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DJI Mini 2 SE vs. DJI Air 2S (Here’s My Choice)

18 mins
Drone Blog
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Looking for your first drone and torn between the various models available? I want to introduce you to two viable drones: the DJI Air 2S and the DJI Mini 2 SE.

While their differences may be across the spectrum (one cheap and one expensive, different weight classifications, and significantly different sensor sizes), you can find yourself torn between the two.

So which one should you get?

The DJI Air 2S is the better choice** for the highest photo and video quality, intelligent flight modes, safety features, and flight performance. The DJI Mini 2 SE is a viable choice if you’re on a budget and prefer** portability and a drone that can achieve the bare minimum without breaking the bank.

Keep reading to learn more about which drone will be great for you!

DJI Mini 2 SE overview #

Great Starter Drone

✅ Pros #

  • Very affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight and easily portable
  • Long flight time

❌ Cons #

  • The camera is a little underpowered
  • It could use more intelligent features
  • Lacks safety features like obstacle avoidance

Released in February 2023, the DJI Mini 2 SE is simply the Mini 2 without the 4K camera and reduced intelligent flight modes.

Instead, it shoots in 2.7K thanks to the 1/2.3-inch sensor, and the bitrate has been reduced from 100 Mbps to 40 Mbps.

While not as powerful as the more recent drones, 8-bit SDR color capability allows the Mini 2 SE to record very smooth 2.7K videos at 30fps or 24fps.

The three-axis gimbal also ensures stable footage, making this drone usable for a wide range of applications.

The design, weight, size, lack of obstacle avoidance, and propellers and batteries look similar to the original Mini 2.

As such, it’s one of the cheaper drones to consider if you don’t want to register with the FAA. The 30-minute flight time is also quite impressive for a drone of its size.

Below is a brief overview of the Mini 2 SE and a demonstration of how it works.

DJI Air 2S Overview #

✅ Pros #

  • Extended flight time
  • A wider range of flight modes
  • Powerful imaging capabilities
  • Advanced gimbal stabilization
  • Very portable
  • Obstacle avoidance

❌ Cons #

  • It’s more expensive
  • It’s bulkier and heavier than the 2 SE

Released in November 2021 as an upgrade to the DJI Air 2, the DJI Air 2S is one of the most affordable camera drones you can use for content creation and professional work.

It features a considerably larger sensor (1-inch CMOS) than the Mini 2 SE, and it also has more intelligent flight modes and gives you more options for what to do with a drone.

The Air 2S can shoot 20MP still photos and videos in 5.4K at 30 fps. The three-axis electronic gimbal stabilization ensures highly stable footage regardless of the nature of the flight.

Other features that make the Air 2S stand out include the following;

  • DJI OcuSync 3.0 – This is DJI’s transmission system that allows the drone to send a 1080p live transmission from up to 7.5 miles away.
  • Intelligent flight modes – The Air 2S has modes like ActiveTrack, Spotlight, Point of Interest, Hyperlapse, Quickshots, and Mastershots. These allow you to create cinematic footage in a very short time.
  • Obstacle avoidance – The Air 2S has four-way obstacle avoidance (top, front, down, and back).
  • Better color scheme – The Air 2S can shoot in normal or in 10-bit D-Log. While normal shooting allows you to edit quickly, D-Log gives you a more comprehensive range of flexibility during post-processing.
  • HDR (Hyper Dynamic Range) capability – This allows the drone to produce detailed footage compared to a drone with the same features lacking HDR.

Even with all these features, the Air 2S still maintains a light and portable design since it weighs around 595 grams and is foldable.

Below is a review of the DJI Air 2S from unboxing to taking the first flight.

DJI Mini 2 SE vs. DJI Air 2S – Which option is better? #

The Air 2S is a clear winner in several aspects, as I will share in this article, but based on the brief overview of both drones, it’s evident that they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

As such, choosing between the Mini 2 S and Air 2S comes down to your budget, what you intend to use the drone for, and the specific features you need in a drone.

