DJI Mavic Air 2S Official Nonfanboy Review – Better Than the Mavic Air 2? Maybe Not.
com. Are you ready for an honest, balanced review of the Air 2S Want some straight talk about whether to get an Air 2 or Air 2S? Well, this is the home of the official nonfanboy review. So yeah let s get to it. With the Mavic Mini a few years ago I began a tradition of releasing Non fanboy drone reviews. In a non fanboy review. I test the drone out thoroughly and give you an honest objective appraisal of what I think. And just, as importantly, I offer my opinions as to who should and who should not buy the drone.. Now, if you do want to buy the Air 2S or the Air 2 for that matter, and you found my video helpful, you can buy it from Amazon using the affiliate links in the description below that way. You re helping me offset my costs to make these videos, so I can produce more episodes for you in the future.. But if you re concerned that I ll go easy on DJI or any manufacturer, so I can sell more drones. Just watch this video all the way through., Then you tell me if you felt like I pulled any punches.. Ok, So let s talk about the Air 2S.. I ve broken this review into four sections: product design, flight performance, camera quality and finally, a summary.. The Air 2S looks almost identical to the Air 2. The key difference in appearance is the addition of two motion: sensors on the top front of the drone, which gives the drone a bit of an insect like appearance.
, Where the Mavic Air 2 had obstacle. Sensing to the front rear and below the Air 2S adds forwards. Upwards obstacle, sensing as well. Still missing, are sensors to detect obstacles to the sides, so youll still have to be careful when flying sideways, especially when using smart modes.. I wish DJI had added those new sensors to the sides.. I don t think it would have cost them any more to put the sensors on the sides rather than the top, and it would have improved flight safety more significantly, especially in autonomous flight modes. DJI chose to hold the side OA back and add it to the Mavic 3 instead.. This was definitely a decision based on holding some of the safety features back for the top model for marketing purposes. Anyway other than the insect eyes on the front of the drone and colored tips to the ends of the Air. 2S props. The two drones look almost identical right down to the awful light gray color.. Once again, DJI has followed their irresponsible practice of creating a drone that s almost impossible to see in the sky.. You may not care about the drone s safety, but I really am frustrated by this, so I ll keep kicking DJI in the rear. Every time they do it. On the positive side, DJI improved the safety of the Air 2S by giving it a quad antenna system. Rather than a dual antenna system., Anything to help lock in the signals between the drone and the controller is a feature well worth having.
. Overall, the Air 2S build quality is extremely good, pretty much the same as the MA2 and much better than the Mini 2.. It should be able to withstand a reasonable level of bumps and thumps without showing any wear.. The Air 2S is slightly heavier than the MA2, which is probably why it s rated for slightly less flight time than the MA2.. Still I get 25 minutes per flight with the Air 2S, which is great.. The Air 2S carries on the Mavic Air tradition of including 8GB of internal storage.. I love this feature, but now that the drone is shooting 5.4K video 8GB is not enough.. Dji really. Should beef up the internal storage to 16GB or 32GB at the least I d really like to see 64GB internal storage., Still internal storage of any size is a nice selling point for this drone.. The Air 2S controller also looks identical to the MA2 controller, and I m good with that. And I m happy to report that the Air 2S works with the DJI Smart Controller, even though the drone uses Ocusync 3 and the Smart Controller uses Ocusync 2.. That kinda makes you wonder why the Mavic 3, which also uses Ocusync 3, is NOT compatible with the Smart Controller.. Could it have something to do with DJI, releasing a NEW ultra expensive, Smart Controller Hmmmmm The batteries for the Air 2S are identical to those on the MA2. In fact they re interchangeable.. I was happy DJI didn t force us to buy a whole new set of batteries and chargers for the new drone.
