The new DJI Mavic Air is a novelty in the history of the Chinese manufacturer DJI. The market leader of camera drones and manufacturer of various photo and video accessories combines with the DJI Mavic Air the best features and functions in an enormously compact, high-quality and at the same time comparatively cheap aircraft. We test the aircraft and have all the details, prices and first test videos of the DJI Mavic Air in review just in time for its market launch.
DJI Mavic Air: Test, comparison and evaluation
Although the DJI Mavic Air is positioned between the first generation DJI Mavic Pro and the mini and selfie drone DJI Spark, the DJI Mavic Air offers the best ratio of portability, camera quality and flight functions. A 12-megapixel camera with 4K video resolution and 3-axis stabilisation, extensive obstacle detection with seven sensors or folding outriggers make the DJI Mavic Air the best camera drone ever. We took a detailed look at the DJI Mavic Air before the official release and explain the most important features of the portable mini drone.
Key Features DJI Mavic Air (2018)
- 12-megapixel camera
- 4K video resolution
- Bitrate: 100 Mbps
- Photos in JPEG or DNG
- 3-axis gimbal
- foldable outriggers and sporty design
- extremely light (430 grams)
- Flight time: 21 minutes
- available in three colours (white, black, red)
- Obstacle detection with seven sensors (also at the front)
- improved gimbal protection
- detachable joysticks
Folding outriggers and only 430 grams in weight
DJI Mavic Air 2018.
The DJI Mavic Air is to be understood as a further development of the DJI Mavic Pro. The Air version of the Mavic series has inherited the foldable design of its bigger brother and comes in a folded state with dimensions of only 169 millimetres in length, 89 millimetres in width and 53 millimetres in height. The difference to the DJI Mavic Pro is that the propellers are no longer foldable, but fit perfectly into the compact design of the camera drone even when folded in. Thus, the DJI Mavic Air can also be transported in any bag like a compact photo and video device. At the same time, the DJI Mavic Air is a lightweight through and through with only 430 grams. As always at DJI, the DJI Mavic Air is delivered ready to fly – no complicated assembly or installation steps are required to put the foldable or foldable camera drone into operation.
Design in the style of a sports car
DJI Mavic Air – according to DJI Innovations the design is based on a sports car.
The design of the DJI Mavic Air is based on the DJI Mavic Pro, but has been improved in detail. Thanks to robust plastic and brushed aluminium surfaces, the DJI Mavic Air makes an even better impression. The folding outriggers can be folded in and out in seconds. In addition, the DJI Mavic Air comes with an improved gimbal protection – the tiresome threading of the gimbal cap, as it was often a problem in practice with the DJI Mavic Pro, is a thing of the past with the DJI Mavic Air. Also new are the foldable landing legs at the front of the Quadrocopter, which facilitate safe and stable landings in high grass or on uneven surfaces. With the DJI Mavic Pro, special extensions from third-party manufacturers – so-called landing gears – had to be installed. With the DJI Mavic Air, the landing gear extensions are now permanently installed and standard on board.
The design of the DJI Mavic Air is said to be based on a sports car – in fact the DJI Mavic Air gives the impression of a super fast and at the same time powerful aircraft. If you like, you can choose between three different colours in Arctic White, Flame Red and Onyx Black when buying the DJI Mavic Air. The standard kit of the DJI Mavic Air costs 849, – euro (799, – US Dollar), alternatively there is still another Combo variant with additional accessories for 1049, – euro (999 US Dollar). The price of the DJI Mavic Air is in the midfield between DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark.
Scope of delivery and removable joysticks
The DJI Mavic Air is available in three colours. Our version is in Arctic White. Alternatively there are variants in red and black.
The standard kit for 849,- Euro contains among other things a small storage bag, a flight controller, a battery, propeller guards, a protective cap for the camera gimbal unit, power supply and charging cable as well as spare propellers. As an option, DJI offers all kinds of accessories for the DJI Mavic Air in its own accessories – if you like, you can buy further bags, ND filters, additional batteries or replacement propellers in manufacturer quality and expand the repertoire of accessories for the DJI Mavic Air.
