DJI Air 2S
April 15, 2021Release Date
The DJI Air 2S is easily the best camera drone for most uses. The 1-inch sensor produces fantastic images from the sky, and the compact, folding design of the quadcopter is familiar and reliable – it may not be in the name, but this is still a Mavic drone.
As a follow-up in the Air series, the DJI Air 2S is the camera lovers’ dream update to the DJI Mavic Air 2. The primary enhancement is a big 1-inch camera sensor. At 20MP, the Air 2S goes toe-to-toe with the larger DJI Mavic 2 Pro, but is a smaller and more affordable drone that is almost three years newer.
The Air 2S is also better equipped for high-speed operations. DJI proved with the DJI FPV that top-mounted obstacle avoidance sensors are beneficial when the drone is in full-tilt forward movement.
Note: We will adjust the purchase links and some of the specifications shortly after the official product launch, please forgive any errors below.
DJI Air 2S overview
The DJI Air 2S is the latest quadcopter in the Mavic Air series. Don’t let the shorter names fool you, the Mavic series is not dead, and the latest Air is another example of the smaller series packing a better camera than the larger and more expensive Mavic drones out there. The primary feature of the Air 2S is a 1-inch camera sensor, which was previously only found on the Mavic 2 Pro and Phantom series of drones.
The Air 2S has the familiar design of the Mavic series, with the same build materials and colors, plus the front hanging camera, and folding propeller arms with quick release two-blade propellers.
With a focus on photography, the Air 2S shares some camera features with the Osmo Pocket cameras, including the Smart Photo capabilities. Things like HDR, Hyperlight, and Scene Recognition may be familiar to some of you already.
Quantifying the image improvements over the Mavic Air 2, the camera in the older drone rocked 0.8um sized pixels, the Air 2S has a whopping 2.4um pixels. The newer drone also shoots 5.4K video.
As is expected from a DJI drone, image stabilization is top notch. We were able to introduce some camera wobble when we flew erratically on a windy day, but we really did have to put in an effort to get there. In between the 3-axis mechanical gimbal, and some digital stabilization, your normal flights on fair weather days should prove silky smooth.
The Air 2S introduces new distance records as well, with O3 (Ocusync 3.0) offering up to 12KM of range. That’s almost 7.5 miles. Respecting line-of-sight laws in the U.S., we can at least say that there were zero connectivity hiccups as we flew the drone out to about 1,400 feet.
The remote control for the Air 2S is nearly identical to the remote for the older Mavic Air 2. The only visible differences we can see are that “Tripod” is now spelled “Cine,” and the RTH button specifies that it acts as your emergency halt and hover control as well. In this case, we’re happy that DJI did not reinvent anything, but we are still sad we do not get the small LCD display that was available in the early days of Mavic drones.
DJI Air 2S features & performance
How fast do you need your camera to fly? The DJI Air 2S smoothly cruises along at about 33MPH in Normal mode, all while offering full image stabilization and obstacle avoidance. Slide into Sport mode to get up over 40MPH, just do so in an open space, Sport mode turns off obstacle avoidance.
Out of the box, the rates on the Air 2S are pretty comfortable, the drone does not feel like it’s too fast or twitchy to control safely, and acceleration is smooth. For our tastes, we think the default tilt rate on the camera gimbal is a little slow. Perhaps that’s because the last drone we flew was the DJI FPV, which has high rates for everything, that’s a thrilling drone to fly.
The DJI Air 2S offers forward, downward, backward and upward facing obstacle avoidance. The top sensors are angled such that they assist in forward detection when you are in full-tilt forward flight. For our testing, the default obstacle detection range is too high. Safety is great, but there is a bush about 6 feet from our stationary helipad, the Air 2S felt that was too close and resisted my attempts to fly close enough to the bush in order to be back over top of our landing pad. This is adjustable, but out of the gate, expect to need a slightly larger operating area to fly the Air 2S.
Flight features include familiar Quickshot tools, plus some updated AI tools. Point of Interest has been updated to version 3.0, Active track is also at version 3.0, and Spotlight is now at v2.0. DJI borrowed some camera modes from the Osmo line, MasterShots has Proximity, Portrait, and Landscape modes for you to play with.
All in all, the Air 2S feels smoother and safer than the Mavic Air 2, smaller and more agile than the Mavic 2 series drones, and shoots far better images than the Mini series.
The Air 2S proudly announces that it is equipped with Air Sense, which is an ADS-B receiver. We did not encounter any other air traffic in our time testing the Air 2S, but, from previous experience, we know that a warning would have popped up on the DJI Fly app on our connected mobile device, showing us the location of incoming manned aircraft. Remember, it is your responsibility to yield right-of-way to manned aircraft. We recommend having a planned diversion path every time you fly.
Great news, it appears that the battery and propellers from the DJI Mavic Air 2 will fit the new Air 2S. This is one of the first times that DJI has introduced a new drone without forcing us to purchase all new parts and accessories. Thank you DJI!
DJI Air 2S camera
The DJI Air 2S is not the first drone to rock a 20MP camera with a 1-inch sensor. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and several Phantom drones enjoy such specs as well, however, the Air 2S is now the smallest and least expensive drone that we know of with this size of camera. We are excited for future drones, and future Osmo Pocket devices, that might use this size of sensor as well, particularly as we look over the images and video captured from the Air 2S.
Backing up the 1-inch sensor is the ability to record up to 5.4K video at 30fps, 4K video at 60fps, and a fantastic data rate of 150Mbps. We have not yet put our Air 2S footage side-by-side with Mavic 2 Pro footage for a full scrutiny, but we’re comfortable in saying that we think the Air 2S is the better camera.
Recording can be done in mp4 or mov format, using H.264 or H.265 encoding, with 8-bit or 10-bit color profiles (Normal, D-Log, or HLG.) 8GB of internal storage is backed by a microSD card slot.
DJI is taking advantage of the big sensor to offer digital zoom. At maximum resolution, you can get a 3x zoom, at 4K it’s a 4x zoom, 6x at 2.7K and 1080P 60fps, and 8X zoom when shooting 1080P at 30fps.
Let’s check it out:
What drones should I look at if the Air 2S isn’t quite right for me?