Recently launched, the DJI Mavic Air 2 certainly complicates things if you were planning on purchasing a new consumer drone. It seemed to be relatively easy before, with the Mavic 2 Pro being among the best if you needed solid image quality. Now, with the Mavic Air 2, we have a drone that offers features not available on the Mavic 2 Pro, and yet still with some compromises.
Experts in the field are Drone Film Guide, and they just put together a very useful comparison between the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic 2 Pro. If you want the simplest answer, Stewart Carroll does put that out there in the beginning. The Mavic Air 2 is the best value while the Mavic 2 Pro has the best camera. There are plenty more details to look at still.
At first glance, it seems like the drones offer a lot of comparable features. Solid flight times, OcuSync 2.0, a ton of intelligent flight modes, and good video specs.
So what would make the Mavic 2 Pro worth so much more? Well, it’s all the camera. The Mavic 2 Pro has a 20MP 1” sensor and Hasselblad lens while the Mavic Air 2 uses a smaller 12MP 1/2”sensor and standard 24mm lens. And there’s a lot more than that.
Breaking down what separates them video-wise begins with bit depth. The Pro offers 10-bit while the Air is limited to 8-bit. The Pro’s larger sensor also offers numerous advantages, including less noise at higher sensitivities and greater dynamic range.
Another unique feature is the Pro’s option for using a higher-quality crop to get a 40mm equivalent field of view instead of the standard 28mm.
Also, there is a variable aperture on the Pro’s lens, but all this does come with some barrel distortion and a need to check focus. However, the Mavic Air 2 can hit 4K at 60 fps while the Pro is limited to 30 fps.
Interestingly, the Air 2 is way sharper than the Pro, though a strong argument would be made that professionals prefer to do their own sharpening and will want the Pro’s image. The Fly app for the Air won’t even let you adjust these settings.
A closer look at the video quality reveals dramatic differences in noise. While both seem to have excellent dynamic range, the Air 2 has much more noticeable noise in the shadows while the Pro is surprisingly clean. Once you start doing some grading to the footage, the Air 2 will likely be a bit more limiting in some cases.
Don’t get them wrong, the Mavic Air 2 is still very good in terms of video quality. The noise is very well controlled, especially compared to older models and competitors. While the Mavic 2 Pro might be okay to hit ISO 1600, you might be more cautious with the Mavic Air 2 around ISO 800. Important, but not necessarily a huge problem depending on your use case.
For photography, there are slight differences, though both units, fortunately, can shoot in Raw. The Mavic 2 Pro has a higher resolution 20MP sensor, meaning it is has a bit more detail than the 12MP Mavic Air 2. But then you can activate the Mavic Air 2’s 48MP super-resolution mode and squeeze some more detail out of it in certain cases. Noise seems okay between the two and you probably can’t go wrong with either.
I would say if you need maximum image quality, the Mavic 2 Pro is the best. If you are just getting into drone filmmaking or photography, the Mavic Air 2 is probably more than enough.