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Mavic Air 2 Balances Features and Affordability

BY Tres Crow
28 April 2020

Well, the wait wasn’t too bad. After pretty much every major drone news outlet (including us) spent last week speculating on what DJI had up their sleeves, they wasted little time in introducing the world to their latest tiny tike, the Mavic Air 2.

DJI Mavic Air 2 folded

Source: DJI

While on the surface it doesn’t look significantly different than the OG Mavic Air, DJI has packed a ton of new features into this pint-sized package. From 8k hyperlapse to longer flight times, the Mavic Air 2 has taken everything you loved about the Mavic Air and raised the bar.

Mavic Air 2 takes power and portability to the next level, offering advanced features in a compact form factor. Intelligent shooting functions and excellent image quality put aerial masterpieces within reach. Safer, smarter flight enables you to up your game while fully enjoying the creative process.

Mavic Air 2 Specs

Price: $799/$999 Fly More Combo
Max Flight Time:
 34 minutes
Sensor: 1/2″ CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP and 48 MP
Max Photo Resolution:
48 MP 8000×6000 pixel
Video resolution and Frame Rates: 4K Ultra HD: 3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
Max Bitrate: 120 Mbps

Additional Features

  • Obstacle Avoidance
  • OcuSync 2.0 controller with new ergonomic design
  • Enhanced HDR for Photo, Video, and Panorama
  • 8k Hyperlapse and Quickshots
  • FocusTrack
  • SmartPhoto, which integrates scene recognition, HyperLight, and HDR into one mode for optimal results
  • ADS-B In (a first for a consumer drone)

Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo

If you’re looking for the whole package, pick up the Fly More combo. Image Credit DJI.

Comparison: Mavic Air vs. Mavic Air 2

Besides the “2” at the end, what new features does the Mavic Air 2 have over its predecessor? In short, a lot!

 CameraFlight TimeWeightMax SpeedRange
Mavic Air 24K, 48 MP34 min1.25 lbs42.5 mph6.2 miles
Mavic Air4K, 12 MP21 min.95 lbs42.5 mph2.4 miles

It’s clear that the Mavic Air 2 is bringing a lot more to the table than the first generation. Not only can it fly for nearly 15 minutes longer, but its range is doubled and the camera is significantly improved. With a 1/2″ sensor and quadruple the megapixels, the Mavic 2 Air is a significant step forward for photographers and videographers who like lightweight, portable drones. At just $200 more than the Mavic Air, and chockfull of new Intelligent Flight modes, the Mavic Air 2 seems well worth the expense for serious hobbyists and those looking for a powerful option below $1000.

But the big question is whether the Mavic Air 2 has taken a far enough leap forward to rival the Mavic 2 Pro for commercial pilots.

Comparison: Mavic Air 2 vs. Mavic 2 Pro

When it was released in late 2018, the Mavic 2 Pro quickly became one of the most powerful small drones for serious hobbyists and commercial pilots alike. Its size, durability, and powerful Hasselblad camera has made the Mavic 2 Pro the go-to portable drone in a great many industries, from insurance and line inspection to survey work and video marketing.

So, how does the Mavic Air 2 stack up to its slightly more expensive cousin?

 CameraFlight TimeWeightMax SpeedRange
Mavic Air 24K, 48 MP34 min1.25 lbs42.5 mph6.2 miles
Mavic 2 Pro4K, 20 MP30 min2.00 lbs45 mph5.0 miles

On the surface the Mavic Air 2 wins the head-to-head in several areas. It’s cheaper, more portable, has similar flight time and range, and has also significantly upped its megapixel game, making it instantly one of the more powerful consumer drones on the market.

In addition, the Mavic Air 2 has added several new SmartPhoto features like Scene Recognition (which automatically detects key features in the image and optimizes the colors), and Hyperlight (which is a suite of features that makes it easier to take good looking low-light images and videos). These new features are on top of upgraded versions of existing technologies like Spotlight 2.0, Point of Interest 3.0, and ActiveTrack 3.0. ActiveTrack 3.0 in particular is a big leap forward because it enables the pilot to autonomously follow a subject and keep them in the center of the frame even if they move behind another object, like a tree.

But probably the most exciting new feature of the Mavic Air 2 is that it’s the first consumer drone to be equipped with AirSense Technology, which is essentially ADS-B In tech that enables the drone to pick up on nearby aircraft. As Sally French over at The Drone Girl put it:

AirSense is an alert system designed by DJI that uses ADS-B technology to gather flight data automatically sent from nearby aircraft with ADS-B transmitters, analyze it to detect potential collision risks and alert users in advance through the DJI mobile app.

As exciting as all of these new features are, though, they don’t add up to a sure winner for professional drone pilots. Simply put, the sensor is too small and slow for image intensive work, like line inspections and high-end filmmaking, and the drone is missing some really important redundancies like more than one Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which helps the drone understand how it’s moving.

Another issue for commercial drone operators is the lack of an attitude mode, which is key for most high-end filmmakers. DroneDJ has a great explanation here:

Attitude mode allows the drone to be filming a subject on the move, and when the pilot stops stick input, the drone continues to “float,” in the direction it was already moving.  The only force acting to move the drone would be the wind or pilot input.  This means you can be filming a scene, let off the sticks and continue to film for 10 seconds just to have added space in the clip.  How many times has a director told you, just keep recording… Well, Attitude mode makes those recordings smooth.

 

The Final Word

Between the increased flight time and massive leap in camera quality and smart technologies, the Mavic Air 2 is a strong contender to be the newest sub-$1000 darling. But is it powerful enough to match up to the Mavic 2 Pro? Not likely. Its smaller sensor, single IMU, and lack of key filmmaking features make it a hard sell for professional drone pilots who need a few more options out in the field.

Serious hobbyists should love it, though. With its beefed up feature set, increased flight time, and first-of-its-kind ADS-B In capability, the Mavic Air 2 is definitely going to be the drone to beat for the serious hobbyist and content creator, and even for new professional pilots looking to get into the industry with an affordable drone. Whether assessing insurance claims, shooting inexpensive real estate videos, or getting great aerial content for YouTube or Instagram, the Mavic Air 2 looks to be a good upgrade for hobbyists and new professionals alike.

There you go! DJI has released yet another powerful, pint-sized drone with unbelievable cinematic capabilities and Intelligent Flight modes. Pick yours up here!

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