DJI Mavic Air: What You Should Know Before Buying!

What you should know about Mavic Air

Chapter in this post:

In the last few days I've had a lot of quarreling with myself whether or not I would Buy DJI Mavic Air should or not. During that time I watched so many reviews and footage that I felt like a Youtube addict. :) In the end I decided to buy the little Mavic Air because I think that it meets my requirements. But I can tell you - at some points I was on the verge of sitting it out and waiting for the DJI Mavic Pro 2. Anyway: I have it Mavic Air combo ordered and in a few days I will take a closer look at it.

The DJI Mavic Air is foldable and still offers many of the professional advantages that the Pro version has.

The DJI Mavic Air is foldable and still offers many of the professional advantages that the Pro version has.

If you are also in the decision-making process and still have unanswered questions about the Mavic Air, then my contribution here may help you. I once set it up in the form of questions and answers because I think that's the quickest way to find the points that interest you. If some things seem double-mocked to you, it is because some questions have the same answer. But that was no reason for me to leave out the questions. All questions are divided into larger subject areas so that you can keep track of things a bit.

FAQ - Questions and answers about Mavic Air

The following list is a collection that I would like to continue. If you have a question that is not answered here, please leave it as a comment. I am happy to take it up and will try to find an answer to it.

If you want to buy a Mavic Air, you can find the appropriate link here:

» DJI Mavic Air in the DJI Store «

Specific questions about the camera and the sensor are dealt with here.

Specific questions about the camera and the sensor are dealt with here.

Camera / sensor

Is the sensor on the Mavic Air better than the sensor on the Mavic Pro / Phantom 4 (Pro)?

The sensor of the Air has 12 MP, like the sensor in the Mavic Pro and in the Phantom 4. The Phantom 4 Pro has a 20 MP sensor, which is also larger (1 inch). Rumor has it that the Mavic Pro 2 will also get this 1-inch sensor.

What is the field of view or the focal length of the camera?

The focal length of the Mavic Air is 24 mm. The FoV (Field of View) is 85 °. Here are the other drones in comparison:

  • DJI Spark - FoV: 81,9 ° / focal length: 25 mm
  • DJI Mavic Air - FoV: 85 ° / focal length: 24 mm
  • DJI Mavic Pro (Platinum) - FoV: 78,8 ° / focal length: 25 mm
  • DJI Phantom 4 Pro - FoV: 84 ° / focal length: 24 mm

Does a fish-eye effect occur in the photos or videos?

No, luckily not. DJI pays attention to this, so that even at 85 ° FoV there is no fisheye effect.

Can the camera record photos in RAW format?

Yes, the files are then saved in .DNG format.

Can video recordings be saved in a LOG format?

Yes, but the Mavic Air does not offer the D-Log and Cinelike-D formats like the Pro, but only Cinelike-D. From my point of view, this is not a disadvantage.

Does the Mavic Air also support bracketing recordings (AEB) - i.e. a series of exposures - for HDR photos?

Yes, I know that the Mavic Air also allows you to take photos with bracketing. While the DJI Spark only offers 3 photos, the other drones (Mavic Pro, Mavic Air and Phantom 4 Pro) can take bracketing with 3 photos as well as with 5 photos.

Can the Mavic Air take photos in HDR?

Yes, the Mavic Air is currently the only DJI drone that can take HDR photos without having to create them yourself with bracketing.

Can the camera do 4k at 60 fps?

No, there are only 4, 24 or 25 fps to choose from in 30K. The 60 and 120 fps are available in full HD.

How big is the sensor and what resolution does the camera have?

The Mavic Air has a 1 / 2.3 inch CMOS sensor - like the Mavic Pro and the DJI Spark too. Only the Phantom 4 Pro currently has a 1 inch sensor (I leave out Inspire models). The camera offers 12 megapixel resolution and takes photos in the format 4: 3 (4056 x 3040 pixels) or 16: 9 (4056 x 2280 pixels). In comparison: The Phantom 4 Pro has a resolution of 20 MP with 5472 x 3648 pixels.

Does the Mavic Air also support the H.265 video codec?

No, unfortunately not. Only the Phantom 4 Pro currently has the H.264 / HEVC codec in addition to the usual H.265 / AVC.

