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DJI Mavic Air 2 overview: smarter, sooner, stronger

“Whether you are traveling for the first time or as a casual pilot, the DJI Mavic Air 2 rules the sky.”

Detailed and crisp 4K 60 FPS footage

Excellent dynamic range with HDR recording

Easy to control

Long-lasting battery life

Obstacle avoidance

The camera cannot deal with poor lighting conditions

DJI’s dominance in the consumer drone market is relentless. It wasn’t until last autumn that the company delighted everyone with its lightest and smallest drone, the Mavic Mini. However, to reach this size, the company had to remove some features that made it attractive to first-time buyers, but not to serious enthusiasts.

Enter the Mavic Air 2, successor to Mavic Air from 2018 and a far more legitimate competitor in the prosumer market. Given its outstanding features such as 4K recording at 60 frames per second (FPS), the high-resolution 48 megapixel snapshot mode and a flight time of 34 minutes, you would think that this would cost as much as the Mavic Pro 2, but it does not, and that’s what sets it apart.

Bloat

The Mavic Air 2 is slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor (570 grams). This is not a problem at all because the arms can be folded quickly for easy storage – ideal for stowing in a backpack. Sure, the Mavic Mini can be flown without having to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the Mavic Air 2 maintains the same portability to make it a weekend street fighter. For comparison: the Mavic Mini measures 160 x 202 x 55 mm unfolded, while the Mavic Air 2 is not much larger with 183 x 253 x 77 mm.

As for the looks, I don’t mind that it has more to do with the Mavic Pro line – it’s still a sleek drone. It has the same hard lines on its chassis, which gives it a more aggressive look than its predecessor. Frankly, given the upgrades under the hood, it’s a legitimate change. DJI drones have always set a standard for appearance, and the Mavic Pro maintains that. It looks and feels like a high-end part of the kit.

If you’re worried that the extra mass will slow down the speed, you shouldn’t. The speed is not affected a bit – like its predecessor, it can reach a maximum speed of 42.5 miles per hour. You really get a feel for its speed in sport mode, which offers stricter controls that help the Mavic Air 2 achieve a nifty acrobatics in the air. The maximum speed is only available in sport mode.

For most pilots, the normal mode with its balance of speed and responsiveness is more than enough, while the tripod mode offers slower and quieter movements.

It’s also quieter than other drones I’ve flown, and its hum is almost quiet when it hovers in the air at about 150 feet. The most impressive thing is that the battery is designed for a flight time of 34 minutes, which is the longest in the Mavic line. Only a few drones for end users ever reach a speed of almost 30 minutes, with the vast majority clocking in the range of 20 to 25 minutes.

There is a lot of muscle power in a compact body.

Beginners will appreciate the intelligent pilot functions of the Mavic Air 2, which protect the drone from collisions and risky situations. The same forward and backward obstacle sensors as in the Mavic Air are also available here, although they benefit from the predecessor by additional sensors pointing downwards. All of this helps power the latest DJI obstacle avoidance system.

In my experience, it has prevented the drone, which is dead in its tracks, from hitting a tree, even if you are still pressing your thumb on the controls. When you spend a huge amount of money on the Mavic Air 2, it’s comforting that it’s smart enough to avoid these disasters.

So when you look at everything that is on board, it is remarkable that everything is well packed together. There is a lot of muscle power in a compact body.

Camera quality

At the center of the Mavic Air 2 is a new 12-megapixel 1/2 inch Quad Bayer CMOS sensor on a 3-axis gimbal. It is a larger sensor than the Mavic Air and Mavic Mini, so the overall performance alone can be improved.

Shutterbugs are particularly pleased with a new high-resolution 48 megapixel mode. Some comparison shots have greater detail and sharpness compared to the 12 megapixel shots, but the dynamic range isn’t as good. However, some details in the shadows can be restored with an editor in the post. There is definitely a reason to use high-resolution mode, especially if you want to crop images later. In addition, I found the 12 megapixel snapshots perfect for social media posts.

There are significant improvements everywhere on the video page. First and foremost, it records 4K video at 60 FPS, which even surpasses the 4K recording of the Mavic 2 Pro at 30 FPS. It is also worth noting that this mode records at a bit rate of 120Mbps (when HDR video is recorded at 100Mbps), which provides more space for details in the shadows and lights in the mail. I also prefer the D-Cinelike profile because of its low contrast and unsaturated colors, because I can better rate it in the post according to my wishes.

