DJI Mavic Air 2 review: a video director’s perspective

published on July 17, 2020

– I'm back on the channel which just means one thing, it's time for a new drone review We're looking at DJI's Mavic Air 2 (upbeat music) So, DJI says the Mavic Air 2 is their smartest and safest drone today, which is great but the thing

That I care about the most is pure image quality So, we'll be taking a closer look at that but there's so much to go through that we should just get going The Mavic Air 2 looks like a smaller Mavic 2 Pro and a bigger Mavic Mini

It's slightly bigger and slightly heavier than the original Mavic Air but it's still portable enough to bring around places I do have to say I prefer the look of the Mavic Air 1 I always thought that design looked really nice and it's a little bit more fun,

Came out in three colors and I always thought the gray housing in these is just a little boring But at least all the Mavic drones that DJI is offering now, they have have a unified look in this lineup Another big change, and I do mean big, is the new controller

It's almost twice the size of any other DJI controller, excluding the optional 749 Smart Controller This one doesn't have a screen and there are no visible antennas sticking out The phone holder is moved to the top and it's spring loaded I think the whole design makes a lot more sense

Even though it sacrifices the the size It's also a lot more comfortable to hold too If I were to nitpick, my only wish is for the custom function buttons to be at the bottom of the controller instead of the front of it (upbeat music)

The most important thing for me is that the new Mavic Air has a larger 1/2 an inch sensor that's capable of shooting 4K at 60 frames per second and also 12 megapixel photos and 48 megapixel photos Compared to other standard sensor sizes, this is still a tiny sensor

It's only a little bit bigger than the original Mavic Air had, and it's a fraction of the size of a APS-C sensor, which you find in most mirrorless cameras, so, just know you got to adjust your expectations here So what that means to you and drone photographers is

That you can take photos with a lot more detail, or you know, photos with low resolution but a bit more dynamic range If we take a look at the two JPEGs that we get from the drone, now these are not RAWs,

Just JPEGs that you get on your phone, it does look like the photo on the right, the 48 megapixel one, was struggling to keep the details in the highlights compared to the 12 megapixel version one I do think this might be in DJI's JPEG processing, so that could get fixed within an update

But if we take a look at the RAW photos in Lightroom, I'll go ahead and crank up the shadows and pull the highlights in post, so you basically end up with two very, very similar photos You do lose a little bit of information, the highlights in that top right corner,

And I do see some purple color casting happening in the bottom right and left corners too, and yes, before you say anything, I'm fully aware that I'm pixel peeping here, but I just want to point out that the 12 megapixel photos, they look better to me

If you need 48 megapixel photos for larger prints or anything like that, you'll be happy that it's there and it looks good All right, moving on to Smart Photo It's a debut feature for a DJI, and it's one of those things that makes this drone

The smartest drone they've made It's in the name So, what it basically does is scene recognition So depending on what the drone is pointing at, like trees, snow, sunrise, sunset or low light, it'll adjust settings accordingly

The thing is that it doesn't really tell you what it's doing and when, so you just kind of have to trust it Here are some normal and smart JPEGs There's not much that set these apart, but in a way I'm glad the differences are subtle, and not something that looks over processed

There does seem to be just a bit more luminance in the greens here, and if you look at the shadows at the bottom of the photo, you can see a little bit of more contrast there too, which I like And sunrises do look better here,

Just by leveling the highlights and shadows without looking too mushy or to HDR-ry Finally, for photo section, let's run through a quick noise comparison So, we have six photos here ranging from 100 ISO all the way to 6,400 ISO

And yes, the noise handling in these is pretty solid 800 ISO is probably as high as I would go If you switch to Smart Mode while shooting in low light, you can see in the metadata that drone has a bit more control over ISO Capping it at 540, lowering the shutter speed,

Cleaning up some noise and coming up with nice results Again, it's nothing too drastic, but just enough to make this mode a worthwhile addition to this drone and honestly one of the better drones for photography overall (bright music)

The Mavic Air 2 can film 4K 60 with 120 megabits per second bitrate, it can shoot in slow mo footage up to 240 frames per second and 1080p, and it can shoot in three color spaces, normal, center-like, and HDR I'm usually not the biggest fan of HDR,

