Last year, DJI released their tiny Spark drone which I thought would be a great travel drone. There were some really nice features on it that, combined with the size, made it attractive to people wanting travel shots from a different perspective.
However, after using both it and my Mavic Pro, I found the DJI Spark lacking quite a bit in a few areas. For one, the video recorded was 1080P instead of the 4K of the Mavic. It also had unmovable arms that kept it from being as tiny as it could/should have been. Another couple of differences that I did not really care for was the flight time (16 minutes) and the fact that the gimbal itself was 2-axis as opposed to the true 3-axis gimbal on the Mavic Pro.
The New DJI Mavic Air
Link: DJI Mavic Air
So, the Mavic Pro continued to be my drone of choice for travel. However, I really had wished that it could have had some of the size and intelligent functions of the Spark. Apparently, I was not the only one as DJI just today released their latest consumer drone – the DJI Mavic Air. It is a perfect fit in the slot between the Mavic Pro and the Spark. In fact, it even has a couple of features that are even better than the Mavic Pro!
Here are some of the key features of the new DJI Mavic Air:
- 4K video up to 30fps and 12MP camera
- 3-Axis Gimbal-Stabilized Camera
- GPS- & Vision Position-Based Navigation
- 8GB of Internal Storage
- FlightAutonomy with Obstacle Detection
- Top Speed of 43 mph in Sport Mode
- ActiveTrack Subject Tracking Modes
- Up to 21 Minutes Flight Time
- Slow motion of 120fps at 1080P
- Bitrate of 100Mbps (up from 60 on the Mavic Pro)
The DJI Mavic Air has some features that are welcome additions to the Mavic family. These include such things as slow motion up to 120fps which is great! It also has an increased bitrate of 100Mbps which allows for more data to be recorded which translates to greater detail and flexibility in post processing.
It also has some nice tracking features and new intelligent modes called Asteroid (which pieces images together to create a beautiful sphere image before zooming in) and Boomerang (which handles some nice cinematic moves to circle your subject as it shoots around like a boomerang). It also has the gesture controls from the Spark.
DJI had a very well-known adventure photographer, Chris Burkard, at their presentation to talk of the photo capabilities. It has some great features like Sphere Panorama mode which DJI says will “automatically shoot and stitch together 25 photos, creating a crystal-clear 32-megapixel panoramic image within one minute.” That is pretty impressive! Plus, it looks great as well!
Is It the Best Travel Drone?
When it comes to something like a travel drone, I personally look at a few things – size, portability, and performance. DJI has a great track record in the performance department and, in the last 1.5 years, has made great moves in the size and portability department.
With this new DJI Mavic Air drone, I think those three components have a perfect blend. While the propellors themselves do not fold (like they do on the Mavic Pro), the arms fold now so you can easily put the drone in something as small as a pocket or pouch. Plus, DJI has made even the control yokes on the controller remove-able to make that more streamlined.
The size is pretty much just a bit larger than a big smartphone so it will make it tremendously portable. Plus, they now have built-in memory (8GB) which is a great move for those that have ever forgotten to put their memory card back in the drone! 🙂
The performance, on paper, of the new DJI Mavic Air should let you take photos and videos on your travels like you have never been able to do before. I personally am excited about the possibilities with this drone for things like running, especially on trails. With DJI’s improved ActiveTrack modes, this should make for some interesting video and photo shots of your runs in new places.
Price and Availability
The basic drone package rings in at $799. The Fly More combo is $999. That throws in extra batteries, a carrying case, charging hub, and extra propellers. It will come in Black, White, and Red options.
To put it into perspective, we have seen prices on the Mavic Pro for as little as $799 (though normally $999) and Spark at $359 (though it is mostly around $399 now). The $799 price puts it in the perfect place between the two.
It is scheduled to ship from DJI on January 28 so you could have it in your hands pretty soon! For me, I had just sold my Mavic Pro so will be giving the new Mavic Air a try. Having been a bit disappointed with the DJI Spark for my purposes and wanting that size-ish for the Mavic, I am pretty excited about it!
Featured image courtesy of DJI
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