Long Exposure With The DJI Mavic II Pro - Michigan Fly Photography

The DJI Mavic II Pro comes equipped with some amazing stabilization features that produce crisp images even at exposure times of 1 to 2 seconds. Out of the box, this was one of the first features I wanted to utilize, so the morning after I got my Mavic II Pro I woke up long before sunrise and headed to the Frankfort, Michigan pier and lighthouse.

Per FAA regulations, you cannot fly a drone outside of civil twilight, so the moment it was thirty minutes before sunrise, I took off. There was some light in the sky, but not much. Had I been shooting on my ground Nikon's manual settings, I would probably have been looking at a 30 second exposure at f/18 or so. With the drone, however, you do not need a narrow aperture, since you will not have a close foreground like you would shooting from the ground. Also, the smaller lens effectively widens the depth of field at wider apertures as compared to a full frame camera. The point - you can get away with a 1 to 2 second exposure at f/4 to f/5.6 with similar results that you would get with a thirty second exposure at f/18 on the ground.

The Mavic II Pro's camera controls are simple and intuitive, particularly for those with a solid understanding of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. Two screen clicks to set it to manual and one more click to set aperture and shutter speed and you are in business!

Flying around a place like Frankfort, Michigan at 5:56 am is a blast. There is nobody on the beach or pier, and no worries about disturbing others, invading privacy, etc. I flew right over the middle of the harbor formed by the north and south breakwalls and got this shot at a 2 second exposure at f/5.6.

Frankfort Morning Moon Aerial

It took a little brightening of the exposure in Photoshop to get it where I wanted, but I was amazed by the results. The lighthouse and pier are very sharp. It simply blows my mind that one can achieve these results from a flying camera with all kinds of rapidly spinning parts 400 feet above ground battling breezes. It takes some truly amazing technology to achieve that kind of stabilization.

Next I flew north and and out from shore a bit, descended to about 100 feet, and panned back toward shore 90 degrees. The next shot came at a a one second exposure at f/5.6.

Lighthouse Dawn Aerial

Again, it took a little brightening of the exposure in Photoshop (plus normal adjustments to other parameters), and I was floored by the results. By now the breeze had actually picked up a bit, and the stabilization still produced great results.

Finally, I got a shot looking back at the shoreline and over downtown, with light from the lighthouse, street lights, and imminent sunrise all prominent in the image. With the rapidly increasing light from the sun, shutter speed was now down to a half-second.

Frankfort Sunrise from the Sky

There were few limitations to the Mavic II Pro's stabilization technology. You will get a little more noise than shooting at faster shutter speeds. All my shots were at ISO 100, and there was some discernible noise when zooming in 100% in post-production. It was generally easy to fix using Photoshop noise reduction though. 

Overall, I'd give the Mavic II Pro's stabilization technology an 11 of 10 if I could. It is absolutely awesome.

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