It’s no secret: I love the DJI Mavic Mini, and I’m head of heels for how easy it is to edit videos shot from the drone, immediately after the flight. No memory cards to juggle, no uploading to my computer. I can fly, go order food, and as I wait for my burger to be made, I can edit my footage and have it up on Instagram before the fries have even arrived. But there’s one downfall some readers have pointed out: the DJI Fly app exports 1080p footage, but unfortunately cannot export any higher quality like 2.7k. Why not?
What you need to know about the DJI Fly app:
Before we get into the why, here’s a brief history of the DJI Fly app. The DJI Fly app was launched specifically in tandem with the DJI Mavic Mini (DJI’s newest, smallest drone weighing just 249 grams).
Prior to the Mavic Mini, new drones had been compatible with another DJI app, called DJI Go. DJI Fly was intended to be simpler to use (the Mavic Mini is also targeted at new drone users looking for a simple experience), so flying would be less complicated and stressful — and so video editing would be easier.
The DJI Go app’s main feature is you can video edit in app. No need to connect your memory card to your computer, open a new piece of video editing software, import, edit, export, and upload to the Internet. While the DJI Fly app had some video editing capabilities, it was fairly complex to use. This app makes it so you can easily cut video clips, splice them together and set them to music. Voila, you have a video uploaded to Instagram!
But of course, your can’t have your cake and eat it too. There are few downfalls to the delight of instant, seamless editing within the DJI Fly app. While the DJI Fly app exports 1080p, it cannot export higher quality like 2.7K. Here’s why:
Why the DJI Fly app exports 1080p but not 2.7k
The DJI Mavic Mini drone shoots 2.7K video at 30fps or 1080p at 60 frames per second, when recorded to a memory card (note it does NOT shoot 4K, which some of DJI’s higher-end, more expensive drones like the Mavic Pro are capable of).
But the Mavic Mini also is able to save footage in the app for editing.
But when editing in app, you only have two options to save videos: 720p or 1080p, but not 2.7K.
Why? It’s a simple matter of your hardware not being powerful enough. Rendering video in 2.7K or 4K would require high amounts of processing power. In short, the tradeoff between using high amounts of processing power just isn’t worth it for most people.
Without a higher quality CPU, video card and RAM, you may be looking at issues like laggy editing, slow loading times, and the need for more available memory storage than you may have.
Some people still don’t buy it, claiming that since their phone is capable of recording and editing 4K through the built-in camera, that your Mavic footage should be compatible too. But 4K also has different variations: your drone likely shoots at a faster frame rate and/or with higher throughput, which would still make drone footage a bigger file than other 4K footage on your phone.
And even if your hardware can handle it, uploading a 2.7K or 4K drone video will take a long time. Especially if you’re uploading your 2.7K Instagram video over a cellular connection, you may not have the bandwidth for it.
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Had a blast flying my DJI Mavic Mini around the Big Island today!! A few video shots I got. This drone is so freakin good!! #iflydji #dronegirl #girlswhodrone #dronelife #droneoftheday #dronestagram #hawaii #dronie #girlsintech #waikaloa #bigisland #dji #mavicmini #djimavic
In short, the app was designed to quickly cut and export videos. Small file sizes make that possible. If you need higher quality footage, you’ll have to either use a different, more elaborate video editing app on your phone (many drone users like the iOS app LumaFusion). Otherwise, remove the memory card from your drone and edit on your computer, where storage space wouldn’t matter as much.
Mac users can edit in iMovie for free. As far as more professional video editing software, I use (and highly recommend) Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s offered via a monthly plan of just $20.99 per month if you commit to a year, or $31.49 if you just want to go month-to-month. That month-to-month option might be nice because, rather than a big purchase upfront (sometimes video editing software can cost hundreds of dollars), you only have to pay for the duration you intend to use it.
How significant is the difference of 1080p vs. 2.7K anyway?
As far as videos uploaded to Instagram, don’t sweat about 1080p footage.
It does start to matter once you need videos for viewing on other platforms, like YouTube, a 4K TV, submission to a drone video contest, etc.
Judge for yourself: this YouTube video shows how the same footage shot on the DJI Spark appears when exported in 1080p vs. 2.7K vs. 4K (note the DJI Spark is capable of 4K, while the Mavic Mini caps out at 2.7K).
Editing in the DJI Fly app was intended for quickly getting footage to social media or allowing you to preview the footage you just shot. The footage you edit in the DJI Fly app is based on videos recorded to your phone. The “real” footage is saved on your MicroSD card in your drone, recorded to 2.7K. If you demand higher quality footage, remove your memory card, copy the files to your computer, and edit there.