Because of this people who own the MA2 can buy the Air 2S base package instead of getting the more expensive FlyMore combo because they already have Batteries., I ll sacrifice a couple minutes of flight time to avoid having to buy new batteries that s a good value decision on DJI s part.. I also like the fact that the battery is on top of the drone, rather than attached to the bottom or inserted in a rear compartment. That makes booting up the drone very easy., My overall rating of the Mavic Air 2 s design quality was very high., And I would give the Air 2S slightly higher marks for build quality, primarily because of the new top obstacle avoidance sensors.. I think the Air 2S is a solid, well constructed drone if they gave it a better color and side. Sensors increased the internal storage capacity, maybe spruced up the design to improve the coolness factor. Its design would be darn near perfect.. Hey. If you appreciate honest, unbiased reviews hit the like button and subscribe. Every time you do it s, like you, re flipping off a fanboy., Doesn t it feel good. If you like, flying the Air 2, you re going to like flying the Air 2S. Flight characteristics of these two drones are almost identical.. Part of the reason for this is that both drones use the DJI Fly app.. I really hated the Fly app when the Air 2 was released. It was a disorganized.
Mess. DJI has improved several of the issues with the Fly app and it now offers a very clean interface that is much easier to navigate than it was before.. Some of the camera settings are still buried in the More Settings menu though so it still needs improving on the organization front.. It still lacks the variety of color settings we had with Go 4 and obstacle warnings. Onscreen are much more difficult to see on the Fly. App as well., So I still prefer the Go 4 app but Fly has gotten much better.. So let s talk about the few differences you will find in flight performance and features between the Air 2 and the Air 2S.. One difference lies in the video transmission connectivity.. I have been amazed at how utterly reliable the MA2 has been.. I don t think I ve ever seen a hiccup in the signal I get from this drone to the basic controller. It was shipped with. Even on a flight test in the desert, where I took the drone out 3 miles. The video sync stayed locked in.. Video sync on the MA2S has been excellent, but I have seen occasional, minor blips and glitches in the video sync.. No problems. No loss of signal or control just hiccups., So in this regard it s excellent, but not quite as good as the MA2.. Just as an aside when flying the MA2 with my Smart Controller, I do see occasional glitches with video sync.
, Given that this Smart Controller costs 750, I m disappointed that it doesn t match the performance of the basic controller in this regard. And now DJI wants me To buy a NEW smart controller for the Mavic 3 for 1200, Homie don t think so. Anyway. My thoughts on the Air 2S flight performance are about the same as what I said for the Air 2., Like the MA2, the defaults for the Air 2S in normal mode deliver a flight experience that is probably a little friskier than I would like for videography, but You can tweak your stick sensitivity to offset that.. The gimbal works very smoothly, just like the MA2.. As I said before, the video sync is excellent for the Air 2S, but not quite as good as the Air 2.. The Air 2S offers all the same. Smart shots as the Air 2, and it adds a new one called MasterShots. When you start a MasterShot, the drone flies itself through a variety of motions and patterns for two or three minutes.. When finished. The drone builds a single video using selections from the patterns. It just flew., You can add different music and styles to your Mastershot, making it a very simple solution for someone who wants to bang out a finished video in a few minutes that they can share online.. I have no interest in the finished MasterShot., But I do like the raw video it shoots before. Creating the MasterShot., The programmed patterns deliver a nice variety of shots that you can clip out and use in your own production.
. What I don t like is that MasterShots are done in 1080P, including the raw footage.. I shoot everything in 4K or higher, so this limitation makes the MasterShots far less useful for me. And this type of situation, where DJI provides a feature but limits. It is my biggest frustration with this drone. It s. Like the drone comes with strings attached., It seems like most features, come with limits that curtail its functionality.. Dji has a history of this., For example, the Mavic 2 Pro had 360 degree obstacle avoidance., But then in the fine print you read that the side OA only works in tripod mode and intelligent flight modes.. So in normal flying the side, obstacles don t work. That s a far cry from real 360 degree obstacle avoidance.. The Air 2S has several examples of DJI offering features. Then handcuffing them. Here s a list of what I m talking about Master Shots are limited to 1080p.. We should be able to shoot MasterShots in 2.7 or 4K at least., Or they should offer different Mastershots some for 1080p and others at 2.7 or 4K.. Not everyone wants a MasterShot just to stick on Facebook.. The Air 2S has zoom cool, But you can t use zoom when shooting video at 5.4k, resolution. Or 4K60. For that matter.. You also can t use zoom for photos.. You can t shoot 5.4k in H.264.. The Air 2S has active track, but active track. Doesn t work when shooting at 5.
