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DJI Quickshot: autonomous drone flight made easy

As easy as it is to operate a drone, perfecting some of the more subtle flight techniques can be more complicated than they seem. It would seem that DJI figured out a few key things about us as humans – we like technology, we like photography, we like drones, we love those awesome aerial videos, and we do not want to practice to become great.

DJI Quickshot object detection follow me

Instant gratification is in the palm of your hand with the DJI Mavic series of drones, plus the Spark and some of the Phantom drones, with these self-piloted flight features called Quickshot. Four autonomous flight modes started it off by being just a tap away, more have been added since, getting you those epic selfie drone videos without having to learn how to fly.

Looking for some help learning to fly? We’re building up our pilot training material as we go, but we can get you started with the basics for now. If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.

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Updates of note:

  • November 2020: The DJI Mini 2 joins the family of drones that offer up Quickshots.
  • May 2020: The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the latest drone to rock Quickshot functionality, and one of the best cameras on a consumer drone today.
  • November 2019: The new Mavic Mini is powered by a new app, DJI Fly, which offers only a minimal Quickshots experience.
  • August 2018: The new DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro introduce a hyperlapse mode, as well as a dolly zoom mode for the Zoom model. 

Now that you know you can use the camera features on your Mavic Pro, and the new Quickshot modes on your Mavic Air, read on to see just what modes we’re talking about. 

Quickshot has four distinct moves, at least now, there is nothing stopping the team from adding more modes in future software updates. Rocket, Dronie, Circle and Helix are the names of the modes, automating popular flight techniques that make for popular drone video. When you are all done recording Quickshot has a super easy editing tool that will automatically create short, shareable video clips, including music.

DJI is taking something fun away from us hobbyist pilots, taking away the need to perfect your flying skill in order to capture great footage. However, Quickshot is the very definition of what technology should be, automating tasks that are difficult or awkward for humans to do. We’re not here to choose sides on this debate today, let’s look at what Quickshot can do and go from there.

Things to know before you fly



DJI Mavic Pro Camera Review

From a relatively low hover with the camera facing straight down, the drone simply flies straight up. This is absolutely the easiest mode to perform manually, at least with a quality drone. The resulting video offers a great sense of environment, slowly revealing the area around the subject.


Best Selfie Drones

Offering the same idea, focusing on a subject and pulling away to reveal the world around it. In this case, you are supposed to be the subject, ‘Dronie’ playing on the word ‘selfie,’ of course, the Spark is a great addition to our Selfie drones list, after all. The drone starts near you, facing horizontally at you, it then flies backward and slowly upward. You remain the center of the frame, but the world is revealed around you, including the horizon and sky this time.


A familiar mode to anyone that’s watched a Bad Boys movie. Keeping the subject in the center of the frame, the camera slowly circles around, hence the name. This is a very difficult flight to perform manually, balancing just the right amount of yaw with the right amount of ‘strafing’ sideways.

Where the other modes thus far benefit from a starting point close to you and/or the ground, Circle can be successfully performed from most starting points. Whether you are going for that epic close up with the camera circling you, or from afar so that you are but a speck in your environment, Circle will look great.


Ready for something a little more complex? Helix, in a way, combines above flight modes into one impressive movement. Think of Helix as an upgraded Dronie, start close to yourself, the drone will back away from you, slowly rising upward, but it also begins to circle you. This is as close to that epic Hollywood helicopter shot as you’ll get.

Let’s see some of that in action:

New modes introduced with Mavic Air

Mavic Air

DJI Mavic Air

January 2018

Release Date

DJI found great success with the Mavic Pro, they followed that up with the far less expensive Spark. The Mavic Air bridges the gap between these two, offering all the fun features from the smaller Spark as well as all the pro flight features of the Mavic Pro. Better yet, the Mavic Air introduced a 100Mbps data rate for video capture on a DJI drone under $1500. That sounds like a mouthful, suffice to say that the Mavic Air instantly took the crown for the best video at the lowest price of any drone on the market.

As with many DJI drones, the Mavic Air comes in two main purchasing options, you can buy the drone alone or upgrade to the Fly More bundle to get extra batteries, a carry case and more.

After the launch of the Mavic 2 series of drones, we had to recommend the newer Mavic line as the best camera on a compact drone, but the Mavic Air still remains our top pick if ultimate portability is your concern. The Mavic Air manages to pack down to almost fit comfortably in your pocket.


