DJI is probably recognized as one of the leading drone manufacturers worldwide, after just having released the stunning FPV, they now come with yet another specialised high-quality drone for you to enjoy, the DJI AIR 2S.
In this review we will have a closer look at this newcomer in the fleet.
DJI AIR 2S introduction:
The AIR 2S has the traditional looks of the Mavic series, however at 595g it’s located on the ligher side of the DJI drones. At first glance this would be a more traditional light drone for photographers and videographers, but you would be mistaken to think of the AIR 2S as a traditional drone, as it features some extraordinary functions not found on other drones. Let’s take a look at this new fleetmate a bit more closely!
Experienced DJI pilots will certainly know the flight controls and common features of the Mavic series, wether you are flying a Mavic Air, Mavic Pro or newer Mavic 2 series, they all are foldable portable drones, perfect for off the gris use in rugged terrain because of their easy portable design, these drones were designed to be easy to carry in your backpack when going to remote areas, so you can get the best footage and photos without having to carry a heavy large drone. The AIR 2S is no different, lightweight design and foldable legs make this yet another drone to be used in the most extreme areas with ease.
So far nothing new, right? Well let’s just say that small design doesn’t mean this is a toy, it’s a highly sofisticated drone, oozing in personality, designed for top quality photo and video … 5.4K video this time!
An overview of the features:
Content of the package (based on the fly more combo for 1299 euro on DJI.com)
- 1 DJI AIR 2S drone
- 1 DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller
- 3 intelligent flight batteries
- 1 battery charger
- 1 AC power cable
- 6 pairs of low-noise propellers
- 1 gimbal protector
- 1 Type-C cable
- 3 types of RC cable for all common smartphone connections
- 1 pair of spare RC-N1 control sticks
- 1 ND filter set for the camera
- 1 battery charging hub
- 1 battery to power bank adaptor
- 1 shoulder bag
The weakness of every drone is of course power supply, the motors of a drone need to spin the props at high speeds and they need a reliable power supply to do this. Batteries are the only option in light machines like drones and smartphones and DJI has managed to find a good balance between performance and time for all of their drones. The AIR 2S is no exception, with a perfect conditions flight time of 31 minutes it is comparable to the Mavic 2 Pro and most others in the series.
Wind … the number one enemy of every drone … and every type of aircraft by the way! Most consumer drones are pretty lightweight and that can make them very susceptible to wind. With a maximum wind resistance of 10.5 m/s (37.8km/h) the AIR 2S resists a bit more wind than most others in the Mavic series, although wind will always remain a problem for drones in this segment of the industry and these drone can usually not operate in high wind conditions … although some experienced pilots go beyond the limits and manage to shoot fantastic footage at the risk of loosing the drone.
Video transmission range:
At up to 12km transmission range at 1080p is slightly better than the 10km of the Mavic 2 Pro, although local legislation will not always allow you to fly the drone at those distances, European legislation only allows you to fly within visual line of sight.
Now here is the difference that sets the AIR 2S apart from most other drones, the 20 MP sensor allows for 20 MP photography both in JPEG and RAW format and an amazing 5.4K video recording at 30fps and up to 120fps at lower quality makes this camera standing out of the crowd, combined with 4x to 8x digital zoom, this camera will give you a wide range of possibilities to create awesome video footage.
The AIR 2S is a drone specifically created for photo and video, therefore it is equipped with 3 distinct flight modes, N-mode, S-mode and C mode. These can be used with the standard remote controller, however the AIR 2S is also compatible with the newer DJI Smart Controller for a better experience.
All 3 flight modes have a maximum speed attached to its performance, remember this drone was not built for very high speeds (for a high speed drone, please see the DJI FPV) but even though it wasn’t, in S-mode it can fly the fastest at 19m/s (68.4 km/h), in N-mode it will fly up to 15m/s (54 km/h) and in C-mode at the lower 5m/s (18 km/h).
Ascent & descent speed:
In all flight modes the ascent speed and descent speed is limited to 6m/s (21.6 km/h), this is also comparable to other drones in the segment but significantly less than the high speed FPV drone (seen in another review).
Maximum ceiling above sea level:
Like all drones and aircraft, this drone also has a maximum altitude of flight, generally called the maximum ceiling, the AIR 2S can go as high as 5000m above sea level, comparable to other drones in the segment, just for the experts, a Boeing 747 commercial airliner has a service ceiling of 13.000m above sea level.
The maximum range refers to the maximum distance the drone can fly from the remote controller, the AIR 2S has a maximum range of 18.5km, about same as the Mavic 2 Pro (18km).
Dimensions & weight:
The AIR 2S is a very light drone at only 595g and folded it is so small it can easily fit in your standard backpack at 180x97x77mm, when unfolded it sizes 183x253x77mm.
The AIR 2S has some interesting special features as well, one of them is the type of propellers used. These are low-noise props, seriously reducing the noise of the drone when flying, especially interesting when using multiple devices to create unique videos where the drone noise could overpower the surrounding sound recorded by possible other devices.
Secondly, the AIR 2S has an internal storage capacity of 8 GB, also nice to know when you are using the drone to its maximum performance or when you want to continue to record for a while when your memory card is full and you need to download the files.
Prices and packages or extras:
The standard price for the AIR 2S with only 1 battery and standard remote controller is $999. However, every experienced drone pilot will tell you it is always better to have more batteries and DJI offers the Fly-More combo (like described above) at $1299.
Additionally, you can order some extra gadgets like the car charger for $55, very convenient when going on a road trip or camping. The propeller guard costs only $16, very useful if you are flying in forest rich areas in order to avoid serious damage to the drone.
