You’ve probably heard or read a lot of good things about the successor to the DJI Mavic Air 2, the DJI Air 2S. This new model got rid of the Mavic brand name for a shorter name and gained an S in the process. But what else does it have, what is it worth in general, and most importantly, should you get it? The answer in our test of the DJI Air 2S.
The DJI Air 2S has the same reliable and robust build quality displayed by DJI drones. Its appearance is very similar to the Mavic Air 2, with a few differences: obstacle detection sensors have appeared on the top of the drone as well as an auxiliary lightunderneath to facilitate take-off and landing in low light.
The familiar foldable design of the Mavic series of drones has been retained, making it much easier to transport. When folded, the DJI Air 2S measures only 180×97×80mm (4mm shorter than its predecessor) and can fit in the palm of your hand. Its dimensions are 183×253×77mm when unfolded.
Weighing in at 595g, the DJI Air 2s is a really light drone and is only 25g heavier than the Air 2, which is pretty impressive considering that it houses a larger camera.
The remote control is the same as the one that comes with the Mavic Air 2 and Mini 2. A telescopic handle is located on top to accommodate your smartphone and for ease of transport, the joysticks unscrew and can be stored in the rubber sections at the bottom of the controller.
This remote control is unfortunately larger and heavier (393g) than the one on the Mavic 2, which also has the advantage of being foldable, and does not have a screen to display basic flight and camera information. However, it is comfortable to use, has more battery life and includes all the useful functions for flying the drone, except for using the camera, for which you will need to use the DJI Fly application.
The DJI Air 2S is extremely easy and safe to fly thanks to the flight functions that the Mavic series of drones are known for. Its automated flight modes and anti-collision functions give you all the assistance you need.
Of course, the drone features the usual Quickshot modes, automated flight modes that make it easy to create professionally rendered videos. These modes are as follows:
These are complemented by FocusTrack mode, which includes several programmed modes in which the pilot must draw a frame around the subject for the drone to follow.
There is also a Spotlight 2.0 mode in which the drone is flown manually by the pilot with the camera locked on the subject so that the subject is always in the centre of the frame.
Finally, DJI has added a completely new mode called MasterShots to allow you to generate professional quality footage ready to share on social networks. In this mode, the drone automatically flies around the subject and takes 10 different video sequences from different angles. The application then stitches these scenes together and adds music to produce a video clip that you can then share immediately online. The result is interesting, but it feels more like a showcase of all the QuickShot modes in one video, and one might only use this mode a few times before returning to the classic modes.
The DJI Air 2S is extremely safe to fly thanks to its obstacle sensors all around the drone, in front, behind, under and above the aircraft. These use binocular zoom technology to recognise objects further away when moving quickly.
The Air 2S also features the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 4.0, which can be set to automatically stop the drone or fly around, under or over detected obstacles to maintain smooth and continuous flight.
Another safety feature it comes equipped with is AirSense, which uses ADS-B aviation technology to receive signals from nearby planes and helicopters and display their position on the on-screen map in the DJI Fly application.
Finally, there is also GEO 2.0 geocoding to keep the drone away from places where airspace is restricted, such as airports.
DJI drones have the advantage of flying with a reliability that immediately inspires confidence, and the DJI Air 2S is no exception.
The DJI Air 2s has three flight modes: Normal (N), Sport (S), and Cinema (C). Its top speed is 68km/h in Sport mode, 54km/h in Normal mode and 18km/h in Cinema mode, where the speed is deliberately limited and the controls are less sensitive in order to film the most cinematic-looking video sequences possible.
The first thing we noticed during our test is that the Air 2S is incredibly quiet. The fact that DJI has updated the electronic speed controllers and created more aerodynamic propellers has a lot to do with it. The controls are as smooth as ever, the drone responds quickly and does exactly what you tell it to do. The drone is very stable in light winds, but it gets a bit tricky in moderate to strong winds.
The maximum flight time announced by DJI is 31 minutes, which is three minutes less than its predecessor, the Air 2. But of course, this figure applies in the absence of wind and if you take into account the weather and the automatic return function which is triggered when 25% of the battery remains, the flight time is inevitably lower, which is normal. In our test, we found flight times to be closer to 20 minutes.
