DJI'S new Mavic Air 2 drone is winning rave reviews for good reason. It's incredible.
Not only does it capture beautiful, stable, highly detailed video and super sharp 48 megapixel images, but it is so effortless to fly.
With new propellers, its much quieter than any other drone we've flown, so much so you can barely hear it once it's a little way above you.
It now boasts a 34 minute flight time - much improved on the 21 minutes promised for the Mavic Air. Importantly, it also has a larger ½ inch camera sensor which is a very noticeable upgrade.
I took a photographer mate of mine on one of our test flights and he couldn't believe the quality of video streaming through my phone.
The folding Mavic Air 2 offers many of the features of the larger DJI drones but in something that can easily fit in a small camera case or backpack. It only weighs just over 500 grams so it's easy to lug around all day.
On the video front, it offers 4K at 60 frames per second and 120 fps.
You can also record HDR video, 4K slow motion video in 1080p at 120 fps or 8x slow motion at 240fps.
On the photo side, you have a 12 megapixel or 48-megapixel options for 8000 by 6000 pixel images that are about 20 megabytes in size. Even in reasonable wind, the three-axis gimbal managed to keep the camera super steady.
The tech around it taking images and video has also got smarter with a new SmartPhoto feature to better analyse what you are shooting.
In the HDR photo option, the Mavic Air 2 captures seven different images of the same scene, at varying exposures, to enhance the dynamic range, meaning more detail.
We tested it during the middle of the day, when it was cloudy and on sunset, and the results were consistently good.
In low light, its Hyperlight mode takes multiple photos and merges them to produce a decent image with less noise than what you would expect.
Mavic Air 2 recognises five categories of scenes including sunsets, blue skies, grass, snow, and trees, then optimises settings. To fly, it has new motors, new electronic speed controllers (ESCs), enhanced battery technology and an aerodynamic design.
Incredibly, the OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology has been upgraded to deliver stable HD video feed from the drone at a maximum distance of 10km. Of course, that's much further than the Australian rules which say you need to be able to see your drone.
One of the big hazards with drones, of course, is crashing it into obstacles, such as trees or tree branches.
The Air 2 has new safety features including obstacle sensors on the front and rear of the drone.
We tested them against a fence and people and they worked super well in stopping the drone from moving any further.
Additional sensors and auxiliary lights on the bottom of Mavic Air 2 assist with landing even in difficult lighting.
It also has a geofencing solution to help keep drones away from the highest-risk locations, such as busy airports.
Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 3.0 goes even further to deliver autonomous flying. When obstacles come into the drone's path, it will create a new path around, under or over the object to avoid collision.
The Mavic Air 2 features sophisticated tracking systems offering three different modes.
ActiveTrack 3 allows you to select a subject for your drone to automatically follow, including the ability to quickly re-engage the subject if it temporarily moves behind an object.
- Point of Interest 3.0 allows you to set an automated flight path around a specific subject.
- Spotlight 2.0 locks a subject in the frame while the user has free operation of the drone's movement.
The Mavic Air 2 has an 8K hyperlapse feature in which you can select an area for a series of time lapse photos to be taken, even while the drone us is moving.
You can select Free movement, Circle, CourseLock and WayPoints.
One of the best features of the DJI drones remains QuickShots, which allows amateurs to create supersmooth cinematic videos. Pilots can choose Rocket, Circle, Dronie, Helix, Boomerang or Asteroid.
If you are completely new to drones, DJI offers new tutorials showing everything from the basics of setting it up to more advanced flight.
The DJI Fly app offers some great quick editing features so you can create quick videos with music, captions and transitions right on your phone.
The Mavic Air 2 is available in two options: a standard package which includes the Mavic Air 2 aircraft, one battery, a remote controller and all the required wires and cables for AUD $1,499.
The Fly More Combo which includes all items from the standard version as well as a shoulder bag, ND filters, charging hub, and two extra batteries sells for $1899.
It would certainly top my Christmas 2020 wish list right now.