DJI Mavic Air 2 Review | The Easiest Flight Experience You’ll Ever Have
The DJI Mavic line of drones is one of the coolest, (In my opinion), additions to the lineup of UAVs ever. Why? Because these little devices are incredibly travel-friendly and still pack a powerful punch with their image quality. The Mavic Air 2 is slightly larger than its older sibling the Mavic Air, (Meaning you’ll also have to register the device for proper/safe flying), but it’s still small enough to practically fit in your pocket, or more accurately, pretty much any slot in a normal-sized camera bag. Meaning you can include this drone and its remote as part of our every-day kit.
While it’s a little larger than the first generation, it’s still got a pretty low profile, meaning that you’ll have difficulty taking off or landing in tall grass/lawns unless it’s been very freshly cut. That being said, it’s still pretty easy to find a nice small patch of flat area to take off and land on, in fact, I just threw my sweater on the ground when I was in tall grass, and it provided a flat enough surface for the drone to fly from.
Full disclosure as well, when DJI sent us this drone to test and review, they included the “Fly More” Bundle which includes 2 additional batteries, a multi-charger, a bag, a set of Polar Pro ND Filters, and additional propellers for the drone. With the difference in price jumping from $799 for the base model vs $988 for the full bundle. And honestly, given the cost of replacement batteries alone, this makes it more than worth it and has helped make DJI a household name for drone and related products. The addition of the Mavic Air 2 has just further solidified their hold as the king of aerial photography & cinematography tools!
- Maximum Flight Time – 34 Minutes
- Maximum Horizontal Speed – 19m/s
- Maximum Ascent Speed – 4 m/s
- Maximum Descent Speed – 5 m/s
- Sensor – 1/2″ CMOS
- Effective Pixels – 48MP
- Focal Length – 24mm (35mm equivalent)
- Photo Format – JPEG/DNG Raw
- Video Format – 4k: 3840×2160 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60 FPS
- Weight – 1.25 lb / 570g
- Maximum Operating Distance 6.21 Miles / 10 km at 2.4 G
- Price – $799 or $998 with Fly More Kit – Adorama | B&H | Amazon | DJI
[Related Reading: DJI Launches the Mavic Air 2]
Ergonomics & Aesthetics
I’ve you’ve flown the Mavic Mini then you’ll recognize the controller that comes along with the Mavic Air 2. This remote is slightly larger than the Mavic Pro one, however, the control sticks can be removed and fit in slots on the bottom of the device, and the cables to connect your smartphone devices to the remote are neatly tucked away in the extendable antenna/phone grip (contains a Lighting, Micro USB, and USB-C cable), and as Shivani said in her review of the Mavic Mini 2, this shorter/hidden cable design is one of the smartest improvements over its predecessor (including my Phantom 4 Pro), since you don’t need to carry along a normal LONG USB cable for your phone or tablet.
While looking rather square, the remote is comfortable to grip and laid out in a way to make flying (even semi-one-handed when making setting changes on the phone) very easy and comfortable. If you’re a gamer, the layout will feel much more familiar than the previous generation of bulky controllers as well. It almost feels like a video game. No joke. When I first took this guy out to fly, I was beyond nervous but honestly, it was by far, the easiest to fly, control, and shoot with UAV I’ve ever used!
Battery Life & Charging
This shouldn’t be surprising to me, as the device is much smaller than my Phantom 4, however the increased flight time from what I’m used to of around 22 minutes, (and the Mavic Pro with 27minutes), has now jumped upwards of 30-34 minutes! While only 3 minutes more life than its really baby sibling the Mini 2, if you’ve ever shot on a drone, especially during an epic sunset or sunrise…every single extra second in the air counts!
The Fly More bundle includes a total of 3 batteries with a charger that lets you connect all 3 at once for faster/easier charging, and with 3 batteries, you’ll have tons of flight time to capture all the images you need.