Is there a course lock for the Mavic Air?

From a purely technical point of view, from my point of view there is no reason why this flight mode should not be supported by the Mavic Air. In practice, however, it is not available for the Air in the DJI Go app. I hope that it will be delivered with a software update. Course-Lock can be used to make beautiful recordings that would otherwise be difficult to fly.

Update 14.02.2018/XNUMX/XNUMX: I just have this video seen about three new tap-fly features the Mavic Air has. The Tap-Fly mode "Free" seems to be something like Course-Lock. From my point of view, even more flexible, as the drone automatically maintains a climb or descent, which you would otherwise have to do laboriously yourself.

Is the panorama function only available on the Mavic Air?

No. The other drones (DJI SPark, Mavic Pro and I think Phantom 4 Pro) also have the function in the DJI Go app. The selection includes spherical 360 degree panoramas, cylindrical 360 degree panoramas, 180 degree panoramas and vertical and horizontal panoramas.

Can the Mavic Air create a spherical panorama with the entire sky at its zenith?

In principle, the software makes the panorama almost complete. A small field is only interpolated vertically above the viewer, so that you can see blurred spots here if the sky had clouds there. If you have a completely blue sky, it looks good how the software calculates this part. But there is also the option of taking this zenith photo from the ground using the drone. You can see how to do that in this video.

What resolution does the spherical panorama have?

The Mavic Air takes 25 single photos for a spherical panorama, which are then stitched together to form a panorama by the DJI Go app on the mobile phone. The result is a panorama with 32 megapixels. If you take the trouble to add up the individual images yourself with PTGui, PanoramaStudio Pro or Autopano Giga, you can get a file with approx. 186 MP. The reduction to 32 MP is probably carried out by the DJI Go app, as social media have size restrictions that would prevent the image from being "shared". If you want to create your panorama with Autopano, you can here  get the XML files from Kilian Eisenegger for a simplified addition of the photos.

What crop factor does the camera have?

The 24 mm focal length specified by DJI is the calculated 35 mm equivalent. The actual focal length is 4,1 mm and the sensor is a 1 / 2,3 "CMOS sensor with the dimensions 6,16 x 4,62 mm and a crop factor (CF) of 5,84. Here again, all in one clear list:

  • Sensor size: 6,16 x 4,62 mm
  • 24mm focal length: XNUMX mm
  • actual focal length: 4,1 mm
  • Crop factor: 5,84

Can you put an ND filter on the camera?

Yes, there are even ND filters for the Spark and so of course for the Mavic Air. I have to admit, the assembly is quite fiddly, but it works. You can find the most important tips here: Installation of ND filters on the Mavic Air. And I have put together suitable (and reasonable) ND filters for you here: ND filter for the Mavic Air.

The antennas for the radio link are hidden in the front, fold-out landing feet.

The antennas for the radio link are hidden in the front, fold-out landing feet.

radio link

Is the Mavic Air's wireless connection as vulnerable as that of the Spark?

No, definitely not. I wrote a post about the range of the DJI Mavic Air where you can find more details. But so much in advance: While I sometimes have serious problems with the radio connection with the Spark at 100 m, the Mavic Air flies at least 500 meters without the first error message. It is best to set the transmission manually to a 2,4 GHz channel, because the range is higher in this frequency band.

Update 14.02.2018/6/300: I now have a good XNUMX batteries with my Mavic Air flown empty and the Spark for comparison. The result: The range of the Enhanced Wifi may not be OcuSync, but today I never got a message that the signal was weak on any flight (distances up to approx. XNUMX m, even in areas with WiFi). The transfer went perfectly. Also no noticeable latency. The Mavi Air is really great!

Does the Mavic Air also have OcuSync?

No, that is also criticized by many. However, because the WiFi transmission on the DJI Spark was so bad. As a number of range tests with the Mavic Air in CE mode have shown, you don't have to worry about radio transmission with "enhanced WiFi". It is not enough to run the Mavic Pro 7 km with OcuSync, but the range is significantly higher (500 - 2000 m) than you could fly "on sight". So absolutely ok in Germany.

Is it possible to select the frequency band of the enhanced WiFi transmission?

