The launch of DJI’s latest drone, the Mavic Air 2, has got me more than a little excited.
As you may know I am incredibly passionate about my drone photography and I love the way it can change our perspective of the world around us. I’ve even been awarded by DJI for the pictures of Cape Town I take with it. (Shameless punt I know but I am very proud of it.)
I started flying my first drone more than two years ago with the first generation of this model. Back then it managed to tick all the boxes for me out of what I wanted from a drone: it was relatively affordable, and it met the minimum image quality requirements I was looking for as a photographer.
I have almost 48 hours of flight time fly with my own Mavic Air which is quite a lot since you only realistically get about 17 minutes per flight. Yes, my aptly named Red Baroness, so called because of her shiny red exterior, has flown in all sorts for conditions from the calm windless Karoo to pumping gales around Millers Point, Cape Town where she almost disappeared into the ocean.
I’ve never looked back, and it was one of the single best investments I’ve ever made in photography.
Since then the Chinese based DJI has continued to push that technology to the next level and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. They’ve come out with the insane Mavic Pro 2 series which are awesome photography drones, albeit too bulky and expensive for me, as well as the 249-gram Mini, designed specially so that it is 1 gram lighter than US flight regulations which means you don’t have to register it to fly it in the US, and which I probably would have bought if it had had shot images in RAW.
The Mavic Air 2 sits comfortably in between these two and it shows that DJI is without a doubt leading the forefront of the consumer drone market and it is because of one single thing – they’re listening to their pilots.
Like for like the Mavic Air 2 is exactly what I am looking for in an upgraded drone. The drone hasn’t even landed in South Africa yet and I’m excited about it.
A new transmission system that is dope.
First, and most importantly of all, they’ve tossed out the drones wi-fi transmission system and replaced it with the much better OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology, the same transmission system that is in the Mavic Pro 2s.
If you’ve flown with me before you’ll know how limiting that wi-fi can be and is the LARGEST complaint I have about the Mavic Air.
As a rule I don’t fly my drone further than I can see it, but I can tell you it is incredibly frustrating flying on the fringes of cities where there is so much signal interference you can barely get 100 metres from your launch site – especially when there are whales and pods of dolphin in Sea Point.
A better camera for those bangers.
The second most exciting thing is a beefed-up camera. DJI say the Air 2 is capable of shooting 12mb still (which is the same as the Air) as well as new high resolution 48MB image, which is a massive step-up for image quality. To me this sounds a bit gimmicky, until I can really test it out and vouch for the quality.
A new feature which I am excited to play with is Hyperlight – designed for low-light scenarios, taking multiple photographs and merging them to bring out a clear image with less of the noise which usually occurs in low-light scenes. I typically don’t fly my Air at sunset because the noise is so bad it not worth the effort.
Video improved as well
Video wise, it’s now possible to shoot an 8K Hyperlapse which I’m SO excited to try out.
It is also the first drone in the Mavic series to offer 4K video at 60 fps and 120 Mbps. Additionally, users can record unique content using HDR video. 4X Slow Motion in 1080p at 120 fps or 8X Slow Motion in 1080p at 240 fps.
Weight is heavier than the Air but longer flight times.
The Air 2 comes in at 570g, comparatively the Air weighted 430g and
Longer flight times 34 minutes vs 21 minutes.
The Air 2 features new motors, new electronic speed controllers (ESCs), enhanced battery technology and an aerodynamic design to provide a maximum flight time of up to 34 minutes.
The original Air could fly for up to 21 minutes. In my experience flying my Air this is more realistically 17 minutes under normal conditions. Windy even less.
Flight time is incredibly important when photographing things like surfers when you need to wait for the right set to catch the action.
The price would have been like the Air in 2018, if not for SA’s poor exchange rate and import duties.
Pricewise the Fly More Combo option which includes all items from the standard version (remote and drone and some spare blades) as well as a shoulder bag, ND filters, charging hub, and 3 batteries is retailing for about R22,999.
Sadly, thanks to South Africa’s poor exchange rate and high import duties, it’s R4,500 more expensive than the US retail price $988 (roughly R18,400). This same price would have been almost the same price as the first generation which I paid R18,000 for my own model back in 2018.
It also serves to note that you won’t be able to get the Air 2 for until exports and imports out of China return to some form of normalcy during our Covid-19 lockdown.
The Air 2 is smarter and can avoid obstacles better.
The Air 2 now has Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 3.0 to help with object to avoid collision, giving pilots the confidence to fly in more complex situations while focusing on capturing their ideal images.
Additional sensors and auxiliary lights on the bottom of Mavic Air 2 assist with several functions including smooth, automatic landing even in difficult lighting. Mavic Air 2 also comes equipped with our GEO geofencing solution to help keep drones away from the highest-risk locations, such as busy airports.
It should be able to follow and track your movements much better than the original Air – we will see.
It will also include technology which notifies you if planes are around – but you’ll have to wait for it.
Mavic Air 2 is DJI’s first consumer drone designed to include AirSense technology, which provides a warning to drone pilots of other aircraft nearby. As these other aircraft approach the drone, AirSense will warn the drone pilot with messages, sounds and vibrations, enhancing the pilot’s awareness and ability to move the drone safely away.
If this feature appeals to you, you’ll have to wait. Due to supply chain shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic, Mavic Air 2 units equipped with AirSense ADS-B will initially only be available in North America.
For more of my work please visit my website: www.jaycaboz.com.
For print inquiries: email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out my contact form on the website.