DJI AIR 2S // IN-DEPTH REVIEW FOR FILMMAKERS
I can do is give you some facts, a little bit of opinion, and hopefully that will help you on your way. So, speaking of budgets, if you have 999 dollars burning a hole in your pocket, the air 2s might well be a good drone for you. However, in today’s discussion there is a fourth variable, and that is your level of experience. You see the headline feature on this drone is the one inch sensor, camera capable of shooting 10 bit video up to 5.4 k resolution on paper. At least this is the best camera that dji has given us on a consumer or prosumer level drone, and that, for me, is very exciting. I love playing around with the image in post. I like stretching out the colors adding gradient, masks spot corrections, things that would typically destroy a lower quality 8 bit image. But you have the flexibility in your 10 bit picture to really play around with those colors and from an aerial filmmaking perspective is really useful because we deal with high contrast scenes a lot sun in the sky, silhouetted landscape. We need some post production modifications, so if you’re able to shoot with the editing in mind, you can really take advantage of a 10 bit picture profile, similar to the one that you get on a mavic 2 pro. However, if you’re new to this and you’re not going to be able to take advantage of that capability – or you just have no interest, then you could be paying a lot of money for functionality that isn’t of any use to you.
So we have different tools for different jobs at different levels of experience through the chain. We’Ll talk about that in a bit more detail in a second. There are some other things to talk about in terms of the upwards facing obstacle: avoidance, sensors, which are a great addition, especially if you combine it with the likes of active track 4.0 as it is now. So we have confidence, the drone’s not going to slide into any tree branches. We have ocusync 3.0 for an even greater transmission range. We have an improved fpv, gimbal mode, which you may have not realized was present on previous drones, but it just really wasn’t usable. Whereas now we can get that rocking and rolling fpv effect and we have another video on that coming out. But it really is very, very good and i enjoy it very much and we have some master shots which are like automated modes for beginners, which are interesting. So there’s a few more things to talk about, but at the end of the day the main point of focus here is this camera, so let’s explore that in a little bit more detail now, Music let’s throw the camera specs up on the wall. We have a one inch sensor, as you know, with a 22 millimeter field of view, fixed aperture, f, 2.8 and a variable focusing system in video mode. We can shoot 10 bit video with the d log picture profile up to 5.
4 k resolution in the real time frame rates of 24, 25 and 30 frames per second at 4k. We can get all the way up to 68 frames per second and in photo mode. We have 20 megapixel raw photographs, so at face value we have the mavic 2 pro camera on a cheaper, smaller drone. This is excellent and actually, in a few ways, this camera is better than the mavic 2 pro subjectively speaking. I enjoy the wider field of view. Mavic air 2s, 22 millimeters mavic 2, pro 28 millimeters. If i’m doing landscapes, i want the shots to be as immersive as possible. 22 millimeters is wider. This is better, and especially with all that resolution at 5.4 k we can punch in a little bit if we needed to the mavic 2 pro also had barrel distortion. In the interest of having a nice clean, read off the sensor, we could see some of the optical distortion from the lens. Now that really wasn’t a bonus, i have to say it wasn’t a benefit so it’s nice to not have to deal with that on the mavic air 2s. So the mavic air 2s is probably now the best consumer or prosumer drone from dji on the market. Mavic 2 pro is still excellent. The variable aperture is nice on the mavic 2 pro i have to say, because if you have an nd filter on there, you can tweak your exposure in the sky by adjusting your aperture blah blah blah we’ll.
Get into that at some other point, but this is a seriously impressive drone, the air 2s, especially when you consider its size and its price. However, there is one little kind of beef that i want to bring your attention to and it might influence your purchasing decision. Just like the mavic 2 pro, we do not get the high quality decent, like 8 bit picture profile on the mavic air 2s. Instead we get the normal picture profile or we get 10 bit d. Log m now i’ve never recommended shooting in the normal picture profile. I find the mid tones and the shadows too crushed. The image is too stretched in terms of its contrast, and it doesn’t really give you much flexibility in post for editing, i’ve always recommended you go straight to the best picture profile, which is normally decent alike or in the case of the mavic 2. Pro d log m now, obviously with the mavic air 2s, i would recommend you go straight to the 10 bit d log n, but if you’re not at that stage, you’re going to have to shoot normal, in which case you’ve just spent an awful lot of money. For a drone that shoots a normal contrasty picture profile, so you need to ask yourself: are you interested in color, grading and color correction? Do you really want to get into it? Do you have a computer fast enough to process 10 bit h.265 footage? If the answer to that question is no, then this isn’t, the drone for you look elsewhere.
