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Blurry issues when it gets cold (Problem/hypothesis/solutions found/other actions/questions)


New Member
Jan 14, 2018
Hello everyone, first of all I’m French and I apologize in advance for my English and the vocabulary, I have tried to do my best, secondly I apologize for the long text, I have tried to be as concise as possible while exposing all the details, but I think that the content can be interesting to help people and give advice later.

I have a problem with my DJI MAVIC PRO that I received in December 2017. I bought it to make a 6 months trip in Scandinavian countries (I left in early January). When I fly and the temperature is positive, everything is good, but when I fly and it's cold (often below 0°C/32°F) after a while, the picture becomes blurry suddenly (when autofocus tries to focus again AND / OR if I switch to manual mode, it's when I move the aircraft; if I stay static in manual mode, no problem), and from then, autofocus and manual focus does not work at all, I try everything but nothing moves. Here is my hypothesis which seems to me to be coherent (following lots of different tests and the solutions 2 and 3 that I found): the problem would come from the fact that the cold makes the external part of the camera cold and retracts it, but at the same time, the inner part doesn’t get cold as fast as the outside and remains "dilated", so more "big" (including the zoom lens), which comes to put the zoom lens in the bottom/end of the guiding cylinder (perhaps a conical shape) and doesn’t let the lens getting back because it has become "too big", it would be a processing/machining issue with dimensions too just between the cylinder of the zoom lens and the cylinder where it slides in. At first I waited 1 or 2 hours and it returned to normal, but after researches, I found more or less three "solutions" to this problem:
1: when it’s not too cold, if I calibrate the IMU, it comes back; sometimes for the whole flight, sometimes just for a little while (unfortunately at the moment, I'm in Lapland and it's really too cold and the problem comes after 10 seconds of flight, sometimes even just at the start. recalibrating the IMU does not work, I need to warm the outside of the camera with the ventilation of my car, recalibrate the IMU and use the solution 3 to be able to get good images).
2: When the problem happens to me during a flight, if I fly ahead and make an emergency braking (red bouton in the controller), we can see on the video that something happens inside the camera and the center becomes sharp again (most of the time there are angles or half of the screen that remains blurry) but the zoom and autofocus still does not work and on the contrary, if I fly back and I use the emergency brake, it goes blur again.
3: and the best for the moment, I fly with the protection bubble, so that the outside part of the camera is not in direct contact with the cold air and there is no problem anymore (it’s like if it makes a thermal protection) this solution it’s quite well to take pictures even if it decreases the quality of the image but it’s really bad to makes movies, we can see the bubble moving and all that, it's really awful .. Another advantage of this solution with cold weather is that ventilation is no longer really supplied with fresh air (because I think it is the aspiration behind the camera), which makes that the battery arrives even to get warmer during the flight, even with -20 °C/-4°F (I tested once to see the comportment; I also flew a lot in static once I reach my point to take pictures, which should be another fact that the battery does not get cold).

I'm also going to do a montage video with video drone and video screen of my phone to illustrate the problem, the emergency braking solution and all that (but it is too cold yet where I’m for at least the next two days, it is -29 °C/-20°F).

So here, I realized the problem two weeks before I left home (Alps, quite a cold place in France) for my 6 months trip, I immediately understood that the cold was a major part of the problem, but I really wanted to get the drone for my trip and as I am constantly moving I would not know where to return the drone, how long it would be to get it back and if the replacement of the camera would have worked (I have seen guys who changed the camera 3 times before their problem was solved, it was usually for a blurry issue on one side or on a whole half of the screen which in my opinion could come from the hypothesis I made, or something similar with a zoom lens or its “cockpit”/guilding cylinder that are not really the right machining dimension or with dimensions too tight and so that creates sliding problems, which causes blurry issues, with the lens across or something else in this style ..). So I did not contact DJI, in the hope to find temporary solutions and maybe I’ll contact them in the future.

I still have some ideas to try to correct the problem myself before contacting DJI; I will try to do a "mechanical manual deburring", I’m going to go outside when it is cold, put me in manual mode, zoom in and out for the longest time possible, do the same with the autofocus, repeat the operation hoping that the cylinders sliding and touching themselves, end up as "self-deburr" and create a larger space between the two cylinder and it won’t be a problem anymore. I may also try to leave the drone outside for several hours (I'm still thinking about the consequences I could get with the cold and if I'll do it or not) without battery hoping that the cold comes also contract the cylinder of the zoom lens and see how it reacts. If it does not work, I will take photos during the next two months and after I would be able to get videos when it will get warmer, it’s not good, but it's better than nothing: p

Thanks for reading it, I also have the following questions:
A) What do you think and have you heard about a similar problem or someone who has had this problem?
B) Do you think I should report the problem now to DJI?
C) If yes, do you think that I can declare it now and return it in October (I’m coming back in July and want to use it during summer at home because there is no problem when it's warm and hopefully get it get the fix one before next winter and skiing;))?
D) Do you have a detailed diagram of the camera construction, like an exploded view or something like that, I could understand better how it is done inside?
E) would you also have a diagram of how ventilation works (where is the aspiration and extraction of air and all that)?

Two other reactions during my flight tests also support my hypothesis:
- When I fly with the bubble and it's very cold, everything goes well, I put the Mavic back in his wallet and if I do a flight soon enough after, the same problem appears, but less stronger , like the same as when it is not too cold. I recalibre the IMU, I put the bubble protection and everything works again. (The air inside the bubble is probably cooled down after a while, which also cools the camera).
- When the ambiance wasn’t too cold, I had only half of the screen or just sides that were becoming blurry, and more cold it was, the more all the screen became blurred.

Still sorry for the long message and my English, I hope that will help you maybe to answer other guys with them issues, thank you in advance for your answers, I’m looking forward for them, see you soon, all the best and good flight.
I have a similar problem with autofocus recently, when cold it has some problems. However I noticed it also may be because of fog - it was a little foggy where I was flying but when I elevated and went a few miles away all got back to normal. Flied lated during that day (same temperature: -3*C) but the skies were more clear and no problem again.
Maybe water particles that tend to appear on lenses, combined with low temp, cause this problem?
Maybe it's could be this or just condensation, I experienced some condensation and after a while it left and everything was all right as you.
It is not condensation, I had it before and I know that is something else because the zoom doesn't work at all after.
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