With that in mind, let’s consider why you would choose either.

**» MORE: **Holy Stone HS720E Vs. DJI Mini 2 (Here’s My Choice)

Why choose the DJI Mini 2 SE over DJI Air 2S? #

Great Starter Drone

Below are some reasons one might go for the Mini 2 SE.

  • Affordability – One primary advantage of the Mini 2 SE is that it’s very affordable compared to the Air 2S. Going for at least $340 with one battery and less than $500 for the combo, it makes a good starter drone without breaking the bank.
  • Ease of Use – The Mini 2 SE is a very beginner-friendly drone. You only need to know the basics of flight, and you will be good to go. There are now several aperture, ISO, or other footage settings. You can just take off and start recording footage you can share on your social media channels.
  • Portability and lightweight design – Being a Mini drone, the Mini 2 SE is light. With one battery, it could easily fit in your pocket. And when you have the Fly More Combo, you can easily fit the whole package in your traveling bag and not feel its weight.
  • No FAA registration required – In the US, the FAA doesn’t require pilots to register their drones if they weigh less than 250 grams and will not be used for commercial purposes. If you’re buying the drone for personal use and don’t want to deal with the registration process, the Mini 2 SE is a great choice. However, you still need to adhere to the various local and federal drone regulations, so you must pass the TRUST test and get a certificate.
  • Decent flight time – Despite its smaller size, the Mini 2 SE still offers a respectable flight time of approximately 30 minutes, providing sufficient airtime for casual flights and simple aerial photography sessions. However, when flying it, you may get about 20 minutes due to the various factors affecting battery consumption in drones, but that’s still a long time for a consumer drone.
  • Silky smooth 2.7K video – The Mini 2 SE’s camera can record smooth 2.7K video, offering decent quality for most casual content creation and social media sharing.
  • No obstacle detection – While not having obstacle detection can be seen as a downside compared to the Air 2S, some users may prefer a more manual flying experience and are willing to be cautious during low-altitude flights.

**» MORE: **Is DJI Mini 2 SE Right for You? (Here’s Why It Is)

Why choose the DJI Air 2S over DJI Mini 2 SE? #

Picking the DJI Air 2S over the Mini 2 SE has its advantages too. These include:

  • Superior camera performance: The Air 2S has a 1-inch CMOS sensor, providing significantly better image quality and low-light performance than the Mini 2 SE. It can capture 20-MP still images and record video in 5.4K at 30fps, offering stunning visuals suitable for professional photography and videography.

  • Intelligent flight modes: The Air 2S features many intelligent flight modes, including ActiveTrack 4.0, Spotlight 2.0, and Point of Interest 3.0. These modes enable the drone to track and follow subjects autonomously, opening up creative possibilities for effortlessly capturing complex shots.

  • Obstacle avoidance and safety: The Air 2S incorporates four-way obstacle avoidance sensors, enhancing safety during flights and reducing the risk of collisions with obstacles in the drone’s path. This feature is especially valuable when flying in challenging environments or during complex maneuvers.

  • Hyperlapse: The Air 2S introduces the Hyperlapse feature, allowing users to create stunning time-lapse videos with automated flight paths. This feature adds a creative dimension to your aerial videography, enabling dynamic and captivating shots.

  • Extended transmission range: The Air 2S boasts OcuSync 3.0 transmission technology, providing a stable and reliable connection between the drone and its remote controller. This allows for a seamless live video feed up to approximately 7.5 miles away, providing greater flexibility for capturing footage from a distance.

  • Professional-grade build quality: The Air 2S features a more robust and premium build quality than the Mini 2 SE, making it better-suited for demanding outdoor use and adverse weather conditions. It’s also heavier, allowing it to withstand stronger winds than the Mini 2 SE.

  • Extended flight time: While the difference is minimal, the Air 2S offers a slightly longer flight time of approximately 31 minutes, providing a few extra minutes of flight, all factors considered, compared to the Mini 2 SE.

