for Photography (not video): Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
Iamadan Junior Member • Posts: 42
for Photography (not video): Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2?

Hi,

Most of the videos and reviews I see focus on video quality, not photo quality. I'm more interested in aerial still photography.  I've had a Spark for a few years, and I typically end up taking multiple exposures and spending a fair bit of time editing/stacking/etc. to get images I like.  I'm trying to decide if either the Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2 will (a) notably improve the out-of-box image quality and (b) possibly even give me a passable JPEG flow with iOS (esp considering HDR and the various modes on Mavic Air 2).

A few questions:

1. Baseline, does the Mavic Air 2 have much better still image quality than the Mini 2? The sensor is only a little bigger, and the 48MP samples I've seen don't look better than the 12MP, so I'm mostly interested in the 12MP samples. Especially JPEG, but RAW as well. Bonus if you can help me understand the native difference in dynamic range, as that's my biggest question (lots of shots with the sun!)

2. Do the HDR/Hyperlight/SmartPhoto capabilities in the Mavic Air 2 notably add to the experience? Will I likely find them usable in JPEG, perhaps with light editing, or are they better off not existing and I'd rather focus on the normal JPEG flow or just go straight to RAW (noting that I'd prefer to save time and avoid that if it's close!).

3. Anything else I should consider? I'm intrigued by tracking and with a little video play perhaps with the kids outdoors, so that's a possibility moving me towards the MA2, but still photos are the main thing for me.

Thanks!

j3ffw
j3ffw Regular Member • Posts: 220
Re: for Photography (not video): Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2?
1

I don't understand why new cameras / drones that are obviously for photography can't be outputting a 16bit heic file? As any HDR/merged pano jpg sucks (imho)

That said I cannot comment on the mini2 as I only have the air2.  I would consider two other factors in making the choice.  First size the mini2 doesn't need to be registered and I wonder if ever stopped(authorities) once they see it as a toy maybe less hassle???

Second factor would be drone noise, again I don't know the mini2 it is smaller and therefore likely to make less drone noise.  The Air2 still makes enough noise that you instantly become the Ahole who put the drone up in the sky. If you're shooting at landmark spots where others are enjoying the view this is a factor to consider.

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 2,014
Re: for Photography (not video): Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2?

Iamadan wrote:

Hi,

Most of the videos and reviews I see focus on video quality, not photo quality. I'm more interested in aerial still photography. I've had a Spark for a few years, and I typically end up taking multiple exposures and spending a fair bit of time editing/stacking/etc. to get images I like. I'm trying to decide if either the Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2 will (a) notably improve the out-of-box image quality and (b) possibly even give me a passable JPEG flow with iOS (esp considering HDR and the various modes on Mavic Air 2).

A few questions:

1. Baseline, does the Mavic Air 2 have much better still image quality than the Mini 2? The sensor is only a little bigger, and the 48MP samples I've seen don't look better than the 12MP, so I'm mostly interested in the 12MP samples. Especially JPEG, but RAW as well. Bonus if you can help me understand the native difference in dynamic range, as that's my biggest question (lots of shots with the sun!)

2. Do the HDR/Hyperlight/SmartPhoto capabilities in the Mavic Air 2 notably add to the experience? Will I likely find them usable in JPEG, perhaps with light editing, or are they better off not existing and I'd rather focus on the normal JPEG flow or just go straight to RAW (noting that I'd prefer to save time and avoid that if it's close!).

3. Anything else I should consider? I'm intrigued by tracking and with a little video play perhaps with the kids outdoors, so that's a possibility moving me towards the MA2, but still photos are the main thing for me.

Thanks!

This is not going to answer your question directly but I am going to say it anyway. If you are taking photography seriously you should consider a drone which has a camera with at least 1" size sensor such as the Mavic 2 Pro. Just my 2c worth but you can take my word for it.

KayL Contributing Member • Posts: 610
Re: for Photography (not video): Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2?
1

I have a Mavic Air 2 (MA2). I cannot comment on other models.

The MA2's still image quality is acceptable for certain types of photography. It is comparable to a GoPro or a mid range smartphone camera in stills imaging. It is sufficient for what I use it for.

It has good resolution in the centre, but sharpness drops off towards the corners when shooting standard single-shot. It is fixed-focus, fixed-aperture. I find objects closer than 3 metres to be blurry, despite the specs calling 1m its closest focusing distance.

Dynamic range is as you would expect for a 1/2" sensor. Not bad, not great. I get around this by doing auto exposure bracketing (AEB) x5 (2 stops either way) and stacking in post. Can't comment on built-in HDR as I use Adobe HDR Pro in Photoshop.

48MP gives you slightly more resolution with less dynamic range. Pick one based on your needs. There is no auto-AEB in 48MP. You have to bracket manually, with 1-2 seconds in between frames. You will not be getting DSLR quality from this.

I have found the colour profiles to be somewhat funky in DNG. I have posted another thread about this.

In answer to your question, I can't see how the Mini 2 would be better than the MA2 for photos - but I could be wrong.

Like others have said, a 1" sensor or larger would be a better choice for dedicated stills imaging (Mavic Pro 2 or Phantom 4 v2).

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john isaacs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,936
Re: for Photography (not video): Mini 2 or Mavic Air 2?

KayL wrote:

I have a Mavic Air 2 (MA2). I cannot comment on other models.

The MA2's still image quality is acceptable for certain types of photography. It is comparable to a GoPro or a mid range smartphone camera in stills imaging. It is sufficient for what I use it for.

It has good resolution in the centre, but sharpness drops off towards the corners when shooting standard single-shot. It is fixed-focus, fixed-aperture. I find objects closer than 3 metres to be blurry, despite the specs calling 1m its closest focusing distance.

Dynamic range is as you would expect for a 1/2" sensor. Not bad, not great. I get around this by doing auto exposure bracketing (AEB) x5 (2 stops either way) and stacking in post. Can't comment on built-in HDR as I use Adobe HDR Pro in Photoshop.

48MP gives you slightly more resolution with less dynamic range. Pick one based on your needs. There is no auto-AEB in 48MP. You have to bracket manually, with 1-2 seconds in between frames. You will not be getting DSLR quality from this.

I have found the colour profiles to be somewhat funky in DNG. I have posted another thread about this.

In answer to your question, I can't see how the Mini 2 would be better than the MA2 for photos - but I could be wrong.

Like others have said, a 1" sensor or larger would be a better choice for dedicated stills imaging (Mavic Pro 2 or Phantom 4 v2).

I have a Mini 2 because it is very quiet and because it is small enough to bring along for those occasions where I might want a different perspective.

When I get it up over 50m, it is hard to hear it.

Photo quality is good; I use the RAW files.  They stand up to my normal editing.

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