DJI Drones Mavic Air Review: Size Small, Packed More Fun

0
446

If you’re someone like me, who enjoys the premium rush of adrenaline coursing through your veins while carving down an awesome line, then you’re going to love DJI’s newest family member, the Mavic Air . Capable of shooting 4K ultra HD videos, this pint-sized portable marvel is a must have for those craving for some slick and sexy aerial shots on their next adventure, according to CNET . Even for casual videographers & photographers, the Mavic Air will allow you to add new dimensions to your content.

Initial Impressions & Appearance

The Mavic Air is the physical embodiment of the term ‘compact’. From its dimensions to its design tweaks, the Mavic Air was clearly designed to be highly portable.

DJI Drones Mavic Air Review:  Size Small, Packed More Fun

And while it mostly shares the design aesthetics of the Mavic Pro, there’s no denying it’s shared genes with the Spark. In its folded form, the Air is actually smaller than the Spark. This makes carrying it extremely convenient and easy. Some subtle design innovations were also made and the results are awesome. For starters, unlike the Mavic Pro’s open camera gimbal design, the Air’s camera gimbal is well protected. Allowing us to simply fold and place into the bag without having to worry too much about potential OOW issues.

Slight modifications to the controller were also made; the joysticks are now detachable and can be stored within the controller which is a pretty cool feature. However, unlike the Pro, the Air’s controller no longer comes with a built-in display which means you’ll be dependent on your phone for the most part. So, if you’re planning to do some intense flying, make sure to bring a powerbank for your phone. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Side-by-side (Pro, Air, Spark)

Mavic   Pro Mavic   Air Spark

Camera

12-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch image sensor

12-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch image sensor

12-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch image sensor

Video   Resolution

4,096 x 2,160 (24fps)

3,840 x 2,160 (30fps)

1,920 x 1,080 (30fps)

Photo   Resolution (pixel)

4000 x 3000

4056 x 3040

3968 x 2976

Gimbal   Stabilizer

3-axis mechanical gimbal

3-axis mechanical gimbal

2-axis mechanical gimbal

Sensors

Front

Front & Back

Front

Storage

microSD

MicroSD + 8GB Internal

microSD

Controls

Mobile device
Remote Controller

Gesture
Mobile device
Remote Controller

Gesture
Mobile device
Remote Controller

Flight   Time (Max)

27 min

21 min

16 min

Max   Speed

65 km/h

65 km/h

50 km/h

Battery

3830 mAh

2375 mAh

1480 mAh

*With the Mavic Air leading in almost every spec, it’ll be interesting to see how DJI advances the Spark and Mavic Pro lines.

Key Features

Contrary to popular belief, the Mavic Air does not sacrifice functionality and quality for size. Its design simply reflects the best attributes of the Spark and the Mavic Pro with a focus on portability. With that said, the Air has a lot to rave about from a hardware and software standpoint.

DJI Drones Mavic Air Review:  Size Small, Packed More Fun

Hardware

I won’t touch on specs here since it’s a bit dry and we can all appreciate the specs table from earlier. Instead, let’s talk about how sturdy and compact this guy is. When everything is folded and tucked away, the Air feels like a tank. I’m not saying its indestructible, but you would have to really try to break this thing. The Air also comes equipped with an “Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS)” powered by a seven-sensor system which is simply amazing which I’ll get more into later.

DJI Drones Mavic Air Review:  Size Small, Packed More Fun

The Mavic Air comes with an 8GB internal storage which is a feature both the Mavic Pro and Spark lacks. In this day and age, 8GB may not seem like a lot but I’m sure we can all appreciate the extra bit of built-in storage regardless of the size.

Software

Those familiar with the Mavic Pro and Spark should be familiar with the Quickshot camera modes which include Rocket, Dronie, Circle and Helix. These Quickshot modes are programmed to help you capture some fairly skilled footage with the tap of a button. However, unlike the Pro and Spark, the Air is currently the only drone with two new Quickshot modes; Asteroid and Boomerang. I won’t focus too much on Boomerang as it is pretty self-explanatory; the drone takes on the trajectory of a boomerang while capturing video and/or images. In contrast, Asteroid is a much more unique feature; once the Air locks onto a selected subject, it will begin to pull back before shooting straight up. It will then capture multiple images and stitch together a 360° panoramic image. The end result is an awesome image and video which ends in a snowball effect.

DJI Drones Mavic Air Review:  Size Small, Packed More Fun

*The snowball effect created by the Asteroid Quickshot mode is simply amazing.

Flying It

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of purchasing a drone is the constant fear of flying it into an inanimate object like a tree, a house, or if you’re really skilled, yourself. Although these fears are justifiable, DJI’s newest drone will allow you to set them aside. Equipped with a new seven-sensor Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS), you’ll be flying this baby like Maverick from Top Gun in no time.

