The new DJI Mavic Air is yet another successful product from the Chinese manufacturer, which is now the market leader: we have tried it first hand during an event organised in Monte Carlo for the European press. Here’s our first look (or hands-on) live with our first impressions and the footage and photos taken by the drone during the flight experience “.
We had already understood this from the technical data, but we can confirm it even after the first live contact, in the event organized by DJI in Monte Carlo for the European press, the new DJI Mavic Air is yet another successful product of the Chinese manufacturer. The feeling is even that the new drone can cannibalize the sales of his older brother Mavic Pro. There are many reasons for this and some of the new features that DJI has integrated into the new quadricopter, thanks to the increased calculation capacity on board and the presence of as many as 6 driving cameras (in addition to the camera for taking photos and movies).
Two cameras are headed forward, two backwards, two downwards and analyze the world around the drone to avoid collisions with obstacles: only the upward one is missing, but generally there are few obstacles above a drone (except in my case when I made it pass a bit daringly under a canopy). The system allows you to activate the APAS Assisted Flight mode, which avoids that the drone impacts against obstacles during flight and makes it travel in the direction chosen by the user, but avoids any posts, trees, columns that parked in front of him.
Passing under an arc is now an operation within reach of even novice drivers, since the system is really error-proof and does not allow to finish (even intentionally) against obstacles. This new safety function, which comes under the hat of the Flight Autonomy 2.0 functions, is certainly one of those that most detaches Mavic Air from the rest of the competition, including the older and younger brothers.
On the new Mavic Air we find the shooting modes with QuickShot automatic manoeuvres already seen before (including the circle around the subject and the propeller), but two of them were added to the list: Asteroid and Boomerang. The first brings the drone to high altitude, where it resumes a spherical panorama: starting from this point of view, then the drone descends towards the subject, creating a video in which the small spherical world opens gradually until it gets to take a closer look at the subject. Boomerang instead starts from in front of the subject and then operates an elliptical orbit around him, with it in the nearest of the two fires. The result is a video in which the shot starts from the subject and revolves around him, shooting it from afar and inserted completely into the landscape around him when he is at the farthest point of the ellipse: in fact it is a very scenic film, which would require a lot of experience to be obtained with the manual guide. In addition, since the maneuver is automated, the pilot (if he or she is the subject himself or herself) can turn his or her eyes off the controller during the maneuver. You can see an example of these maneuvers and the passage under the canopy in the video I recorded during the event.
Another very interesting feature is the addition of some multi-shot panorama modes, such as the spherical one that automatically combines 25 shots to create a single 32 megapixel image. You can still save all images, even in RAW, for any photostitching after the event. See on the display of the smartphone inserted in the controller all the shooting procedure is decidedly fascinating and interesting results.
The Smart Gestures are inherited from Spark, which allow the drone to carry out basic maneuvers guided by the palm of the hand: according to when communicated by the Chinese manufacturer, recognition and control should have been improved. In fact, although there seems to have been an improvement on the ground, in my opinion it is still a curious function that something really usable, but it will also be the subject of the review (which we hope can be very close).
The engineering work of DJI engineers is valuable: thanks to the foldable design, the new closed Mavic Air is 21% smaller than Spark and half the size of Mavic Pro, with a weight 41% (430 grams) below it. Detail the rotation mechanism that folds the rear rotors underneath the front rotors. In practice when closed closed Mavic Air is as big as two phablet overlapping. The solution that integrates the omnidirectional antennas into the folding front trolley is also a special feature: with them, the drone’s range of action with the controller reaches 4km with full HD video streaming. The camera (12 megapixels, 24mm, f/2.8,1/2.3″size sensor) remains more embedded in and protected from the body. For transport, a cover is available to secure the motorised gimbal head in a fixed position. The latter moves in three axes and is mounted on cushioned supports to minimize vibration. From the first images we’ve seen (and filmed live) it seems that the work in this sense has also been really quality.
The conditions of the Monegasque coast during the day saw the wind rise and the behaviour of Mavic Air seemed very good even in the presence of sustained gusts. The lighter weight, combined with greater power than Mavic Pro (may be up to 68 km/h of top speed) seem to have benefited the little Air, which is declared capable of flying with winds up to 36 km/h. The declared autonomy is 21 minutes of flight time and judging from the demo sessions, longer than those seen with Spark, the data would seem reliable.
DJI Mavic Air is already pre-ordering and shipments will commence on January 28th: the basic kit that includes drone, battery, remote control device, carrying case, two pairs of propeller guards and four pairs of propellers costs €849, while the Fly More Combo kit with drone, three batteries, one remote control device, one travel bag, two pairs of propeller guards, six pairs of propellers, one battery/power bank adapter and one hub of propellers. In Italy, distribution is handled by Fowa. Below is the video I recorded during the event, which includes my impressions and some of the footage and photos taken by the drone at my disposal during the flight experience.
Awaiting to spend more time with the newborn little drone of DJI, we can say that Mavic Air has left a good impression in all the press present and digs a further furrow to separate DJI from the competition.