When legislators around the world began to set a limit of 250g (8.8oz), beyond that the drone required some form of registration and toys were the only real competitor. DJI quickly showed that it was possible to go beyond the limits of the Mavic Mini and achieve a stable camera with remote video, which is the core of creative tools.
Since then, “ultra-lightweight” spaces have become extremely competitive, with both Autel and DJI offering full-fledged professional features with EVO Nano +. (Opens in a new tab) And Mini 3 Pro (Opens in a new tab) In each case, DJI incorporates the iPhone SE philosophy as well as tags to maintain minimal service in the form of Mini SE.
There is no doubt that the Mini SE is relatively cheap, but the question is whether it’s worth it because you have to compromise with a drone similar to the Mini SE. Will it fly enough? Are videos and photos the right standards?
• DJI Mini SE and Mini 2 (Opens in a new tab)
What’s inside the box?
This is actually a big choice, depending on whether you choose “Fly More Kit” or the standard package. The former includes a case and three battery charging hubs in addition to the standard battery. The charging hub is a box that can sequentially charge the power-hungry batteries, so the second battery will be charged at the next boot, which is a very convenient time saver.
In both cases, you’ll find a foldable drone, a controller with a foldable arm (acting as a monitor) to grab your phone, an iPhone Lightning port, MicroUSB, or three connecting cables for USB-C. The majority of phones (you need to download the free DJI Fly app).
Design and controller
The aircraft design is almost indistinguishable from the DJI Mini 2, while the controller is similar to the retired Mavic Mini design. (Opens in a new tab), There is a reason for that. The Mini SE uses almost the same components, but is placed in a sophisticated molding of the new Mini 2 (representing the ultra-lightweight middle tier of the DJI series). An important part of electronic devices is wireless systems. It has been updated for the Mini 2 to provide longer distances, so the drone comes with a new controller design.
The Mini SE controller may not have the latest technology, but it outperforms its successor in size and weight and is folded into a compact size. The phone grip coming out of the bottom can continue to handle the latest big phones (tested on the iPhone 13 Pro Max). There’s a Micro-USB socket on the left that acts as a charging port for a 2,600mAh battery or connects your phone using one of the full connectors that came with it (the cable isn’t hanging here). Oddly enough, the Android smartphone is charged and the controller lasts less than 2 hours, but the iPhone doesn’t leave the controller up to 4.5 hours of charging.
If you fold and pack the controller, you need to fold the antenna. You need to loosen the stick and push it into the clip under the phone grip. The stick is a hard plastic, not metal like DJI’s other products, but it’s okay.Losing them is always a concern, but the fact that the controller can be so compact for travel
The Mini SE’s aircraft is slightly more angled than the new Bugeye Mini 3 Pro and folds to about the same size as a large cell phone. The open diagonal size is 213 mm, which is significantly smaller than the Mini3 Pro’s 247 mm. Manage flight times up to 30 minutes. In fact, it meant being warned to come and land a little over 20 minutes after taking off on a fairly active flight, which is often compared to more expensive drones.
The camera is mounted on a gimbal stabilizer hidden under a plastic lens cap that needs to be removed for flight. When placed on a flat surface, the gimbal has ample space to maneuver on the ground thanks to the legs of the forearm. This is a common style found on many DJI drones, but it’s useful to have a landing pad.
The drone’s battery can be charged at the charging hub, if any, or using the aircraft itself. On the back is a USB-C socket for that purpose and a slot for a MicroSD card. There is no onboard memory, so you need to provide memory.
The experience of getting started with the Mini SE and jumping into the air is very similar to other DJI aircraft (such as the Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro). These are all because they use the app DJI Fly. The app is equipped with handy tutorials created with clear animated graphics and on-screen instructions. It’s neither overkill nor boring, and you keep you far more prepared to fly farther than a simple video does.
That means you’ll float in the air and quickly test the limits of your drone. There are three different flight modes that can be easily switched with the buttons on the screen: Cine, P (normal) and Sport. Except for the deliberately slow cine mode, both normal and sport feel a bit slower than the more expensive drones, and that’s not surprising. Still, I enjoyed switching the gimbal to FPV mode. (This means that the camera doesn’t try to stay level, so the flight feels fast and fun.)
In reality, I don’t think many users will suffer from slow speeds, but if the descent speed is limited to 3m / s (compared to the Mini3Pro’s 5m / s), they don’t have the same power. It’s clear. Or handle the performance to match the more expensive siblings.