It tends to be just like an over-processed mess But I feel like companies are getting it right more and more, and DJI is one of them too So one of the biggest downsides with all drones in general is that they use tiny sensors that tend to show a lot of noise even at 100 ISO

And at 800, it's basically unusable The 1/2 an inch sensor here, it does help with noise reduction, but it's still not mind-blowing footage So, let's take a look at some of it And so I'm looking at a couple of clips here

Which are shot at 100, 400, 800, and so forth You can see that when we reach 400, you already started losing a bit of color and you already start losing a bit of contrast too It just becomes a little too noisy for my taste Even some clips at ISO 100,

They don't really look that great in standard color profile But once it's switched to center-like, if you're down to do that, you can easily crush the blacks, eliminate a lot of this unwanted noise even without adding any noise reduction

Overall, this is a big step up from the Mavic Air obviously, and if you're down to use center-like and spend more time editing your footage, you'll be pretty happy with the results Lastly, Hyperlapse mode can now render out 8K exports, which is great, but the issues

That I had with Hyperlapse mode in the past are still here Most of the times you have to stabilize the footage in Premiere or After Effects, and most of the time those exports have some kind of a shift in exposure which really ruins the whole experience

Okay, there are a few caveats when it comes to hyperlapses though, not all modes can shoot 8K right now, DJI says they'll be adding them and should have it completed by the end of June You don't actually get JPEGs and RAWs for the 8K exports,

Which is kind of a bummer Next one is that the minimal interval that you can have between shots is six seconds, which to me in the final export just looks a little too fast You can't actually get the 8K exports on your phone,

You have to transfer them on a computer first And then the last one is, well, the ones that I did actually came out corrupted It worked on some of the other computers but it didn't work on mine So yeah, it looks like Hyperlapse mode

Still needs a little bit of work done So the Mavic Air 2 comes with front, rear and bottom sensors for obstacle detection, new and improved APAS for obstacle avoidance, 34 minutes of battery time, and ditches enhanced WiFi for OcuSync 2,

Which is probably the main reason why you wanna upgrade from let's say the original Mavic Air Now, as far as the distance goes, I couldn't really max out that in the city, for obvious reasons But what I will say is

That OcuSync really provides you a stable transmission, and I rarely ever had any dropouts during all of my flights Now, when it comes to battery, I didn't really get the full 34 minutes of flight time because you do need to save up a little bit of battery for landing and getting the drone back in time

But during my tests in which was a very windy San Francisco, so you expect the drone to just kind of fight the wind, the longest that I've gotten was 28 minutes But on average, I would get around 25 minutes, which is still pretty darn good As far as follow me modes go, I'll be honest,

Those are not my priority and I've rarely ever used them in real-world situations But from the few tests I did, I'm starting to believe DJIs claim that this is their smartest drone so far It was better keeping me in focus,

Despite losing me instantly in this very first test, I'll give them a pass on that one And overall, it felt like it was less jittery than the previous models, including the Mavic 2 Pro Same goes with APAS, I'm glad it's still here, and I'm glad it's getting better,

But is it incomparable to Skydio? No, not really And that's due to the fact that the Mavic Air 2 doesn't really have 360 omni-directional sensing around it But it does give you and everyone else around you

That little bit extra layer of protection too (upbeat music) DJI's Mavic Air 2 is a significant upgrade from the Mavic Air It even though some things better than their flagship Mavic 2 Pro

But I can't shake off this feeling that this is sort of the iterative, even slightly boring upgrade Yes, everything is much improved as it should be, but I think that maybe I was expecting more DJI has been hesitant to creep into Skydio's territory

When it comes to obstacle avoidance and autonomous flying, even though the Mavic Air 2 has some better options than its predecessor It's still far from what Skydio offers I also wish there was more evidence of Hasselblad's color science in photos and videos too

All that said, the Mavic Air 2 is the drone I'd recommend to most amateurs and expert fliers looking to get good enough videos and some of the best photos out there So, good job DJI, you made another good drone Shocking

All right everybody, thank you so much for watching and let me know in the comments, which drone are you flying right now? Are you looking to upgrade? And which one are you looking to upgrade to? Is it the Air?

Is it the Pro? Is it the Mini? Lemme know

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