Exactly one year after the launch of the DJI Mavic Air 2, the drone manufacturer is back on the scene and unveils its successor, the DJI Air 2S. Its design remains unchanged; however, we note the arrival of a large sensor type 1 inch of 20 million pixels. Here is a look at its main features.
DJI Air 2S: don’t call it Mavic anymore
Month after month, DJI continues to refresh its range of consumer drones. Following the example of the recent DJI Mini 2, an evolution of the Mavic Mini, the Shenzhen-based giant has updated the recent Mavic Air 2.
At the same time, the name “Mavic” has disappeared from the name of DJI’s folding arm drones. The manufacturer continues to simplify the naming of its products. Thus, the recent DJI RS 2 and RSC2 have lost the name “Ronin”, while the DJI Pocket 2 camera omits the name “Osmo”.
New 1-inch sensor
Just a few weeks after the launch of the DJI FPV, the manufacturer returns to its first love: drones with folding arms. The DJI Air 2S has many of the same features as its predecessor. However, it is adorned with a new photo sensor. Of type 1 inch, it counts 20 million pixels – against 48 Mpx for its predecessor.
Admittedly, the definition of the sensor is less high; however, this sensor is twice as large as the one of the Mavic Air 2, of the 1/2 inch type. Also, the size of the photosites is up, and passes to 2,4 µm – against 0,8 µm before, brought to 1,6 µm thanks to the Quad Bayer process.
The increase in sensor and pixel size is great news for photographers and videographers, who should be able to produce more detailed images, even in low light. The said sensor is topped by a 22mm equivalent lens opening at f/2.8.
Equipped with this new 1-inch sensor, the DJI Air 2S teases its big brother the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. The latter is the top of the range of drones with folding arms from DJI, and is both bigger and more expensive. In fact, the democratization of the 1-inch sensor has something to delight demanding content creators.
Increased video resolution and 8GB internal memory
In photography, the DJI Air 2S should be able to capture images of 5472 x 3648 pixels (in 4:3 format by default) in RAW and JPEG.
Video, meanwhile, takes a (small) step forward. The drone can still film in 4K UHD at 60 fps, offering very smooth sequences – and from which it is possible to obtain a slow motion x2 in post-production.
However, the DJI Air 2S can also shoot in 5.4K at 30 fps, using all the pixels of the sensor (5472 x 3648 pixels). We thus gain the possibility of cropping a little in the image, in order to emphasize an aspect of the landscape.
As such, note that the DJI Air 2S also offers a 4x (digital) zoom in 4K at 30 fps, a 6x zoom in 2.7K at 30 fps and in 1080p at 60 fps, and an impressive 8x zoom in 1080p at 30 fps.
Finally, we should mention the arrival of an 8GB internal memory: handy if you forget your memory cards at home.
New flight modes
Already particularly well equipped, the DJI Air 2 S gains (again) new shooting modes. In photography, the drone must be able to identify the type of subject, and apply the settings that seem most appropriate. We also find with pleasure the “hyperlight” modes (night shots), HDR, panoramas or exposure bracketing.
In video, the DJI Fly application still offers the traditional “Quickshots”, which allow you to easily enhance the subject of the video by turning around and / or taking height. We also find the “hyperlapse” mode. Very impressive, it allows to create accelerated videos (time-lapses) by memorizing the GPS coordinates of the device.
A new “FocusTrack” mode also brings together the various automatic subject tracking modes. You can draw a frame around the subject, and choose between Point of Interest, ActiveTrack or Spotlight modes to track the subject, manually or automatically.
Finally, a MasterShots mode has been added. In this mode, the drone must automatically plan its flight path, and film the subject intelligently, before creating a small montage of the most interesting shots.
Nothing to do with the new DJI MasterShots service, which allows companies (or wealthy individuals) to call on a professional DJI film crew.
New obstacle detectors
To prevent the drone from running into the scenery, the DJI Air 2S is equipped with obstacle detectors located on the front, back and bottom of the drone. The DJI Fly application automatically warns the user when the drone is too close to an obstacle.
However, 2 new detectors appear. Located at the front of the device, they are oriented upwards: a rather strange choice at first glance. But according to DJI, the drone tilts forward when flying at high speed. This way, these new proximity sensors should be able to better see potential obstacles in front of (and above) the drone.
We will also note the arrival of the APAS 4.0 system. It should allow the drone to trace its route more efficiently automatically, while avoiding obstacles. It should also be more reliable in “complex” environments – among trees, for example.
On the other hand, it seems that the drone still lacks obstacle sensors on the side of the aircraft. If the drone flies at an angle, it will not detect the presence of objects and risks hitting them.
We can console ourselves with the arrival of the AirSense system – already present on the American version of the Mavic Air 2. This system takes advantage of ADS-B technology (present on airplanes and helicopters), and warns remote pilots of the presence of another aircraft nearby.
The transmission system passes the 3rd
The remote control of the DJI Air 2S is essentially the same as that of the Mavic Air 2. The only difference is that the duo now uses OcuSync 3.0 transmission technology.
The maximum range of the drone increases to 12 km, limited to 8 km on the European version. However, we remind you that French (and European…) rules impose to keep the drone within sight at all times… which limits considerably its range, we grant you.
Note also that the drone should be compatible with the FPV Goggles V2, unveiled at the release of the DJI FPV.
Unchanged design and (almost) identical autonomy
As mentioned above, the design of the DJI Air 2S is very similar to that of its predecessor, the Mavic Air 2. We are therefore pleased to find the rather compact size of the drone, with its 4 folding arms along the body of the device.
On the other hand, the weight is in very light increase, and passes from 570 g to 595 grams.
On the side of the autonomy, DJI continues to bet on a battery of 3500 mAh. On the other hand, the autonomy given by the manufacturer is slightly down, and goes from 34 to 31 minutes. A difference which is perhaps explained by the new sensor 1 inch more greedy.
Obviously, this (theoretical) data may be lower on the ground, especially if you shoot in 4K or 5.4K and if the drone must face strong gusts of wind.
DJI Air 2S price and availability
The “standard” kit includes the drone, the remote control, a battery and the various cables necessary for the proper functioning of the drone.
True to form, DJI also offers a “Fly More” pack, which includes 2 extra batteries, ND filters, a charging station and a shoulder bag.
Our first opinion on the DJI Air 2S
At DJI, announcements follow one another at a frantic pace. Just a few weeks after the DJI FPV, the Chinese manufacturer launches a new drone with folding arms.
Although very similar to the Mavic Air 2, launched just one year ago, the DJI Air 2S is very attractive. We particularly appreciate the arrival of a 1-inch sensor, which should offer a very nice image quality in photo and video.
And above all, content creators looking for a drone with a large sensor will no longer have to turn to the Mavic 2 Pro, which is both larger and (much) more expensive… even if the latter still has several trump cards up its sleeve, it’s true.