With the unveiling of the DJI Air 2S, the drone giant shows no signs of slowing down after the release of the DJI FPV.
While the name suggests only a minor upgrade over the Mavic Air 2, there’s plenty in this new model to pique the interest of both amateur and expert drone pilots, including a 1-inch sensor packed into a small drone.
The DJI Air 2S is distinguished by its 20MP 1-inch sensor, which increases image quality and provides faster high ISO response than the Mavic Air 2.
The ability to capture 5.4K video at 30 frames per second, as well as 4K at up to 60 frames per second and 1080p at up to 120 frames per second, gives up a lot of creative possibilities for video capture.
Even better, compared to the Mavic Air 2, the larger sensor camera has only added 25g to the drone’s weight.
The Air 2S’ digital zoom, which starts at 4x with 4K at 30fps video and goes up to 8x with 1080p at 30fps, is another feature that DJI is touting.
This function may not seem fascinating at first, but it allows you to go close to people while maintaining a safe distance because to the restrictions governing how close drones can legally fly (no closer than 50m in most circumstances).
This might be a very helpful tool for professional drone pilots, and it will open the door to more creative stills and videos for amateurs.
Overall, image quality is superb, and noise levels at high ISO settings are significantly lower than with the Mavic Pro 2.
However, because the images are significantly softer at the edges and the aperture is set at f/2.8, ND filters are the only means to modify exposure during video recording.
Still, the Air 2S Fly More Bundle includes four ND filters, same like the Mavic Air 2 Fly More Bundle, so we’d recommend getting that if you can.
Control and design
The Air 2S is only 595g.
It has a folding and small design.
The Mavic Air 2 uses the same controller.
The Air 2S looks quite similar to the Mavic Air 2 on the outside, with only a few minor modifications.
It boasts the folding design that Mavic drones are known for, as you might anticipate (even if DJI has now dropped the Mavic name).
For flight, the front arms swing out, while the rear arms move down and out, allowing the drone to be easily transported.
The Air 2S is compact, measuring 1809780mm folded and 18325377mm unfurled.
It’s scarcely different from its predecessor, but it’s 4mm shorter when folded than the Mavic Air 2.
The Air 2S is also little over half the weight of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro at 595g, and only 25g heavier than the Air 2, which is impressive given its larger camera.
The controller is identical to that which comes with the Mavic Air 2.
However, unlike the Mavic 2 Pro’s controller, it is not foldable and weighs 393 grammes.
While it connects to the aircraft more quickly than the Mavic 2 controller, it lacks a simple screen that displays basic flight and camera information.
The phone is attached to the top of the controller via a telescopic grip, and the control sticks are kept in rubberized parts at the bottom of the controller without the folding arms to support it.
It’s a pleasant controller to use, but it’s a shame it’s larger and heavier than the controllers for the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.
The extra size of the controller isn’t a deal-breaker, and the combined size and weight of the drone and its controller is still manageable.
A rudimentary information display screen and a couple of additional programmable FN (function) buttons on the controller’s rear would be useful, but they aren’t required.
All camera controls, with the exception of releasing the shutter, transitioning from video to stills, and anything you set to the FN button, must be performed through the DJI Fly app.
This is the identical layout as the Mavic Air 2, with the exception that Tripod Mode is now known as ‘Cine mode,’ and is labelled as such on the flying mode switch, among Normal and Sport modes.
Characteristics and flight
A new MasterShots flight mode has been added.
Flight times in real life are roughly 20 minutes.
The DJI Air 2S is incredibly simple to fly and exceedingly safe, thanks to the Mavic series’ well-known flight capabilities.
The flight modes, automated video modes, collision avoidance, and manual flight control provide as little or as much assistance as you need, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned master.
Single Shot, Timed Photo, AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing), HDR, Panoramas, and Hyperlapses are just a few of the camera capabilities available on the Air 2S.
There’s also a new SmartPhoto mode that takes full-resolution photographs and uses scene analysis and deep learning to determine the best of three possibilities for your photo: HDR, Hyperlight, and Scene Recognition.
This is ideal for beginners who wish to capture a high-quality image with minimal effort, but not so much for more experienced photographers.
