The DJI Mavic Air is a remarkable drone that can be flown by anyone, and it’s the first one in its class to feature obstacle avoidance. It has four intelligent flight modes, including an autonomous mode that will automatically fly around and take photos of you.
This advanced drone also features a compact drone with folding arms, making it easy to transport or put in your backpack when traveling. The DJI Mavic Air is perfect for those looking for an aerial photography solution without breaking the bank
Read on to learn more about this new drone from DJI. In the Mavic Air review, LucidCam will provide you with information on what these changes are and how they may affect your decision-making process when considering purchasing it
DJI Mavic Air Review
- Dimensions 1.9 by 3.3 by 6.6 inches
- Weight 15.2 oz
- Rotors 4
- Integrated Camera Integrated with Gimbal
- Video Resolution 1080p, 2.7K, 4K, 720p
- Megapixels 12 MP
- Media Format Internal, microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
- Remote Dedicated with App
- Live Video Feed 720p
- Ensure safe landing: 16 minutes
DJI’s first attempt to sell drones was not as successful as one would expect. The company has been a leader in quality and sales ever since consumer drones became a thing. Last year’s Spark was plagued by short battery life and an interface that required some tweaking to make it ready for mass production. The Mavic Air ($919), which is a foldable, portable drone and has a 4K camera, offers longer flight time and comes with a larger battery and bundled remote. You get a lot of tech in a small package. It is a great choice if you don’t have the $1,149 Editors’ Choice DJI Mavic Pro Platinum.
- Compact design
- Fun and fast
- Great camera with 100 Mbps video capture
- Competitive price
- Autonomous flight modes and steroid
- HDR photo capture
- The three-direction obstacle avoidance system
- Max flight time: 21 minutes
- 8GB internal storage
- Easy to fly
- WiFi connectivity – No Ocusync
- Battery life is good, but not exceptional
- Camera with infinite focus
- Could have better range
Prices and Availability
- $799 (PS769, AU$1,299) to purchase the drone and accessories
- Fly More Combo: $999 (PS949, AU$1,599)
- Comparative: Mavic Pro costs $999 (PS1,099; AU$1,599), Spark costs $399 (PS449; AU$649)
The Mavic Air starts at $799 / PS769 / AU$1,299 and is much cheaper than its larger-in-all ways Pro sibling. This price includes the drone, the proprietary charger, and a battery. It also includes a small carrying bag, four propeller guards, and two sets of propellers. The Spark debuted at $499, but it’s now selling for closer to $300 on its own and at around $550 when bought with a couple of spare batteries and a remote.
You might consider buying multiple batteries for drones due to their limited flight time. DJI offers the Fly More Combo for $999 / PS949 / AU$1,599. It bundles the drone, three batteries, a remote controller, a travel bag, two pairs of propeller guards, six pairs of propellers, a battery-to-power-bank adapter, and a battery charging hub.
Although the initial price tag is high for a gadget that has a 21-minute battery life that keeps the drone flying longer., the Mavic Air’s sleek design makes it attractive. It’s also cheaper than its larger brother. It ships with a dedicated controller, which is a big plus.
Design And Construction
- Returns in compact and foldable form factors
- The protection provided by the recessed gimbal is excellent, but the clip-on covers are awkward.
- The redesigned controller has removable joysticks
- USB-C port is for data transfer only
Although the Mavic Air may look similar to the Spark in size, that is about it. The arms of DJI Mavic Air can be folded, just like the Mavic Pro, allowing for portability at a whole new level. The Mavic Air folds up easily and can be slipped into large pockets. It weighs in at 430g. This is heavier than the Spark 300g but lighter than the Mavic Pro 743g. And definitely lighter than a pint. The zip-up zipper case of the drone emphasizes its small size. It can easily be slipped into a backpack or camera bag with ample room for all the other paraphernalia.
The DJI Mavic Air looks like a toy, but it is sturdy and well-built. It’s also a great companion for travel, thanks to its clip-on camera cover and recessed gimbal. It can be difficult to put the cover back on after using it. There is no way to do this perfectly. It’s important to make sure the camera faces straight ahead. Otherwise, the cover won’t slide into place.
