Posted on July 8, 2018
I recently got the new DJI Mavic Air drone and did an unboxing/some first flight tests to show you guys how the footage and image quality looks (scroll down to the end of this post to download the 4K footage and a RAW image captured from one of my first flights).
In the above video, I show you it’s tiny size compared to the DJI Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro, as well as how it unfolds, I also talk about the camera, the battery, sensors, controller, the new intelligent flight modes and of course I show you everything that comes inside the box!
I specifically got the Fly More Combo which means for an extra $200 you’ll get 2 extra batteries (for a total of 3), extra props, a battery charging hub that can charge 4 batteries in sequence, a travel bag and a battery to power bank adapter which allows you to use a Mavic Air battery to charge up a phone or tablet.
All in all, I was impressed with this drone! I was blown away by its small size compared to the Mavic Pro. I will say it’s dang fast since it can go 42.5 mph in Sport Mode (which is faster than the Mavic Pro) and the image quality was good considering the size of the camera (it shoots 4k video up to 30fps and 12mp still RAW images). Be sure to download my sample footage and photo at the end of this post to really examine the imagery.
I also appreciate that DJI went back to the old fixed focus system which means no more tap to focus and I don’t have to constantly worry about whether or not my imagery is in focus or not.
One specific Mavic Air feature that I think was a brilliant move is how the sticks for the controller are removable and snugly rest into the controller while traveling. See the pics above and below.
The Mavic Air didn’t come with the typical 16GB micro SD card like past DJI drones because instead, it features a new onboard 8GB of memory. This is a really nice addition considering those times when I take my drone up and then realize I forgot to put a memory card in. But 8GB goes really fast when shooting 4k video so it shouldn’t serve as a substitute for a solid micro SD card.
Also be sure you are using a really fast microSD card to shoot 4k video. On one of my first flights, I didn’t pay attention to that and all my footage ended up all choppy and unusable.
Mavic Air = battery lasts for 21 minutes (2375 mAh battery)
Mavic Pro = battery lasts for 27 minutes (3830 mAh battery)
Mavic Air = transmission range of 2.5 miles
Mavic Pro = transmission range of 4.3 miles
Mavic Air = 4k video, 12mp still RAW images
Mavic Pro = 4k video, 12mp still RAW images
Mavic Air = focal length lens 28mm
Mavic Pro =focal length lens 24mm
Mavic Air = aperture f/2.8
Mavic Pro = aperture f/2.2
Mavic Air = records video at 100Mbps
Mavic Pro = records video at 60Mbps
Mavic Air = shoots video in D-Cinelike
Mavic Pro = shoots video in D-log
The main downsides I found was the Mavic Air was a bit noisy compared to the Mavic Pro Platinum, the controller is missing an LCD (which I personally don’t mind since I always plug in my phone), the controller doesn’t have a dedicated dial on the right side of the controller to adjust the exposure and the battery goes faster than I am used to because I am mostly flying with the drones with the bigger batteries like the Mavic Pro and Phantom Pro.
Also, this will likely vary with users depending on where you fly, but I did experience a couple cutouts with the signal. I wasn’t surprised that this would happen because DJI decided to put an Enhanced WiFi transmission system on the Mavic Air so it could get better flight time, opposed to the better Ocusync transmission system found on the Mavic Pro which I rarely have problems with.
Other than those things, I think the Mavic Air is going to be a great drone for non-professional pilots. This drone seems to be geared at those who are looking to get started with a drone or who are looking for a great drone that is easy to pack and travel with.
It’s also worth considering over the DJI Spark since it is a step up from the Spark which can only shoot 1080p video and JPEG images. So I will say that if you have the budget to do so I think it’s highly worth spending a couple extra hundred dollars to get the DJI Mavic Air instead of the DJI Spark because you will get a better camera and it folds up even smaller.
While I didn’t do a scientific study comparing the Mavic Air imagery to the Mavic Pro imagery, I did notice while doing a quick comparison that the Mavic Pro does seem to have a better image. This was a little surprising but it could be due to how the Mavic Air compresses its imagery. If you want to nerd out more on that specific info check out this or this.
With that being said I now have no excuse to not have a drone with me at all times. The Mavic Air now has a permanent place in my DSLR camera bag right next to my Canon lenses. I will be using the Mavic Air for those times when I don’t have one of my larger drones with me.
Be sure to download my original untouched and unedited 4K DJI Mavic Air video clip and a RAW still image by clicking here.
Also, let me know what you think about the Mavic Air down in the comments below! Do you have one, are you getting one, why or why not?!
Dirk Dallas, also known online as @dirka, is the founder and curator of From Where I Drone, a blog dedicated to inspiring and teaching drone pilots how to create better aerial photos and videos.
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