Still, if you shoot stills in raw+JPEG mode, the JPEG will be treated as a SmartPhoto, but the Raw file will be left unprocessed, allowing you to edit it yourself.
QuickShots, which are DJI’s automated camera motions, are also available to video users – for example, choose ‘Boomerang’ and the drone will automatically circle around you.
These appear to have been improved on the Air 2S, however we didn’t observe any differences in our tests – everything just functioned.
These modes include Rocket, Circle, Dronie, Helix, and Asteroid, and they’re a great plus for newbies who want to produce a professional-looking movie quickly.
The Air 2S also comes with an improved FocusTrack mode, which offers numerous pre-programmed options in which you draw a box around the subject and the drone follows it.
There’s also Spotlight 2.0, which allows the operator to manage the drone’s flight as the camera locks on and monitors the subject in the picture.
On paper, the new MasterShots mode appears to be thrilling, and it does provide an intriguing effect.
However, it’s more of a demonstration of all the QuickShots in one film than something to use on a regular basis.
After a few tries, you’ll probably move on to QuickShots or manual flight control to capture more distinctive camera motions.
You select a topic in MasterShots by drawing a rectangle or square around it in the programme, then pressing the start button.
After that, the drone will conduct a series of moves as a countdown timer displays its progress.
The drone will choose a capture mode to shoot the video in automatically, and once it’s finished, you can use the DJI Fly app to add themes to create a video to share.
The Mavic Air 2S has front, rear, bottom, and top obstacle sensors that use binocular zooming technology to spot obstacles from a distance when moving at high speeds.
You can also set the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 4.0 to halt the drone or fly it autonomously around, under, or over impediments when they’re identified, which will aid preserve continuous flight.
AirSense is another safety feature that was initially seen on consumer drones with the Mavic Air 2.
This function receives signals from adjacent planes and helicopters using ADS-B aviation technology and displays their whereabouts on the DJI Fly app’s on-screen map.
Then there’s the GEO 2.0 geofencing system, which keeps the drone out of sensitive areas like airports.
Overall, DJI has the Air 2S covered in terms of safety, though you’ll still need to follow the regular drone restrictions.
The Air 2S has a decent maximum flight time of 31 minutes, which is three minutes less than the Air 2.
When we took into account the weather and the Return-To-Home function (which activates when the battery hits 25%), we discovered that flying times are typically around 20 minutes per battery, depending on your conditions.
Image and video quality
20MP sensor with a 1-inch sensor
Shoots video at a resolution of up to 5.4 megapixels.
Even at high ISO settings, photos are clear.
The image quality is frequently the most significant characteristic of a drone, regardless of how many bells and whistles it has.
And the Air 2S is unquestionably up to the task.
The camera has a 20MP 1-inch sensor with an 88-degree field of vision, or a full-frame equivalent focal length of 22mm.
The Air 2S, like the Mavic Air 2, features a fixed f/2.8 aperture and a focus range of 60cm to infinity (more on it later).
Even when the Mavic 2 Pro’s aperture is set to f/2.8, still shots appear noticeably softer at the edges than those from the Mavic 2 Pro.
However, while the difference in clarity is visible in a side-by-side comparison, it is insignificant and provides no reason to prefer one drone over the other.
In video, on the other hand, the image appears sharp across the frame.
The Air 2S’s high ISO noise control has to be the greatest significant increase in image quality over the Mavic 2 Pro.
Even with a 1-inch sensor, images shot at ISO 3200 are surprisingly crisp for a drone.
Only at ISO 6400 does the noise become more noticeable.
In a word, the Mavic 2 Pro’s ISO handling is substantially better than the Mavic 2 Pro’s, allowing you to shoot at higher ISO settings in low-light situations without having to worry about chroma and luminance noise.
In this regard, the Air 2S completely outperforms the Mavic 2 Pro.
There is, however, a rationale for this.
The raw data from the Air 2S are so clear because ‘temporal denoising technology’ is used to decrease high ISO noise, according to DJI.
The end effect is wonderful, but it raises an essential question: is a raw file really a raw file if it has been processed in any way?
