The DJI Mini 4 Pro is a drone I’ve been looking forward to flying for a while. Weighing in at under 250g, while still featuring a powerful and capable camera, the Mini 4 Pro packs a lot of features into a tiny body. But can a drone that only weighs a few ounces really deliver quality photos and videos?
When I first picked up the Mini 4 Pro, I was amazed at the size and weight. At under 250g of take-off weight, the drone weighs significantly less than just the battery on my Mavic 3, and easily fits into a single lens slot in most camera bags.
The 250g mark is also very important in terms of regulation: DJI claims “the drone’s weight means there’s no need for training or examinations in most countries and regions.” Travel photographers and beginners can both benefit from easier compliance with these regulations. Even experienced pilots can appreciate the lower profile of the drone when flying near bystanders. Impressively, this low weight didn’t come from cutting features, as you’ll see in both the camera and flight tests.
For photographers or videographers, the flight characteristics don’t matter if the images and video captured are of poor quality. Fortunately, the Mini 4 Pro has excellent image quality for the size and really for a consumer drone in general.
The drone is equipped with a 1/1.3 inch sensor, which is in the same class as good phone cameras – getting a bigger sensor requires stepping up to the Mavic 3 class. The camera in the Mini 4 Pro is capable of 12 or 48MP RAW capture, 10-bit D-Log M and 4K100 frame per second (FPS) video, and even true vertical shooting.
Despite the relatively small sensor size, performance is great. Some noise can show up in the shadows in daylight conditions, but this is only visible when pixel peeping. As light levels dip, the noise remains well controlled, showing up primarily as grain, rather than colored speckles. For low-light shots, shooting a burst and stacking to reduce noise is very easy and produces even cleaner files.
Dynamic range performance is also surprisingly good. While drone photography might feel like the last genre to still benefit from extensive HDR bracketing, it wasn’t necessary except when shooting directly into the sun.
Non-HDR shots had good highlight clipping, without weird color casts, while HDR brackets processed via Lightroom offered great recovery and natural-looking results. Since evaluating exposure in the field can be tough, it’s worth always shooting a bracket – even cheap microSD cards can store thousands of shots, and processing them is quick.
Lens performance is excellent, with my copy being sharp edge to edge. There’s a bit of chromatic aberration visible on high contrast edges, but surprisingly little coma or astigmatism. This purple fringing is particularly noticeable on point light sources and would stand out as my only real criticism of the system.
Vignetting was never an issue, with Lightroom’s lens correction profile handling it without introducing additional noise. I never observed lens flares, either shooting into the sun or with the sun right outside the frame, which is a big plus for a drone lens.
All these attributes lead to very pleasant-looking aerial imagery. Even at 1:1 zoom, the files look good, with only a bit of muddiness in the finest details indicating that this is a comparatively tiny sensor and lens.
As a bonus feature of the Quad Bayer sensor design, this drone can capture a full 48MP RAW file, and this does offer a bit more bite in the highest frequency details. It does come at the cost of more visible noise and some additional visual issues like moiré (false colors in fine patterns). Overall, I’m not very impressed by this mode, as you’re looking at a mixed bag of gains and losses in image quality, along with bigger files and a clunkier shooting experience.
What’s far more useful, however, is the true vertical shooting. On the Mini 4 Pro, you can rotate the camera into vertical mode at the press of a button. To capture a vertical aspect ratio with other drones, you’d have to crop significantly or shoot and crop a panorama. Having easy access to a true vertical frame opens up a number of creative possibilities: vertical compositions, native vertical video for social media, and even easy manual panoramas.
I particularly like the ease of shooting a manual panorama. While DJI has some great automated panorama modes available, these can take time to set up, shoot, and wait for processing. Quickly switching to vertical and rotating the drone with a single stick move allows you to shoot a panorama in just seconds. This lets you capture wider fields of view easily, and I think most drone-friendly subjects are great options for these wide panoramas.