By Far, The Easiest / Safest Drone I’ve Ever Flown
Granted, I’ve not flown a LOT of different drone models out there, I started on the phantom, to the phantom 2, to the Mavic, to the phantom 4 pro. and now this. Granted that’s a handful but it’s still a limited sample size and still stuck with just DJI products, but, coming from that lineage and seeing the improvements in camera and flight controls from generation to generation, I can honestly say this is by far, the easiest, simplest, and most safe (aka non-anxiety inducing), drone I’ve ever flown.
Even though I’ve had my FAA certifications and have flown a lot over the years, we’re still throwing a lot of money into the air that could be destroyed in an instant. So every time I’ve ever flown a drone I’ve been extra cautious to be sure we’re in a safe air space, away from crowds, and always try to be sure to keep the drone in eyesight (despite its miles+ range), and even with all of that and the precautions & safety measures built into the DJI Drones I’m still sweating bullets every time I put it in the air.
Now with the Mavic Air 2….. let’s just say it was a totally different experience. After the first precheck and launch getting to feel for the controls…I was blown away by how accurate the “home” setting was for automated take-offs/landings and emergency return to base situations it was. On top of that, it was insanely accurate and responsive compared to any previous generation of device I’ve used.
Putting this guy up in the air, even with slightly high winds it was super easy to fly and control. Any time the winds got close to (it never went above the recommended limits but there we still some gusts) the wind range the app was adamant about letting me know.
In those high wind situations, the Mavic Air 2 is so intelligent that it would tell me if there were any gusts at all that would make the built-in automated photo modes (panoramics etc), slightly inaccurate, it would warn me that the images wouldn’t be perfect (see below), but I still had to try.
As you can see from these two panos, there were a few wind gusts that shook the drone out of place making the automatic merging a little….inaccurate. Making this both a pro and a con. Pro in the sense that the device will warn you if the automatic image modes (or slower exposures) aren’t going to come out right, and a con in the sense that even while flying in the tolerated/acceptable wind speeds, the drone is so small that a small gust can slightly knock it out of position (slightly). While in most cases, the drone is smart enough to level itself off and even return it to its proper spot when hovering, it’s still a bit frustrating when trying to use those awesome built-in timelapse and pano modes to have them come out wonky.
An additional pro for this device is the object avoidance modes, this was super interesting to test out at home by just having it hovering in my back yard at about chest height and walking slowly towards it. The drone would sound the alarm whenever I got too close and would even move away from me slightly to ensure to avoid any collision! I didn’t want to mess with this too much but compared to my Phantom 4 Pro, the responsive nature and accuracy to my personal range to the device feels greatly improved and very VERY welcome for a nervous drone flyer!
Size And Is It A Deterrent?
I feel like this is already known and standard for the Mavic lineup, but I still have a hard time getting over just how good the footage and images are coming out of a drone so small and lightweight! The fact that you can get 48mp files from this is astounding, and the video footage is just as impressive. When folded up, the drone with propellers still attached can fit in a standard lens slot of any camera bag, making it just too easy to bring with you everywhere.
While you won’t be capturing the kind of footage like you can with a mirrorless mounted on an octa-copter or any of the bigger “professional” level cinema drones…as a working professional, the Mavic Air 2 is a perfect addition to your kit for high-quality aerial portraits, landscape, timelapse photos and videos and an impressively affordable price point.
Footage Quality & Camera Capabilities
The 1/2″ CMOS quad bayer sensor for the drone is mounted on a 3-axis stabilized gimbal, that’s wildly accurate in flight. As described above, the system can capture JPEG & RAW (DNG) files at 12MP or 48MP, with an 84° (Horizontal) field of view. Using a fixed 24mm (35mm equivalent) fixed f/2.8 aperture lens, the Mavic Air 2 (when combined with the ND Filters in the Fly More Combo) can cover a wide variety of needs, including some previously mentioned Presets or “Smart Photo” modes that make complicated shots an absolute breeze!
What are these modes? well built into the Mavic Air 2 are some of the following;
- Hyperlight – This mode takes multiple photos and merges them together for a sharper/less grainy image when shooting in lower light situations.
