Buying a Used Drone - Mavic 2 Pro in 2024

Pixpro Team Lukas Zmejevskis
Mar 28, 2024

Buying used gear is an excellent way to save money and obtain something that may not be on sale anymore. With drones reaching the 4th or 5th technological generation, the used drone market is becoming more extensive. People who may not use the drone anymore are correct to not let the device sit and gather dust, pass it on to someone who may use it, and get back some of the investment. Let us discuss a few peculiarities of buying a used drone nowadays.

Used Drone Pricing

The primary purpose of buying used is to get a better deal. The seller controls the price, so the effectiveness of buying a secondhand item will vary wildly according to the seller. Some people just want to get rid of the thing as fast as possible, and some seek to maximize the sale price.

What is a reasonable price for a used drone or even any item? While the answer depends on the condition and the kit on sale, one thing is clear - it has to be a lot lower than retail. Buying a new product means warranty and client support from a competent seller. You will probably lose all of that when purchasing from an individual. Always check the lowest retail price of a used thing you are buying, check for any rebates or promotions, and aim to pay at least 15 percent less. Otherwise, 15 percent is well worth the benefit of buying new.

However, this is the only way to get it if you want something that is not sold in the stores anymore. You may like an older product, or an older product may be even more capable in some way than the new one (at a lower price). Our drone example represents just that.

Used-DJI-Mavic-2-Pro-Drone

Used Drone Buying Guide

We bought a used DJI Mavic 2 Pro for 600 euros from the local listing website as a small experiment. We have bought and sold a few used drones (and many other items) on the secondhand market before. Let us review a few key points worth considering when purchasing a drone from a person.

  1. Veto the listing itself. Ideally, the seller should provide an actual phone number, email, and some name with history (nonanonymous listing profile). The Facebook marketplace can provide a look at sellers' Facebook profile. If a listing is from an obviously fake profile - this is a red flag. The listing should have a reasonable description and photos of the item on sale.

  2. Veto the seller. Call or write, ask a few obvious questions, and gauge how they respond. Ask when the item was purchased, where there are any defects, what is included in the box, and most importantly, what the conditions of the sale are. If the seller only wants to send the package and receive payment in any other way than a direct transfer to his name - that is a red flag.

  3. Meet in person. It is definitely best to buy a drone only after inspecting it physically. When you do - inspect for gashes, scratches, and broken things. Take extra care inspecting the drone arms with motors; if the drone is foldable only, consider buying the drone if the arms fold tight and do not have any play in any position. If a foldable drone has wonky arms or a fixed drone has cracks - it has been in a crash. Only consider buying site-unseen if the item is still sealed in original packaging (with that should also come proof of purchase).

  4. Fly the drone or ask the owner to demonstrate a simple flight. Taking off, going up, down, and side to side. If the drone sounds irregular or vibrates obviously - it has been in an accident - avoid it. The camera gimbal is one of the most sensitive parts of the drone. See if it works fine and stabilizes the camera without any issues. Try to take photos and videos to ensure the camera pipeline functions appropriately.

  5. See if the app shows any errors, and inspect how many cycles the batteries have (it is shown in the app for the inserted battery). Anything above 200 would be considered close to the end of life for most batteries. If batteries are out of shape or somehow inflated/expanded - an absolute deal breaker for that battery, do not even insert it and dispose of it immediately.

  6. Lastly, you can run gimbal, compass, and IMU calibrations; if those do not turn up any errors, that's great. It is a dealbreaker if they do, and you cannot finish calibration in any number of tries. A drone will only operate properly in the long term with working calibration.

  7. If everything seems fine, and you checked everything to the best of your ability - go for it if you need it. There will always be a risk, but with these simple steps, you can mitigate it reasonably.

Our sample had superficial scratches, a good amount of wear and tear on the remote, and broken spacer pins on one of the batteries. But it had three batteries in the kit, which were lightly used, a double charger, a case, a memory card, and a few spare props. Otherwise, the body was tight, with no significant defects, and it operated as expected. We have had it for a week now, concluding it was a good purchase.

Used-Drone-Inspection-DJI-Mavic-2-Pro

DJI Mavic 2 Pro Revisited

DJI Mavic 2 Pro brought a one-inch type sensor to a foldable body and was a massive leap over the Mavic Pro. This is the threshold in history when good aerial image quality became portable. At that time, Phantom 4 Pro or Advanced models were still better from a camera standpoint, but they took up much more space and made much more noise.

Photography-With-DJI-Mavic-2-ProWe compared the Mavic 2 Pro to its direct namesake successor - the Mavic 3 Pro. While the new drone is better in every way, the image quality from the primary camera, in good lighting conditions, holds up just fine with the older drone. So well, in fact, that you may be hard-pressed to see the difference in the center of the frame.

DJI-Mavic-2-Pro-Vs-DJI-Mavic-3-Pro-Image-QualityThe superior optics of the Mavic 3 Pro mean that the image quality is much more consistent across the frame, and its video capabilities are on the next level. However, for basic photography needs, the predecessor works just fine, and this may be all you need for photogrammetry.

DJI-Mavic-2-Pro-Vs-DJI-Mavic-3-Pro

Mavic 2 Pro for Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry may be why you want a Mavic 2 Pro before they are all gone. Because it is from an era when DJI provided the SDK for third-party app development, you can do all sorts of automatic flights with several flight planners that still work well. Combined with perfectly serviceable photo quality, the old drone is a good choice for many. We discussed manual or semi-automated scanning many times in this blog. Still, if you are not interested in learning those techniques and want the drone to do everything for a reasonable price - this drone is one of the best options you can still get.

Photogrammetry-With-DJI-Mavic-2-Pro-2024

Conclusion

Looking for used items, meeting strangers, and giving them your money is not for everyone. If you are unphased by these things - you can save a bit of money and get something that may not be available anymore. If you are buying as a business - used items are probably not the way to go in most cases. But for more adventurous people - why not. Buying used leads to savings, sustainability, and sometimes even making new connections.

About the author
Lukas Zmejevskis

Photographer - Drone Pilot - Photogrammetrist. Years of experience in gathering data for photogrammetry projects, client support and consultations, software testing, and working with development and marketing teams. Feel free to contact me via Pixpro Discord or email (l.zmejevskis@pix-pro.com) if you have any questions about our blog.

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