There is no collision sensor itself, but even in sports mode, if you fly a little hard on the ground, the drone’s landing sensor will activate and the drone will switch to automatic landing mode.
To land the drone, simply hold down the descent lever or press the landing button. After testing the return and landing modes, the drone returned within 2 meters of the takeoff point and began landing, even in fairly refreshing weather. You can rest assured that this option is always available on-screen and as a physical button on your controller. We know you shouldn’t, but we’ve also managed some hand landings that are a good representation of drone hovering.
At DJI Fly, I wasn’t dissatisfied with the standard configuration, but appreciated the ability to adjust the control curve. On the other hand, I felt sick because I had to switch to sports just to fight the wind on my way home.
DJI Mini SE Photo
Taking pictures with the Mini SE is easy. Especially because there aren’t many options. The camera can be pointed at any angle from directly below to directly in front. In the extended settings, it can also be tilted up by 20 °.
This camera features 12 megapixel 1 / 2.3 inch CMOS and an 83 ° field of view (24mm EFL). The ISO is only 100-3,200, but the electronic shutter operates from 4 seconds to 1/8000. Stills can be captured 4: 3 or 16: 9, both of which are 4000 pixels wide, so the latter is effectively a crop.
The photo can be captured as a single shot or in interval mode (with an option of 2-60 seconds). It can be manually assembled later to create a timelapse. Or it could be a software solution to keep taking pictures in case the pilot is distracted. ..
That’s all for the options. It’s easy to operate, but you have the option to switch from automatic to manual. Release the dial on the screen to control the shutter speed and ISO. The menu also displays a live histogram (drag to the desired position) and an overexposed “blink”. It’s a good idea as it reminds me to disable automatic mode. Automatic mode may be a little relaxing about overexposure. In other respects, photos and videos are often compared to good phones. There is no aggressive sharpening, but it is not soft either. Like other DJI drones, the colors look natural, but probably with extra saturation, but enough to make the grass and trees look beautiful.
DJI Mini SE Video
Video is captured at 2.7K 30fps (2720 x 1530 pixels) or 1080p up to 60fps. As a low resolution “economy” option, this is better than you might expect. The bit rate is 40 Mbps. This is a bit lower than some, especially because the only compression algorithm option is H.264, not H.265.
All of this will inevitably appear in videos that do not meet expert standards. Noise is especially noticeable in dark areas. Nonetheless, the details are displayed and the bitrate is enough to create a video that doesn’t hurt itself next to some of the 4K we’ve seen. On sunny days, you can manually edging one or the other, but it’s difficult to achieve both shadow and highlight details. A little soft clouds can make things a little easier, but in the dark there are clear particles in the video. Definitely a daytime device (but many aviation authorities make this a rule anyway).
DJI MiniSE-Sample Video Clip
DJI Mini SE Software: DJI Fly
Various additional AI features have become standard on modern drones, and even the base model, the Mini SE, will not hang. Includes 4 of the best DJI Quick Shots (Opens in a new tab)It works by locking on a transparent subject using the camera and performing a pre-determined flight. We like them all-they are useful for catching selfie clips-and especially (after past disappointments) they are 1080P by default but you can choose 2.7K in particular I was impressed. It was a pity that there were very few options for distance. The rocket was, for example, 30m or 40m.
DJI Mini SE Verdict
Compared to the finest drones, the Mini SE doesn’t do much, but it does what it sets up well. Photos and videos from the air, and for many, that’s enough and very shareable. In fact, it’s suitable for non-professional editing scenarios.
I thought the flight experience was solid and reliable, and I highly appreciated that the lower sensor prevented severe collisions with the ground and made it possible to use it indoors without drift (GPS assists this outdoors). ).
I wasn’t thankful for how DJI Fly requested an email and tried to sell an extended warranty on the first flight, but it wasn’t even low resolution by default in each mode. It’s also a bit strange to be able to place the histogram above the on-screen home return option. Otherwise, the app is sophisticated and easy to navigate (not exactly necessary, of course).
Weaknesses other than camera options are range. At about 250m (820ft), we found that the signal had reached its limit. However, this is because it is wise to fly with such a small drone (at this point it will be difficult to see with the naked eye).
Even if the restrictions cause problems, DJI has many more expensive options. What’s amazing here is that you get a complete FlyMore kit with three batteries, less than a 4K Mini 2 with one battery. It feels like a bargain.