So you‘re looking to take your photography and videography to new heights with a top-of-the-line consumer drone. And DJI‘s Mavic Air 2 and Mavic Air 2S have caught your eye given their portability, image quality and smart flying modes. But you can‘t decide which model best fits your creative vision and budget.
Not to worry! In this detailed comparison guide, I‘ll be breaking down the key specs, features, and performance between the Air 2 and Air 2S across all the factors that matter most for aerial content creation.
My goal is to equip you with all the hands-on knowledge and insights you need to decide whether to go with the Mavic Air 2 or stretch your dollars a bit further for the more advanced Air 2S.
Let‘s get started!
DJI Air 2 vs. Air 2S: The Bird‘s Eye View
First, let‘s briefly compare the Air 2 and Air 2S at a high level:
Mavic Air 2
- 1/2-inch 12MP Camera Sensor
- 4K/60fps Video Resolution
- 48MP Photo Resolution
- 34 Minutes Maximum Flight Time
Mavic Air 2S
- 1-inch 20MP Camera Sensor
- 5.4K/30fps Video Resolution
- 20MP Photo Resolution
- 31 Minutes Maximum Flight Time
Straight away, you can see the Air 2S boasts a significantly larger camera sensor at 1-inch compared to 1/2-inch in the Air 2. And with it comes higher resolution video and improved low light performance too.
Meanwhile, the Air 2 touts a few extras minutes of flight time and higher resolution photos at 48 megapixels versus 20 megapixels on the Air 2S.
But this is just scratching the surface. Keep reading as we dive deeper into the imaging capabilities, flight performance, safety features and more.
Air 2S Camera: Ultrawide Perspectives with More Details
Let‘s dig into the biggest distinction between these two drones – the camera specs.
The Mavic Air 2S sports a 1-inch CMOS sensor, which is around 4x larger surface area than the 1/2-inch sensor found in the Mavic Air 2. And size matters when it comes to image quality!
That bigger sensor can capture a lot more light. This allows it to achieve higher video resolution up to 5.4K at 30 frames per second, versus maxing out at 4K on the Mavic Air 2.
5.4K provides over 50% more usable pixels than 4K. When translated to the screen, it means being able to crop in while retaining stunning sharpness and detail in post production.
And with a larger pixel area, the Air 2S sensor also delivers superior low light performance. Test results show it captured usable footage in light as low as 7 lux versus just 10 lux on the Air 2.
That‘s key for aerial videographers and photographers needing to shoot in the dynamic lighting conditions of sunrise, sunset, or nightscapes.
When it comes to HDR capabilities, the 1-inch sensor unlocks up to 23 stops of dynamic range based on DJI‘s specs. That dwarfs the 12 stops on the smaller Air 2 sensor.
Why does this matter? With more stops of light data captured, you get footage that maintains detail in bright skies and dark shadows simultaneously – perfect for shooting high-contrast scenes full of color and texture.
And on top of the sensor advantages, the Air 2S processes images and video using a customized version of Hasselblad‘s Natural Color Solution. This translates to more true-to-life colors and tones straight out of camera.
So while the Mavic Air 2 takes impressive 4K video and 48 megapixel photos, the Air 2S‘s larger sensor and Hasselblad tuning pushes image quality substantially higher.
Keeping You Safe with 4-Way Obstacle Avoidance
Of course, all that imaging power doesn‘t mean much if you crash your drone on day one!
That‘s why obstacle avoidance technology is so important – it keeps your investment protected.
Both the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic Air 2S use forward, backward and downward facing sensors to detect objects in their flight path. This allows them to automatically maneuver around obstacles like trees, buildings and even people for safer flying.
But the Air 2S takes safety a big leap forward with the addition of upward facing sensors too, unlocking 4-way obstacle avoidance.
This gives you an extra set of eyes above the aircraft capable of identifying and avoiding potential hazards like branches and power lines as you pilot the drone.
And that matters when flying in dense woods or forests areas where dangers can lurk at any angle.
In specialized testing against the Mavic 2 Pro, DJI found the Air 2S‘ upward sensors reduced the crash rate by nearly 200% in complex environments.
So while the Mavic Air 2 still offers excellent protection, the 4-way system on the Air 2S provides invaluable extra security to keep your drone in one piece.
Intelligent Shooting Modes Remove the Guesswork
DJI has packed both the Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S full of intelligent flight and camera modes powered by the latest artificial intelligence and computer vision.
This removes a lot of the guesswork when it comes to lining up complex shots or tracking fast moving subjects.
Both models incorporate classics like:
- ActiveTrack 3.0 – Keeps moving subjects automatically in frame by following your selections.