Unlike previous avoidance systems, APAS operates via a 3D map created by its onboard sensors. Furthermore, the Air has both forward and backward obstacle sensing while the Pro and Spark only had forward. This creates a much smoother flight experience when it comes to avoiding obstacles. If you’re familiar with the obstacle avoidance system of the other models, then it’ll take some time to get use to APAS. Instead of hovering in place when faced with an obstacle, the Air utilizes the 3D map to identify a clear pathway around it. For the most part APAS worked as advertised; I was able to navigate through some fairly dense woods with relative ease.

DJI Drones Mavic Air Review:  Size Small, Packed More Fun

*The Mavic Air comes with removable propeller shields for added protection.

Gesture controls, which are not available on the Mavic Pro, are available on the Air. They are very much identical to the gestures you would use on the Spark. Although Gesture controls aren’t very practical, they are quite fun. Also, it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to using the force and pretending to be the last Jedi.

The overall flying experience of the Air was extremely positive. With a top speed of approx. 68 km/h, which is slightly faster than the Pro’s 65 km/h, I found the Air extremely quick and nimble. DJI’s engineers and programmers definitely hit the nail on the head with this guy. The only downside with such a small drone is the limited flight time. The Air comes with a 2,375mAh battery which translates to roughly 21 minutes of flight time. However, depending on your flying style and the environment, you may end up with less ‘air’ time. I was getting around 17 minutes of solid flight in winter conditions with some minor wind. I definitely recommend purchasing a couple of extra battery packs if you plan on taking the Air to your next adventure.

Camera and Video Capabilities

One thing to keep in mind is that the Mavic and Spark lines are not made for professional use. If you’re looking to film the next Dunkirk, then I suggest checking out the Inspire or Phantom 4 Pro. However, if you’re looking to add some flare to your family videos or YouTube videos, then the Mavic Air should be more than capable of spicing things up with some sweet aerial footage. In essence, the Mavic Air is meant for the casual photographers and/or videographers.

DJI Drones Mavic Air Review:  Size Small, Packed More Fun

Image and video quality remain largely the same as the Mavic Pro; you’ll be able to shoot in 4K (30fps) at 100Mps compared to the Pro’s 4k (24fps) at 60Mps. This slight bump doesn’t make too much of a difference but an improvement is always welcome. The Air sports a 12MP camera and an almost identical sensor to the Mavic Pro (see Comparisons Table). With a f2.8 aperture, the Mavic Air is able to get some pretty detailed and rich content during the day. Keep in mind though, there will be more noise under high contrast or low-light conditions; you’ll want to put in a little Lightroom or Final Cut/ Premiere work if you want your stills to look perfect.

As always, DJI’s gimbal game is in a league of its own. With products like the Osmo, Zenmuse and Ronin under their belt, it’s not farfetched to claim that they’re the best at what they do. The Air’s gimbal does not disappoint either; it’s the same 3-axis mechanical gimbal used on the Mavic Pro, so you won’t have to worry about shaky videos should there be some hefty wind.

The Verdict

After flying this drone for the better part of a week, I’ve come to appreciate the amount of ingenuity DJI put into engineering this baby. Flawlessly combining the elements of the Mavic Pro and the Spark, the Air doesn’t sacrifice size for function. With up to 21 minutes of flight time, an advanced pilot assistance system and the ability to shoot 4K, the Air is the perfect companion for your next adventure. That isn’t to say that the Air is perfect because by no means is it; it struggles under high contrast/ low-light conditions and is limited to its relatively short flight time.

Ultimately, spending 800 USD on the Mavic Air depends on your intentions. If you’re looking to create content for commercial or professional use, then I would recommend investing in the Inspire or Phantom Pro series. However, if you’re simply looking for an entry level drone that’s both practical, budget friendly and fun then the Mavic Air should be your first choice. At the same price range, there just isn’t any drone out there that can compete with the Air’s quality, portability, ingenuity and overall experience.

Pros:

  • Highly Portable

  • Advanced Pilot Assistance System makes it extremely easy to fly.

  • Bang for the buck. Reasonably Priced starting at 800USD

Cons:

  • Short Battery Life

  • Not the greatest under low-light high contrast conditions.

More DJI drones Review on Our Site:

DJI Spark UAV Fresh Unboxing & Review: The Strongest handheld UAV Ever.

Previous articleThe Most Beautiful Grassland in China
Next articleTHIS IS THE REASON WHY THEY GIVE GELATIN TO SICK PEOPLE IN HOSPITALS: WHEN YOU FIND OUT THE REASON, YOU’LL BE SHOCKED!