Yes, that is possible. You can do this via the DJI GO app. There you go to the settings of the drone, then to the wifi symbol and then to "Custom". I'll make a detailed description of the days.

Can I connect the remote control to the smartphone using a USB cable?

That's fine. As with the other models, DJI also provides a selection of USB cables to help with this.

Where is the Mavic Air's WiFi name and WiFi password?

These data are on a sticker in the slot for the battery. If you remove this, you will see the small sticker. Tip: Take a photo with your smartphone and then enlarge it. Otherwise the password will be difficult to decipher. Otherwise you can also establish the connection with the QR code that you scan in the DJI Go app.

What is the latency of the video connection (enhanced WiFi transmission)?

DJI specifies the latency as 170 to 240 ms. However, the value also depends on the performance of the smartphone you are using and on interference. So FPV racing will probably not be possible with the Mavic Air ...

Update 14.02.2018/XNUMX/XNUMX: I have now made test flights with my Mavic Air. The latency is barely noticeable. You can make clean camera movements and don't have the feeling that commands are only executed after a second, as is often the case with the Spark.

What is the resolution of the video connection?

The enhanced WiFi works with the Mavic Air at 720p at 30 fps. So 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second.

Can the Atti-Mode be switched on manually?

Short answer: no. This is only possible with the Phantom. The Spark and Mavic Air or Pro do not have this option. With the Phantom, this is done via a switch on the spark, if I have that right in my head.

 

The FoC drive system of the Mavic Air corresponds to that of the Mavic Pro Platinum. Quiet flying would theoretically be conceivable if DJI provided the appropriate low-noise props.

The FoC drive system of the Mavic Air corresponds to that of the Mavic Pro Platinum. Quiet flying would theoretically be conceivable if DJI provided the appropriate low-noise props.

Drive / propeller

Is the Mavic Air as quiet as the Mavic Pro Platinum?

Definitely no. It has the FoC drive system with sinusoidal control, but apparently the propellers are not designed for "quiet". The noise development is somewhere between Spark and Mavic Pro. However, it has the high-pitched hum (like a wild hornet swarm) of the Spark. I hope that DJI will deliver low-noise props for the Mavic Air.

Can the Spark folding propellers be used on the Mavic Air?

In principle, this is feasible, as you can in this video sees. They can be mounted and the drone also flies with them. However, the area of ​​the Spark propeller is smaller, which is why the motors have to turn faster for the same lift. This ensures a higher temperature in the motors and certainly also less reliability in borderline situations. Using the Spark propellers on the Mavic Air brings no benefits and only risks. That's why I would leave it ...

Are there any low-noise propellers for the Mavic Air?

Not yet. I hope that DJI will improve this and shortly deliver such low-noise props as you get for the Mavic Pro, but DJI has not yet officially commented on this.

Can the DJI Mavic Air fly in freezing temperatures?

In fact, at 5000 m above sea level, the Air already has a small record in terms of operating conditions. DJI specifies the temperature range for use as 0 - 40 ° C. At cold temperatures around freezing point, the motors seem to "shake" with some users, but this goes away after a short time when the motors are warm (source: here ). However, it shows that clean video recordings at -17 ° C are also possible in practice this video.

Why are the propellers not foldable?

DJI says that this makes the propellers more aerodynamic and makes folding the drone easier. Foldable propellers would also have no advantages with this design.

Up to what wind speed can you fly the Mavic Air?

Technically, according to DJI, this works up to wind speeds of 10 m / s. That is about 37 km / h or strength 5 on the Beaufort scale or 16-21 knots. Soft movements for video recordings are easier to achieve when there is less wind. If you want to see how the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro behave in strong winds (approx. 50 km / h), you can here daily.

The Mavic Air has many sensors that make the flight safer than other drones.

The Mavic Air has many sensors that make the flight safer than other drones. It even has a 3D image of the environment in real time and can therefore fly around obstacles.

Sensors

Do the sensors also detect obstacles at the side?

