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DJI Air 2S drone test: A maverick at heart

DJI Air 2S drone test: A maverick at heart

This is called Air 2S, not Air 3, and it is not a coincidence. DJI did not start with a clean sheet, but chose to upgrade the existing one. As you can see at first glance, the technical basis is similar to the Mavic Air 2: very similar dimensions and mass (570 g vs. 595 g), as well as plastic and even better build quality. We will not complain about this conservatism, because if the Maverick Air 2 weighed more than the first Maverick Air of the name, it would approach the Maverick 2’s design, allowing it to integrate a better stabilized kimble and larger battery, among other upgrades.

DJI Air 2S is ready to take off.

Users looking for more character always have the opportunity to turn a page Mini 2 Although the Air 2S clearly moves to a higher category, it already delivers good image quality. Even if you weigh more than 250 grams, you should not be affected by the size and weight restrictions for integrating maximum technologies beyond the 800 gram rule, and beyond that European regulations are highly regulated.

There is a very visible change in the surface of the DJI Air 2S. We immediately see 2 new cameras pointing upwards, used to detect obstacles above the aircraft, but those in front of it as the drone comes behind while accelerating – the front cameras then tend to shoot at the ground. A surprising addition, since the Mavic 2 only has an infrared sensor on top. On the other hand, one would have expected DJI to integrate side cameras as well, but these are the uniqueness of the Maverick 2 for now.

2 front cameras and now 2 above to better detect obstacles at high speeds.

2 front cameras and now 2 above to better detect obstacles at high speeds.

Introduced with the Mavic Air 2, this radio control will not be built into the Air 2S. More than the Mavic 2, without the screen, it offers comfort and strength. We appreciate unpacking the small handles of the analog sticks to store them in their locations located under the radio control for transport. The smartphone for its part is placed on the top clamp to accommodate larger models, but no tablet (there are unofficial adapters).

The smartphone connection cable is stored at the base of the clamp.

The smartphone connection cable is stored at the base of the clamp.

Unlike the Mavic 2S, which uses the DJI Go app, the Air 2S still works with the DJI Fly app. This has clearly progressed since the introduction of the Mavic Mini, which now offers all the settings one would expect for public use. The interface is clear, less loaded than the DJI file, and we take our scores quickly.

DJI Fly application on iOS with Active Track automatic tracking mode.

DJI Fly application on iOS with Active Track automatic tracking mode.

The 4 antennas located on the top of the smartphone clamp are used for the new O3 transmission system. This third version of OcuSync technology offers a more stable video signal and even better range (up to 8 km in Europe). In practice, it is easy to reach a distance of 2 km unless there are high barriers between the remote control and the drone, but keep in mind that European regulations are required to keep your aircraft in direct view … It is already prohibited in principle to fly so far. So above all we remember that video transmission provides better performance for authorized use in our regions.

Despite good eyesight, we lose sight of the drone before finding the limits of the transmission range.

Despite good eyesight, we lose sight of the drone before finding the limits of the transmission range.

The good news about aviation safety is precisely that DJI AirSense technology is present in the European Air 2S this time around. Based on the ADS-B air traffic monitoring system, it is used to receive signals emitted by nearby aircraft – be careful, not all are fitted. As a precaution it is enough to give the remote pilot time to bring his drone to the ground.

Like other consumer DJI drones, the Air 2S takes just a few seconds to take off. All you have to do is remove the security knob from its bubble, connect your smartphone to the remote control, turn on everything, and then wait about thirty seconds for the GPS signals to start and acquire. We can depart without completing this last operation, but in this case the drone will not automatically return to its starting position. If you accidentally decide to go on a flight, you may choose to automatically return to the level of your radio control. This automated revenue function is very promising in any case, especially if a drone barrier is fitted with sensors. Especially since there are 2 sensors above, there is less fear of losing the signal when you are under the trees, for example, because the device can detect the branches located above it.

Ready to depart!

To depart, all you have to do is press the dedicated button on the left side of the interface and you will see the quadrotter position at a height of 1.2 meters from its starting point. If it’s louder than a Mini 2 and can be heard more easily over 100 meters, it’s more sensible than a Maverick 2. Thanks to its numerous sensors especially measuring the precision of its 2 tof (flight time) distance to the drone’s ground, it resists air well and moves only when pushed by a stick on the remote control. Piloting in these conditions is very simple: we adjust the height and everything with the left stick (default mode 2) and move it sideways (roll) and back and forth (pitch) with the right stick.

