The $999.99 DJI Air 2S is essentially the Mavic Air 2 from last year, with an enhanced camera and obstacle sensors, increased autonomous camera movements, and the solid safety features and quality that have made DJI the market leader in aerial imaging. Professional photographers and videographers may appreciate the larger camera sensor and 5.4K recording. Still, we believe most pilots just getting started with a drone will be just as satisfied with the Mavic Air 2 for $200 less, which is more of a crowd-pleaser and retains our Editors’ Choice winner. The Air 2S, on the other hand, is worth it if you want more than 4K.
- 1-inch sensor camera
- Video at up to 5.4K quality
- Robust safety features
- Obstacle detection and avoidance
- Automated camera shots
- HDR, Log, and Standard video profiles
- AirSense transponder
- Half-hour flight time
- Doesn’t offer in-camera filtered looks
- 8GB internal storage isn’t much
- Remote doesn’t include EV control wheel
- App-based editing limited to 1080p output
- HDR HLG workflow for pros only
- Raw images don’t transfer to smartphones and tablets automatically
It’s a little drone with folding arms, so it’ll fit into your camera bag more easily. It measures just 3.3 by 3.8 by 7.1 inches (HWD) and weighs roughly 1.3 pounds when folded. The arms, too, fold-out in a flash. The Air 2S is small enough to grasp with one hand and takes up slightly more space in a camera bag than a standard 24-70mm full-frame zoom. It’s not as small or light as the Mini 2, but it’s still handy to bring along on a trek or excursion.
However, it’s only 8GB, which fills up quickly at 4K or 5.6K. If you’re mostly using the plane for photos, it’ll suffice, but for video, it’ll be insufficient. A microSD card is a must-have accessory, and I recommend getting one with at least 64GB, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space—they’re not expensive. Regardless, we’re glad DJI included at least some internal storage.
A large card is extremely important given how long the Air 2S may stay in the air. Its battery lasts around a half-hour—DJI rates it at 31 minutes—and in real-world situations, you should expect to get within a few minutes of that. How you fly, wind, and other factors come into play, but our tests prove the half-hour estimate pretty accurate.
The camera is the one that makes the real difference. The Air 2S captures still photographs with increased resolution and dynamic range and video with double the bit depth and pixels of a 4K drone. If you know how to work with Raw images, D-Log, and HDR HLG video, the Mavic Air 2 will provide you with more pliable, editable data.