Today we’re reviewing the Mavic Air, the latest compact drone from DJI. Not everybody was excited about this release but I was excited to get my hands on one to see how it handles in the air and how the camera performs compared to the DJI Mavic Pro drone.

Watch me crash the Mavic Air in my vlog:

DJI Mavic Air:
DJI Mavic Air Fly More Bundle:

Video transcript:
So I jumped on this right away when DJI announced it. I’ve had a Mavic Pro previously and the Mavic Pro is a good drone but I had some problems with the gimbal. If you fly it up too much in the air when it’s kind of windy out, it gets knocked around a bit. The gimbal just doesn’t survive some of that higher wind velocity. Which, you shouldn’t be flying it up in the high winds anyways but nonetheless, it just wasn’t something that was built to last. Now, I really liked my Mavic Pro, the image quality, the photos, it was a really good drone but it was still a little big and it just wasn’t super easy to carry around. This is extremely small.
Now I have it expanded right here but it fits inside of this little case and this little case is about the size of my hand, I can fit this in my pocket. And when this is folded up, with the rudders removed, I can actually fit that in my other pocket. This is extremely small, I can fit it in my camera bag, it doesn’t take up much room. Now I also got the “Fly More Kit” which comes with this bag here. This actually fits inside this pouch and kind of makes for an awkwardly shaped bag but nonetheless, it’s still small and pretty easy to carry. The fly more kit comes with extra propellers, it comes with a multi-charge battery adaptor so you can charge up to four batteries. It comes with extra batteries and so the “Fly More Kit” is definitely worth it because this drone gets about 25 minutes or so of fly time. Obviously, that’s going to vary depending on whether you use sport mode or not and how windy it is outside but 25 minutes is pretty good. And if you multiply that by 3 because you have three batteries, you’re getting more than enough flight time in the sky. So, the drone itself is pretty remarkable. People online have had mixed reviews about it because I think they are trying to stack this up against drones that are more expensive, drones that are bigger, and they’re not exactly sure where this fits. There’s the DJI Spark, which is a little drone that’s a little smaller than this, and then there’s the Mavic Pro, or Mavic Pro Platinum, Phantom 4, there’s a lot of drones kind of in that realm of the price range. I mean, that’s a pretty wide gap there but nonetheless, where does this fit in. Now, this drone fits in for either the true beginner who wants something that’s nice and compact, easy to fly, has a lot of great features, takes average to decent photo and video, and has a decent price point. This is a good drone for that person. This is also a good drone for a person like me who has some better drones, I have a Phantom 4 Pro and an Inspire 2, but those drones are just too big to take with me everywhere. When I have a client job, I do some commercial drone flying, I’m not going to take this, I’m going to take my Inspire 2 most likely or maybe my Phantom 4 if it’s a smaller job. But, when I don’t have a client job for drone flying and I’m doing mainly photography or something else, I will take this guy because I can get some small shots. I can get a couple of photos just to have. Or some extra stuff to give my client, maybe if I want to give them a little bit of an added value. This drone can most definitely take and do that. But what I also like this for is for my vlogs, for any other type of filming, or photos that I want to take. It’s small, it’s compact. It’s not going to work well in all situations such as lower light situations or situations where there’s a big difference in contrast like a very bight sky but there’s a lot of shading down below. It’s not going to work that great in those situations but it does a surprising job considering how small it is. This little guy up in the air, even when it’s getting knocked around by a little bit of wind, is extremely stable, is extremely accurate, and the gimbal holds that picture really clear. They did a great job with this tiny, redesigned gimbal. They also seem to have produced something a little better and compact. I love the cover that goes over the gimbal now, this is much easier and much safer and it protects the entire gimbal which I like, and it’s just one unit as opposed to a couple a different pieces that you have to attach which is basically the same way you protect the Phantom 4 or the Mavic Pro. So I really like that, very easy to use, very easy to slide off. The one thing that I don’t necessarily like is the power button on the bottom. I understand that the power buttons, typically on all batteries on DJI drones, but you have to press and hold this to turn it on, and then set it down. Meanwhile, the gimbal is trying to initialize, the propellors click in to place a little bit and I think that maybe the power button on the top would have been a little bit better of a design. I love the fact that on the controller that you can remove the rudders and it becomes a much more compact unit. You don’t get the screen on the controller like you do on the Mavic Pro but you don’t necessarily need it, you just attach your phone down here. Of course, there are even aftermarket adaptors that you can put into where you can use a table if you wanted to use something with a little bit of a bigger screen. I’ll link to one of those in the description below. I have one of those and I typically don’t use it but I thought it was a really cool option and something that would allow me to use a bigger screen if I wanted a bigger screen with this drone. So it breaks down into an extremely small package, which is what I like. This is probably one of my favorite features with this drone, it gets extremely tiny. Folding it up makes it extremely pocketable, this is very manageable. Oops, I went backward on closing these, you need to go in this direction. Nope, I did it backward again, let’s do that and then there we go, perfect. So it’s very small, very pocketable. I’ve already actually crashed this drone, I don’t know if you can tell in the video that you can see my propellors are a scuffed a little bit. I was testing out the obstacle avoidance option, which is a new mode on this drone, which actually allows it to fly around something rather than just stopping at it. That’s truly great because when you’re flying far away and your drone stops because the sensors see something, it just stops and then you have to be able to figure out where to go from there. With this, the sensors and everything on here, it will actually try and fly around an object. And you have to enable that mode in the app itself, it doesn’t automatically