The Mavic Air has a new software trick it uses to capture a 32MP panoramic image, it can turn this image into what looks like was captured by a 360 degree camera. Combining this sphere with a a swoop into yourself, the resulting video is really slick. Stay tuned to the site for coverage of how this works, we’ll have our review unit soon.   


As the name implies, Boomerang is an extension of the Circle flight mode above. Instead of just circling you, however, it starts close, works its way out and brings it back in. Seriously, if you’ve seen how a boomerang flies, you have a pretty good idea how Boomerang works in the Quickshot flight mode. 

Let’s see those in action through this video:

Fly safe

DJI has equipped the Spark, as with nearly all of their drones, with forward facing object detection sensors. Plainly put, most of these new automated modes have the drone flying backward, it will not stop itself from backing into a tree or wall. Keep your controller at the ready, and an eye on the machine, just in case.

Also, please note that under normal rules, the Spark is heavy enough that it needs to be registered with the FAA. Registration was in limbo for a while, but the rules to follow while you fly were still in effect! You still cannot fly over top of people, near airports and stuff like that.

Editing and sharing your video

Quickshot makes your final product super simple. For each Quickshot flight you take, the app will produce a ten second video, including fun music. All you have to do is click Share, and your friends and family on your favorite social network will get to enjoy your production.

Drones with Quickshot:

DJI Mini 2

  • 31 – Minutes
  • 4K – 12MP
  • 36 – MPH

November 2020

Release Date

DJI Mavic Air 2

  • 34 – MIN
  • 4K – 60 FPS
  • 42.5 – MPH

DJI Mavic Mini

  • 30 – Minutes
  • 2.7K – 12MP
  • 29 – MPH

DJI Spark

  • 16 – MIN
  • 1080p – 30 FPS
  • 31 – MPH

DJI Mavic Air

  • 21 – MIN
  • 4K – 30 FPS
  • 42.5 – MPH

DJI Mavic Pro

  • 27 – Minutes
  • 4K – 30 FPS
  • 40 – MPH (65 KPH)

November 2016

Release Date

DJI Mavic Pro Platinum

  • 30 – Minutes
  • 4K – 30 FPS
  • 40 – MPH

September 2017

Release Date

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

  • 31 – MIN
  • 4K – 30 FPS
  • 44 – MPH

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

  • 31 – MIN
  • 4K – 30 FPS
  • 44 – MPH


As I say, most seasoned pilots have practiced to perform these flight modes manually. It is the work from these pilots, like the ones from the New York Drone Film Festival last year, that DJI is emulating, and for good reason.

We are very excited for what Quickshot and the Spark could mean for the drone industry. Putting a powerful, convenient and easy to use flying camera into the hands of many new users may trigger a new craze. Gone may be the days of $1000+ to get a great camera drone, perhaps $500 and under can be the new standard.

What do you say, are you more inclined to shoot aerial video knowing you can get the perfect footage and produced video with ease?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I activate Quickshots without the app on my phone?

Sadly, no, the only way to initiate the Quickshot modes is within the DJI GO 4 or DJI Fly apps. They are treated as advanced camera modes, although they do maneuver the drone a little. Some of the modes are not one-click actions, requiring you to choose options or highlight an object to track on the screen. 

I can do that, I don’t need Quickshots, do I?

In terms of piloting the drone, you can probably fly the same patterns just as well, if not better, than Quickshots can do. However, positioning the drone perfectly to gather the frames for a panoramic shot, as is done in the Asteroid mode, if nothing else, is not something you’ll be able to do manually, as the system is not designed to stitch your shots together like that. Aside from that, I encourage you to try manually flying the same routes, it’s great to see pilots develop their skills in the sky!

Are Quickshots special, or do all drones offer this technology?

Many drone manufacturers offer some automated flight modes on some of their drones, each are different, and each has strengths and weaknesses, but most are similar actions. DJI’s Asteroid mode is quite unique, and the vision-sensor based hand-gesture controls of the Spark and Mavic Air were two of a kind when they first launched. The number of tools available in DJI’s Quickshots exceeds the offerings of many of the competitors, if that matters to you.

Do I have to hold my controller at all times while the drone is flying?

The FAA does not explicitly say that you have to be holding your controller while your drone is in the air, however, if anything goes wrong up there, you could face fines and be charged with reckless endangerment. Think of a car on the road, in many states it is not illegal to remove your hands from the steering wheel, but you are still 100% responsible for what the car does on the road.

The post DJI Quickshot: autonomous drone flight made easy appeared first on Drone Rush.

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