DJI Air 2S Review
Updated: Jul 15
So having gone from drone hater to drone lover in a short space of time I now realise just what I was missing and have enjoyed using drones as much as doing normal landscape photography which lead to the inevitable upgrading of the DJI Mavic Air 2 to the DJI Air 2S, So was it worth it ?
Now I have to start of by saying that I loved my DJI Mavic Air 2, there was nothing to really dislike about it, 4K footage was great, it was easy to use so why would I upgrade it to the DJI Air 2S ?
In short what does it offer over the DJI Mavic Air 2 ? Short answer, not much unless of course it's exactly what you wanted out of the original, in which case it offers a serious bang for your buck.
The DJI Air 2S follows the same shape format as its predecessor with a very slight change on the front end but overall any accessories like batteries or extension legs from the Air 2 will fit as its the same shell, this however doesn't apply to any filters as the camera area has changed quite a bit.
Starting with that the biggest and most interesting change is the fact the DJI Air 2S now sports a Sony 1 inch CMOS sensor as opposed to the old Air 2 which was a humble 1/2 inch sensor, why is this important ?
Well the larger the sensor the more light it is able to gather and the better the dynamic range and quality of your output will be, so a very welcome step to be fair and it puts this drone on a level playing field with the top spec consumer drone, the DJI Mavic Pro 2, the one exception is there is no variable aperture, you are still stuck at F2.8 which still gives the Pro 2 the edge in terms of functionality with the ability to switch from F2.8 up to F11, This will no doubt be reserved for the Pro 3 which is rumoured to be released this year.
The 1 inch sensor though really does offer vastly increased performance and being from Sony it comes with a thoroughbred pedigree.
The next exciting spec is the fact you can now record in glorious 5.4K ! a significant increase from the 4k maximum on the Mavic Air 2 & Pro 2 models. This does however have a caveat, the 5.4K footage can only be captured up to a maximum FPS of 30, if you're looking for 60 FPS then you will have to settle for 4K footage which is still great but something to be aware of
the 120 FPS option will also take you down to 1080p rather than 4K which is a little disappointing but to be fair I never really found myself using the slow motion settings on a drone so I don't feel like I'm missing out to much.
There are also two log profiles in glorious 10 bit ! this is a dream for people who like to colour grade their footage as it gives you far more depth and control of the video footage and you can push it way further than the D-Cinelike profile from the Air 2.
For me this was the most significant update to the DJI Air 2S and this alone was enough to make me take an interest in it.
With the increased sensor size you now have increased resolution for the camera which goes up to 20 megapixel, again a big upgrade to the Air 2 with only 12 megapixels.
But wait I hear you scream, it was a 48 megapixel sensor on the Mavic Air 2 and you would be correct, but this was mainly down to some clever terminology and a quad bayer sensor which would take 4 x 12 megapixel photos and combine them into one at 48 megapixels, a neat trick but one that really and truly gave you results that not what you expected or hoped for, in fact most people stuck with the 12 megapixel shots as they seemed sharper and overall of better quality, so the marketing hype far exceeded the actual performance and while you had a 48 megapixel sensor in words, in actual reality you didn't !.
The new sensor on the DJI Air 2S gives an overall heavily improved image and a far better ISO performance but the reality is I still don't like to push much past 400 ISO to get truly useable footage, I mean you can but you will notice it especially while pushing footage in colour grading, it will become noisy and break up quickly much like the old Mavic Air 2 but it has improved over its predecessor so its defiantly a tick in the pro column.
DJI have also added a very useful feature with a digital zoom that can help with the new Drone laws that are coming in with 4x zoom at 4K with 30 FPS and 8x zoom when in 1080p and 30FPS. The footage again will show this and so I'm not a massive fan of using it to punch in, I would sooner film in 5.4K and then crop in in post production, but it is a cool feature and has its uses when you need a closer view but can't risk putting the drone closer in.
Again however there is a caveat, you can't use the zoom facility while recording in either of the 10 bit profiles, thus making it a little bit pointless for anyone who wants to colour grade and also not available in 120 fps modes.
The footage on the previous model was 120 bitrate whereas the Air 2S raises the bar to 150 instead, so another decent leap forward.