DJI Mini 2 SE vs. DJI Air 2S – A full comparison of features #

Pricing and availability #

Pricing is one of the main differences between these two drone models.

The DJI Mini 2 SE costs $339 when you go for one battery and $489 when you get the Fly More Combo that includes the drone, three batteries, a charging hub, and a carrying bag.

Since its release in 2023, the Mini 2 SE is still available on DJI’s website and other e-commerce platforms.

On the other hand, the DJI Air 2S costs $999 in the basic package, where you only get the drone and one battery.

With the Fly More Combo, you get two extra batteries, a charging hub, ND filters (ND4, 8, 16, and 32), and a bag to carry it with.

While the Air 2S was released in 2021, it is still available on DJI’s website and other e-commerce platforms.

Since it has been around for a while, it’s possible to get it at a lower price from resellers who may want to upgrade to more advanced drones.

Photography and video recording #

Regarding photography and videography, both the DJI Air 2S and the Mini 2 Se are impressive in their own right, but there are significant differences since they are targeted at different markets.

**» MORE: **What Is Drone Photography? (Explained for Beginners)

DJI Air 2S #

The Air 2S is more powerful in photography and video recording thanks to the 1-inch CMOS sensor and state-of-the-art imaging capabilities.

With 20 MP image quality, you can capture high-quality photos that give you more room to edit.

The Air 2S camera and updated firmware make it usable for mapping projects due to its high resolution and compatibility with software like DroneDeploy.

Regarding videos, the Air 2S can shoot up to 5.4K at 30 fps, but 4K at 60fps or 30fps is more common among most users.

The higher the resolution, the better footage you get, making it the ideal option for professional videography. The HDR feature also significantly affects the footage quality.

DJI Mini 2 SE #

While the Mini 2 SE may not reach the same level of performance as the Air 2S, it still offers impressive photography and video recording capabilities, especially considering its budget-friendly price point.

Equipped with a 2.7K camera and a three-axis gimbal, the Mini 2 SE can capture videos at 30 fps, delivering excellent footage quality for its price range.

For still photography, the Mini 2 SE provides 12-megapixel images in JPG and Raw DNG formats.

While it may not match the Air 2S’s resolution, it still offers decent photo quality suitable for casual photography and social media sharing.

However, the Mini 2 SE lacks advanced features like HDR mode and Hyperlapse, which are present in the Air 2S.

Additionally, the absence of obstacle detection sensors means that pilots must exercise caution during low-altitude flights to avoid potential collisions.

Flight features #

The Air 2S and the Mini 2 SE come with various flight features to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight experience, but they have significant differences too.

DJI Air 2S #

As a more advanced and higher-priced drone, the Air 2S has a wide array of flight features catering to both professional and enthusiast pilots.

I have talked extensively about the various features, from obstacle avoidance to ActiveTrack, OcuSync, and Hyperlapse.

DJI Mini 2 SE #

The Mini 2 SE, designed as a budget-friendly option, offers more straightforward flight features than the Air 2S.

While it lacks some of the advanced features found in its higher-end counterpart, it still delivers a satisfactory flying experience.

Flight performance #

The DJI Air 2S excels in flight performance, offering higher speeds, better wind resistance, and more advanced flight maneuvers.

Its responsive controls and stable hovering make it an ideal choice for professional aerial photography and videography, providing pilots with the tools they need for precise and creative shots.

On the other hand, the DJI Mini 2 SE focuses on being lightweight, portable, and easy to fly, making it suitable for beginners and casual users.

While it may not perform as well as the Air 2S, the Mini 2 SE still offers a satisfying flight experience with stable flight, moderate speeds, and decent wind resistance.

Aircraft and controller #

When comparing the Mini 2 SE and Air 2S regarding aircraft and controller compatibility, there’s an interesting distinction to consider that may impact your overall experience, especially if you value convenience and an integrated display.