The popular DJI Smart Controller will set you back $749, this can be very handy when you don’t want to use your smartphone or to use the AIR 2S to the fullest.
Extra protection for the drone can also be purchased as already explained in the FPV review:
Protect your drone and purchase a “DJI Care Refresh” plan for $99 or $169 depending if you want the 1 or 2 year options.
You can buy the DJ Air 2S from Amazon by clicking here.
You can buy the DJ Air 2S Bundles from Amazon by clicking here.
The new camera on the AIR 2S has some very interesting features for photographers, at 20mp it is similar to other DJI drones. The 22mm equivalent lens shoots at a wide angle just like most other drones and the ISO range from 100 to 3200 in automatic and even 12800 in manual makes this a very high quality camera. Most photographers will know that the limits of drones is usually the lack of good zoom possibilities, this has been partially approved in the AIR 2S by giving it the option of up to 8x digital zoom.
As for the photography options there are the following:
- The traditional single shot function is the most common for all photographers and gives you the option to choose your composition and click when ready, you can either use it in auto or manual mode.
- New is the Burst option, this will give you a continuous burst of photos, still at 20mp quality.
- Auto exposure at 20mp.
- Timed shots at 20mp, useful for selfies taken with your drone for social media.
- SmartPhoto mode in HDR or Hyperlight can be useful in difficult light conditions.
- And last but not least … the option of HDR panorama shots, also both in automatic and manual modes at 20mp for the best possible quality.
The camera shoots in JPEG for quick shots and easy posting on social media or sharing with other trough smartphone etc. or in RAW format with the .DNG extension for the more experienced photographer. RAW gives you the chance of editing your photo more detailed and in higher quality with photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
The most noticeable difference in the AIR 2S is the 5.4K video possibility, at first glance this is fantastic … however beware that the 5.4K option is only possible at lower frame rates of 24, 25 or 30fps, so for fast moving video this is not ideal.
At 4K you can select 24, 25, 30, 48,50 & 60fps, this would be better when shooting faster moving objects like cars, boats etc.
The same frame rates are possible in 2.7K, to be used when file size is a problem or for sharing on social media. The highest frame rate of 120fps can only be used in Full-HD (1920×1080 pixels).
Video can be recorded in MP4 or MOV formats.
Usually a drone pilot will use a memory card in the drone, the AIR 2S uses microSD cards of up to 256 GB capacity, however there is also 8 GB of internal storage. Although this will not be enough for long video recording, it is a small extra buffer for photographers and videographers.
Like all DJI drones the AIR 2S is equipped with safety features, this is becoming ever more important with more and more drones showing up and legislation becoming more strict and specified. The new European legislation is the perfect example of this evolution, although drones can fly ever further away from the pilot in command, that doesn’t mean it is always allowed to do so, and seeing the view from the drones camera doesn’t mean you can see backward and sideward.
In order to prevent accidents and damage to the drone or third parties property or people, the AIR 2S is just like the Mavic series equipped with 4 direction object avoidance sensors (forward, backward, upward, downward).
Additionally there is the ever famous “return home” button that all DJI drones are equipped with, giving the pilot the possibility of retrieving the drone quickly and safe with the automatic object avoiding flight back to the take-off position.
How about flying at night and is the camera capable of making good photos and video at night? Due to the higher ISO range of the camera, the AIR 2S can capture photos and video at night, however … you will need to do a few testshots every time in order to find the right balance between ISO, movement of the drone, exposure, light conditions and shutterspeed (for still photography) or frame rate (for video).
On the other hand, the AIR 2S has some interesting features to use at night, High Dynamic Range (HDR) will give you the opportunity to push the camera to the limits in low light conditions as night and twilight photo and video.
Will you need to perform post processing of your photos and videos? Well that depends on what exactly is your main goal. The AIR 2S certainly turns out stunning photos and video files, but like any other drone or camera, a professional photographer or videographer will always perform some post processing on it. There is a reason why the AIR 2S also produces RAW files!
If you just want to produce some cool content for social media and showing off to your friends, then you will probably not do much post processing. However … every commercial photographer and videographer knows the importance of creating the best of the best content for clients, publicity and portfolio content. Wether you use photoshop or similar for photography or one of the high-end post processing video programs, the files produced by the AIR 2S are all set to the highest quality so you can turn out the most amazing stunning videos and photos with your drone.
What exactly is the difference between well established drones as the Mavic Air 2 and this new AIR 2S? The most important difference is the camera, the improved camera quality is the main big difference, the 5.4K video and higher ISO range, combined with RAW capability make this a far better camera than previous series. Furthermore most of the other features have been improved with additional object avoidance sensors upward, improved four-antenna transmission system and a larger camera CMOS sensor of 1 inch.
Software upgrades include MasterShots for the pro-photographers and improved HDR capturing, a novelty is the HDR function for panorama shots, which makes it easier to take panorama shots on automatic light settings, light always comes from only one direction and this makes it very hard to choose good light settings for a panorama shot, usually containing between 35 and 40 individual photos.
The only downside of the AIR 2S is that this drone is not compatible with the DJI goggles for FPV flights or the motion controller for “joystick-like” flights. However, to compensate for this, it is compatible with the high-end DJI Smart Controller.
Overall this drone is highly recommended as a lightweight, high quality drone to be used everywhere you go!
You can buy the DJ Air 2S from Amazon by clicking here.
You can buy the DJ Air 2S Bundles from Amazon by clicking here.