While testing out the Mavic Air the decade of drone engineering experience behind DJI becomes evident, this is a drone designed not just for industry enthusiasts but people worldwide, it has been engineered for modern life, designed for living, and styled to fit easily within a backpack or large pocket, a 4K drone perfected for travelling or for those adventures you need to be carrying light for.
Ok so we had the Mavic Pro and the Spark, so the Air is the midlevel drone right?…or is it? After spending some time with the Air and its features it most definitely is a high spec drone, not just on paper but in the Air ..yes literally! Straight away the Mavic Air feels like a new breed of drone, not just a so-called love child of the Pro and Spark but a whole new era of+ autonomous flight tech for modern living, weighing in 41% than the Mavic Pro, and although bigger than the Spark it has a smaller profile with the arms folded making it the most portable drone to date
As far as aesthetics go the Air has a beautiful and stylish finish with its own unique sporty look with the back end looking more like a supercar than a drone as if sculpted by drone gods themselves. The overall feeling is solid and very well built. We have been testing the black one but two other colours are available in white or red, but the black and silver look is very sleek and elegant. Included is also a carry case which for you drone racers out there is around the same size as a Fatshark goggle case when packed away its true portability is very evident. It is clear the Mavic Air has been designed for easy travel vlogging and the Youtube generation. A clip-on gimbal cover is also included which keeps the camera very safe so can also be put into a large pocket or backpack with or without the carry case, a very nice touch.
The controller is also beautifully put together and felt solid in our hands, a DJI first allows the sticks to just screw on and off and fit inside the controller, that and the folding antennas keep a slim profile when travelling, The Smartphone grips work well, they pull down and outwards depending on the size of your phone, in this case I tried an Xperia X and a iPhone 8 with no troubles. Accessory cords for mobile devices with Lightning, micro USB and USB-C connection ports are included for directly connecting the phone and controller. The controller itself looks more like the Spark. The Mavic Air remote controller features a dual-band Wi-Fi signal (2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz), which is capable of flying the drone and camera feed at a maximum transmission range of 2.5mi (2 km).
Setting up the Mavic Air for the first time is straightforward, as the drone is near enough ready to fly, simply charge up the battery and controller, download the DJI Go 4 app for either Android or iPhone and you are on your way, there is also a direct connection from the controller to your smartphone or tablet with multiple adapters included. DJI have provided step by step guides to setting up and getting your new Mavic Air…Well up in the Air! When flying for the first time the app will run through some of the features like your very own tour guide introducing you to flight heaven, the simple ease of use makes this drone very beginner friendly and with the more advanced settings, it allows you to explore further deeper as you progress your flight experience.
The Mavic Air can shoot 12MP photos in JPEG and RAW formats, on top of that it has newly built in HDR algorithms that aid you in setting the right image exposure settings, this means that it can intelligently process image data creating a more natural transition between higher exposure and shadows areas. Another new feature is the sphere panorama mode, this is where the Mavic Air will autonomously shoot and stitches 25 images together to create a highresolution 32MP panorama shot.
Going back a few years to an early Phantom era, taking into account the size they were and the video resolution they produced, and today we look at what DJI have packed into a 2018 drone, its true innovation, especially when we look at how small the drone and camera actually is, it shoots 4K 30fps, recording at 100Mbps. An Ultra HD drone you can fit in your pocket.
Ok so, let’s talk Quickshots! New to the Mavic Air table is the slow-motion video coming in at 120fps at 1080p, also new is Asteroid mode and boomerang. In addition to previous quickshot modes held by the Mavic Pro.
The DJI Go 4 app has a very nice menu system that allows you to set the Mavic Air into 1 of 6 quickshot choices including Asteroid (New), Boomerang (Also new), Rocket, circle, dronie, helix, simply track your object and distance, the drone autonomously takes over and performs stunning maneuvers around your object of choice.
I found these autonomous shooting options to run very smoothly, I would certainly think that if you already have or are thinking of owning a Mavic Air then you want to get professional looking shots, whether this from a hobby point of view or a commercial option the built-in Quickshots feature is going to elevate your content.
Another flight mode I wanted to test out was the SmartCapture feature, this mode is a fun and interactive way to communicate with the Mavic Air. Setting up SmartCapure was quite easy via the DJI Go app, simply click on the Remote icon and select the mode.
This feature is fun and allows you to use basic flight movements, take photos and record via your hand gestures, before entering this mode place the drone on a flat surface a couple meters away and you are able to take off by pointing your palm towards it, this can take roughly a couple of seconds. Once in the air the drone is pure magic reacting smoothly with no issues.
By default the SmartCapture feature has active tracking technology and will automatically follow you when you move around, you can also move control to another person. The SmartCapture mode has a range of 2.5 to 6 meters.
We live in a post-millennial age where the new Youtube generation is growing faster than ever with no sign of stopping anytime soon, with this there has been massive growth in the number of travel vloggers where the “drone” has become a vital piece of kit to the story making process, the only problem with this is the size of the drone, you are very limited to what equipment you carry when trying to travel light.
If you like to travel light and want the most features to portability ratio or produce any form of vlog, blog or creative content, then this drone is for you! With features such as Quickshots and SmartCapture shooting in 4k this is a tool for any aspiring content creator.