Correcting any alleged negative flaws in raw files with in-camera processing could lead us down a dangerous path, where customers lose faith in devices like cameras and drones if they can’t trust the findings.
Slow-motion video is supported in 5.4K at up to 30 frames per second, 4K at up to 60 frames per second, and Full HD at up to 120 frames per second.
The 8x digital zoom starts at 4x with 4K at 30fps footage and goes up to 8x with 1080p at 30fps video.
Unfortunately, zoom recording isn’t available when filming 10-bit or 120fps videos.
If you simply zoom in 2x at any resolution, as shown below, video quality when utilising the zoom is good.
However, due of the significant loss in image quality, it appears like a digital zoom was applied.
Traditionally, digital zooms have been unsatisfactory because they lower image resolution by cropping images to accomplish the zoom.
But because the Air 2S’s camera can record at up to 5.4K, it’s done in a less disruptive way, which explains why there’s a sliding scale of zoom accessible at different video resolutions.
In any case, at whatever resolution, 2x zoom is as far as you’ll ever want to go.
You can record video in H.264 or H.265 codecs, and you can pick between three video colour profiles: Normal (8-bit), D-Log (10-bit), or HLG (High Dynamic Range) (10-bit).
This gives both pros and fans the perfect range of alternatives.
Professionals can utilise colour grading to integrate their aerial footage into a raw video process, while enthusiasts can rely on Standard to receive footage that looks excellent right out of the camera without the need for raw editing.
Should I invest in a DJI Air 2S?
If you want to buy it, you should…
You’re looking for the tiniest drone with a 1-inch sensor.
The Air 2S is the smallest and lightest consumer drone with a 1-inch sensor because to its 595g weight and folding construction.
As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy outstanding image quality while still being able to take the drone on vacations with ease.
You’re shooting in dim light.
Shutter speeds can become slow when filming with a drone around dawn and sunset, resulting in camera shake if there is wind.
However, one of the best features of the Air 2S is its superb high ISO noise handling, which allows you to shoot at higher ISOs with confidence.
You’re looking for a drone with AirSense.
DJI AirSense is an alert system that employs ADS-B technology to notify drone pilots of adjacent aircraft equipped with the technology.
The goal is to make drone flights safer and limit the chance of air incursions, which is a fantastic benefit to have.
If you don’t want to buy it, don’t.
Aperture control is required.
While the Air 2S has the same 1-inch sensor as the Mavic 2 Pro, it lacks the latter’s adjustable aperture.
This implies that ND filters are the sole way to alter exposure during video capture on the Air 2S.
This isn’t a deal-breaker, but changing an ND filter takes longer than changing the f-stop on the Mavic 2 Pro.
You recently purchased the Mavic Air 2 drone.
The Mavic Air 2 is a brand-new drone that has many of the same characteristics as the Air 2S.
Of course, the 1-inch sensor, 8x digital zoom, and MasterShots flight modes are all new features on the new model, but the Air 2 remains a capable drone.
It’s intended for use with the DJI Goggles V2.0.
The Air 2S is not compatible with the DJI Goggles V2.0, despite speculations to the contrary.
DJI has said that the Air 2S could “theoretically” support the video headset in the future, but if you want a bird’s-eye view from your Air 2S, you can either use a third-party solution or buy the DJI FPV instead.
- 【1-INCH IMAGE SENSOR】Equipped with a 1-inch image sensor and large 2.4μm pixels, DJI Air 2S is capable of 5.4K/30fps and 4K/60fps video
- 【MASTERSHOTS】The next evolution of QuickShots, MasterShots is an advanced intelligent feature that gives users the best shots in any location with just a tap
- 【THE CENTER OF ATTENTION】FocusTrack features Spotlight 2.0, ActiveTrack 4.0, and Point of Interest 3.0, making it a breeze for DJI Air 2S to follow or circle your subject
- 【ONE BILLION COLORS】The 10-bit Dlog-M color profile can record up to one billion colors while retaining all the little details that make footage pop
- 【12KM MAX VIDEO TRANSMISSION (FCC)】DJI Air 2S features DJI's most advanced O3 (OcuSync 3.0) image transmission technology, giving you an ultra-smooth, clear, and reliable image feed every time you fly.
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