happen. Now, I highly recommend that before you land you disable that mode. I don’t remember seeing anything that explained that to me so I had that mode enabled and when I went to land the drone actually tried to move out of the way. I usually land my drone on the back of my truck, it’s a full-size truck bed, plenty of room to land, and I have a cover on top, and what it did was it tried to move and it moves and got a little too close to the edge of my truck, and it crashed. And so it hit the ground, it scuffed the propellors on the way down and it scratched up the drone a little bit but it definitely took it. If that had happened to my Phantom 4 or even my Inspire 2, I would have been sending them in to get them repaired. This little guy took that beating. I believe that the way that they designed this is actually to be more durable. If you’re flying towards something, notice how that this arm would actually push in instead of taking a hit and breaking, which would typically happen on all of the other drones because of the way their designed. So, even though if this went in like that, you would definitely crash, at least it’s not breaking off the arm. Obviously, you can still break one of these, that’s doable, but I think that the way they designed this was to actually take a little bit more of a beating. I’m sure that they’ve gotten pushback just because of how many broken drones that are out there. People getting them for the first time and crashing them. Which definitely happens, I’ve done that myself but this drone here is really remarkable. Now, as I’ve talked about a little bit before, the photo and video quality are really good considering the size of the drone and the little camera that’s on it. I highly recommend getting something like these Polar Pro ND Filters, this is the Cinema Series Shutter Collection, which is a Mavic Air specific. You’ll want to make sure and get the right ones because what these do is they slip right over the tip of the lens, or some of them even unscrew the lens and replace it. What that does is it decreases the amount of light that goes in. If you’ve ever been flying your drone up in the sky and the shutter speed is extremely high because really the only way to limit the light that’s coming into the camera is to increase the shutter speed. When you increase the shutter speed, you are getting sharper footage that doesn’t have that cinematic look. Now I want that cinematic look which means I want to be able to keep my shutter speed a bit lower when I’m shooting video. With photography, it doesn’t necessarily matter so much if that shutter speed is up higher because that shutter speed is going to freeze the action and keep that image looking sharp but when you’re shooting video you want your shutter speed to be slower so there is some natural motion blur there that gives you that cinematic look. The only way to limit the amount of light going in is to put something dark in front of it, hence the ND filters that I have here. I’m going to be doing a review of these and showing you exactly how these work in another video but I buy these for all of my drones, especially these Phantom, Mavic, and Spark models because they don’t have an adjustable aperture on the lens. The aperture is the iris, the opening, and closing of the lens. These are fixed and so there’s no way to adjust that, it’s just like a cell phone, it’s a fixed aperture so the only way to limit the amount of light coming in is through the shutter adjustment and that effects the overall look of your picture that you’re producing. So with these ND filters, you’re able to limit that, I’ll talk about that more in the other video. I’ll even be talking about using manual mode for shooting in another video over on our Ditch Auto channel, which is our photo and video specific channel. You’re going to get the best image quality of this drone when you use manual shooting mode. Auto mode actually works really good. Most of the footage that I’ve been showing you in this video is in Auto mode. I didn’t really mess with the camera settings too much yet with this drone because I wanted to focus more on using some of the new features that are in the DJI app for the DJI Mavic Air but using these ND filters is definitely going to help. When those videos are done I’ll make sure to provide links in the description below to send you over to those videos. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic drone, it’s an extremely small package as I mentioned. It flys really well, it does well in the sky for how small it is. Where does it fit in with the whole family of DJI products? Like I said I think it fits well for that beginner, somebody who wants to get a good small and compact drone that they can take with them. Something that is nimble, something that is fast and fast to fly. Then also for the more pro who wants something that is more to pull out for getting some random shots, some b-roll shots. For me, I have good cameras that I use for photo and video but then I still have small cameras, like GoPros that I use for those special situations and this is one of those things. This is like the GoPro camera of drones because it’s inexpensive, it’s extremely easy to use, and it’s extremely durable for what it is. So if you’re interested in this drone, I’ve provided links in the description below.
We purchased this ourselves, DJI did not pay us, they don’t even know we exist. We just like sharing some of the equipment that we use, things that I enjoy sharing all of that with you. So make sure to subscribe to our channel for updates and more videos on drones and photography related stuff. And then, of course, click on that link in the description below to go over to Amazon. This drone is available in a “Drone Only Kit” which basically comes with what you see here and it’s also available in a “Fly More Kit” which comes with the extra batteries, with the extra props, the bag, stuff like that. I highly recommend the “Fly More Kit” as I mentioned before. So if you have any questions, ask them in the comment section below. I tried to talk about as many of the things that I like about this drone as possible but you know you can go on forever talking about all the features specifically. I think what you really need to do is just decide to get your hands on one and try it for yourself. Or if there’s a store somewhere that you can go and get a demo of one of these, I highly recommend that because, really, you have to see one of these fly and you have to experience it to recognize just how well these drones have been built, how good they are and how easy they are to fly. You just have to experience it. So, thanks again for checking out this video. I hope that you enjoyed it if you did give it a thumbs up and click that subscribe button and we hope to see you back here in the next one. Thanks.