DJI launched the Mavic Air in three colors, white, black, and red, taking inspiration from Spark’s design. The colors are playful, but we found the black and red versions to be fingerprint magnets. Although the white version is the most appealing, it can be easily overlooked against a bright background. DJI’s Mavic Air is the first to use USB-C content transfer. Unfortunately, the USB port cannot be used to charge your drone. You will need the charger that comes with your drone.
It also has a MicroSD slot for cards, but there is 8GB onboard storage. You can still shoot with one tap, even if you forgot to bring a card, or you fill it up quickly. The new remote controller is another remarkable and simple feature that improves the drone’s portability. The joysticks for this controller are hidden under the foldable smartphone clips. This gives the new controller a smooth surface that allows it to slide into the pouch at the back. Simply remove the joysticks and screw them on. Then, unscrew and store as you wish.
Although the DJI Mavic Pro remote control does not have a built-in screen to display flight telemetry data, the controller can be folded into clips that allow you to access a live video feed as well as any other piloting information.
- The improved obstacle avoidance system
- Gesture controls
- Maximum speed: 68.4 km/h (40 MPH).
- Maximum transmission distance: 4 km (2.5 mi) with the controller, 50m with the mobile device
If you have used a DJI drone before, setting up the DJI Mavic Air will not be difficult. Install the DJI Go 4 App on your Android or iOS phone. Next, follow the screen instructions to connect to the drone via Wi-Fi or link to it. Flying a drone is easy once you have it set up.
It’s an agile and small drone, so it feels fast. This pocket rocket can travel at a speed of 68.4 km/h (or 40 mph) in Sport modes. However, at such speeds, the front propellers will whirl when the camera faces sideways. This may not be the best way to record video. This isn’t an issue unless the drone is at its maximum speed.
However, everyone will notice the Air’s loudness compared to the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum, which has low-noise propellers. Even though it is a tiny drone in the sky, you will actually hear it.
The drone’s ability to fly around is not something that novice pilots need to be concerned about.
We flew the drone towards abandoned stone columns in a quarry, and the DJI Mavic Air flew smoothly over them and around them without us having to stop the controls. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the craft is safe from all kinds of crashes. There are no sensors at the sides and top, so you could be in for a few close calls.
It would be easy to assume that the Mavic Air will struggle to hover due to its small dimensions and weight. However, The same idea is true when you are flying on a windy day. DJI claims it should perform well in winds up to 35 km/h (21.7mph), and we were pleasantly surprised to find those claims seem to be accurate. The craft was remarkably stable when flying by the seaside, where winds can pick up quickly.
With the controller, the Mavic Air’s transmission range is restricted to only four km/2.5 miles. This is twice the range of the Spark at two km/1.25 mi, but noticeably less than the Pro’s seven km/4.3 miles. Some people were concerned that the drone’s connection might be affected by this announcement. In our testing of three drones across three continents, we didn’t notice any dropouts. However, if the Mavic Air is being pushed to its limits, there may be some drops in the video feed.
The DJI Mavic Air has Three-axis Gimbal like the Pro. However, it is a redesigned one, which makes the drone more stable. While panning sideways with the gimbal is easy, it can be a little jerky to move the camera up or down. You can keep your footage smooth by switching to Cinematic Mode in the app. This mode slows down the drone and reduces braking to make video smoother. However, even this requires a lot of practice to get a steady capture.
ActiveTrack Air can detect up to 16 subjects. Tap on any subject to track it from the side or behind. It works best for slow-moving targets that are in small areas and at lower altitudes. You can either use them all or one of them as your focal point to switch to QuickShot mode.
The addition of gesture controls made Spark last year a lot more fun to use. DJI has improved those smarts, as well as giving the Mavic Air a better SmartCapture mode. You can use your hands to make the quadcopter take off and fly towards you or away from you. While making a peace sign will take a still photo, holding your thumbs or forefinger within a frame will start and stop video capture.
SmartCapture mode is great, but there are additional QuickShot systems called Asteroid or Boomerang that make it even more enjoyable. Asteroid, Boomerang, and Spark have older QuickShot options. They take short videos with a subject in the center.