4k. The Air 2S shoots in HDR, but only in still photos. No HDR for video.. The Air 2 DID shoot. Hdr video. APAS is not available in Sport. Mode. I get that., But APAS is also not available in Cine or Tripod mode for the Air 2 or the Air 2S.. I don t get that. APAS does not work when shooting in 5.4K.. I did an entire episode on APAS, not working on the Air 2S. You can see a link to that in the upper right corner. Now. APAS was one of my favorite features on the MA2 and when I saw that it wasn t working on the Air 2S, I was really frustrated.. As I was creating this review. One of my viewers, Harry Demetri, let me know that APAS did work when shooting at 4K.. I tested it and he was correct.. So this isn t an example of DJI taking a feature away it s just another way: they put handcuffs on shooting at 5.4K resolution.. Finally, to the best of my knowledge, neither the Air 2 nor the Air 2S is compatible with the DJI Goggles. DJI has a bad habit of selling expensive accessories and then obsoleting them with future drones.. So all that s to say the Air 2S flies almost identically to the Air 2. Although its video sync isn t quite as good., It has a comparable feature set to the Air 2 and introduces the new MasterShot option, which is cool within its limitations.
. Frustratingly DJI has lots of strings attached to its capabilities.. Was this done out of design necessity or to hold back on some features to add in on the Mavic 3? I don t know.. I can t do much but rave about the camera on the Air 2S.. The 1 sensor with 10 bit color at 150. Megabits per second deliver improved dynamic range over the Air 2.. It also means you can push your video more with color grading than you can with Air 2 footage.. I love the fact that the Air 2S camera shoots at up to 5.4k resolution, although it s irritating that I can t use zoom at this resolution.. The video from the Air 2S has a presence to it that I haven t seen from any other drone camera.. You have to see the raw footage to appreciate it.. I have several examples of raw footage from the Air 2S that you can download and try for yourself. Look in the description below for the links. When testing a new drone camera. I always do the pan down test to see how the lens handles barrel distortion.. As you can see here, the horizon stays very straight. As the camera pans. Down. DJI dominates the market with their rectilinear lenses, and the Air 2S delivers beautiful distortion free images. Regardless of the angle, your camera is tilted. Wow. Am I starting to sound like a fanboy? Ok, here s, one thing I don t like about the camera.
. The drone offers focus settings.. The only reason I can see for this is to blur the background when shooting a close up subject., Since you rarely fly that close to your subject and you don t have a variable aperture. So you can t adjust your depth of field. I think this feature is about as useful as putting a screen door on a submarine.. I bet that for every one shot where the focus adjustment adds value, there will be 100 shots that are screwed up because of improper focusing.. Generally speaking, you should throw it into AF and ignore this feature.. One thing the Air 2S camera doesn t have is the ability to shoot HDR video., What s up with that? The Air 2 had it and it did a really nice job.. Why take it away from the Air 2S That s really all I can find to complain about though.. All in all, the camera for the Air 2S is terrific.. The Air 2 s image quality is outstanding, but the Air 2S does bring it up a notch.. The 2S has almost all the features of the Air 2 and the improved detail and reduced noise in dark areas of the image. Thanks to the larger sensor and 10 bit color depth. Take the Air 2 s image quality to the next level.. Honestly, I d put the Air 2S video quality up against any other drone on the market, including the Autel Evo 2 Pro, which costs almost twice as much.
