The Mavic Air 2S has the same size camera as the 2 Pro

Despite being less than a year old, DJI is already upgrading its mid-tier Mavic Air 2 drone. The new $999 Mavic Air 2S (yes, over $200 over the previous model) comes with several notable new features and upgrades, including a much larger image sensor. The new 1-inch sensor can capture 20 megapixel photos, 5.4K video and 4K up to 60 fps. But hold the horse (or purse). Here are a few caveats about its impressive features. Good Stuff Larger 1-inch camera sensor Last available digital zoom Great for beginners and experts Bad Stuff No D-Log or HDR when zooming APAS still needs improvement The camera sensor on the Mavic Air 2S is the same size as the high-end Mavic 2 Pro is. It’s much larger than the 1/2-inch sensor used on the Air 2 last year. The Air 2S should take good photos and better videos, at least on paper, pretty much the same as the Mavic 2 Pro. The Air 2S’s maximum video resolution is 5.4K compared to the Mavic 2 Pro’s 4K. Additionally, 4K video on the Air 2S offers a higher bit rate of 150 Mbps compared to 100 Mbps. Finally, the Air 2S’s 4K video also has a higher frame rate. All of this is a nice upgrade over what you can get on the more expensive models, not to mention the benefits of the smaller Air 2, but switching to 4K 60fps has the highest 4K frame rate you can capture. This is because you are not using the full 1-inch sensor in that mode. It looks like a roughly 1.3x crop to my eyes, but DJI doesn’t exactly check how much the crop is. That said, you shouldn’t be discouraged from using 4K/60fps. The video quality is still maintained and the image looks great in the final result. However, if you are comparing the spec sheets, I can’t tell you there is a crop in this mode. This could also explain why the Air 2S has a slightly wider focal length than other products in the Mavic lineup. When using the full 1-inch sensor, the focal length is 22mm. Typically, DJI drones are 24mm or 28mm. Personally, I like the slightly wider look, but if you prefer a more compact composition, you can use the built-in digital zoom or crop it in your edits. The Air 2S doesn’t have optical zoom, but digital zoom is very useful. The availability of digital zoom depends on the shooting mode you are using. At 1080p/60fps, 6x zoom is possible. With 1080p/30fps, you can zoom in 8x. 4K / 60 up to 3x; 4K/30 has 4x zoom. Finally, there is no digital zoom at all at 5.4K. Historically, digital zoom doesn’t tickle my mind, but the 1-inch sensor with a maximum resolution of 5.4K really helps here, and the loss of quality isn’t that steep. It can capture very useful footage even at 3x. However, there is another caveat here. If you’re shooting in D-Log or HDR, none of this matters because you can’t zoom in while shooting one of these color profiles, and you can only use standard color profiles. When shooting in one of these modes, you will have to do all the zooming and cropping again after editing. Also, it’s a bit embarrassing as I can’t use the digital zoom at all while taking pictures. There is another caveat between the color profiles. The maximum ISO for the D-Log color profile is 1600 and the standard color profile is up to 3200. For comparison, the Mavic 2 Pro has a maximum ISO of 6400 in the standard color profile. But, like the 4K 60 crop, it’s good to be aware of it. Both the Air 2S and Mavic 2 Pro share a 1-inch sensor, but there are many differences between the two cameras. Air 2S also introduces a new automatic flight mode called SmartShots. When activated, it will take a few minutes for the drone to capture a few pre-programmed videos. Options include wide round shots, tight round shots, drawnies, top down and more. Record 5 to 10 “essential” clips and the app automatically creates a short edit. It’s similar to the slideshow in GoPro’s Quik iOS app, but for drones. This is a great option for less experienced pilots who want something they can trust and easily share with their friends. One of the biggest advantages of the Air 2 is that it can take 48 megapixel photos with pixel binning. I don’t have that option here, but I always chose the sensor size over pure resolution and the Mavic Air 2S proved my right. The picture looks phenomenal. As someone who prefers to take drone photos over videos, mounting a 1-inch sensor on a smaller body than the Mavic 2 Pro is a dream come true. Both drones take 20 megapixel photos, but there are some notable differences. Grid View has the focal lengths mentioned earlier, but the dynamic range of the 2 Pro is also better. It offers 14 stops compared to the 12.4 stops on the new Air 2S, helping to keep the sky from flying in high-contrast scenes. Of course, you lose a bit of the information to work with, but the difference is not noticeable. Photos are impressive at both low and high ISO. If it’s worth it, you’ll also miss Hasselblad color science. The Mavic 2 Pro has one bigger feature than the Air 2S. This is useful for both photos and videos, and gives you another point of control when trying to get the perfect exposure. The only controls available on the Air 2S are ISO and shutter speed, so DJI can limit the amount by including a set of ND filters in the Fly More bundle ($1,299, with additional batteries and other accessories). Light entering the lens. There are also minor changes to the Hyper Labs mode. You can no longer get the 8K Hyper Labs export like you did on the Mavic Air 2. The maximum photo resolution is 20MP, so only 4K or less is possible. This export now has additional post stabilization, but it’s not perfect. The unwanted shake was still visible on a few of the videos I recorded. I still recommend running another stabilizer in the post. Two new APAS sensors sit above the front sensor and help detect obstacles at higher speeds. Most of the hardware of the Air 2S is the same as the Air 2, but there is an additional set of sensors on top of the drone to help detect and avoid obstacles, especially at high speeds. DJI calls this APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) 4.0. Obstacle avoidance must be turned on manually and you must choose how the drone works. You can brake in front of obstacles or move around. In my tests, the drone was a little more hesitant than I expected. Instead of avoiding obstacles, they often choose to brake in front of them. Again, there is a caveat. APAS or focus tracking will not work in modes above 4K 30fps. The Mavic Air 2S has a slightly worse battery than its predecessor. 31 minutes compared to 34 minutes on the air 2. The Flymore combo now comes with a set of 4 ND filters. It is encouraging to receive special attention in this area, but DJI is not near Skydio when it comes to autonomous flight. This is still just a safety option and doesn’t help you get a smooth shot while narrowly avoiding obstacles. Finally, every upgrade does a little hitting the battery life. DJI evaluates the battery with 31 minutes flight time compared to the 34 minutes on the previous Mavic Air 2. This is a fair compromise and I didn’t notice anything affecting my flight approach. Despite some limitations in functionality, the Mavic Air 2S is still a fantastic drone. Especially suitable for beginners who want more features than the DJI Mini 2. People will be okay with them. I recently wrote about how the underrated Mini 2 has become my favorite drone due to its unmatched portability and above-expected picture quality. The Air 2S almost lost its title. If you prioritize image quality, it’s a clear choice if it can give your wallet an extra hit. The Mavic Air 2S now strikes the perfect balance between compact size and outstanding image quality, despite all the asterisks and precautions. Photo from Vjeran Pavic / The Verge


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