If you want to fly a drone but you’re nervous about controlling it, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is the drone to get. Designed so even novice drone pilots can use it but with enough advanced features to appeal to pros, the Mavic Air 2 checks a lot of boxes for aerial imaging.
Weighing just over a pound, the Mavic Air 2 has a killer compact design with foldable rotors that make it easy to pack in a camera bag and take anywhere. Drone newbies will like the new autonomous flying features in the Mavic Air 2 such as the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 3.0, which uses 3D mapping to automatically fly the drone smoothly around objects in its path (such as trees, poles, and signs) to avoid collisions.
Meanwhile, a suite of three automated tracking modes helps ensure the subjects of your aerial images and videos are always in focus. With ActiveTrack 3.0, the drone will lock in, for instance, on a biker or a car and keep pace with it while avoiding obstacles and keeping the subject in the center of the frame even if it moves behind a tree. With Spotlight 2.0, the Mavic Air 2’s camera targets a chosen subject while the user maintains free operation of the drone’s movement around it. POI 3.0 zeroes in on points of interest, such as monuments and landmark buildings, and sets an automated flight path around them to capture a 360-degree perspective.
DJI has improved the image quality over the previous drone thanks to the Mavic Air 2’s larger 1/2-inch camera sensor, which can capture photos at either 12MP or 48MP in a new high-resolution mode that combines several images into one. The new SmartPhoto feature captures still images using programmed scene analysis to automatically choose between three image options: HDR photos, Hyperlight (for low light scenarios), or Scene Recognition in five photo categories: sunsets, blue skies, grass, snow, and trees. A mechanical 3-axis gimbal helps compensate for camera shake to shoot sharper images and more stable 4K video footage, which can now be captured at 60 frames per second with a maximum bitrate of 120 Mbps.
Flight time on a fully charged battery has also increased on the Mavic Air 2 to a respectable 34 minutes. Controlling the drone is easy: just attach your smartphone to the Mavic Air 2’s controller and use the updated and relatively intuitive DJI Fly app for a live feed or your aerial content. Joysticks on the controller are used for adjusting altitude and drone rotation (left stick) and flying it in any direction (right stick). A new AirSense feature uses aviation technology to receive signals from nearby airplanes and helicopters and display their location on the smartphone’s screen. As aircraft approach the drone, AirSense will warn the drone pilot with messages, sounds and vibrations on the controller.
DJI’s proprietary OcuSync 2.0 technology lets you control the Mavic Air 2 from a range of up to six miles while delivering a 1080p HD video livestream to the controller. That’s impressive but if you’re considering buying the Mavic Air 2 and it’s your first serious drone, we advise you to always try to keep it within your line of sight.
The Mavic Air 2 sells for $799 for just the drone, but we recommend getting the Fly More option, which also includes a shoulder bag, ND filters, a charging hub and three batteries for $988.