The Mavic Air 2 is DJI’s latest iteration of their prosumer high-tech drone. It looks like a cross between the Mavic 2 Pro and a bigger Mavic Mini, but packed inside is a new class of features that should take it up to the next level.
Drones like these are labeled as consumer drones; even though lots of vacationers and families are buying these to make memories, they’re also widely used by videographers, independent filmmakers, and even in broadcast media. They’re so small and easy to take with you that it is almost a no-brainer.
Dave Maze at Kinotika has turned to the skies with a hands-on review of the new Mavic Air 2. Will this fledgling soar like an eagle or end up crashing and burning away your $799? Take a look!
DJI is the civilian drone making market leader for all the right reasons. They listen to their users, build excellent products, and churn out updates almost in the blink of an eye. In fact, they are so successful that it would almost be impossible for any other company to unseat them from their throne. GoPro tried and failed.
Being on the top hasn’t made DJI complacent or inactive like we’ve seen with plenty of other companies over the years. They’ve taken their lead in stride and have release 37 different drone models in just 14 years; in addition to that they have professional and consumer gimbals for all camera sizes, camcorders, FPV systems and remote controllers, a camera robot, and they also purchased Hasselblad!
To be honest, all of that innovation is great but also a little scary when you’re investing in equipment for profit. You need to know when to purchase gear to allow you to get the most use out of it, what advancements are necessary, and always be aware of what might just be hype.
Fortunately, the Mavic Air 2 looks like it is a fantastic product. Here is why:
Image Size and Frame Rates
The Mavic Air 2 can shoot in 4K at 60fps! The only other consumer DJI drone that can shoot 4k60p is the Phantom 4 Pro. Being able to shoot in high frame rates can help smooth out motion, and add a bit of a cinematic look.
On top of that, it can shoot HDR stills and video which is a game-changer when shooting in high contrast situations.
The new batteries system in the Mavic Air 2 is rated at 34 minutes. That’s a lot of time in the air. The $3,000 DJI Inspire 2, for example, has a flight time of 27 minutes. Compared to the original Mavic Air (21 minute flight time), that’s 13 more minutes in the sky.
The previous Mavic Air worked on the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz wifi band, and had a range of around 2 1/2 miles. Thanks to the inclusion of Ocusync 2.0, The new Mavic Air 2.0 has a range of over 6 miles.
Powerful Intelligent Features
Mavic Air 2 is loaded with DJI’s intelligent features which allow the drone to film autonomously, track, and assist the user in capturing that perfect shot.
ActiveTrack 3.0: The Mavic Air 2 will automatically follow a selected subject with state-of-the-art mapping technology and obstacle avoidance algorithms.
Point of Interest 3.0: Allows you to set an automated flight path around a subject.
Spotlight 2.0: This allows the user to control the flight path while a subject is locked in place in the frame. This feature is usually found in professional DJI drones.
Hyperlapse: We all know hyperlapse is just a fancy sounding word for a time-lapse in motion, but this is available on the Mavic Air 2 in 8K!
The controller has been completely redesigned from the previous generation, putting the (cell phone) display on top, adding the antennas into the phone holder, repositioning all of the buttons to more convenient locations, includes USB-C, and the revamped size makes it easier to hold.
Mavic Air 2 uses DJI’s AirSense technology which can identify the location of nearby aircrafts in real-time. AirSense is an ADS-B In (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) system, which receives the ADS-B Out transmissions which are broadcast by various aircrafts in the US, Canada, Australia, India, and Europe and displays that information on your screen. This feature is currently only available in the US and Canada.
48 MP Stills
DJI boasts the ability to capture 48 MP stills with the Mavic Air 2, which has to be done through some interpolation since the effective pixels in the 1/2″ CMOS sensor are only 12 MP.
This is a prosumer-level drone with some serious features that will make every professional filmmaker consider offering it a place inside their bag, but keep in mind there are several professional features missing from this drone.
It does not offer a proper log gamma setting. The video bitrate is limited to 120mbps. It has a fixed 2.8 aperture lens which means you’ll need NDs and won’t have as much exposure flexibility in the air.
And from the look of it, the image is more comparable to something you’d get from a high-end mobile phone – in fact, it seems like the camera is very similar to the one in the DJI Osmo Pocket.
All-in-all, this offers a lot of features to a filmmaker or videographer looking to be able to gather some additional aerial shots easily. It’s built with DJI’s usual high-level of quality construction, and will likely serve you for years to come.
Given that it is a complete redesign from the original Mavic Air with a new controller and battery system, it seems unfair to call this an upgrade to the original Mavic Air, which has been discontinued following the release of the 2nd generation.
Personally, I feel as though DJI cycles through products too quickly and that makes me very cautious about them. For example, I own an original Ronin 1 gimbal, I don’t need to upgrade, and I often wonder if I will be able to find batteries or parts for it 2 years from now.
What are your thoughts on the Mavic Air 2? Is it the perfect drone for you? Please share your experiences with DJI in the comments below.