DJI Mini 2 SE #

The Mini 2 SE comes with the DJI RC-N1 remote controller, which requires you to use your smartphone as the live video feed and control interface display.

While the DJI RC-N1 controller provides physical control over the drone and enhances the flying experience, you’ll still need to attach your smartphone to the controller to access the live view and make adjustments through the DJI Fly app.

DJI Air 2S #

The Air 2S initially used the DJI RC-N1 controller, similar to the Mini 2 SE, requiring you to use a smartphone for live video feed and controls.

However, an update was introduced for the Air 2S. It’s now compatible with the DJI RC Smart Controller, which features a built-in 5.5-inch screen, eliminating the need for a separate smartphone.

This integration provides a more streamlined and hassle-free flying experience.

Advantages of DJI Smart Controller compatibility #

The integration of the DJI RC Smart Controller with the Air 2S offers several benefits for users who prefer an all-in-one solution:

  • Integrated display: The DJI Smart Controller features a large screen that provides a clear and convenient live video feed. This is particularly advantageous in bright outdoor conditions where smartphone screens might be challenging to see.
  • Enhanced portability: With the integrated display, you can carry the Air 2S and the Smart Controller as a single unit, reducing the number of devices you must bring during your flights.
  • Quick setup: The Smart Controller simplifies the setup process, as you won’t need to attach and configure your smartphone before each flight.

If having an integrated display and a more streamlined flying experience is essential, the Air 2S with the DJI Smart Controller compatibility might be the preferred choice.

However, if you’re comfortable using your smartphone as the control interface and live view screen, both the Mini 2 SE and the Air 2S (with the DJI RC-N1 controller) offer a comparable experience.

Flight time #

Both drones offer good flight times that cater to their respective target audiences.

The Air 2S provides a slightly longer flight time, appealing to professionals and enthusiasts requiring extended aerial missions. It’s weight and wind-resistant capability mean it will also last longer in adverse weather conditions than the Mini 2 SE.

On the other hand, the Mini 2 SE’s flight time is sufficient for recreational users, beginners, and those looking for a compact drone for quick and fun flights in optimum weather conditions.

**» MORE: **Top 5 Drones with the Longest Flight Time

Range #

While the Mini 2 SE was released later than the Air 2S, it uses old tech (OcuSync 2.0), also found in the Mini 2.

This transmission technology offers a 1080p live transmission and a strong connection between the drone and the controller at up to 6.2 miles.

On the other hand, the Air 2S uses a more upgraded OcuSync 3, which extends the range to up to 7.5 miles.

The OcuSync 3.0 also offers lower lag in the footage and better performance, even in areas with some interference.

Overall, both drones offer an excellent range, especially for short-range flights, but if you’re looking for a stronger transmission, the Air 2S would be a better choice.

**» MORE: **Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

DJI Air 2S and Mini 2 SE for commercial work – which is better? #

This depends on the nature of the project at hand. If your project needs high-quality imagery, complex shots, or advanced safety features, the DJI Air 2S would be the better choice.

This is thanks to the larger sensor, 5.4K video resolution, extended range, obstacle avoidance, and an overall sturdy build.

On the other hand, if budget constraints are a primary consideration, and the commercial tasks are relatively straightforward or do not require the highest image quality, the DJI Mini 2 SE can be a cost-effective and reliable option.

**» MORE: **Commercial Drone Pilots in USA (Ultimate Guide)

DJI Air 2S vs. DJI Mini 2 SE for activities #

If you’re into various outdoor activities, below is how both drones compare for some of the most common activities.

Travel and hiking #

Both drones can enhance your travel experiences and provide a unique perspective of the beautiful landscapes you encounter while hiking.

When deciding between the Air 2S and Mini 2 SE for travel and hiking, consider the following:

  1. The Air 2S is the better choice if you prioritize the highest image and video quality, creative features, and advanced safety measures and are willing to invest in a more premium drone.
  1. Suppose portability, ease of use, and affordability are more critical for your travel and hiking needs, and you still want to enjoy decent camera capabilities. In that case, the Mini 2 SE is a great option that won’t compromise your ability to capture memorable aerial footage during your adventures.