No, the Mavic Air's sensors are facing forwards, backwards and downwards. If you fly sideways, you can still crash into a tree or "take" a lamppost with you. It is also important: The distance sensors do not work via infrared (as with the Spark) but "optically". This means that they no longer work properly in the dark or at dusk. I have also seen videos on the Internet showing that the Mavic Air's sensors cannot reliably detect any wires or thin branches. So you shouldn't trust the technology 100%.

Do the sensors work at night?

No, as described above, they only work with sufficient lighting. The DJI Spark, on the other hand, has infrared sensors that also work in the dark.

Do the sensors also work in sport mode?

Partly yes: The sensors facing down are also active in sport mode. The front and rear distance sensors, however, do not. Basically, you should fly as safely in sport mode as if you had no sensors. At over 60 km / h I would not expect the lower sensors to reliably detect rapid inclines.

What is the range of SmartCapture gesture recognition?

DJI specifies this at around 2,5 to 6 meters.

Why does the Mavic Air always fly at eye level when it is close to me in SmartCapture mode?

This is designed for security reasons. You can only control the flight altitude of the drone with your palms from a distance of 3 meters. Taking palms to the drone and then further apart means flying higher. Closer means flying lower.

So much technology is in the new quadrocopter from DJI.

So much technology is in the new quadrocopter from DJI.

General

How heavy is the Mavic Air?

At 430 grams, the Mavic Air is slightly heavier than the Spark (300 g). But it also offers a lot of features. The Mavic Pro weighs 734 grams and the Phantom 4 Pro 1388 grams.

If you then add the weight of the remote control and an additional battery, you get approx. 840 grams, which roughly corresponds to the weight of the remote controller of the Phantom 4 Pro (only the controller!). You can see how "nimble" the Mavic Air is.

Which SD cards are compatible with the Air?

Basically you can use any micro SD card that corresponds to Class 10, UHS-1 (U1) or V30. I have put together a selection of compatible SD cards here: SD cards for the Mavic Air.

In which file system should the SD card be formatted?

I took a look at the SD card that I've been using in the DJI Mavic Air for some time and that I also formatted with the DJI Go app. This has "ExFAT" as the file system. This is a file system specially optimized for flash memory. The data can be read out on both a Mac and a Windows PC.

Can I use the DJI Goggles with the Mavic Air?

Yes, that is possible. But unfortunately not wireless (you would need OcuSync for that) and unfortunately not with as low a latency as the Mavic Pro. To connect the DJI Goggles to the remote controller of the Mavic Air, you need a USB to micro-USB cable (such as this one from anchor). How to connect the whole is in this video described. You may have to update the firmware of the goggles with the DJI Assistant 2 . make

Can the Mavic Air battery be charged via the USB-C port?

Unfortunately not. I wish it were like that, because charging the drone via a power bank in the backpack would be a nice feature that the Spark has already been happy to use. The power bank adapter that comes with the Fly More Combo is only suitable for converting from a DJI Mavic Air battery to make a power bank for the smartphone or tablet. That's not inconvenient either, but charging via USB-C would have been great. That means the USB-C output is only there to load the data from the drone onto a Mac or PC. This is necessary because the drone has 8 GB of internal memory.

Can you read out the inserted SD card via a USB-C cable?

8 GB of memory are already built into the Mavic Air. However, you can also insert memory cards with up to 128 GB of RAM. If you have connected the drone (switched on!) To the computer with the USB-C cable, you will find both a "NO NAME" and a "Untitled" storage medium (this name can vary as it is your SD card). When I open the "Untitled" storage medium, I get the folder structure, where all sub-folders for panoramas, HDR photos, films and other items can be found in the "DCIM" folder (see screenshot below).

SD card and internal storage appear on the Mac as two drives in the Finder when you plug in the drone via the USB-C cable.

SD card and internal storage appear on the Mac as two drives in the Finder when you plug in the drone via the USB-C cable.

Do I need drone insurance for Mavic Air?

Yes, as with all drones, you need insurance for Mavic Air. Here you can my recommendation on drone insurance read. Incidentally, the 250 gram limit only applies to mandatory labeling, but this also includes Mavic Air.

Do I need a drone license plate for the Mavic Air?

Definitely yes. All quadrocopters with a take-off weight of 250 grams or more require a sticker with the address of the owner. At 430 grams, the Mavic Air is above this limit. Here you can find my recommendation on drone license plates.