The app is very easy to use, with only a few taps. The first uses multiple shots, which are then combined in-camera into a 10-second blip that begins with the subject and ends in a spherical, bird’s eye view of the location. Boomerang is a drone that pans around the subject and then returns to its original position after completing a 360-degree circuit.
DJI Mavic Air Camera
1/2.3 inch camera sensor is hidden behind an 85-degree field-of-view lens. The Mavic Air’s camera sounds exactly like the DJI Spark and Mavic Pro. There is more to this story. The Mavic Air camera has been updated to allow video recording at 100Mbps data rates. It may seem insignificant to you right now, but I’m sure it will be when you see the results.
Before we get into the galleries, let me tell you about the Mavic Air camera specifications. The sensor has a resolution of 12 MP and measures 1/2.3 inches. The lens has an 85-degree field-of-view, an f/2.8 aperture, and a 24mm focal length. Autofocus is enabled at a minimum distance of 0.5 meters or 1.6 feet.
This last part is crucial. This is what I mean by comparing the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air. For now, you should know that Mavic Air has full autofocus. It is also infinitely focusable. Everything, from the person in front to the lens to the mountains at the horizon, will be in focus. Mavic Pro allows you to tap and choose what is in focus.
The Mavic Air is the most user-friendly DJI drone camera. It elevates point-and-shoot to new heights…literally. You won’t notice any changes in the specs of the DJI Mavic Air, which goes from 60 Mbps to 100Mbps. When shooting at 4K resolution, you still get a maximum speed of 30 frames per second. However, Full HD shooting can give you up to 120 frames per second.
Additional captures style are also available. The Mavic Air takes inspiration from the Spark and adds the Quickshot features. Boomerang is the new capture mode. It circles you in an oblong shape, doing exactly what its name suggests. Next is Asteroid. This combines an upward and outward movement with a capture sphere, creating a video that looks like an asteroid falling on you. The videos below will show you what I mean.
I mentioned the sphere capture. This is a new model in the Panoramic settings. The Mavic Air has a far superior capability than the previous DJI drone that could take multiple photos and stitch them together to create a panoramic photo. It captures a complete Sphere, which is almost as close as 360-degree camera capture. It takes the entire real world below you and upwards, not far enough for a complete 360. To see it fully, you will need a 360-image viewer.
All follow-me systems, as well as other self-piloting or flight assistance features, are available. DJI also offers HDR photo capture. HDR takes several shots at different exposure levels and intelligently blends them together to create the best possible photo. A typical drone shot shows the sky above and the ground below. A non-HDR shot can be too bright or too dark to clearly see the ground. HDR will allow you to see both at the best exposure settings.
JPEG Image Quality
The image sensor of the Mavic Air can produce excellent JPEG images right out of the camera. The exposure and metering values are accurate, the colors look natural and appealing, and the auto-white balance is generally accurate. However, it can make photos slightly warmer.
JPEG images are rarely too sharp and sometimes need to be sharpened in post. DJI appears to be doing a great job of managing the processing it does to the JPEG files from the drone. Similar results can be seen in noise reduction. The JPEG image shown below shows that it is sharp and has minimal noise reduction while still maintaining a lot of detail.
The high ISO performance of the drone is manageable. The drone can produce noticeable noise even when it is shooting stills at ISO 800. If possible, users should keep their ISO between 100 and 400. This is not surprising given the sensor’s small size.
Raw Image Capture
DNG files are great for such a small sensor. These files can be modified in the post to restore shadows and highlights while also maintaining the image. However, you won’t get the same dynamic distance as a larger sensor. Raw images can be taken quickly, with up to seven photos per second.
Photos from a DJI drone with larger sensors of 1-inch size compare well in well-lit scenes. You’ll notice the difference in low light or when files are significantly enlarged.
Raw shooting is a great option for post-production, just like any other digital or flying camera. Raw files from the Mavic Air have a good dynamic range at base ISO and perform slightly better than DJI’s smaller sensor models. It performs well under high-dynamic range lighting. It can take stunning sunset stills with excellent detail in the shadows and well-preserved highlights. Although it won’t retain as much detail as a 1-inch sensor, the quality is impressive considering its size.