Extreme sports #

Let’s explore how each drone performs in this context.

DJI Air 2S for extreme sports #

  • Superior camera performance: The Air 2S’s 1-inch CMOS sensor and 5.4K video resolution deliver exceptional image quality and detailed footage, making it an excellent choice for capturing fast-paced and action-packed moments in extreme sports.
  • Fast autofocus and tracking: The Air 2S features advanced autofocus capabilities and intelligent flight modes like ActiveTrack 4.0, which can effectively track and follow fast-moving subjects, ensuring your shots remain sharp and focused even during high-speed activities.
  • Safety: With its four-way obstacle avoidance sensors, the Air 2S can navigate challenging environments during extreme sports without the risk of collisions, providing more safety and peace of mind during your flights.
  • Professional-grade footage: If you want to create professional-level content showcasing extreme sports activities, the Air 2S’s high-quality footage and creative features will elevate your videos to a cinematic level.

DJI Mini 2 SE for extreme sports #

  • Portability and lightweight design: The Mini 2 SE’s compact and lightweight design allows for easy portability, making it a convenient drone to carry around while engaging in extreme sports without adding significant weight to your gear.
  • Ease of use: The Mini 2 SE is straightforward to fly, making it suitable for users of all experience levels, including those new to drones. Its user-friendly interface lets you focus on capturing the action without worrying about complex drone piloting.
  • Affordability: The Mini 2 SE is more budget-friendly than the Air 2S, making it attractive for extreme sports enthusiasts who want to add aerial footage to their adventures without splurging on a premium drone.
  • No FAA registration required: As the Mini 2 SE falls below the weight threshold for FAA registration, you can quickly start flying during extreme sports without dealing with additional paperwork or regulations unless you do it commercially.

Vlogging #

Regarding vlogging, the choice between the Mini 2 SE and the Air 2S hinges on your specific vlogging needs, the level of video quality you desire, and the convenience you’re seeking for content creation on the go.

**» MORE: **Best Drones for Vlogging

DJI Mini 2 SE #

  • Compact and portable: The Mini 2 SE’s lightweight design and compact size make it highly portable, ideal for vloggers who are always moving and need an easy-to-carry drone.
  • 2.7K video: While not as advanced as the Air 2S, the Mini 2 SE still offers crisp 2.7K video recording at 30 frames per second. This resolution is suitable for most vlogging scenarios, clearly capturing your experiences.
  • Basic video features: The Mini 2 SE provides essential video recording features, making it suitable for capturing vlogs. However, it lacks some advanced features like HDR and 4K recording that the Air 2S offers.
  • Simplified operation: The Mini 2 SE’s user-friendly interface and straightforward controls make it accessible for vloggers of all levels, ensuring a hassle-free filming experience.

DJI Air 2S: #

  • Advanced video capabilities: The Air 2S shines in terms of video quality. Its 5.4K video recording at 30 frames per second delivers stunning footage with exceptional detail and clarity, perfect for creating high-quality vlogs.
  • HDR and 4K recording: The Air 2S supports HDR video recording and offers 4K video at up to 60 frames per second, providing more flexibility in editing and achieving dynamic visuals.
  • Greater dynamic range: The Air 2S’s larger sensor and advanced video features contribute to a broader dynamic range, allowing you to capture more detail in challenging lighting conditions.
  • Enhanced stabilization: Both drones feature three-axis gimbal stabilization, but the Air 2S’s advanced stabilization algorithms further reduce shake and enhance the smoothness of your footage.
  • Advanced flight features: The Air 2S’s obstacle avoidance and advanced tracking features allow for more creative and dynamic vlogging shots, giving you greater versatility in your content.

**» MORE: **How to Calibrate a Drone (Ultimate Guide)


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