MAVIC AIR REVIEW
The DJI Mavic Air is somewhere between the Mavic Pro and Spark in terms of price. We take a look to see how it stacks up functionality wise and which drone you should invest in.
DJI Mavic Air Review
Possibly the worst kept secret in the drone world was that DJI had a new Mavic in the pipeline. Most industry insiders already had an idea that it would have the word ‘air’ in the title and then a few days prior to the big unveiling in January 2018 the whole thing leaked.
Despite this, the official launch was still impressive and it was incredibly exciting to see and get our hands on the newly born DJI Mavic Air.
Coming just days after the announcement of the budget DJI sponsored Tello it seems that the Shenzhen based company are looking to grow their market dominance even further by now having drones that appeal to every budget and every need – but who is the Mavic Air aimed at, how much does it cost and what are the key features? We will uncover all in our no holds barred review.
Mavic Air In A Nutshell
The Mavic Air might not be able to quite fit in to a nutshell, but it isn’t far off and it is fair to say that one of the main aims of DJI when designing and manufacturing this UAV was portability. When folded, the Mavic Air can fit in the palm of your hand and in to a jacket pocket with ease – meaning you can take it out and about with you and get those money shots. Photographers often say the best camera is the one that you have readily available – well, with the Mavic Air you have a pretty phenomenal camera available to you at all times if you so wish.
The launch price in the UK for the Mavic Air is £769 which compares pretty favourably to the older brother (Mavic Pro) which still costs £1099. It sits pretty much in the middle price wise of the Pro and the Spark which can now be purchased direct from DJI for £449.
There is also a Fly More package available which gives you a total of 3 batteries and some other extras that we will cover in our ‘in the box’ section. The Fly More package costs a reasonable £949 at launch (discounted from £1048).
The Mavic Air is available in three trims at launch with the white making it look very much like a Spark, the black sporting a similar shade to the Pro and a new Flame Red that gives you something a little different.
Mavic Air Specs
The specs of the DJI Mavic Air are something to behold and it gets us extremely excited about where drone tech is heading in 2018 and beyond.
No matter what anyone says, size is important – so let’s talk about that first. For portability purposes the Air is foldable – when fully folded down it measures up at 168mm x 184mm x 64mm – it also weighs a pretty lightweight 430g. We were easily able to fit this drone in to a coat pocket and it was barely noticeable – although we are not advocating that this is the best way to transport your drone.
The DJI Mavic Air is still a considerable investment but when you consider you are getting a 4K camera on a 3 axis gimbal with gesture control, 21 minutes of flight time from a single battery and the capability to take 32MP 180 degree panoramas then you soon realise you are getting an awful lot for your money.
Top speeds of 68.4KPH, compatibility with the wonderful DJI Goggles and being the first of DJI’s drones to use the USB-C port for transferring data makes this is a very serious piece of tech indeed. In fact, the specs are so impressive it is hard to see many people looking past it to opt for a Mavic Pro or even the Platinum version.
In The Box
One of the key reasons that DJI has been so successful in the quadcopter marketplace other than their brilliant marketing and excellent usability is that you tend to be able to get everything you need in one package. There is little need to go out and buy lots of spares – and the story is no different with the Air.
The standard package comes bundled with the Air itself, the remote controller, 1 battery, charger, 4 pairs of propellers, 1 set of propeller guards, cables for charging and USB connectivity, a gimbal protector, carrying case and spare controller sticks.
If you opt for the Fly More package then you get all of the above plus 2 extra Intelligent Flight batteries, 2 extra pairs of propellers, a battery charging hub (to charge all your batteries together), a travel bag and a battery to power bank adapter. All in all this is excellent value with the key benefit being you will get over an hour of flight time per outing.
If you can imagine it then pretty much the DJI Mavic Air can do it. The features we have seen from previous DJI incarnations are all present with the Air. From 4K 30FPS recording at 100MBPS to 1080p 120FPS for those super slow motion shots and from camera features such as ActiveTrack to Quick Shots such as Asteroid and Boomerang – this drone is perfect for experienced aerial photographers and complete novices alike.
Collision avoidance technology and vision sensing technology is excellent and means that it is pretty much impossible to crash your drone.
The drone is capable of a max service ceiling level of 5KM above sea level and video transmission range is 2.5KM when in an unobstructed area. Transmission of video is 720p at 30FPS and gives you a very good quality of image. Latency can vary but is generally between 170-240 ms.
To control the Air you can use just the controller that ships with it, your smartphone or both together – the final option gives the best experience unless using Goggles and the quality of the controller is excellent. The controller is also super portable thanks to the detachable control sticks – you will get spares of these too incase you lose or damage one.
Mavic Air Camera
Other than flight times, the biggest question people will want answered is how good is the camera on the Mavic Air. The answer is that it is pretty darn excellent! For the price, you are not going to get a better all in one package than this.
The 3 axis gimbal is there to provide steadier camera and video shots than the 2 axis gimbal seen on the Spark. The 1/2.3″ 12MP CMOS sensor combines with a f/2.8 lens to provide quite stunning 4K video and photography. The quality that this drone can produce will leave you astonished. Whilst some way off the level provided by the Inspire 2 range, this medium band price is packing a premium quality camera for a fraction of prices seen previously.
The Mavic Air will store your videos and photographs directly on to the 8GB internal storage which you can then transfer out through the USB 3.0 Type-C port when back on the ground. Of course, you can also use Micro-SD cards for extra storage with Sandisk 16GB up to 128GB being the recommended cards to use.
Whether you are taking action shots or are just in the mood for selfies at a party, the Air will have a photo/video mode for all occasions. Features such as Active Track are perfect for action or fast moving shots and you can track up to 16 people/objects to track at the same time – perfect for running, cycling, swimming or driving.
The Quick Shots have 6 selectable types of shots that are designed to give you a one tap photo or video. Rocket, Dronie, Asteroid, Boomerang, Circle and Helix are all available at the touch of a button using the DJI Go 4 mobile app.
Lastly, the Air uses gesture controlled technology called SmartCapture. This allows you to to launch your drone from the palm of your hand and use gestures to take videos and photographs – similar to what we have seen with the Spark.
Battery and Flight Times
Each Intelligent Flight Battery will provide you with 21 minutes of flying time. That obviously includes the time it takes you to get up in the air and back down to land – but essentially you should be able to use at least 18-20 minutes of that time for shooting video or just having fun flying around.
The DJI batteries are some of the best on the market and you get real time feedback on the battery health and they are deemed ‘intelligent’ as they will automatically drain if unused to preserve the life of the battery.
Battery life on the Mavic Air compares favourably to other DJI drones with the Spark having 16 minutes and the Pro having 27 minutes of juice.
It is impossible to not be enamoured with this drone and it has really kicked off 2018 with a bang and will no doubt put a proverbial rocket up the industry’s backside. It might be the year of the dog in China but in reality it is probably going to be the year of another three letter beast – DJI. They have taken a product that was already brilliant, made it cheaper and therefore more accessible to the masses and actually enhanced it in many ways.
The Mavic Air is perfect for the amateur photographer or casual tech enthusiast who wants to produce stunning results but will also be more than capable for many professional photographers and videographers who deem portability and quality as key.
We are in love with the Mavic Air – it is as simple as that!
The Mavic Air is a masterstroke by DJI. They have taken one of their most successful and feature filled drone in the Mavic and combined it with the portability and lower price of the Spark. What they have ended up with could have been very different - instead it looks likely to be the big winner of 2018 when it comes to drone tech.
Take our advice - if you need 4K, portability and good end results then go ahead and get yourself the Mavic Air.