The remote control of the DJI Mavic Air is similar to the DJI Spark. An important difference: The joysticks of the flight controller of the DJI Mavic Air are removable.
The remote control of the DJI Mavic Air is similar to the flight controller of the DJI Spark and also does without an integrated telemetry display. In practice, the display on the flight controller known from the DJI Mavic Pro is not absolutely necessary and the added value is limited, but there will be one or the other DJI fan who will miss the nice gimmick on the remote control. The joysticks on the flight controller of the DJI Mavic Air can now be removed, which was not possible with the remote controls of the DJI Mavic Pro or DJI Spark. So-called joystick guards are no longer necessary and the remote control can be stored more easily, comfortably and safely in your jacket pocket, trouser pocket or rucksack. The detachable joysticks of the DJI Mavic Air are in any case a great innovation that was long overdue.
3-axis gimbal, 4K (30fps) and 100 Mbps
Behind the protective cap hides the 4K camera and the 3-axis gimbal of the DJI Mavic Air.
The DJI Mavic Air is equipped with a 3-axis gimbal and a 12-megapixel camera. In this respect, the DJI Mavic Air has the same technology as the larger DJI Mavic Pro – with significantly smaller dimensions and lower weight! The DJI Mavic Air’s 3-axis gimbal allows the camera to be stabilized in the pitch, roll and yaw axes, while the DJI Spark only has a 2-axis gimbal built in. The controllable pitch range of the DJI Mavic Air ranges from -90° to 0° (extended: -90° to +22°) and allows low-shake aerial images as well as a breathtaking FPV view from every perspective.
The 3-axis gimbal ensures butter-soft shots – an absolute must for aerial cinematographers!
The camera of the DJI Mavic Air has the usual 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor and, compared to the compact DJI Spark, is not only capable for (aerial) photos with a resolution of up to 12 megapixels, but also for video content in 4K quality at 30 fps. The camera’s field of view (FOV) is 85°. Fans of video recording will also be able to knock the maximum bit rate off their socks during video recording: While DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark each had maximum bit rates of up to 60 Mbps and 24 Mbps respectively, the new DJI Mavic Air records high-resolution 4K videos at a maximum bit rate of up to 100 Mbps and 30 frames per second.
Extremely compact: The DJI Mavic Air fits into the palm of your hand and is extremely portable.
Photos get more highlights and look much more detailed, while the delay between the shutter release and the actual recording has been further reduced. In addition, the DJI Mavic Air not only supports the standard JPEG photo format, but also, like the DJI Mavic Pro, Adobe’s own DNG raw data format. In this respect, the DJI Mavic Air combines the best key features of the DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark – the photo and video performance is the same as with the DJI Mavic Pro, while the portability is almost identical to the less powerful DJI Spark. Of course, the DJI Mavic Air is equipped with all kinds of photo modes – classic single shots, serial shots (3, 5 or 7 frames), exposure series or interval and panorama shots (3×1, 3×3, 3×7, 3×8) can be recorded.
Flight behaviour and flight time
Together with the cameras on the ground of the quadrocopter, the infrared sensors ensure extremely precise flight conditions – for example in the event of a weak GPS signal or during indoor operations.
According to the manufacturer, the DJI Mavic Air achieves a flight time of around 21 minutes. This puts the beginner quadrocopter in the midfield between DJI Mavic Pro (27 minutes) and DJI Spark (16 minutes). In practice, we could even see an average flight time of 23 to 25 minutes – the difference to the DJI Mavic Pro is therefore negligible. In terms of maximum speed, the DJI Mavic Air leads the Quadcopter trio with 68.4 kilometers per hour (sport mode). DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark reach speeds of 64.8 km/h and 50 km/h respectively. Thanks to the vision positioning system based on infrared, the DJI Mavic Air holds its position even without GPS signal or indoors – the VPS of the DJI Mavic Air works at heights from 0.5 meters to 30 meters (a high-contrast and bright surface on the ground provided).