- Point of Interest – Orbits a fixed subject like structures or vehicles.
- QuickShots – Performs pre-programmed cinematic moves like reveals, circling, and boomerangs with a tap.
However, the Mavic Air 2S introduces a game-changing new feature known as MasterShots.
MasterShots completely automates capturing Hollywood style footage with just a tap on your phone.
Once you mark a subject, the drone plans a whole series of elaborate shooting maneuvers including:
- Dynamic reveal shots
- Pull away transitions
- Dramatic parallax circling
- Curved flight paths
- Waypoint tracking of the subject
This delivers incredibly production value in your videos with zero professional drone piloting or camera operation skills required.
And thanks to the upward obstacle sensors, MasterShots on the Air 2S can safely perform in dense environments where the Air 2 would struggle or crash when flying automated patterns.
So while both models provide handy smart shooting modes, the Air 2S and its MasterShots go far beyond for next-level aerial cinematography with little effort.
Extended Range Thanks to O3 Transmission
Staying connected with your drone is critical for maintaining control and getting your shot.
That‘s why DJI developed their proprietary OcuSync transmission technology to deliver a robust, low latency link between controller and aircraft.
The Mavic Air 2 uses OcuSync 2.0, giving it a maximum range of 6.2 miles under optimal conditions. This allows plenty of leeway for capturing unique vantage points.
But the Mavic Air 2S ups the ante with OcuSync 3.0, extending the usable range to 7.4 miles.
This 33% boost means you can fly further while retaining a solid connection. And that gives you more flexibility to capture footage from farther out landmarks, terrain, and structures.
O3 also transmits a full 1080p live video feed from the Air 2S camera back to your phone screen. The prior O2 system was limited to 720p resolution.
So with O3 you get a sharper, lower latency view of what the drone camera sees in real time – handy for framing up the perfect shot.
Battery and Flight Time
When it comes to flight endurance, both the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic Air 2S are reasonably well matched.
The Air 2 ekes out just a bit more air time at a maximum of 34 minutes per charge according to DJI‘s specs.
The Air 2S falls just behind at 31 minutes max flight time.
The slightly larger sensor and extra processing power required for 5.4K video in the Air 2S accounts for its shorter flight duration.
However, 31 minutes is still extremely impressive endurance given the onboard camera and sensor size.
And both models use the same 3500 mAh LiPo batteries, which charge up in around an hour via USB-C.
You can also purchase extra batteries for back to back missions. But either way, you get approximately half an hour of continuous flight time to play with.
For most shooting purposes, you‘ll likely have landed at least once to swap angles or review footage before the battery runs dry.
Wind Resistance Up to Level 5 Gales
There‘s nothing worse than getting your drone perfectly positioned, only for a wind gust to disrupt your shot or even blow your aircraft off course.
Thankfully, the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic Air 2S demonstrate excellent wind resistance in testing.
Both are rated to withstand a max wind speed of 29 – 38 kph at wind resistance rating Level 5, as classified by DJI field tests.
For context, that covers everything from fresh breezes up to strong near-gale force gusts of 38 kph or 24 mph.
So you can count on the Air 2 or Air 2S to hold steady for your shot even when winds kick up. Just use extra caution when approaching the higher end of that wind speed range.
But overall, wind shouldn‘t hamper your aerial shooting adventures with either drone.
Verdict: Which DJI Drone is Best for You?
When comparing the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic Air 2S, the Air 2S certainly takes the win when it comes to camera quality and obstacle avoidance technology.
You simply capture higher resolution, more dynamic footage with the 1-inch sensor. And the added upward protection minimizes crash risks when navigating through complex environments.
But are those upgrades worth the extra $200 over the still-stellar Mavic Air 2? Here‘s my take for different buyers:
For hobbyists, the Mavic Air 2 hits the sweet spot. It still shoots amazing 4K video and 48MP photos for just $799. Most casual users don‘t necessarily need 5.4K video to capture jaw-dropping aerial perspectives. And the forward/downward sensors provide ample protection for tooling around open areas.
For aerial pros, it‘s worth investing in the Mavic Air 2S. Unlocking the highest quality footage and safety matters when client work and income depends on the drone performing reliably in all conditions.
For drone newbies, I‘d again suggest the Air 2. It‘s simpler to fly while still offering excellent image quality. And you avoid the anxiousness flying a more expensive drone as you build skills.
Either way, you have two phenomenal options from DJI. Both fold down easily for travel and unleash stunning aerial perspectives made simple.
I hope mapping out the key pros and cons for each model helps you pick the right DJI drone for your creative adventures! Feel free to reach out with any other questions.