Getting into the air with your Mavic Pro is a dream, but knowing exactly what camera settings to use is not always so easy.
First, there are all the settings you would use on a camera - ISO, shutter speed and F-stop. That is complicated enough,
But then, if you throw video into the mix, there are even more things to consider.
So, in this article I am going to break it all down for you so you can get the best camera settings for your Mavic Pro.
Tip: always touch the screen on the point you want to focus on before you start recording and flying. Otherwise, it will probably be out of focus!
The first trick you need to be aware of is the camera focus.
Unlike a lot of other drone cameras, the Mavic Pro does not automatically focus where you want or expect it to.
So, often you will get home after an awesome drone flight only to find all your video out of focus.
If it is a specific object or distance, then choose that. But for the most general and all-round focus, it is best if you touch the furthest point you can see with the camera. This gives you an "infinity" focus which brings most things in the shot into focus at all times.
There are two areas I need to talk about here, so I am going to break them down separately. There is the camera, and the video settings.
Three things affect the picture on a camera:
ISO is an approximation of the old grains in film camera, and the lower the number the higher the quality image. So, if you have an ISO 50 or 100 it's going to be ideal.
Shutter speed determines how fast the camera shutter opens and closes. Which then means how much lift gets into the camera. So, a lower shutter speed means a darker image.
Tip: always aim for the lowest ISO possible to get the best quality image.
Aperture or f-stop is how wide open the opening is in the camera, and also determines how much light gets in. The smaller the number the less in focus the image is (before or after the point that is in focus).
In combination these three things determine how dark or light your image is (shutter speed), how grainy it appears (ISO) and how in focus it appears (f-stop). Of course, it is far more complex than that - but I will give you some basic settings below to help take better shots.
Video adds an extra dimension of complexity to using a camera, but when you break it down there are only a few other things you need to keep in mind.
Resolution determines how many pixels will be used to make the video. Generally, the bigger the number the better. But, it usually comes with compromises like - larger file size and potentially less frame rate options.
Frame Rate is how many frames per second are shot while filming the video. Remember, a video is just a series of individual shots from the camera. Just a lot of them (30 per second for example). More
Tip: A general rule of good video is to set the shutter speed in proportion to the frame rate.
If you shoot at 30fps for example, the shutter speed should be 1/60.
The Mavic Pro comes with video resolution up to 4K. However, most people will tell you that you get just as good results if you use 2K (actually 2.7K: 2720x1530).
As far as frame rates, the Mavic Pro tends to have issues with higher frame rates (60, 90 etc) where you get digital aliasing (fuzzy edges).
So, if possible stick with the lower frame rates (24, 25, 30 etc) as this will give you far better results.
Of course, always remember to get your shutter speed at a ratio of about 2:1 compared to your frame rate:
Note: If you shoot during the day getting to 1/50 shutter speed at ISO 100 is going to be impossible in most cases. In that case, you need to add a Neutral Density filter which simply reduces the amount of light entering the camera (which will get your shutter speed down). Depending on how bright it is you might need an ND8, 16 or 32.
You are always aiming for the lowest ISO possible in any given situation. However, if you shoot in low light you might have to increase it to 400 or 800.
I would also aim for a high f-stop number (for the aperture) to give you the maximum amount of focus in the shot.
There are a few more video settings you want to play with to get the optimum shot.
The first are the sharpness, contrast and saturation.
To find these on the DJI Go app, you have to head to camera settings and then the "Camera" icon under Style.
Out of the box, these are all set to zero, but you will get better, more cinematic results if you dial down the sharpness and contrast a little.
Depending on your taste, you could go for -1 or -2 on sharpness and contrast. Most people tend to leave saturation alone.
Play around with them and see what suits you.
Next is the color setting which is also under the "camera" section of the camera settings.
"Normal" is the default setting, and will actually work for most situations. But, if you want to have a more stylish look you can choose one of the color settings here.
There are two situations you need to think about though.
1. If you do post production, Normal, D-Cinelike or D-Log are the settings you want to try out. A lot of people say D-Log does not work that well on the Mavic, so also try D-Cinelike, you might get better results.
2. If you are not planning on any post production, color settings might work well for you. Just be aware, they are hard to reverse (in the editor) once you have shot with them.
Last is the white balance, yes, which is also under the "cog" section of the camera settings.
Most people will stick with "Auto" which is the default, but this does not always give you the best results.
If it is sunny or cloudy, there are specific settings for those, so using them will often do more good than harm. And if you happen to be flying or shooting indoors, there are settings for indoor lighting too.
In the end, the exact settings are up to the situation and your personal preference. The above will give you a good starting point and from there you just need to tweak and test.