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DJI Mavic Air Review

Publish Date:
Apr 08, 2018
Categories:
Research

The DJI Mavic Air expands on the foldable drones, gaining gestures and a better camera. The Mavic Air is focused on portability but is able to still achieve great looking 4K video.

  • 4K 30fps
  • Forward & Backward Obstacle Avoidance
  • 42mph (68kph) Max Speed
  • Available in Arctic White, Onyx Black and Flame Red
  • DJI GO 4 App

Mavic Air Overview

The Mavic Air is the smallest and most portable of the Mavic series of drones. While this newly release drone has better specs than the Mavic Pro, the Mavic Air is about half the size and 40% lighter than the Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air can be flown with the included controller or using gestures using "SmartCapture". SmartCapture is similar to gesture control with the Spark, but the Mavic Air track you with a more precise camera. The 3-axis gimbal stabilizes video even in high winds and records 4k 30 frames per second at 100mbps and slow-motion full hd video at 120fps.

A cool feature that is less stated, is that the Mavic Air battery charger can charge the remote controller and the aircraft at the same time. It takes about 55 minutes to charge a Mavic Air battery fully and the battery will last for 21 minutes of flight time.

The flight range is significantly reduced when flying without the controller and using a mobile device. The flight range with the controller is 2.5 mi (4 km) - with a mobile device, you're limited to 50m high and 80m away from you. The top speed of the Mavic Air is pretty high at 42mph in sport mode for this small drone.

Mavic Air camera with Polar Pro ND16PL

Mavic Air Camera Overview

Small sensor, but still capable of good images

The Mavic Air has a 3 axis gimbal stabilized 1/2.3in sensor, which is the same sensor size as the Mavic Pro, and the Mavic Air is capable of shooting 4K at 30fps - which is good on it's own but I feel like this is becoming the standard for DJI drones. The impressive part is that the Mavic Air can film full HD at 120 frames per second. This is one of the specs that surprised me out of the small drone.

One negative about this drone is the fixed aperture at f2.8. While a drone of this sizes isn't really expected to have a variable aperture, it makes exposing certain sunny shots more difficult. One plus to not having a variable aperture is that you will not need to worry about constantly checking your focus. If you've ever flown a variable aperture drone, you may know what I'm talking about. With the screens today, it can be difficult to tell what is in focus and what is blurry - with the Mavic Air, you wont have to worry about that!

Mavic Air Panorama Modes

The Mavic Air has a number of different panorama modes.

Vertical: Takes 3 vertical photos and stitches them together.

Horizontal: Takes 9 photos stitching them together.

180: Takes 21 photos and stitches them together for a 180 degree field of view.

Sphere: Takes 25 photos for a 360 degree spherical pano. Pretty cool!

Boomerang: Starts out slowly behind the subject and moves more quickly as the Mavic Air approaches the subject and slows and repeats.

Asteroid: Starts out taking a video as it backs away from the subject, then once getting far enough away, it takes photos like using the Sphere panorama mode and merges your footage with the sphere so you look like you're flying into

Mavic Air Obstacle Avoidance and Sensing Overview

Obstacle avoidance and APAS

The newest upgrade to the Mavic Air's Obstacle Avoidance is APAS or Advanced Piloting Assistant Systems. When you enable APAS on the controller, the Mavic Air will actively look for obstacles and find a way around them with it's vision systems without coming to a stop like previous drones. This is pretty cool for capturing buttery smooth shots close to objects without stopping and simply flying past them. With this enabled, you're restricted to under 10mph for filming - which is a good thing. It you have this enabled you are most likely flying around objects that are close by, slower speeds are a good thing so you can focus on filming.

Gesture Controls & Limitations

The Mavic Air flying in SmartCapture actively tracks its position in space to you and it's surroundings, only letting the drone get 9.8 feet (3 meters) when it's at eye level for more precise gesture controls. It is capable of flying further away than 10 feet, just not at eye level.

Mavic Air Remote Controller Overview

The Mavic Air's video transmission 720p 30fps, using the controller you can fly up to 2.5 mi (4 km), but with the mobile app youre restricted to 50m above and 80m around you.

The Mavic Air's remote control battery lasts about 4-5 flights but doesn't have a screen on it like the Mavic Pro. This controller more resembles the Spark controller but with one key extra feature.. the thumb sticks are removable! A really awesome feature which makes this drone even more portable than ever. The thumb sticks can be tucked away into the bottom of the remote controller when not in use for safe travel.

