DJI’s Mavic drone series is undoubtedly held in high regard by enthusiasts and even its competitors — as it’s no secret that the Mavic lineup has been the frequent subject of inspiration and imitation. The trailblazing Mavic Air unit was first unveiled to an excited audience back in 2018 — and after more than two years of waiting, its successor has finally graced the drone scene with its presence.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor, making it rather indistinguishable when put side by side with the pricier Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom units. This variant also addresses some of the issues that came with DJI’s previous offerings, which is good news since it indicates that the brand does listen to consumer feedback.
New features and some design revamps have been made to ensure that the UAV gets the green light from even the staunchest of critics. A new camera unit, a controller update, “smarter” features — these are just some of the aces in the sleeve you should expect.
That being said, let’s dive right into this thorough review of the DJI Mavic Air 2, shall we?
DJI Mavic Air 2 Specs
|Size||Length: 183 mm|
Width: 253 mm
Height: 77 mm
|Speed||Max: 42 mph|
|Signal||Range: ~10 km|
Operating Frequency: 2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz via OcuSync Technology
|Battery||Flight time: ~34 mins|
Capacity: 3500 mAh
|Camera||1/2″ CMOS, 48-MP, up to 8K video|
DJI Mavic Air 2 Features
Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS 3.0)
Just like its older brothers, the DJI Mavic Air 2 hosts an obstacle avoidance system that helps it navigate around challenging flight space autonomously. This is made possible due to vision and infrared sensors strategically placed on the forward, backward, and downward positions to maximize safety while in flight.
These directional sensors are accurate for up to 20 meters, while the downward setup comes with an auxiliary light for enhanced landing safety and added visibility in the air.
The APAS 3.0 makes use of an innovative mapping technology that intuitively takes note of the drone’s surroundings and plots an efficient route to fly on. This ensures that pilots old and new can maximize their flight times without worrying about imminent crashes, as APAS 3.0 proves to offer a significant step up from previous obstacle avoidance versions.
In light of strict regulations imposed by some flight authorities, DJI went out of its way to outfit the Mavic Air 2 with the innovative AirSense technology. Basically, this allows the drone to receive signals from nearby planes and helicopters via ADS-B aviation technology. At the time of writing, only North American units are currently equipped with the said feature — but will be available worldwide as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
This allows the drone pilot to be aware of nearby aircraft within the drone’s flight range, avoiding any kind of aerial incidents and collisions. Pretty neat if you ask us.
Another safety feature that comes with the UAV is its Geofencing function. This allows you to map your preferred flight area and effectively box the drone inside a safe zone to prevent any kind of interference and flybys in critical or secure locations.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 does away with WiFi transmission for its control functionality and instead uses the brand’s very own OcuSync 2.0 technology. It still supports the basic 2.4 and 5.8 GHz signals, allowing you to switch whichever is necessary.
Further improving its control efficiency is the inclusion of anti-interference technology that blocks any kind of signal interference to keep your lines clear. This is especially helpful in crowded urban situations where the signal situation is essentially congested.
OcuSync is capable of throwing a 1080p FHD signal over the distance of 10 km directly from the camera’s feed to give you a clear view of where you are flying, as well as a sharp level of detail to enhance your photo and video capturing capabilities.
DJI’s FocusTrack technology takes care of the drone’s video tracking abilities thanks to its smart adaptive algorithm that ensures your subjects are always kept in focus and in the frame, maximizing your creativity with shot composition.
Spotlight 2.0 locks onto your subject while giving you free rein on the drone’s flight path, giving you the freedom to go ham with your flight route without worrying about losing your subject when doing so.
ActiveTrack 3.0 makes for an autonomous fire-and-forget shooting experience (rocket launchers, make way). This improved feature has a more intuitive prediction algorithm to keep track of your subject even in the presence of obstacles that might cause the camera to lose sight of it. It immediately points to the next possible location to resume tracking of your subject for that seamless flow.
Point of Interest 3.0 is a new and improved POI feature that now takes note of flat surfaces to keep the subject in focus as the drone does a 360° sweep around it. Also, it now works with moving targets as opposed to the previous iteration’s preference for stationary subjects.
If you want to capture stunning time-lapse footages, the drone sports an incredible 8K Hyperlapse feature to give you that vivid amount of detail without dabbling in complex post-process editing. You can choose from four flight presets — Course Lock, Free, Waypoint, and Circle — to shoot dramatic montages from scratch!
Another set of automated flight presets to help you create cool yet complicated shots hands-free is the QuickShot feature that the UAV packs. While keeping the camera trained at the subject, you can choose from six modes — Rocket, Circle, Dronie, Helix, Boomerang, and Asteroid — to spice your video capture game up.
DJI Fly App
To further improve the user experience, the DJI Fly app assists the pilot with its easy to use interface to access the drone’s functions for a seamless fly and shoot funcitonallity.
It even integrates the editing suite from DJI’s Mimo app to give you on-the-fly tweaking via the swath of manual settings, templates, and other post-processing features for that professional-looking edge without the need for PC or Mac platforms.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is capable of up to 34 minutes of uninterrupted flight thanks to its beefy 3500 mAh battery, a step up from the sub-20-minute performance of the original Mavic Air. This competitive figure is good news for content creators who wish to net more captured footage per voyage or those who wish to spend more time practicing their maneuvers.