- HDR Photos – The drone will automatically take up to 7 different exposures and automatically combine them to give you a far greater dynamic range in a single file
- Scene Recognition – The Drone will recognize 5 major components of a photo (Sunsets, Grass, Snow, Trees, and Blue Skies), and analyze them to maximize the tone, colors, and clarity
- Additional Photo Modes include;
- Vertical (3×1) & Horizontal (180°) Panoramics
- “tiny world” Sphere mode (3×7)
- HDR Panromas
- Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB)
- 8K Hyperlapse
Each of these modes was super easy to use with just a few clicks in the app to enable each mode and all came out pretty incredible! The only thing that was interesting is when using the “smart photo” mode that’s 48mp, the images were darker in the highlight sections and mildly overall when compared to the “normal” or single-shot modes. This is mostly editable and fixable based on your preference in post afterwards…but it’s worth noting for the review in case you try this at home and wonder what’s up.
The only mode that left me feeling underwhelmed was the panoramic. As I mentioned above, this is a very light drone so despite it’s best efforts and much-improved hovering, a simple gust of wind can shift the position noticeably making the stitching of these panos ….well…just not good. Normally this wouldn’t bug me much, but in these one-click modes, the drone automatically merges all these files and does not leave you with the corresponding raw/jpg files to mess with on your own after the fact. I’d love to see a firmware update that allows for the system to keep all the raw files in a “Stack” or something like lightroom does along with the finished merged file. So, while it’s awesome to have this mode, in my testing it didn’t work great. We’ll just have to see if DJI will update the system to allow for the raw stacks in the future.
As for the video quality, I was impressed! It’s the first drone in the Mavic series that can capture 4k/60p video at 120mbs using the H.265 codec, and it also has 4k/30p HDR video, HD/120p & HD/240p that can produce some impressive slow-motion files! I’m by no means a pro video editor, but these files looked impressive to me, and I’m sure that until you get into the real-professional level of video production, the Mavic Air 2 would be an impressive addition to your toolkit.
The only mode I didn’t get to test was the 8k Hyperlapse / Timelapse video mode. So, I apologize on this front but I don’t have any personal knowledge of this particular feature, but from what I’ve read, it’s an impressive, and somewhat clunky feature as of yet since most systems can’t just view the footage natively, and it requires additional apps to process / view on your computers.
DJI Mavic Air 2 Review: Conclusion
The Mavic Air 2 was honestly one of the most fun drones I’ve ever been lucky enough to pilot. Any other time behind the wheel, I’m stressing out to make sure I don’t break any rules, or break the gear, but with this system, it just felt so natural and easy that after the first flight I wasn’t worried at all. It’s truly fun to fly, has a wide variety of easy to use photo & video modes, is super easy to fit in your camera bag with the rest of your photo equipment, and can take some pretty decent looking images!
As a casual drone user, I felt right at home with this system, making it an ideal UAV for any new and enthusiast pilot. Especially since the FLY App is built in such a way that it quite literally walks you through each feature with easy to follow and detailed instructions for each mode.
I’m sure “pro” aerial photographers and videographers will say if you want to capture bigger and more professional (read “manual”) images, the Mavic 2 Pro will be the better choice. But with that increased power, comes a heftier price tag! The Mavic 2 Pro sits at a base price of $2,049 with the fly more kit coming in at $2,409. So keep that in mind when making your purchase….is the larger Hasselblad sensor, Natural Color Solution, and 10bit video something you see yourself taking advantage of?
Bottom line is, for the price point of $799 (or $988 in the fly more bundle, which we highly recommend), you’ll get incredible-looking aerial photos & video at a very affordable price point. If you truly need a more powerful system with more manual controls & advanced features, then you may want to look at the other “bigger” models. But if you’re like me, and just love having the drone in your kit as a backup/extra option for capturing some magical moments, the Mavic Air 2 would be perfect for you.