Do I need a drone driver's license for the Mavic Air?

There is no yes or no answer. If you want to fly privately or commercially in areas for which you need a special permit, then a drone license is mandatory. Since the Mavic Air weighs well under 2 kg, you don't always need proof of knowledge (as the thing is also called) to operate. You can find more on this topic in my post "Drone license".

Where should I put the address sticker on the Mavic Air?

If you have the refractory metal badge (here is my recommendation If you want to attach a mini metal badge that meets the legal requirements) my address to the drone, you should pay attention to the manufacturer's recommendations. In some places, the installation can have a negative effect on the flight characteristics, as sensors, GPS or radio connections are disrupted, for example. According to the DJI, the sticker should be attached behind the gimbal (when looking at the camera from the front). Here is the sketch from DJI:

Installation of the drone license plate on the DJI Mavic Air (sketch: DJI.com).

Installation of the drone license plate on the DJI Mavic Air (sketch: DJI.com).

Is the Mavic Air waterproof or waterproof?

DJI gives a clear no in the specifications. That the small drone can withstand a bit of splashing water shows this video with a little immersion. A drying phase of several hours allowed them to fly again.

How long do the batteries charge in the charger?

The battery charging time is approximately 55 minutes according to the DJI. The charging station works in such a way that it recognizes the battery with the most remaining charge. It charges it first and then gradually uses the other batteries.

How often should I charge the batteries?

If you do not use the batteries of the DJI drones, they discharge after a few days in order to extend the service life. So that they are not completely discharged over time, they should be fully charged once every three months. Or even better: go fly out! ;-) The Lipo batteries prefer it when they are used often.

Does the Litchi app work with the Mavic Air?

The Litchi app (see flylitchi.com) is a great thing if you want to completely preprogram your flights. This means that very professional tracking shots are also possible with smaller drones. Litchi does not currently offer any support for the DJI Mavic Air, but since the Mavic Air also supports waypoint flights and uses the mobile SDK interface, it is only a matter of time before the Litchi programmers will add the Mavic Air to their program. You can find the current status on the "Help" page from Litchi. All drones that can connect to the app are listed there.

Thank you!

I hope my contribution helped you decide for or against the Mavic Air. If you want to buy a drone from DJI, you can find the corresponding links to the different models in the DJI Store here:

Important questions and answers about the Mavic Air from DJI.

Important questions and answers about the Mavic Air from DJI.

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11 comments

  1. parafux says:

    can I connect the iPhone to the controller via WLAN instead of a cable? I ask because I want to charge the Iphone via a power bank at the same time, as it obviously cannot be charged by the controller via the cable connection. The iPhone is quickly empty.

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Parafux! I honestly can't tell you exactly, but I think I can. As with the Spark, there is also a QR code on the controller for the WiFi connection. If it weren't possible, it would be unnecessary. But I would still strongly advise you to use the cable and prefer one like that Belkin Lightning Crossover to buy. This allows you to charge and use the controller at the same time. Why would I do that? Because the Wifi connection on the Spark has already interfered with each other a lot. For this reason, you should send all devices to flight mode (watch and iPhone / iPad) and then you will also benefit from a reasonable connection to the drone.

      Update: I just saw that the Belkin RockStar only supports charging + audio. So it might not work out the way I thought it would. I have to check that again when I have the switch here. I'll just test it.

  2. parafux says:

    Do you have a link to buy this Lightning crossover? Is that also possible with the iPhone 5S?
    QR code, yes I found it. But the problem is that the iPhone cannot find any WiFi that has something to do with the Mavic Air. Can you activate this somewhere in the drone?
    I have always connected my Phantom 3 between the controller and the iPhone via WiFi, so there have never been any problems. The controller was not connected to the drone via WLAN, so nothing could interfere. Is that different now with Mavic Air?

