The DJI Air 2S is the latest flying camera from the king of drones and it seems to combine the best parts of two predecessors: the mid-range DJI Mavic Air 2 and the high-end DJI Mavic 2 Pro. So exactly how does it compare to the latter, given that it has the same size sensor and many of the same features?
Before we delve into the DJI Air 2S vs Mavic 2 Pro debate, let's back up a bit and see where we came from. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro was released in mid-2018 and wowed photographers and videographers with its combination of a 1-inch sensor and adjustable aperture, all in a lightweight, portable package. Previously, a 1-inch sensor was only available on the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which is a considerably larger and heavier drone that is much less portable.
However, fast-forwarding to April of this year, we saw the launch of the DJI Air 2S; an early follow-up to the 2 DJI Mavic Air 2020, but with a big difference. Along with various updates and new features, the most significant update has been the addition of a 1-inch sensor on an even smaller and lighter drone than the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
While most drone pilots did not believe it would be possible so soon, DJI has once again managed to surprise and surprise us all. But does that mean you should definitely go for a DJI Air 2S, or are there still reasons to go for the Mavic 2 Pro? Let's find out.
DJI Air 2S vs Mavic 2 Pro: design and controller
- Both drones use the same foldable design
- The Mavic 2 Pro weighs 312g more than the Air 2S
- The Mavic Air 2S uses a larger controller
These two foldable drones look very similar, both folded and unfolded. In fact, there isn't a big difference in size as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro measures 214 × 91 × 84mm and weighs 907g, compared to the Mavic Air 2S at 180 × 97 × 80mm and weighs 595g.
The folded DJI Air 2S (left) compared to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro (right).
In your gear bag, you'll still need the same amount of space to carry either drone, but the Air 2S is a crucial 312g lighter. When the drones are unfolded, the difference in size is greater, with the Mavic 2 Pro measuring 322 × 242 × 84mm compared to the Air 2S's dimensions 183 × 253 × 77mm, but it is very important from a practical point of view. .
Additional weight savings can be found in the batteries as the smaller DJI Air 2S batteries weigh 198g compared to the Mavic 297 Pro's 2g. If you carry the drone and three batteries, the Air 2S weighs over 500g lighter than the Mavic 2 Pro, which is impressive considering they both have a 1-inch sensor.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro controller (left) vs. the larger DJI Air 2S pad (right)
Both batteries are also advertised to have a flight time of up to 31 minutes with no wind. While this is not realistic in the real world, it is impressive that a much smaller and lighter battery can perform as well as its larger counterpart.
The Air 2S controller does not double as the Mavic 2 Pro controller and is considerably larger, which is a curious move for a smaller drone and slightly negates some of those size advantages. Other differences on the Air 2S controller include the lack of a small LCD screen to display flight and camera information, as well as a different system for mounting a phone to the controller.
DJI Air 2S vs Mavic 2 Pro: Specs and Features
- The DJI Air 2S can record video up to 5.4K at 30 fps
- The Mavic 2 Pro has a very useful adjustable aperture
- But the DJI Air 2S fights back with handy digital zoom powers.
While flight overall feels pretty much the same on both drones, the Air 2S offers improved flight characteristics and safety. These include the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 4.0 and a feature called AirSense.
APAS 4.0 allows you to configure the drone to hover and stop autonomously, including the ability to move under or over obstacles when detected to maintain continuous flight. Airsense, on the other hand, uses the ADS-B aviation technology to receive signals from nearby aircraft and helicopters and displays their locations on the map on the DJI Fly app screen.
As for the camera, both drones feature a 20-inch 1MP sensor, although there are subtle differences between them. The Air 2S camera has a fixed aperture of f / dos8 with an 88-degree field of view and a full-frame equivalent focal length of 22mm, compared to the 77-degree field of view of the Mavic dos Pro and at a focal length equivalent to 28 mm.
The differences here are again negligible, but the Mavic 8 Pro's adjustable f / dos11-f / 2 aperture is the most significant advantage. When paired with a 1-inch sensor, it won't do much to achieve a greater depth of field; Instead, the benefit of an adjustable aperture is gained when shooting video, because you can adjust the exposure as the light changes without needing to land the drone. and change the ND filter, as would be the case with the Air 2S.
