DJI Mavic Air
The DJI Mavic Air is a compact, ultraportable quadcopter with big capabilities.
A folded Mavic Air is about half the size of a Mavic Pro and more than 40 percent lighter. It’s shorter, about the same width, and less than 2 inches tall. That’s why it’s so easy to take anywhere and record your experiences, whether you carry it in a backpack, pocket or purse. Mavic Air won’t weigh you down: It weighs a mere 0.94 pound—about 0.7 pound less than the Pro.
What’s big is the Mavic Air’s performance: ultra-high-definition 4K video, quality slow motion in 1080p, 12MP stills in HDR, a variety of panoramic shots, even 32MP spherical panoramas. Its 3-axis gimbal keeps video shake-free. And Mavic Air outflies other compacts with its 2.5-mile range, 42.5mph top speed, ActiveTrack for following subjects and SmartCapture—not just for selfies, but also for flight control by hand gestures. And, of course, there’s the famed DJI Return to Home safety feature.
DJI Mavic Air features:
- Range: 2.5 miles
- Fight time: 21 minutes (real world)
- Data storage: 8GB internal; 128GB maximum with a micro SD card
- Video: 4K video; 2.7K; slow motion in full hi-def 1080p
- Bit Rate: 100 Mbps
- Still photos: 12MP; HDR mode for more detail; panoramic and spherical panoramic
- Field of view: 85 degrees
- Gimbal: 3 axis mechanical
- Top speed: 42.5mph
- Obstacle avoidance
Mavic Air, like its big brother, folds for storage and easy transport, but it does so in about half the space. Propellers remain mounted atop the four arms, which fold against the body and store efficiently during transport. There’s no need to mount props before each flight.
You may occasionally check your bag or your pocket to make sure you stashed your Mavic Air away. That’s understandable, given its folded size of just 6.61x3.26x1.92 inches and its total weight of just under a pound.
Mavic Air’s 3 Color Choices
If you prefer something other than the crisp Mavic Air Arctic White, make a statement with Mavic Air Flame Red or remain completely understated with Mavic Air Onyx Black. Inside, all are the same feature-packed DJI quadcopter.
Don’t be misled by Mavic Air’s compact size. Despite having a footprint not much larger than that of a smartphone, it has big capabilities. Mavic Air has a top speed of 42.5 mph, faster than the Pro. It can fly about 21 minutes on a single charge, exceeding 6 miles of travel. Able to resist winds of up to 24 mph, Mavic Air is stable, even while hovering.
Mavic Air remembers the safe route it just traveled, so you can command it to Return to Home and it will get back to you without incident. If battery power falls to dangerously low levels, or if you fly beyond the reach of the controller’s commands, Mavic Air will automatically activate Return to Home.
The Mavic Air’s camera is thoroughly stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal—not by a less effective digital program. The mechanical gimbal is suspended by vibration-absorbing rubber dampers, which further reduce minute camera movements to smooth video imagery. Mavic Air delivers true ultra-high definition 4K video shot at 30fps. It can also shoot 2.7K video at 60fps, and even 1080p full high definition at 120fps for superbly smooth slow motion. The 100Mbps bit rate also boosts video quality.
Stills are a sharp 12MP. The HDR mode (High Dynamic Range) provides greater luminosity and extra detail in low and high light situations. It’s easier and quicker to automatically get the correct exposure in extreme light. Dark areas in photos are less muddy, and light areas have more contrast—even in the same frame. Bursts can be shot at 3/5/7 fps.
Moving and still images are recorded on 8GB of internal memory. Need more storage? A slot accepts Micro SD cards of up to 128GB—bigger than on many drones that sell for twice the price, and more than on any drone that’s similarly priced.
The camera’s field of view is a wide 85 degrees, equivalent to a 24mm lens in 35mm format. The CMOS sensor is 1/2.3 inch, the same as on many larger drones.
Flight Modes Enhance Video, Photography
Several modes help you shoot more dynamic aerial video and photos. Like the Pro, Mavic Air has QuickShots, a selection of settings that allow you to video record a subject while the drone flies programmed acrobatics that you select. Mavic Air has Rocket, Dronie, Circle and Helix settings that carry over from the Mavic Pro, plus two new modes: Asteroid, which records a 360-degree spherical image before zooming in on the start point, such as a building or statue, and Boomerang, which records a 360-degree spin around the pilot before zooming in.
ActiveTrack, the DJI program that has always locked onto and followed a subject, video recording or photographing it, now can sense and follow multiple subjects. It’s easier to more precisely identify onscreen the targets to be followed. The improved ActiveTrack makes this compact drone a perfect choice for recording activities such as jogging, biking, rowing and swimming.
SmartCapture obeys gesture commands that are simple for the operator to learn. It allows the pilot to command the drone to take off, follow a subject, shoot, record or land, all without using the controller. And yes, it still takes gesture-commanded selfies.
The Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems enable Mavic Air to fly forward while automatically avoiding obstacles by going around or over them. Mavic Air has sensors in front, on top and below to improve safe flying. Terrestrial recognition is improved.
Multiple modes create a choice of panoramic photos: horizontal, vertical, 180-degree and 360-degree 32MP. In less than a minute the 32MP mode seamlessly and quickly melds 25 individual images.
Like the Mavic Air itself, the included remote controller is compact and folds so it doesn’t take up much space. The twin joysticks come off for storage inside the controller. And remember, for short flights, the controller isn’t even needed, with a smartphone or tablet and free downloadable software capable of commanding the drone.
When linked with a smartphone or tablet, the remote receives live video transmission in 720p from Mavic Air from a distance up to 2.5 miles. The range of commands to the drone also is 2.5 miles. Mavic Air can be used with DJI Goggles, available from Drone Nerds, for a fully immersive flight experience.