Mavic Air’s enhanced video is an outstanding feature compared to the Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air shoots high-quality video at resolutions up to 4K/30p, which is a great result for a drone this small and light. The drone also captures 2.7K/60p at 100Mbps and 1080/120p at lower bitrates. Slow-motion at 60fps captures footage with significantly better than 1080p 120fps. It still uses H.264 instead of the H.265/HEVC codec. This codec records higher footage at the same bit rate and is available on DJI’s higher-end models.
Its video resolutions, frame rates, and D-Cinelike profile all offer 8-bit color depth, as opposed to the Mavic 2 Pro’s new 10-bit depth. The camera does not have enough dynamic range to support D-Log, which means that you won’t be able to do as much post-production grading with it as with a 1″ sensor camera. The straight-out-of-camera colors are quite pleasing to the eye, though.
Mavic Air features a fixed focal length lens with a screw mount ring that can be used with ND/PL filters. The lens is sharp, and the screw ring can be easily removed and re-applied. The lens of Mavic Air doesn’t offer aperture control, unlike the Mavic 2 Pro.
This is normal as the Mavic Air’s lens may not be diffraction-limited. However, it can be a problem for users who want more creative freedom. The camera requires ND filters to controls exposure if you need to maintain a constant shutter speed while shooting video.
You can adjust the shutter speed of the camera from 8 seconds to 1:8000 of a second. Lens flaring can be controlled when the camera is pointed directly at the sun. There is also minimal barrel distortion in the drone’s widest settings. However, it is noticeable at the edges of the frame for certain straight lines.
There are many ways to control the DJI Mavic Air. With the controller, your phone, and apps, you can fly with one hand.
You can control most of the drone’s best flight modes using the GO 4 mobile app. Although the best way to fly the drone is with the remote control, it’s almost impossible to leave the remote at home if you want to use the autonomy functions.
The self-piloted flight mode on the Mavic Air is the one you have already seen, which includes Active Track, TapFly, and Tripod. SmartCapture is available, as well as Quickshot.
The following styles were first discovered on the Spark by DJI Quickshot:
- Rocket – The camera faces downward, and the drone shoots straight up.
- Dronie: The camera faces the subject and then flies slowly up as it moves away from it.
- Circle – The drone circles around the subject while the camera focuses on it.
- Helix – The camera keeps the subject in focus while the drone flies upwards and circles around. It combines the Dronie, Circle, and other functions.
- Boomerang – Similar to Circle but with a drone that focuses on the subject and then flies around it. It flies in an oval shape this time, beginning close to the subject, then flying out and returning close again.
- Asteroid – The drone begins close to you and flies out as if performing Dronie. At a maximum distance, it stops and starts capturing a complete sphere. It appears as though the camera is a screamin’ asteroid.
After your video has been captured, you can quickly and easily edit it. You can tap the button on the DJI GO 4 App to instantly edit your footage, including music.
SmartCapture could be the best way to control your Mavic Air. These are the hand gesture controls we first saw in Spark. Your Jedi practice has evolved into something better and more effective.
Although we can’t quantify how much the Mavic Air handles hand gestures better than the Spark, we can tell you that it is better. You can take off, land, move left and right, snap photos, push the drone out, bring it back in, and then take off or land from the ground.
The SmartCapture mode’s selfie camera capabilities are fun. However, it only serves one purpose: selfies. The remote control and other flight modes are required if you want to take landscapes or fly further than 19 feet.
The control system has some extra functions, including the ability to tell the drone to move farther away from you in order to get a wider shot–it will move up to 19 feet away from the person controlling it. The Mavic can be used to start a video by simply making a picture frame gesture with your index and middle finger in front of you. It will also track your movements for as long as it is recording. A V sign, made with your index and middle fingers, can be used to capture a still image. You will see the drone flash its front lights to let you know it is going to take the shot. This means you won’t look like Winston Churchill flashing his victory sign in your aerial selfies.
DJI also included the Advanced Pilot Assistance Service (APAS) with the Mavic Air. This allows the drone’s flight control to adjust to avoid obstacles. It is simple. Push up on the right-hand joystick to ensure that the drone does not hit anything. This is not a new feature. While previous DJI drones could stop, the Mavic Air, thanks to APAS, will continue moving until it reaches its destination.