While the Mavic 2 Pro's adjustable aperture is an attractive feature for videographers in particular, the Air 2S has some incredible tricks up its sleeve. In particular, you can shoot video up to 5.4K at 30fps, while the digital zoom allows you to safely get closer to subjects without moving the drone.
The amount of zoom you get depends on the video resolution you choose. From experience, we'd say 2x digital zoom is the maximum you can actually use before the image quality drops dramatically, but you can see it for yourself in the video above.
DJI Air 2S vs Mavic 2 Pro: performance
- Both drones use OcuSync 2.0 for video streaming
- Air 2S uses more satellite systems for positioning
- Mavic Pro 2 looks and feels more stable in flight
The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic Air 2S fly at nearly identical speeds and have similar wind resistance, although the Mavic 2 Pro only has the upper hand here.
However, in reality, a few miles per hour here or there is unlikely to make much of a difference, and it's rare to shoot video with the drone traveling at full speed in Sport mode anyway.
In terms of positional precision, the other drones are extremely precise and irreproachable, even if the Air 2S picks up the Mavic Pro 2 in terms of satellite systems on the offrant GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO, whereas the Mavic Pro 2 does not use it. first. from them. Again, in real flight situations you probably won't notice a difference between the 2 drones.
Also, the connection between the controller and the drone is excellent in both cases. Changes to flight controls are immediate with no visible stutter or lag in smartphone streaming when used for live camera view. This is partly due to the use of OcuSync dos.0 for video streaming.
Photo DJI Mavic 2 Pro Image 3 of 6
Photo DJI Air 2S Image 6 of 6
Photo DJI Mavic 2 Pro
As stated above, the drones also have an identical maximum flight time of up to 31 minutes with no wind. In reality, neither will be able to fly that long, especially as they're programmed to return home when the battery reaches a specific level (25% by default), but you can expect very similar levels of performance in this area too.
DJI Air 2S vs Mavic 2 Pro: image and video quality
When it comes to image and video quality, none of these drones will disappoint. The Mavic 2 Pro sensor offers a dynamic range of 14 stopss, while the Air 2S is slightly lower at 12,6 stops, so there's not much between them. Still, those extra 1.4 stops could be the difference between maintaining sky detail and a blown white sky.
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DJI Air 2S at ISO 100 (Image credit: Future) Image 2 of 6
DJI Air 2S at ISO 200 Image 3 of 6
DJI Air 2S at ISO 400 Image 4 of 6
DJI Air 2S at ISO 800 Image 5 of 6
DJI Air 2S at ISO 1600 Image 6 of 6
DJI Air 2S at ISO 3200
Overall, the image quality on both drones is excellent, but when it comes to high ISO handling, the Air 2S pulls the Mavic 2 Pro out of the water.
Photos taken at all ISO settings are extremely clean up to ISO 3200 on the Air 2S, and it is only at ISO 6400 that chroma and luminance noise becomes most noticeable. You can start to see this from ISO 400 on the Mavic 2 Pro.
The reason is that the Air 2S applies a "temporary noise reduction technology" to the camera's raw files to reduce high ISO noise. The results are impressive and while there is a questionable look to cameras that apply any kind of processing to raw files, it does have the benefit of allowing you to shoot at higher ISO settings when the situation calls for it.
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DJI Mavic 2 Pro at ISO 100 Image 2 of 6
DJI Mavic 2 Pro at ISO 200 Image 3 of 6
DJI Mavic 2 Pro at ISO 400 Image 4 of 6
DJI Mavic 2 Pro at ISO 800 Image 5 of 6
DJI Mavic 2 Pro at ISO 1600 Image 6 of 6
DJI Mavic 2 Pro at ISO 3200
And the video? If you need images that can be used in a professional workflow, both drones can shoot in the flat 10-bit Dlog-M color profile. There is also a standard setting that is the video equivalent of a JPEG and is ideal for hobbyists. The video produced by both drones is excellent, so the best way to compare what is possible with either option is to look at the resolutions and frame rates.
The Air 2S can shoot 5.4K up to 30fps, 4K up to 60fps, 7K up to 60fps, and FHD up to 120fps with a maximum bit rate of 150Mbps.
The Mavic dos Pro, on the other hand, can shoot 4K up to 30fps, two.7K up to 60fps, and FHD up to 120fps with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps.
What does this all mean? The ability to record 4K videos on the Air 2S doesn't work...