SmartCapture, QuickShot, ActiveTrack and TapFly 2.0
The DJI Mavic Air is – like most of the current DJI camera drones – equipped with extremely versatile and functional flight functions. The intelligent flight modes can either facilitate photo and video recording or be activated for safety reasons.
Chic, sporty and extremely fast: the DJI Mavic Air 2018.
SmartCapture, for example, is a mode in which various settings can be made using gesture control. Among other things, the DJI Mavic Air can land and start with a gesture or follow the user. In addition, the camera zoom can be adjusted by hand gestures. The shooting of Selfies and group photos or the activation of the video recording is enormously facilitated by the DJI Mavic Air. Apropos: For the comfortable video recording the DJI Mavic Air with QuickShot has different modes up its sleeve, through which professional video sequences can be recorded within shortest time – such as Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, Asteroid or Boomerang. The ActiveTrack mode also allows automatic tracking of objects such as people or vehicles – optionally with perspective settings such as Trace, Profile or Spotlight. TapFly 2.0 allows the quadrocopter to be controlled on the FPV screen with a fingerwipe – the flight direction in TapFly 2.0 is not only forward but also backward possible thanks to the extended obstacle sensors in the rear area.
Obstacle avoidance with seven sensors
The obstacle avoidance sensors can be found not only at the front, but also at the rear. This distinguishes the DJI Mavic Air from its predecessor – the DJI Mavic Pro.
Compared to the DJI Mavic Pro, the DJI Mavic Air is equipped with advanced obstacle detection. The DJI Mavic Air not only has sensors at the front but also at the rear to automatically detect objects such as trees, bushes, people, house walls or vehicles during the flight and to stop the manoeuvre accordingly. Specifically, these include two 3D sensors at the front and two at the rear, the primary aerial camera as well as infrared sensors and a camera on the underside of the housing (VPS).
Schematic of the DJI Mavic Air.
All these sensors ensure not only safety and a reliable warning of impending crashes, but also intelligent flight modes such as ActiveTrack or TapFly. Safety functions such as Return To Home and Failsafe are included and can be set in the DJI GO app. Apart from that the DJI Mavic Air is equipped with a redundant IMU unit as well as a GPS and Glonass mode, so that reliability and flight accuracy are guaranteed.
Range of up to 4 kilometers
Baby Fliiiiieg! The range of the DJI Mavic Air is four kilometers. At the same time, the camera drone offers a very stable signal transmission with a low latency (delay).
The range of the DJI Mavic Air is based on an improved WiFi system and at four kilometres lies between the DJI Mavic Pro (seven kilometres) and the DJI Spark (two kilometres). In practice, the improved picture and signal transmission system of the DJI Mavic Air is not only reflected by a completely adequate range, but also by a low latency in the picture transmission as well as a high stability. The DJI Mavic Air is the perfect companion for aerial photographers and aerial researchers not only because of its high image quality or high portability, but also because of its integrated FPV system. The camera image of the camera drone is transmitted to the smartphone in 1080p quality and of very high quality. Although the resolution of the FPV image is only 720p at longer distances, the DJI Mavic Air is still a lot of fun to fly thanks to a variety of FPV and telemetry functions as well as the extremely versatile DJI GO app (e.g. camera settings or battery charge display). And if you like, you can also connect the DJI Mavic Air to the optional DJI Goggles, DJI Goggles RE or the soon available DJI Goggles 2 and enjoy the FPV view through video glasses.
Conclusion and result
The DJI Mavic Air is a technical monster par excellence!
The DJI Mavic Air combines the best advantages of the DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark – a high camera quality with high portability is known from the DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Spark respectively. Many details have even been improved with the DJI Mavic Air – notable are the pre-installed landing gear extensions, the detachable joysticks on the flight controller, the improved bit rate during video recording, the faster speed in sports mode or the even more comprehensive anti-collision avoidance. All in all, the DJI Mavic Air makes an extremely successful and at the same time high-quality impression. Best of all: The DJI Mavic Air is even cheaper than the DJI Mavic Pro or DJI Mavic Platinum with an entry-level price of 849,- Euro, but offers a much larger range of functions and more mature features. The DJI Mavic Air is already the drone of the year 2018 – a clear buy recommendation!