DJI Mavic Air 2 Review & First Look – 4K 60p, 1080p 240fps

April 28th, 2020

DJI just announced the Mavic Air 2, its new generation of the popular consumer drone, which boasts 4K 60p video at 120Mbps and 1080p at up to 240fps slow motion, 48 Megapixel photos, 8K Hyperlapse function, a fly time of up to 34 minutes and enhanced autonomy features, and more. Let’s check it out!

Mavic Air … Two Years Ago

The original Mavic Air was launched over two years ago, and at the time, I flew it in Monaco at DJI’s launch event, and it offered video images with less compression than the more expensive Mavic Pro (Mark 1), in a much cheaper package. 

DJI Mavic Air 2 – looks like a “mini” Mavic 2 Pro. Image credit: DJI

 

DJI Mavic Air 2 Announced – 4K 60p at 120Mbps

Fast forward two years, here we have the DJI Mavic Air 2, featuring a new 1/2″ sensor, and it’s the first Mavic drone able to shoot up to 4K in 60fps at 120 Mbps. That is better than the twice-as-expensive Mavic 2 Pro, which maxes out at 4K at 30fps and 100 Mbps.

Mavic Air 2 folded up. Image credit: DJI

In fact, it looks like a shrunken Mavic 2 Pro – DJI have clearly taken the design from the Pro and compressed it into the Mavic Air 2.

I took the Mavic Air 2 to the skies and from first impressions, those images in 4K and 60p look amazing indeed. Apart from the apparent use of slow motion from 4K in 50p or 60p, you will also get less jittery fast pans when working on a 50/60p timeline of course. D-Cinelike is also available for better color grading to have a “kind of” log image, though it’s still technically only an 8-bit image. The drone can also shoot HDR video at up to 4K 60p. 

ND Filters part of “Fly More” Combo

Because of the fact that I had no fitting ND filters for the new camera designs for the test flights above yet, I had to use higher shutter speeds to get perfect exposure in manual mode, but that results in more jittery images. Having said that, just like the Mavic Mini, the Mavic Air 2 does a great job in Auto Exposure mode where you don’t actually see the shutter speed adjusting in changing lighting situations, so it can be used on occasion if no ND is available. 

The “Fly More” Combo includes some ND filters for the first time.

For the first time ever, DJI is including a set of ND filters with the “Fly More” combo which also gives you 3 batteries, a carrying case, a car charger and more.

48 Megapixel RAW photos in DNG, HDR Photos, Hyperlight

Compared to the original Air, the CMOS sensor is now bigger at 1/2 inch, and can shoot not only 12 Megapixel sensors, but also 48 Megapixel RAW photos in DNG format by using Quad Bayer technology. The resulting images are impressive for such a small sensor.

Processed 48MP photo from the Mavic Air 2. Image credit: Nino Leitner / cinema5D

100% crop from the 48MP photo from the Mavic Air 2 above. Image credit: Nino Leitner / cinema5D

HDR photos are also available – the drone will take 7 different exposures of the same motive and combine them automatically into one.

A function called Hyperlight supposedly creates images with less noise in low-light scenarios by exposing multiple times and then computing and merging them into one image, reducing noise.

For enthusiasts, there is now also a Scene Recognition feature for photos which will recognise 5 different kinds of scenes, and optimize the photo settings for those: for example sunsets, grass, snow, blue skies and trees.

OcuSync 2.0 Transmission Instead of Extended WiFi

One of the downsides of the original Mavic Air was the image transmission technology between the drone and the controller. They used extended WIFI, which is not nearly as good in reach and responsiveness as DJI’s proper image transmission OcuSync. 

The Mavic Air 2 luckily has OcuSync 2.0, and I can confirm it’s now just as easy and responsive to maneuver as the Pro series drones. The reach is up to 10 kilometers, but that is unrealistic because you are supposed to always keep the drone in your line of sight when flying. OcuSync uses two frequency bands on the Mavic Air 2 and switches automatically to the best signal.

The Air 2 also comes with a newly designed more ergonomic controller which mounts the phone on top, which I found much more comfortable to use than the older designs. Its battery capacity is also much increased, which was a problem on the older controllers. It is a bit more bulky but I think the downside of having a little more to carry is outweighed by the fact that it is now much better to hold and that it will last longer on a full charge. 