I would get the original mavic air 2, if i’m, honest and just take advantage of the really nice picture, quality that you get it’s 8 bit but it’s still great decent, like fantastic images of the original air. This is really for the more discerning filmmaker, who probably already has a bit of experience, color, grading and color, correcting maybe with traditional ground cameras, in addition to drones, and it is a nicer experience if you’re at that stage, but it does take a bit of work. We’Ll get into this in another video, but you need to set your white point and your black point. You then need to add some contrast within those predefined ranges, probably by way of a curves adjustment that’s. Certainly, the way that we’ve been doing it you’ll need to add back some saturation. Then you might want to modify the colors for the grade. For the look. Maybe you add a lot to do that, so there is a bit of work getting from a to b. If you are shooting 10 bit on this camera, but the rewards are there – and i certainly would recommend it if you’re interested in that, if you want to get the best possible results from your mavic air 2s or any other drone for that matter, do grab yourselves A copy of our free ebook from dronezero to drone hero 37 tips to get you flying like a filmmaker while you’re at it do check out our premium content.
Our 100 minute drone cinematography crash course is a very enjoyable and great way to get started. And, alternatively, if you really want to be the best aerial filmmaker, you can possibly be our eight hour. Drone cinematography master class version 2.0 will get you from drone owner to drone pilot to drone cinematographer in the most informative and enjoyable way possible Music. Now much as dji sends us our drones these days, and this is a sponsored video. It is a review not an advert, so i have a few more things to say about this drone. If we talk about the 5.4k resolution, yes, it gives us nice crispy images, but for me the real advantage is being able to crop either in camera, in a digital, zoom kind of way or in post production. Now it’s a little bit odd. At the moment, if you shoot in the d log picture profile which, as i’ve explained at length, you should be, if you’re buying this drone, then you don’t get access to the digital zoom within the app and within the camera itself. That, for me, is a bit strange, so if you want to punch in at the time of capture, you need to do it with the normal picture profile which you shouldn’t be using if you’re buying this drone so i’m, hoping at some point, we’ll get the digital Zoom lenses with the d log picture profile, the original mavic air 2 gives us this zoom option: it’s a crop, essentially a lossless crop, depending on how far in you go and with the mavic 2 pro.
We also get the so called high quality field of view, which is where we get a sensor crop from the middle of the sensor, and we get approximately a 40 zoom if you like. It comes in about a 40 millimeter field of view equivalent. So we have some digital zoom options on these other drones at the best highest quality picture profile i’d like to see that on the mavic air 2s in terms of slow motion frame rates, dji have done away with the 240 frames per second. That is available on the original mavic air ii, which is fine by me because i never used it but 120 frames per. Second is cool it’s, a shame that there’s no 100 frames per second, because, if you’re dropping your footage into a 25 frames per second timeline. Like i do then, 120 frames per second does not divide evenly by 25, so you’re going to get some stuttering i’d like to see some 100 frames per second for the european crowd out there and since we’re on that kind of topic, quick shots. I love quick shots. One of the most successful recent videos we had was how to use quick shots, cinematically they’re amazing, especially for solo drone pilots. However, they’re only available at 30 frames per second, which again, if you drop a 30 frames per second piece of footage into a 25 frames per second timeline, then you’re going to have some drop frames and it’s not going to look good.
If i was in america, i would want them in 24. Frames per second, not 30 frames per second, but at least you can slow your 30 frames per second down because you have an even division. Mathematically speaking, if you’re going to 24 frames per second so anyway, i don’t know why they’re doing that there must be a reason but it’d be really great to see frame rate options within the quick shots. Also sticking with the camera since we’re really getting into the details here. If you buy the fly more combo you’re going to get a set of nd filters with it now assuming it’s the same set that i got the maximum strength, nd will be nd 32. Now i know from experience that that is not strong enough to get your shutter speed down to 1 50th of a second, with a real time frame rate, like 25 frames per second on a bright sunny day. So you can get the motion blur the eyes accustomed to seeing in cinematic footage. So every piece of footage you see in our videos at the moment is shot with a 100th of a second shutter, so it has a slightly more jaggy look to it than is preferred if that kind of stuff matters to you, you might need to fork out For a few extra nd filters, as promised, there are a few other things to talk about with this drone and top of the list, for me, is the fpv gimbal mode.