Image quality is clearly the most important feature on a drone. And the DJI Air 2S is definitely up to the task with its 1-inch CMOS with a resolution of 20MP with a field of view of 88 degrees or 22mm equivalent focal length and a fixed aperture of f/2.8 with a focus range of 60cm to infinity. All mounted on a 3-axis gimbal capable of tilting 90 degrees down and up to 24 degrees up.
It is possible to take pictures in RAW and JPEG formats. The images produced are sharpest in the centre with a drop in sharpness towards the edges but this is common to most consumer drones, so it is not a major problem. In video, the image is sharp throughout the frame.
All photo modes are accessible via the DJI Fly app and there are all the classic functions such as single shot, self-timer, burst mode, panorama and hyperlapse modes.
The following advanced modes are also available:
There is also a new SmartPhoto mode that analyses the scene to automatically choose the best of three options – HDR, Hyperlight and Scene Recognition – to get the ideal image. This mode is convenient for beginner photographers who want to get a quality image with minimal effort, but will be less useful for more advanced users.
You can shoot 5.4K video at up to 30 frames per second, 4K video at up to 60 frames per second and Full HD video at up to 120 frames per second, allowing you to shoot slow motion.
The videos taken can be recorded in the following formats H.264 or H.265 and you can choose from three video colour profiles: Normal (8 bits), D-Log (10 bits) or HLG (10-bit), which is a perfect range of options for professionals and a significant improvement over the Air 2.
ISO sensitivity from 100 to 12800 is available for photos, and from 100 to 1600 for video. ISO handling is far superior to that of the Mavic 2 Pro. The most significant improvement in image quality is certainly the management of noise at high ISO: images taken at ISO 3200 are surprisingly clean and noise is only noticeable at ISO 6400 and above. If necessary, it will therefore be possible to shoot at higher ISO settings in low light conditions.
The DJI Air 2S has an 8x digital zoom, which starts at 4x in 4K at 30fps and increases to 8x in 1080p at 30fps. Unfortunately it is not available for 10-bit or 120fps, but it allows you to get closer to the action without the drone being physically closer, which is very useful. However, when shooting video footage, it is best not to use a zoom setting of more than 2x, as the image quality naturally decreases beyond that.
As is often the case with DJI drones, the DJI Air 2S is available as a standard package or a Fly More Bundle.
The standard package costs 999€ and includes the drone, RC-N1 remote control, battery, charger, mobile phone cables, 3 pairs of propellers, a basket protector, and a pair of spare joysticks.
The Fly More Bundle contains all the accessories of the standard package, plus 2 batteries, 3 pairs of propellers, a set of ND 4/8/16/32 filters, a charging station, an external battery adapter, and a shoulder bag. Priced at 1299€, this is the best value package as all additional accessories are inevitably more expensive if purchased separately.
DJI has added a new Fly More Bundle for 1749€ which includes the same accessories as the basic Fly More Bundle, but in which the RC-N1 remote control is replaced by a Smart Controller remote control, which has an ultra-bright screen that displays the camera’s live image and flight information.
Combining the compact design of the DJI Mavic Air 2 with the image quality of the Mavic 2 Pro, the DJI Air 2S is clearly one of the best compact drones on the market, although in the meantime DJI has released the Mavic 3 which is truly exceptional but also much more expensive. But to put it simply, the DJI Air 2S is a great drone: compact, light, quiet, with good battery life, incredible on-board technology and its 20MP camera takes stunningly sharp photos and videos even in low light. For its price, it is clearly a fantastic product.
… you need superb image quality and are looking for the best value! The DJI Air 2S is clearly a great option. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional videographer looking for an ultra-portable drone to add to your arsenal, the Air 2S is the smallest and lightest consumer drone with a 1-inch sensor and a camera to match. Of course, the Mavic 3 has since been released, but its price is much higher. And if you already have the Mavic Air 2, it’s up to you: the Air 2S has new features and a better camera, but its predecessor remains a very capable drone.
… you need the best of the best: the Mavic 3 clearly has the best camera on the market for a portable drone. But if you are not a professional, the price may hold you back. If, on the other hand, you need an even smaller and more portable drone, then the DJI Mini 2and its 249 grams are the best option. And it’s capable of shooting RAW photos and video up to 4K.