Super Slow Motion at 120fps and 240fps in HD

Image credit: cinema5D

I am not actually sure why it’s important in a drone, but the Mavic Air 2 can also shoot up to 240 fps slow motion in 1080p resolution. This is definitely something to explore creatively, and it’s of course perfect for fast-moving sports scenes like surfing, for example.  The quality is quite noticeably lower when shooting in this mode, but we know this from all kinds of other cameras when high speed recording is enabled, as the same data rate has to be divided among a lot more frames.

Hyperlapse 8K – a Moving Timelapse, Quick Shots & Smart Photo

Hyperlapse 8K is a new mode that allows for pre-programmed moving timelapses, which essentially stitches a number of photos into a video. Flight paths can be predefined, or the drone can also go in a circle around an object, for example.

Image credit: cinema5D

For fun and hobby drone pilots, the Mavic Air 2 of course also has the Quick Shot functions which we know from their other drones in the Mavic series, plus a new mode called SmartPhoto which automatically recognizes the kind of scene you are in, to automatically adjust the settings to the circumstances.

Flight Time: Up to 34 Minutes on 1 Battery

DJI claims a maximum flight time of 34 minutes which I wasn’t able to verify due to the windy situation I was flying in, where batteries drain much faster. But in any case, the flight time is more than sufficient. I still recommend buying the Fly More package of the drone which gives you three batteries in total. 

Improved Intelligent Functions

The Mavic Air 2 also features improved autonomous flying modes that allow for better obstacle avoidance and object tracking. DJI claims that their Focus Track system on the Mavic Air 2 is the most advanced tracking system in any of their drones. It includes these three modes:

Active Track 3.0: Better mapping and much improved obstacle avoidance (that I have yet to test). DJI was very confident in this improved feature, it’s also supposed to recognize a subject again if it briefly gets lost behind trees (which was a standard problem with the earlier version of this).

Point of Interest 3.0: With this you can set a flight path around a subject – now it includes surface recognition to dynamically track subjects.

Spotlight 2.0: This is the first time in a Mavic series drone – Spotlight locks a subject in frame while the user has free operation of the drone’s movements.

Full Tech Specifications of the DJI Mavic Air 2

AircraftWeight570 g
SizeFolded: 180×97×84 mm (Length×Width×Height)
Unfolded:183×253×77 mm (Length×Width×Height)
Diagonal Distance302 mm
Max Ascent Speed4 m/s (S Mode), 4 m/s (N Mode)
Max Descent Speed3 m/s (S Mode), 3 m/s (N Mode), 5 m/s (S Mode during a sharp descent)
3 m/s (all modes at elevations over 4500 m)
Max Service Ceiling Above Sea Level5000 m
Max Flight Time (without wind)34 minutes
Max Hover Time (without wind)33 minutes
Max Flight Distance18.5 km
Max Horizontal Flight Speed19 m/s (S Mode)
12 m/s (N Mode)
5 m/s (T Mode)
Max Wind Resistance8.5-10.5 m/s (Level 5)
Max Tilt Angle35°(S Mode), 20°(N Mode)*
* 35° under heavy winds
Max Angular Velocity250°/s (S Mode), 250°/s (N Mode)
Operating Temperature Range-10° to 40°C (14° to 104°F)
Operating Frequency2.400-2.4835 GHz, 5.725-5.850 GHz
Transmitter Power (EIRP)2.400-2.4835 GHz:
FCC: ≤26 dBmCE: ≤20 dBmSRRC: ≤20 dBm
MIC: ≤20 dBm5.725-5.850 GHz:
FCC: ≤26 dBmCE: ≤14 dBmSRRC: ≤26 dBm
Hovering Accuracy RangeVertical:

±0.1 m (with vision positioning)
±0.5 m (with GPS positioning)
Horizontal:

±0.1 m (with vision positioning)
±1.5 m (with GPS positioning)

