 32GB Excessive UHS-I microSDHC card sells for round $10 and is greater than quick sufficient to deal with the Mini 2 SE’s video.
DJI Mini 2 SE Flight Expertise and Security Options
Like most shopper drones, a smartphone is a must have for the Mini 2 SE. The drone features a distant, the DJI RC-N1, as a part of its primary bundle, nevertheless it’s not the sort with a built-in display screen and app; the fancier DJI-RC does not work with the Mini 2 SE. Due to this fact, you might want to load the free DJI Fly app in your cellphone (out there for Android and iOS) to finish the setup and finally fly the drone.
You need to arrange a DJI account (if you do not have one already) and activate the drone earlier than your first flight. This begins the clock in your yr of guarantee protection, although you can too buy the DJI Care Refresh prolonged guarantee ($59) to get two years of unintentional injury and flyaway protection. The app additionally walks you thru a primary data quiz, which ought to be a breeze to go if you happen to’ve discovered the FAA TRUST supplies.
As soon as that is carried out, it is only a matter of clipping your cellphone into the distant and plugging it in by way of one of many included cables. DJI places Lightning, micro USB, and USB-C connectors within the field. I used the drone with an iPhone 13 and solely notched a minor grievance—DJI’s bundled cable is a bit too fats to plug into the cellphone when it is in my Peak Design case, so I needed to take the case off to make use of it. Should you run into an identical concern, you possibly can swap the included cable out for one more that connects to the distant management’s USB-C information port, however then you definately miss out on the choice to stow the cable within the distant while you aren’t utilizing it. The distant clip is giant sufficient to deal with massive telephones, however if you happen to want to fly with a pill, an add-on holder ($49) is on the market.
The distant consists of the essential flight controls—the left stick controls altitude and orientation, whereas the best stick strikes the drone laterally in any course. There is a toggle change to vary flight speeds (Cine, Regular, and Sport), a Return-to-Dwelling/Pause button to cease the drone in place or deliver it again to the takeoff spot routinely, and a management wheel to tilt the digital camera up or down. For reference, the Cine mode is the slowest of the three flight speeds and greatest for deliberate, movie-ready pans over a location.
You should use the distant to cease and begin movies or take footage too, features that additionally present up within the app. The management UI seems on high of the digital camera feed, with quick access to photograph and video options, in addition to telemetry information to let you understand altitude, orientation, and airspeed. You possibly can faucet right into a world map to see each your and the drone’s place, and a Discover My Drone perform is on the market if you happen to do lose monitor of the Mini.
The Mini 2 SE locked onto GPS in beneath a minute throughout our take a look at flights within the rural outskirts of the Philadelphia suburbs. A built-in geofence system, DJI Fly Protected, prevents learners from taking off in restricted airspace too, so you will not inadvertently get into authorized bother. The FAA exempts 249g drones from Distant ID necessities; regardless, we’re undecided if the Mini 2 SE helps it, and have requested DJI for remark, however didn’t obtain a solution. In any other case, the drone additionally consists of downward-facing place sensors that assist it keep regular when you’re flying indoors with out GPS or outside at low altitudes.
Regular flight, a robust 720p video stream to your cellphone by way of DJI’s O2 protocol, and glorious wind resistance contribute to a largely secure flight expertise, although we do have one reservation. The Mini 2 SE omits impediment detection sensors, so you might want to take care when flying it low to the bottom.
Flight is generally guide, however the app consists of some automated flight paths. DJI calls them Fast Photographs and so they embody orbit, corkscrew, rocket, and different reveal pictures. To start out, spotlight what you need the drone to deal with within the app display screen and have it begin the shot. Take warning when utilizing these modes, nevertheless, as a result of lack of impediment detection. The pause button on the distant is beneficial right here, faucet it as soon as to cease the drone in place if it appears to be like prefer it’s heading towards a collision.
A number of extra flight options from fashions with impediment sensors, just like the Mini 3 Professional, aren’t right here, corresponding to Hyperlapse (time lapses with movement) and Lively Monitor (topic monitoring). That mentioned, these modes aren’t out there with the mid-tier Mini 3 both.
2.7K Digicam With SDR Colour
The Mini 2 SE’s digital camera is a bit underpowered in contrast with the high-end shooter within the Mini 3 Professional, nevertheless it’s an all-star on this inexpensive worth bracket. It information crisp 2.7K video at 30 or 24 frames per second with 8-bit SDR colour and retains footage regular with a 3-axis gimbal. There’s merely no contest between the high-quality video from the Mini 2 SE and the jerky, undersaturated footage from the similarly-priced Holy Stone HS360.
The digital camera has a 24mm angle focal size with help for 2x and 3x digital zoom. The 2x appears to be like near lossless to me, and I would not be shocked if the drone is solely cropping into its Kind 1/2.3 CMOS sensor; the Mini 2 SE’s digital camera sensor has 4K price of pixels in any case. The 3x punch-in mode appears to be like a bit tender to my eye however remains to be usable.
One draw back is that you simply get only one colour profile. You possibly can’t change to a low-contrast, vivid, or black-and-white look in digital camera, and the 8-bit H.264 commonplace colour profile does not offer you an excessive amount of leeway to edit. The SDR profile struggles to seize element in darkish shadows and highlights, unhealthy information for recordings of the rising or setting solar. For these varieties of scenes, flip to the Mini 3 and three Professional for his or her HDR-like 4K profiles. With the solar behind the Mini 2 SE, nevertheless, video high quality appears to be like nice.
For stills, the Mini 2 SE helps JPG and Uncooked DNG seize with 8MP (16:9) or 12MP (4:3) output. The JPG colour profile matches the usual look, whereas DNG footage save extra information so you possibly can edit them to your coronary heart’s content material in software program like Adobe Lightroom Traditional or a distinct Uncooked converter. Total, image high quality is in step with mid-range smartphones; we once more level to the Mini 3 or Mini 3 Professional as a step-up choice for extra demanding creators, as their bigger Kind-1/1.3 Quad Bayer cameras are extra in step with these on premium compact cameras and flagship smartphones.
The Finest Starter Drone
The DJI Mini 2 SE makes use of a little bit of recycled tech for positive (it is primarily a Mini 2 drone with the two.7K video engine from the unique Mavic Mini), nevertheless it gives much better video high quality and maneuverability than different price range fashions we have examined. It is also fairly succesful for stills, with help for as much as 12MP Uncooked pictures. At round $339 with a distant, the Mini 2 SE is probably the most inexpensive choice in DJI’s lineup, undercutting the Mini 3 ($559 with RC-N1) and Mini 3 Professional ($759 with RC-N1) by a superb margin. These pricier fashions could be definitely worth the improve if you need even higher video high quality, longer flight instances, and impediment detection (for the Professional mannequin), however if you happen to simply need to attempt a low-cost drone that will not develop into an costly paperweight, the Mini 2 SE is a superb choice and an Editors’ Alternative winner.
Because of B&H PictureB&H Picture for offering the Mini 2 SE for overview.