Wear a belly sensors and use powerful LEDs to illuminate the floor if it is too dark to land.

Wear a belly sensors and use powerful LEDs to illuminate the floor if it is too dark to land.

Thanks to a good quality video revenue (1080p at 30 fps on the smartphone) and a reasonable delay (120 ms according to DJI) that does not trigger too much weight on the controls, we quickly gain confidence. Apart from the Air 2S thanks to its APAS 4.0 technology, even a beginner can handle it in cine and normal mode without the risk of crashing. Disables fast game mode blocking detection.

Airplane mode selection is done via the central switch.

Airplane mode selection is done via the central switch.

Be equally careful when moving sideways, the DJI Air 2S is no more efficient than the Maverick Air 2 in detecting barriers to access from the side due to the lack of sensors on its sides. Unfortunately this prevents it from gaining autonomy in quickshots, and these iconic DJI modes allow automatic movements with the camera pointing to a previously selected subject on the screen.

Sensors on the back, but nothing on the sides.

Sensors on the back, but nothing on the sides.

At the center of this system is the Active Track, which has been upgraded to version 3.0. This technology allows the drone to focus its camera on its subject and simply manage its movements, just as another operator does framing for us. Combined with the Focus Track function, it allows the drone to move itself without obstacles. Interestingly as always, there are still some hiccups in this technology, but it works wonderfully in the open environment. We’ll have to wait a little longer to use this in the middle of the forest, because even though the Air 2S usually lurks among the trees and finds its object when it disappears behind a trunk, it sometimes does not find some branches, for example. He sometimes has no expectation to change early, which causes more complex movements.

DJI has decided to put even more automation on its drone, introducing DJI with its Air 2S Mastershots mode, which combines multiple flight and camera movements to create small quick clips that you can keep or easily share on social networks, DJI The Fly application automatically takes care of editing. You need to select the level of operation of the drone and start for 2 minute movements around its object. On the other hand, we may regret some kind of unprecedented scenario Sorry about the trip (Dolly Zoom), Not available separately as quickshots.

Although the Mavic Air 2 puts forward its sensor’s 48 MPX definition, the DJI Air 2S takes a completely different path. In fact, it replaces its predecessor 1/2 “sensor with the largest 1” Cmos sensor of 20 Mpx, which is the same characteristics of the Mavic 2 Pro! The result is that the photosynthesis is 9 times larger (2.4 m) and therefore captures more light. In the absence of light the film will be less noisy and will get an advantage from a better general dynamics. So to speak, there is not much to conclude from the results envied by those who got it with the Mavic 2 Pro. On the other hand, colors are naturally saturated if automatic methods are used.

However, the DJI did not use the latter’s Hasalpot optics. At f / 2.8, we lose the Air 2S adjusted variable aperture. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce the shutter speed to avoid excessive exposure in very bright conditions, which can create low cinema rendering from a certain point. It is possible, however, to use ND filters to cover the lens, but this solution does not provide a different aperture flexibility. So the Mavic 2 Pro retains an advantage in this area and its optical quality is also excellent.

1 inch sensor camera.

1 inch sensor camera.

The DJI Air 2S performs better in terms of video capture definition, which can go up to 5.4K at 30 fps. In practice, however, the gain is almost incomprehensible. Even when looking at specific parts of the film, it is difficult to see an improvement. You can also use 60 fps in 4K Ultra HD, which is very useful for filming dynamic scenes and lessons, and if you want to shoot slow motion. The Mavic Air 2 has con in 240 fps mode in full HD, on the other hand, the Air 2S should be better with 120 fps. The loss of definition seemed to weaken us anyway.

We are facing a video export problem and are currently working on resolving it to provide you with these 5.4K dailies currently scheduled.

Recording is still done on H.264 and H.265, with the bit rate increasing to 150 Mbit / s (as opposed to 120 Mbit / s). We appreciate that DJI has added 8GB of internal memory to its Air 2S, which unfortunately can be useful if you forget to insert the microSD card before departure. We are pleased with the arrival of the 10-bit record in T-Lock, which offers higher latitudes in later products.

Micro SD card slot.

Micro SD card slot.

On the photo page, 20 MPX is enough and the good dynamics of the sensor allow you to get interesting results on the HDR. We miss the nose a bit compared to the Mavic Air 2’s 48MPX sensor, but this is especially noticeable when zooming in on the image. The overall size of the sensor is much less noisy so there is a very significant gain overall.

HDR with AEB (5-shot bracket)
Automatic mode

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