PropellersQuick release, low noise, folding
Satellite SystemsGPS+GLONASS
CompassSingle Compass
IMUSingle IMU
Internal Storage8 GB
BatteryCapacity3500 mAh
Voltage11.55 V
Charging Voltage Limit13.2 V
Battery TypeLiPo 3S
Energy40.42 Wh
Weight198 g
Charging Temperature5° to 40°C (41° to 104°F)
Max Charging Power38 W
CameraSensor1/2″ CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP and 48 MP
LensFOV: 84°
Equivalent Focal Length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Focus Range: 1 m to ∞
ISOVideo:
100-6400
Photo (12 MP):
100-3200 (Auto)
100-6400 (Manual)
Photo (48 MP):
100-1600 (Auto)
100-3200 (Manual)
Max Photo Resolution48 MP 8000×6000 pixel
Photo ModesSingle: 12 MP and 48 MP
Burst: 12 MP, 3/5/7 frames
Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 12MP, 3/5 Frames at 0.7EV Bias
Timed: 12 MP 2/3/5/7/10/15/20/30/60 seconds
SmartPhoto: Scene Recognition, HyperLight, and HDR
HDR Panorama:
Vertical (3×1): 3328×8000 pixels (Width×Height)
Wide (3×3): 8000×6144 pixels (Width×Height)
180° Panorama (3×7): 8192×3500 pixels (Width×Height)
Sphere (3×8+1): 8192×4096 pixels (Width×Height)
Photo FormatsJPEG/DNG (RAW)
Video Resolution and Frame Rates4K Ultra HD: 3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
2.7K: 2688×1512 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120/240 fps
4K Ultra HD HDR: 3840×2160 24/25/30 fps
2.7K HDR: 2688×1512 24/25/30 fps
FHD HDR: 1920×1080 24/25/30 fps
Color ProfilesD-Cinelike, Normal
Video FormatsMP4/MOV (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC)
Max Bitrate120 Mbps
Supported SD CardsSupports a microSD with capacity of up to 256 GB
Supported File SystemsFAT32 and exFAT
ZoomNot available
GimbalStabilization3-axis (tilt, roll, pan)
Mechanical RangeTilt: -135° to 45°
Roll: -45° to 45°
Pan: -100° to 100°
Controllable RangeTilt: -90° to 0°(Default)
-90° to 24°(Extended)
Max Controllable Speed (tilt)100°/s
Angular Vibration Range±0.01°
Vision SystemForwardPrecision Measurement Range: 0.35-22.0 m
Detection Range: 0.35 to 44 m
Effective Sensing Speed: 12 m/s
Field of View (FOV):
71° (horizontal), 56° (vertical)
BackwardPrecision Measurement Range: 0.37-23.6 m
Detection Range: 0.37-47.2 m
Effective Sensing Speed: 12 m/s
Field of View (FOV):
44° (horizontal), 57° (vertical)
Available Downward SensorsDual Vision Sensors + Time of Flight Sensors (ToF)
DownwardToF Measurement Range: 0.1-8 m
Hovering Range: 0.5-30 m
Vision Sensor Hovering Range: 0.5-60 m
Left/RightNone
Downward Auxillary LightSingle LED
SafetyObstacle Avoidance SystemAdvanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) 3.0
Video TransmissionTransmission SystemOcuSync 2.0
2.4 GHz/5.8 GHz Auto-Switching
Max Transmission Distance10 km (FCC), 6 km (CE), 6 km (SRRC), 6 km (MIC)
Live View Quality[email protected]/ [email protected]
Latency (depending on environmental conditions and mobile device)120-130 ms
Video Transmission Encoding formatH.265
Max Live View Bitrate40 Mbps
Operating Frequency2.400-2.4835 GHz
5.725-5.850 GHz
Remote ControllerRemote Controller Transmission SystemOcuSync 2.0
Supported Mobile Device ConnectorsLightning, Micro USB, USB Type-C
Max. Supported Mobile Device Size180×86×10 mm (Height×Width×Thickness)
Operating Temperature-10° to 40°C (14° to 104°F)
Transmitter Power (EIRP)2.400-2.4835 GHz:
FCC: ≤26 dBm
CE: ≤20 dBm
SRRC: ≤20 dBm
MIC: ≤20 dBm
5.725-5.850 GHz:
FCC: ≤26 dBm
CE: ≤14 dBm
SRRC: ≤26 dBm
Operating Current/Voltage1200 [email protected] (Android)
700 [email protected] 3.7 V (iOS)
ChargerCharging Input100-240 V, 50/60 Hz, 1.3 A
Charging OutputCharging Port: 13.2 V⎓2.82 A
USB Port: 5 V⎓2 A
Voltage13.2 V
Rated Power38 W