Now this is really cool for me, because i’ve tried over the years to use the fpv gimbal mode on the other mavics and it just doesn’t work. It locks the roll axis of the gimbal but it’s just too jerky there’s no smooth kind of roll in and out of those roll motions and that’s, where the optimization has really taken effect here, because we get that smooth rocking motion, we still need to fly smoothly. I’D, recommend you put the controller into cine mode at the start, to help you with that. But you can get some nice rocking motions, it’s unlikely to be as exciting as the dji fpv, which can go at 80 million miles per hour and all that kind of stuff, but it’s a really nice addition and, as you can see, we’ve got some really nice Dynamic shots with it Music. Next up, we have the upwards facing obstacle: avoidance, sensors, which is, of course a nice addition. The more obstacle avoidance the better, especially when you combine it with intelligent flight modes like active, track, spotlight, point of interest. Historically, upwards motion and sideways motion hasn’t been particularly well protected by optical avoidance on the dji drones and we’re, making another step forwards in that respect, which gives us confidence that, when we lock onto our subject and then just set off on active track, it’s not going To crash into anything, so that is good. As indicated, some of the intelligent flight modes have had an upgrade to 4.
0. In the case of active track, we have 3.0 for point of interest and 2.0 for spotlight. I love them all for different reasons. Very, very useful. Cinematic tools definitely get into your intelligent flight modes. If you haven’t done so already my favorite spotlight, we have a video on that. So do check that out. The quick shots are there, as we would expect and as i’ve said already, you really need to try and take advantage of those quick shots, especially if you are a solo drone operator, we also have some new functionality in the form of master shots here. The drone flies up to 10 predefined flight paths edits. All together puts it together with some music and you’re good to go on your social media, because i was running a beta version of the app at the time of doing the mavic air 2s drone shoots. I wasn’t able to fully test this, but stay tuned for more information on that one. As for the other specifications do grab yourself a copy of our dji comparison chart, so you can quickly look across the range of drones and see how the mavic air 2s compares with some of the other drones it’s a few grams heavier than the original mavic air. 2 and the battery life is a few minutes shorter. Neither of those things matter to me. I have to say otherwise. The form factor is basically exactly the same, with the exception of the two sensors on the top and the bigger camera.
The controller is exactly the same and the batteries are backwards compatible, so you can interchange them between the two mavic air twos that’s, good news. I wonder i don’t know the answer to this: will it be possible just to buy the drone on its own without the controller and without batteries out? I wouldn’t have thought so, but i think it would be nice since dji have clearly committed to this new controller design. Speaking – of which i mean what would you rather have the mavic 2 pro controller, which is this size even has a screen on it or the new controller, and this one here is the mavic mini controller, the original mavic mini controller. I don’t find it overly practical. Having a controller that size that’s the honest truth on that one, when i was doing my shoots, i was doing active track. For example, you have to find somewhere to put this. You know the smaller. The better anything you can put in your pocket is good and that’s tricky to put in a pocket, but in terms of using it it is a joy to use. At the end of the day, it feels good in the hands. It’S it’s solid. The phone goes up here: cables integrated it’s, a very nice design. I don’t know there’s a reason why they’ve gone down that route, can’t really criticize it too much uh, also in terms of flight characteristics, something we don’t really talk about much these days and we probably take for granted.
But the drone is a joy to fly. If you go back far enough to when we started out what a battle it would be trying to get a phantom 2 with a gopro to fly, a nice smooth, arcing motion, a rotation around a subject, a job and a half. Now we have cinemode, which is perfect for that it’s, not too slow, it’s. Not too fast. You can fly nice manual maneuvers around things normal mode. I still fly almost everything in normal mode and i can get nice smooth maneuvers in normal mode and the sports mode. Yes, it’s fast, but it’s also stable, so it can still be used for cinematic footage. So yet again, dji have hit the ball out the park this time with the mavic air 2s. It really is a great option for the more discerning or experienced drone operator and filmmaker, but don’t be disheartened if you already just bought a mavic air 2 or you have a mini 2 or the original mini, or a phantom 3 it’s. What you do with the drone that counts – i really can’t emphasize that enough on the channel, so do grab yourself a copy of our free ebook from dronezero to dronehero37 tips to get you flying like a filmmaker and if you really want to be the best aerial Filmmaker that you can be, we have an eight hour, drone cinematography master class, that you will definitely love anyway.