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello parafux! Yes, the iPhone 5s also has Lightning. Then the switch should also work on it. Here is the Amazon link to it: https://amzn.to/2FZV8c9
      I've ordered this and two other models and will use it to test whether you can charge and fly at the same time.
      Because of the Phantom 3: Yes, as you say. The connection iPhone -> controller is WLAN, but controller -> drone is not WLAN with the P3. But with Mavic Air it does. DJI calls this "enhanced wifi". The protocol is "enhanced", but the frequencies are in the WLAN band. This can also cause interference from Apple Watch and iPhone. With the P3 and the Mavic Pro, this works without WiFi.
      About the QR code: I read that there is a function in the DJI Go app in which you can scan this code for the connection. But I didn't do it. I prefer the cable connection ...

  3. Hi all,
    Great website, well presented with all the information a technology freak would like to have.
    But I can't find an answer to one question.
    The Mavic Air Server has 2 antennas which, according to the instructions, should be aligned in the same way. Why ?
    One for 2.4Ghz the other for 5.8Ghz?
    Since the Air uses WLAN, should the antennas actually be aligned at an angle of 90 degrees so that the WLAN controller selects the one with the better signal?
    I would like to receive a "knowing" answer here. I can also guess.
    Greetings from Hamburg
    Carsten

  4. Sascha says:

    Hello Sir Apfelot,
    thank you for the great site. Great info!
    However, there is one question that I have not been able to answer anywhere: I am looking for a drone to make videos far from civilization during a long-distance hike. And on the one hand, of course, the question arises: "How can I recharge the Mavic Air on the go?" I have a solar panel with a power bank at the start. But so far I have not found a solution to charge the drone batteries from a power bank while on the move. Do you know a solution?

    The second question relates to the Mavic Air: The drone should be in the backpack for a long time. Can the filigree technology withstand that? Especially with the gimbal, I have my concerns ...

    Regards,
    S.

    • sir appleot says:

      Hey Sascha!

      To your questions: There is no solar charger for the Mavic Air batteries. That would take forever, I'm afraid. Either a car charger or simply: take more batteries with you is probably more effective. The Mavic Air's batteries are not that huge and not that heavy either.

      For transport: The Mavic Air comes with a hard case. With that you can throw them in a backpack without hesitation. It is so compact in there (folded) that nothing happens. The Mavic Air gimbal is a new design that can also take a lot. If you then put the gimbal protection (small plastic thing) on ​​it, it won't break in life.

  5. Werner Hanke says:

    Hello Sir Apfelot.

    Question 1 / Is there anything new about low-noise propellers for the Mavic Air?
    Question 2 / Low-noise props for the Mavic Air are available on the market. Any recommendation from your side?

    Best regards,
    Werner

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Werner! Yes, unfortunately there is nothing from DJI. I don't think there's going to be anything here either. The "nasty" sound from the Mavic Air comes mainly from the frequency that the motors make. And there is little that can be done about it. The Mavic Pro feels quieter than the Mavic Air due to the lower number of revolutions alone.

      What I have consistently read in the reviews of the "Low-Noise-Props" for the Mavic Air on Amazon: They are at least as loud as the original propellers. So you can't recommend anything. If you really want to fly more quietly, take the Mavic Pro with the low-noise props. I use the combination and it is really much quieter and more comfortable when flying.

      VG! Jens

  6. Werner Hanke says:

    Hi Jens,

    Thank you very much for your enlightening comment. I think, since you also fly the Mavic Air, that the 'nasty' sound outside is not that annoying, right?

    Otherwise it has everything that I need as a hobby user. Unfortunately, the Mavic Pro is outside of my still accepted budget for a photo / video drone.

    Have a nice weekend

    Werner

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Werner! Yes, I have the "old" Mavic Pro ... so not the Mavic 2. And if I have the choice, I always fly outside with the Mavic Pro, because the Air makes so much noise that you immediately get everyone's undivided attention Has neighbors and walkers. That sucks in the long run. : D And another big advantage of the Mavic Pro is that you can change the exposure time with a small wheel on the remote control. With the Air (and even with the new Mavic 2, as far as I know) this is only possible via the settings, which is total fiddling. If you change the orientation to the sun or the distance to the object during flight, you almost always have to make improvements or live with the "car exposure". I find working with the Mavic Pro remote control much more pleasant. And the Mavic Pro Platinum currently only costs 150 EUR more than the Mavic Air. I would rather put the money on it and take the Pro ... They are also a nice WE! Jens

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