Do note that you need to charge the battery for about an hour and 30 minutes to replenish it back to full, so if you’re planning to do more that one sweep, you can purchase the Fly More kit that has 2 extra batteries to spare, as well as a multi-charging hub for your convenience.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 houses a 1/2 inch Quad Bayer sensor along with an f2.8 24mm-equivalent lens. This gives the camera the ability to capture 48-MP stills, along with 12-MP shots with significantly less noise at all ISO levels, but like all small sensor drones, don’t expect crystal-crisp shots as you step up your ISO settings. Also, take note that the 48-MP stills are saved in a JPEG format as opposed to the shaper RAW files.
Stability is taken care of the three-axis motorized gimbal, providing control over tilt, pan, and roll movements. As expected, vibrations are effectively dampened, giving you only the smoothest of videos and the clearest of stills.
The drone’s optics unit also has intuitive features like Scene Recognition (auto-optimizes settings based on the scene, e.g., Sunset, Blue Skies), a Hyperlight function (stitches multiple shots into noiseless low-light stills), and an incredible HDR function that captures seven bracketed exposures and blends them together for a comprehensive foreground-to-background cascade of detail.
As for video capabilities, the UAV’s camera is more versatile than ever, offering 4K recording at 60 fps for cinematic montages up to 1080p at a whopping 240 fps for super slow-motion shots – which is more than enough to compete with its older brothers. You also get 8K Hyperlapse for your time-lapse shooting needs.
You even get the option to capture videos in Standard format if you don’t want to do touch-ups and want to save on storage space, or you can opt for a D-Cinelike profile that has all the essential details which you can bring out or dampen with the help of post-process color grading.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 deviates from its predecessor’s controller design — ditching the folding gimmick for a bulkier, block-shaped body that is surprisingly comfortable and ergonomic. It has the basic control layout comprised of dual sticks, speed mode buttons, an RTH button, a video-to-photo switch, a shutter button, and a gimbal dial on the shoulder.
Instead of the awkward phone positioning on the bottom found on previous units, this iteration reinstates the top-mounting mechanism with modular bracket arms that stow away when not in use. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
It’s even faster in comparison to the previous controllers in terms of pairing with the drone upon powering up, maximizing battery life and flight time.
Design and Build Quality
We’re willing to turn a blind eye with regards to the drone weighing in at about a hundred grams more against the original Mavic Air, considering the beefed-up features it comes with — not to mention the improved flight time it packs.
In fact, it resembles the Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom models closely than the Air, employing the same folding mechanism — and the inherent low-clearance landing gear which might prove to be challenging when taking off or recalling it on uneven terrain.
As for aesthetics, the DJI Mavic Air 2 lies a little bit on the boring side, its overcast gray color scheme making it less attractive than the original – which sports a sleeker hull design with distinct color separation for that premium vibe. That being said. this drone wasn’t designed to be put on a shelf to collect dust, was it?
Performance-wise, we really can’t find any fault with the DJI Mavic Air 2. Response and control are top-notch, allowing you to do precise maneuvers with the drone to get your much-desired shots — or just zip along at full throttle. This is possible due to the three speed modes available to use: Sport Mode provides up to 42 mph top speed, Normal Mode has a more conservative 27 mph, and Tripod Mode nets 11 mph for the best footage-capture control.
It’s pretty quiet as well, the motors emitting a slightly audible buzz without the annoying harshness found on conventional offerings.
The aforementioned obstacle avoidance and APAS 3.0 features keep the UAV safe at all times, providing it with intuitive abilities to discern obstacles and automatically plot the most efficient route for the drone to take. Sweaty palms are a thing of the past now.
Its impressive 10 km signal range is way more distance than you’ll ever actually need, but it’s great to know that such transmission capabilities are already available in consumer-grade drones. As a general rule of thumb, though, it’s best to keep the distance between you and the craft as small as needed — signal degradation is still a thing even with OcuSync technology on board.
DJI Mavic Air vs Mavic Air 2
|Mavic Air||Mavic Air 2|
|Battery Life||21 mins||34 mins|
|Camera||12MP / 4K||48MP / 4K (8K hyperlapse)|
|Price||Older model. Check price here||Best value. Check price here|
Taking in the best features and specs of its predecessors and packing them into a comprehensive unit that doesn’t cost an arm and leg — DJI sure deserves a pat on the back for this one.
An incredible jump from the original Mavic Air — improved flight time, better 4K video capabilities, stills up to 48-MP, and a host of smart features and functions that make content creation on the go ultra-viable, this portable shooting platform is bound to trump the price-to-performance charts by a significant margin.
And while its own relative — the Mavic Mini — is definitely a great choice for creators on a budget considering its own plethora of features and specifications, you really can’t deny the value the DJI Mavic Air 2 brings to the table with its comparable performance to the premium Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom units.
A drone below a grand that’s built and performs like it costs more than a grand? Sounds like a steal deal to us.
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