It is undisputed that 4K 60 FPS and a bit rate of 120 Mbit / s are unique offers in the Mavic series and are also unique for drones in the same price range. Around $ 1,000 drones offer 4K 60FPS, and you’ll generally have to run into this higher price range to get a competitive video bitrate.

The Mavic Air 2 also offers HDR video recording, a handy option for those who want to get the best results without having to work on footage later. This is due to the improved dynamic range as the highlights are toned down to prevent the sky from being blown out. Colors also get an increase in saturation to improve the overall picture, but noise is more common in shadows. In ideal conditions, however, it’s not as distracting when it’s sunny.

DJI Mavic Air 2 close-up of the camera

Other notable improvements over its predecessor include 1080p slow motion at 120 and 240 FPS and an 8K hyperlapse mode that speeds up the footage into bite-sized clips. In addition, you have the cool shooting modes – like rocket, circle, and asteroid – that DJI has perfected to offer professional videos to content creators.

The Mavic Air 2 has the tools and features that professionals crave to continue producing high quality content, but is also great for new flyers. The only disadvantage is that the quality decreases significantly in poor lighting conditions. I took it out at dusk with the sun already below the horizon. Even the larger sensor is still not enough to draw more light from the scene, which leads to high noise and loss of detail.

There are differences in performance that you can achieve with the larger 1-inch sensor of the Mavic Pro 2, for example, which is why it is no surprise that performance in poor lighting conditions is not a drastic improvement over its predecessor. I wouldn’t expect another drone with a 1/2 inch sensor to perform better.

Fly smarter

It’s been a while since I last piloted a drone, but the safety standards introduced with the Mavic Air 2 make flying a breeze. Of course, the obstacle sensors discussed earlier help avoid collisions, but there are some other safety features that calm the mind.

The landing of the Mavic Air 2 is made easier in difficult lighting conditions by an additional light on the bottom of the drone. AirSense technology enables ADS-B signals to be received from other nearby aircraft and displays their locations on the screen. Finally, the updated APAS 3.0 system intelligently enables the Mavic Air 2 to avoid collisions and, in some situations, allows it to determine a path around obstacles. It’s not always perfect to make some of these decisions, but I still have to face a serious collision.

DJI Mavic Air 2 controller

The controller supplied with the Mavic Air 2 has been redesigned. This time there is an area that you pull out from above to weigh your smartphone. It can be a little picky, especially if you have a thicker case on your phone. However, I like how the corresponding cable for connecting your smartphone is neatly stowed in the controller. The controller is a bit bulky, but I found it convenient to use.

In one case, the video feed was disconnected from the drone approximately 600 feet from my location during a flight. It was a heartbreaking moment, but I restarted the app, walked a few steps from my location, and the feed was set up again.

The Mavic Air 2 has updated Ocusync 2.0 transmission technology, which is supposed to deliver a reliable video feed at a distance of more than 10 kilometers, but must be line of sight. In my case, a small building may have blocked the connection. Fortunately, I only had to move a little to reconnect.

Our opinion

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is an impressive drone that is fun, easy and safe to fly. Whether you are new to the drone scene or an experienced professional pilot, the Mavic Air 2 has everything you need. The price of the standard package is $ 799. However, I recommend spending the extra money to collect the “Fly More Combo” for $ 988 as you get more value. You get a total of three batteries, a set of ND filters, additional propeller blades and a carrying case for the extra money.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes and no. The DJI Mavic Mini is an excellent drone for first-time and occasional flyers, which is partly due to its small size and lower costs. However, it does not achieve nearly the same range of functions as the Mavic Air 2.

Professionals who value performance should take a look at the Mavic 2 Pro, especially the larger sensor, which is better equipped in low light conditions. However, it is twice as expensive.

As for the rest? The only other drone that comes close to the Mavic Air 2 is the Skydio 2, which has a more sophisticated obstacle avoidance system. However, it costs more, runs shorter on battery life, and doesn’t collapse into a more compact size.

How long it will take?

If you take the right flight precautions, the solid build quality of the Mavic Air 2 will keep it going smoothly for a while. The propeller blades may need to be replaced at some point, but DJI throws an extra set into the box.

Buyers should also consider buying DJI Care Refresh + for $ 135 to protect the drone from water damage, collisions, and other crashes. It is comforting when you fly.

Should you buy it

Yes. This is an excellent drone that combines a lot of functions at a medium price.

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