Video shooters aren’t left out either. The Mini 4 Pro can shoot 4K/60 HDR, 4K/100FPS, and even in 10-bit D-Log M (although D-Log M is far from true LOG footage in terms of color grading latitude).
Just like with photos, the video files are good looking, although they still have the characteristic look of small sensor footage. Fortunately, the color science is quite well done. Colors are accurate and punchy, without being oversaturated. Highlights are well-handled, while night footage can look great thanks to a dedicated Night Shots mode for improved noise handling.
A generous bitrate of 150Mbps along with support for H.265 encoding meant that I didn’t notice heavy compression artifacts in normal framerates and modes. The 48MP sensor also enables 1-3x digital zoom in 4K, as well as 1-4x digital zoom in FHD. While this doesn’t look as crisp as native, it does open up a few creative possibilities on this single-lens setup.
One of the most impressive additions to the Mini 4 Pro was the expansion of the obstacle avoidance system to cover the full range of movement. Thanks to four vision sensors and a downward IR sensor setup, the drone can avoid and navigate around obstacles from every angle. While these systems aren’t a substitute for safe and responsible flying, they can provide an additional layer of assurance against collisions in some scenarios.
This vision system also enables an expansive range of automatic flight options. From Mastershots, which is a set of canned flight paths, to the finer control of Waypoint flying, the drone can execute a range of shots on its own. Additional tracking options allow you to track a subject, easily get orbiting shots, or even dynamically follow a subject, making it easy to get complicated movements with ease.
The drone also has DJI’s latest transmission tech which is good for kilometers of range. While the small size would prevent you from flying nearly that far, given the common requirement to keep the drone in sight, this transmission range still ensures a rock-solid connection even in challenging conditions.
Mini 4 Pro: A Small But Perfect Fit in the DJI Lineup
Overall, I think the DJI Mini 4 Pro is a perfect fit into both DJI’s lineup and the kit of many creators. While the bigger drones offer some more features, it’s really nice to see that a small model can still retain so much capability. The Mini 4 Pro is available to purchase with a standard remote, a remote with an integrated display/controller, and as “Fly More” kits that add additional batteries.
Are There Alternatives?
The Mini 3 Pro isn’t readily available at a significant enough discount – the Mini 4 Pro offers more features for around the same price, making it a straight upgrade.
The Mini 3 cuts a number of useful features, like vision sensors and video modes, but is a bit cheaper. If you’re just looking for a photography drone, this could be the budget alternative, but consider all the features you’re giving up to hit that price point.
As upgrades, both the Air 3 and Mavic 3 Pro offer additional focal lengths but are far larger. The Air 3 is a nice upgrade in flight time, and adds a short-tele lens, making it a good option if size isn’t an issue. Meanwhile, the Mavic 3 Pro adds a longer focal length tele lens, higher resolution video, and a better sensor on the “main” camera, but is also nearly 3x the cost. I’d say the Mini 4 Pro is good enough for most pilots.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. While the Mini 4 Pro is slightly more expensive than some of the entry points to DJI’s lineup, like the Mini 3 Pro and Mini 3, the additional features are well worth it. Broader video capabilities, greatly improved obstacle avoidance and subject tracking, and even better transmission protocols all make for a better flying and shooting experience.
For photographers looking to get into drone photography, the ease of flying the Mini 4 Pro, along with the competent photography capabilities, make this an easy recommendation. While the files aren’t going to set any technical image quality records, the new compositions a drone enables will feel revolutionary. As a bonus, compared to larger drones, it’s far easier to bring this along “just in case.” The controller and drone would take up around two lens slots in most camera bags but can offer so much utility for the price and weight.
For content creators of all types, DJI has struck a great balance of features and ease of use. Native vertical shooting is incredibly useful for both social media and unique compositions compared to horizontal-only drones. Videos and JPEGs are ready to go right off the camera, while RAW files, slow-motion video, and flatter footage from D-Log M open up the possibilities for more deliberate edits.