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Mavic Air General Info
Release Date Jan 27, 2018
Launch Pricing $799
View Current
Accessories
Case Included?
Mavic Air Drone Specs
Weight 0.95 lbs (430 g)
Size Folded: 168×83×49 mm, Unfolded: 168×184×64 mm
Firmware Update Method
In The Box
  • DJI Mavic Air
  • Remote Controller
  • 1 Battery
  • 2 pairs of propellers (4 total)
  • Propeller Guards
  • Charger
  • Power Cable
  • Remote Controller to controller cable
  • Remote Controller to Micro USB cable
  • Remote Controller to USB C
  • Communication Cable USB C cable
  • Carrying case
  • Travel bag
  • Gimbal Protector
  • Remote Controller cable slider - large
  • Remote Controller Slider - small
  • 1 pair of Spare control sticks (2 total)
Mavic Air Flying Specs
Battery Life 21 minutes, 2375 mAh
Flight Range 2.5 mi (4 km)
Max Speed 42mph (68kph)
Satellite Positioning Systems GPS + GLONASS
Obstacle Avoidance Forward, Backward and Downward
Return To Home Yes
Flight Modes
  • Active Track
  • QuickShot
    • Rocket
    • Dronie
    • Circle
    • Helix
    • Asteroid
    • Boomerang
  • SmartCapture
  • TapFly
  • Tripod Mode
  • Cinematic Mode
  • Point of Interest
  • Tripod Mode
  • Gesture Mode
  • Cinematic Mode
  • Fixed-Wing Mode
  • TapFly
  • Terrian Follow
  • Point of Interest
  • Course Lock
  • Waypoints
  • Home Lock


Operating Frequency 2.4 GHz - 5.8 GHz
Video Transmission 720p at 30fps
Landing Gear Two flip down feet in the front to protect the camera.
Compatible Video Devices

DJI GO 4 App

  • iOS 9.0 or Later (DJI Software more stable overall)
  • Android 4.4 or Later (DJI Software less stable overall)
Mavic Air Camera Specs
Lens 24 mm
Sensor Size 1/2.3” CMOS
Media Storage Method Micro SD Card, 8GB of onboard internal storage
Filters

Filters are available.

Gimbal Stabilization 3-Axis
ISO Video: 100 - 3200 (auto) 100 - 3200 (manual) Photo: 100 - 3200 (auto) 100 - 3200 (manual)
Aperature f2.8
Shutter Speed Electronic Shutter: 8 - 1/8000s
Image Size
  • 4:3: 4056×3040
  • 16:9: 4056×2280
Photo Modes
  • Single shot
  • HDR
  • Burst shooting: 3/5/7 frames
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed frames at 0.7EV Bias
  • Interval: 2/3/5/7/10/15/20/30/60 s
Photo Formats
  • JPEG
  • DNG (RAW)
Video Codec

MP4/MOV (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC)

Video Recording Resolution
  • 4K Ultra HD: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
  • 2.7K: 2720×1530 24/25/30/48/50/60p
  • FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
  • HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p
Zoom Capabilities

None.

Other Notable Camera Features
  • Features 8GB of onboard storage
  • 32 megapixel sphere panoramas
  • Gimbal is tucked inside the body of the drone more than the Mavic Pro
App DJI GO 4

If you prioritize the portability and ease of use over professional image quality, the Mavic Air is the right drone for you. The Mavic Air is capable of getting some really great results with the 4K 30fps @ 100mpbs camera - 40mbps better than the Mavic Pro, in a smaller and more portable package.

I wouldn't recommend using this drone for commercial work around sunrise, sunset or in dark situations. For professional work, I'd recommend the Phantom 4 Pro or Inspire if you're able. That said, the Mavic Air could be capable of professional results in the right environment with a skilled pilot.

Vloggers, YouTubers and hobbiest pilots will love this drone. I love always having my Mavic Air with me - you never know when you'll be out and about and have a great opportunity to capture a moment. The best camera is the one you have with you, and if you're a content creator - this is a great addition to your everyday carry.

Mavic Air For Sale from DJI Direct


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About the Author:

Keith Knittel

I'm a designer from Cleveland, Ohio and love to shoot photos & videos. I made my first website in 2004 to show friends photos & videos (before YouTube/Flickr were things) and have been shooting and designing ever since! I have a deep passion for making and helping others create.

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