A few points to remember: APAS isn’t enabled by default. However, the button to enable it is always located on the left-hand side of your screen. APAS is only available for manual flight by default. You have the option to activate APAS in ActiveTrack or other self-piloting modes. However, you will need to dig through the menus to find them.
Last but not least, APAS should only work forward, even though the DJI GO 4 app says otherwise. Rear obstacle avoidance sensors will bring your drone to an abrupt halt. However, we will have to go back out when the sun is back in a week to verify. We’re sorry for the confusion. It’s the rainy season. The weather is unpredictable.
The Air can fly for up to 21 minutes of flight time. This is in perfect conditions without wind. In my testing, I was able to get between 15 and 18 minutes of continuous flight without wind. You can buy extra batteries if you want to longer flight time. DJI offers a Fly More package that costs $999, PS949, and AU$1,599 and adds two additional propellers, two more batteries, and a multi-battery charging station. Few things are more disappointing than traveling out to a scenic spot only to run out of flight time. Keep in mind, however, that a spare battery will not be of any use if you are 400 feet above the ocean and have run out of time to return safely.
If you’re a fan of longer flights, and considering the Fly More Bundle, it’s worth it to spend a little bit more and go with the Mavic Pro Platinum instead.
The Mavic Air is all about connectivity. The Mavic Pro came with DJI’s Ocusync technology. This tech allows multiple devices to be connected to one drone, allowing for the best video streaming and a lot of range. Ocusync is not available on the Mavic Air, so it uses WiFi. The Mavic Air relies solely on Wi-Fi instead of also using radio frequency (RF) to for its drone-to-controller connection.
To connect the Mavic Air remote to the DJI Goggles, you will need a cable. The Mavic Pro has wireless connectivity to the Goggles. You also get approximately half the flight range of the Pro.
The Mavic Air is simple to use, portable, responsive, functional, and has only a few drawbacks.
The flight performance is exceptional. The Mavic Air is an agile and small drone to fit into a most jacket pocket, but it’s also very responsive as long as your distance is within its distance. If the slow cinematic shot is your goal, It can achieve them, particularly when it’s in tripod mode. This dampens the controller inputs. The Mavic Air hovers in a manner that is comparable to the Mavic Pro while staying still.
The Mavic Air’s Wi-Fi signal strength is excellent. The drone should be able to fly within a distance of half a mile and without any interference. However, it is still susceptible to Wi-Fi interference. If objects or distances are in the way, the connection may be lost, which can disrupt smooth motion in a cinematic shot. It’s not a problem if you are doing production work that isn’t critical, but it is not recommended for jobs that require multiple takes.
The dedicated buttons for video and photos are a bonus. The controller is well-equipped with most of the items you need and fewer of the things that you don’t. It may feel a little too small for people with larger hands, but it is still very ergonomic.
The Mavic Air’s sound is very poor. If you need to be stealthy, this is not the drone you should take. It’s small enough to be ignored by many people
The entire system is easy to set up and take down.
The Mavic Air is a portable, amazing creative tool. However, there are a few quirks you might not notice if you don’t use them often enough. The most important is the inability to avoid sideways obstacles. There are many shots, including the profile tracking and helix pattern. These shots require the drone to fly sideways to focus on the subject. These cases are where the drone doesn’t have eyes in the direction it is flying. Operators need to be aware of this as it can lead to a crash even if APAS and obstacle avoidance are turned on.
In short, The Mavic Air is one of the best drones safer than both the Spark and Mavic Pro due to the new technology inside. It also keeps the drone out of harm’s path. The Mavic Air is a great choice for non-professionals who want a drone camera that can do more than just take selfies and is compact enough to be used for travel.
Another major benefit of this model is how user-friendly it is; anyone from beginners to more experienced pilots will enjoy flying the Mavic Air due to its stability in flights and ease of use. On top of all these features, there’s also an intelligent battery system which means longer flights without worry or downtime waiting around while batteries charge.
We hope the above review can be helpful in your decision-making process. If you are looking for the best drone that is affordable and easy to fly, then Mavic Air may be perfect for you. The best thing about this quadcopter is its portability because it folds up into a small package so you can take with on the go! You’d be hard-pressed to find a better drone that packs up so neatly and has as many smarts as this one.