How to Level Up Your Drone Photos Using the DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Drones can be beneficial for a wide range of photography, including commercial, wedding, automotive, sports, racing, and beyond. Media is constantly evolving, and adding a drone to your photography kit can help to keep you competitive, creative, and relevant in today’s evolving media landscape.

Reza Malayeri drone photography DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Photo by Reza Malayeri
Reza Malayeri drone photography DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Photo by Reza Malayeri

I personally fly the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It’s a compact and powerful drone, capable of taking some incredible photos and videos. Equipped with a 1-inch sensor developed by DJI and Hasselblad, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is an essential part of my photography tool kit. Adding a drone to my photography toolkit has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my creative career, allowing me to take pictures and videos that I would not have been able to take otherwise.

I love having the ability to differentiate my work through the use of unique compositions that only a drone can provide. My creative potential has been greatly expanded, allowing me to tell more complete stories than I’ve been able to in the past. Trying to tell a story from a single image on the ground is not an easy task, but sending your drone up to 300 feet can really help to tell the big picture of a story.

Reza Malayeri drone photography DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Photo by Reza Malayeri
Reza Malayeri drone photography DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Photo by Reza Malayeri

To that end, I’ve put together some of my best recommended settings for getting the most out of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro for photography.

1. Set photo capture settings to RAW or RAW + JPEG

In order to have the most amount of data for post processing your photos, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve set your photo capture settings to RAW or RAW + JPEG. This will allow you to correct your images in post for optimal exposure and white balance, all because you’ll have the full latitude of RAW image editing, including a higher dynamic range, and full white balance adjustments.

2. Turn on grid lines

Turning on grid lines allows you to get the best possible composition while taking photos with your DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It can be difficult to judge symmetry of lines from the air, so using the grid lines can be an essential tool for getting symmetrical lines and compositions.

3. Set gimbal to lock when capture

This setting will ensure that your gimbal remains locked during image capture. Being that your camera is already challenged with keeping the motion from the motors from impacting your images, the last thing you want is your gimbal moving in the middle of taking a photo. Ensure that you turn this setting on, so you can get the sharpest possible photos with your gimbal locked in place when taking the shot.

4. Turn on histogram and zebra

Histograms and zebra allow you to see a representation of your scene’s exposure before you take pictures. Turning these two settings on will allow you to get the best possible exposure for your photo. Try to keep your histogram from clipping the shadows and highlights. The zebra lines show the parts of the image that are overexposed, so try to keep those to a minimum if possible.

5. Turn on focus peaking and set it to High

Focus peaking allows you to see the parts of your image that are in critical focus. Turn your focus peaking on, and set it to high. This will ensure that you can easily see all the parts of your image that will be in critical focus. There’s nothing worse than taking the perfect aerial photo, just to get home and find out that your subject is out of focus. 

6. Set camera to manual mode

This way, you can choose the best combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for your given lighting conditions and shooting objectives. In order to get the sharpest possible photos from your DJI Mavic 2 Pro, you’ll want to focus on getting four settings as good as possible for your given lighting conditions: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and critical focus.

The Mavic 2 Pro delivers the sharpest photos at f/5.6, so if you have enough light, you’ll want to keep your ISO at the lowest possible setting for the scene, and pick a shutter speed that will give you little to no motion blur. Once you have the optimal aperture, shutter speed, and ISO selected, the final step is to ensure that you are critically focused on your subject.

Put your Mavic 2 Pro into manual focus mode, and use the focus peaking to determine if your subject is critically focused. Everything that is red will be in focus, and everything that has zebra stripes will have some clipped highlights. Try to minimize the amount of Zebras, so you clip or loose as little highlight information as possible. It’s easy to pull up shadow detail in post, but it’s not possible to recover clipped highlight information once it’s lost.

These tips should give you a solid foundation for getting amazing aerial photos with your DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Hopefully you will consider adding a drone to your photography kit as well. Doing so has the potential to open your eyes to new horizons, and take your photography to new heights.