Conclusion

From this first look at the Mavic Air 2, I can say that this is definitely a worth smaller brother to the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. At about 800 dollars, it costs half of what the Pro costs and gives you video quality that is in some ways even better despite the smaller sensor, because of the better compression. And the biggest problem of the original Mavic Air – the Wifi transmission – has been solved by implementing a much more robust wireless transmission.

DJI proves again that they don’t shy away pushing innovation with every new drone, even if that means that this could somewhat cannibalize their existing drones. I’m looking forward to testing the Mavic Air 2 and all its functions even more, and I am almost fearing that in terms of technology, it will be better in some ways than my Mavic 2 Pro, for which I paid twice the price …

Get the DJI Mavic Air 2 at B&H (Buy links below), or, at DJI Store by clicking here.

What do you think about the Mavic Air 2? Is this the drone you have been waiting for? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Member
May 4th, 2020

Really good overview! It certainly looks like a very nice upgrade in several aspects.
I will contend, though, that 4Kp30 at 100 Mb/s offers more data per frame than 4Kp60 at 150 Mb/s. So when shooting those leafy forests with lots of moving details, the higher bitrate per frame win goes to the older camera.

Gallo
Guest
May 5th, 2020
Reply to  Nino Leitner

I am surprised no one mentions the moire’ issue with the mavic air and if that has been improved on. I fly mine at a 1/50th shutter with proper Nd and when I get into post there is SOOO much moire’ all the time, I have to use gausian blur and then sharpen after. #workaround. Did you notice any improvement in this area? Thank you

Jacek Sopotnicki
Member
April 30th, 2020

Awesome review. And yeah this videoish look is a bit of a problem but, with that much information you can work on it in post. But anyways – I’m waiting for my aircraft, hoping it will arrive soon!

Jack Sputnik
Guest
April 30th, 2020

Yeah this sharpening issue is a bit problematic, but still – having that much information you can ‘unsitcomize’ it :) Anyways, thanks for that awesome review it kept be busy while waiting for my aircraft.

Oliver McClintock
Guest
April 30th, 2020

Hey Nino, thanks for putting together such an excellent review. Being a drone pilot myself, I’m planning to get this drone. By the way, do you think DJI will launch Phantom 5 anytime soon? Because I’m more inclined to Phantom line over Mavic series due to the nature of my aerial photography projects.

Johnny Wu
Johnny Wu
Guest
April 28th, 2020

Had my mavic air since start and only used it 10 times or so. Not sure if it worth the update.

Guest
April 28th, 2020

Thanks for this review, but i really do not agree with the fact that the image is fantastic, it is oversharp, and too contrasty, without the possibility to change it. This looks very “videoish”, and not beautiful, like the original mavic air. But the drone itself looks SO GREAT !! They improved a lot on that side.

Member
April 30th, 2020
Reply to  Nino Leitner

It’s SOOOOOO over sharpened Nino! ?

The original air had the ability to bring it down. The Air 2
urgently needs this ?

Lainol
Lainol
Guest
April 28th, 2020

Great post and preview video, thank you very much!

Mavic mini and air 2 seems like a nice combo to have. Selling my Air 1…

 Silviu Craciun
Silviu Craciun
Member
April 28th, 2020

So dissapointed! The old mavic air has 420g this has 570g …in multiple countries if the drone has under 500g you don’t have to register the drone. This sucks because the old air it’s a nice drone but has signal issues and now i’m stuck with it!

Marcel van Leeuwen
Marcel van Leeuwen
Guest
April 28th, 2020
Reply to  Silviu Craciun

For most countries that limit is is will be 250 grams, so that would not fly anyway

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