. To get better video, you d need to fly the Inspire 2 or hopefully the Mavic 3.. The Mavic 3 footage should be awesome with its a 43 sensor and even higher bitrate, but I ve seen at least one video comparison where the Air 2S actually outperforms, the Mavic 3. Before you buy the Mavic 3, be sure to watch the video DJI Mavic 3 Vs Air 2s Drone for Video Professionals by DroneXFactor. I ll link it in the description. That s it for my discussion. So which is the best drone to buy. I ve thought about this question for a long time.. The Air 2S should be the better drone, but in many ways it s not. Buildwise, the drones are almost the same, so it s a wash.. The extra sensors are nice to have. I just wish they were on the sides, so they would offer more value. All the feature. Limitations on the Air 2S really annoy me. It. S like there should be little asterisks all over the drone.. I don t like the fact that Ocusync 2 in the Air 2 provides a better video sync than the Ocusync 3 on the Air 2S.. I don t care that the Air 2S is rated to fly 6 miles away. I care about the sync being rock solid out to a half mile., And the Air 2 is just a little better in this regard.. On the other hand, I like the Mastershot, even though it is limited, grrrrr limited to 1080p.
. I hope they add more Mastershot options with firmware updates and I really wish they d offer 4K or 5.4K Mastershots., Even if they just shot the raw footage at higher resolutions. I d be happy. So based on those considerations alone, the Air 2S is definitely not worth the extra 200 over the Air 2., But things change when you consider image quality. Larger sensor, higher bit rate greater bit depth. Those are wonderful improvements you get with the Air 2S over the Air 2. And after a lot of deliberation, that pretty much defines where I stand on the question of which drone is the best option., if youre a hobbyist who just flies for fun. These extra camera specs might not be cost justified to you. The Air 2 shoots. Terrific footage. Look at the scenes on screen now.. These were taken with the Air 2, not the Air 2S.. The Air 2 provides the best video sync. I ve ever seen great image. Quality, solid flight performance, good construction build and it s less expensive.. So if the images you re looking at onscreen now are good enough for you, the Air 2 is the right drone for you.. However, if you really care about your image quality, if you re going to color correct and grade your footage, if you have a critical eye and will actually see the better detail in brights and darks, if you re planning for the future and want to shoot at 5.
4K, rather than 4K, you re the person who should spend 200 more to buy the Air 2S over the Air. 2.. All those limitations, those attached strings are frustrating, but let s be honest, they might not have any effect on how you fly.. Personally, I don t care about what I can t do with zoom or photos. I don t use the zoom feature and I don t shoot photos so those limitations don t affect me.. On the other hand, I do like the Mastershots, so the 1080P limitation bugs me. And the whole APAS thing drives me. Nuts. Your priorities may be completely different.. You need to consider how those limitations would impact the kind of flying you do to see how significantly they should influence your decision.. If I had to pick, which was the best drone, I d go with the Air 2S.. That camera buys a lot of forgiveness for the shackled features.. However, if I had to pick which was the best value, that is the best bang for the buck, I d still have to pick the Air 2.. It s a phenomenal drone. It s safe for beginners. It s reliable it s, powerful and it delivers beautiful footage. And to get all that for 800 is a bargain. For the price of the Air 2S. You can buy. The Air 2 Fly More Combo, which comes with two extra batteries, a case and a charging hub. That s a great deal.
. So I admit I ve been really hard on the Air 2S in this video, because well that s what I do., I ve been picky and tough on it, because I want you to have all the information good and bad., So I ve really put it through The wringer., The truth is the Air 2S is also a phenomenal drone. It s 80, the same as the Air. 2 5 worse than the Air 2 and 15 better. And 200 is a reasonable cost for that 15 improvement, essentially a bigger sensor and higher resolution. As long as youre the type of pilot who will actually exploit those features., The Air 2S camera really is fantastic, so good that I m honestly wondering how much better the Mavic 3 s footage will be.. Will it be 1200 better DJI may have screwed up and made the Air 2S a little too good for the Mavic 3 to justify its outrageous price tag. I watched another reviewer say the Mavic 3 makes the Air 2S unnecessary. From what I ve seen so far. At least the opposite may be true. That s all for this episode. I m still scrimping and saving for a Mavic 3, so I can beat that one up for you too.. Please use my affiliate links in the description if you want to buy the Mini 2 Air 2 Air, 2S or Mavic 3 from Amazon. That allows me to afford more drones to do more videos for you.
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