DJI unveils the Mavic Air: Mavic Pro specs in a Spark-sized body
DPReview was on hand in New York City as DJI unveiled its newest drone, the Mavic Air, which fuses enthusiast-oriented features and foldable design from the company's Mavic Pro line of drones with the compact form factor if its Spark model. The Mavic Air also introduces some exciting new technologies that should make drone flying safer, easier, and more creative.
Key features include:
- A 1/2.3" CMOS sensor
- 3-axis gimbal
- 24mm (equiv.) F2.8 lens
- 12MP still images w/ Raw support
- 4K/30p video with 100 Mbps H.264 codec
- Full HD video up to 120fps
- 32-megapixel spherical panorama mode
- HDR capture mode
- 8GB internal storage in addition to MicroSD card
- Foldable legs with integrated omnidirectional antenna
- Updated flight autonomy system with 3D modeling
- Improved ActiveTrack technology
- New 'Asteroid' and 'Boomerang' intelligent flight modes
- Obstacle-avoidance sensors in the front, back, and bottom
- Advanced pilot awareness system (APAS)
- Visual positioning system for better control, hovering and indoor flying
- 2.5 mile range with controller
- 42.5 Mph in Sport Mode
- Flight ceiling of 16,404 ft.
- 21-minute flight time
- USB-C port
- Compatible with DJI's SDK for third party applications
DJI has clearly aimed the Mavic Air at travelers, outdoor photographers, and particularly adventurers who may go off the beaten track. It's small size is impressive, as DJI's Michael Perry demonstrated by pulling three of them out of his pockets on stage, and its rich feature set is sure to appeal to people like adventure filmmakers.
|The Mavic Air is reminiscent of DJI's tiny Spark drone, but packs in all the features found on the Mavic Pro.|
With a weight of 430 grams, the Mavic Air is heavier than the diminutive Spark (300 grams), yet substantially lighter than the Mavic Pro (734 grams), demonstrating just how much technology DJI has been able to cram into a very small package.
It uses the same 12MP 1/2.3” CMOS sensor found in the Mavic Pro, so it’s fair to expect similar image quality. The camera is mounted on a compact 3-axis gimbal, a welcome improvement over the 2-axis gimbal found on the Spark.
Videographers will be happy to learn that the Mavic Air captures 4K/30p video at bit rates up to 100Mbps using the H.264 codec, though it doesn't shoot 4K/60p as some rumors had suggested. Additionally, full HD capture is now supported at 120 fps.
In addition to 12MP Raw image capture, DJI has added new features for still photographers as well. In addition to vertical, horizontal, and 180º panoramas, the Mavic Air can create 32MP spherical panoramas by automatically shooting 25 still images and stitching them together in under 8 seconds. There's also a built-in HDR function which should help to better capture scenes with high dynamic range.
Anyone who flies drones regularly has probably had at least one experience where they arrived on site only to realize that they left their memory card at home. In a nod to forgetful pilots everywhere, the Mavic Air includes 8GB of on-board storage – something that may be particularly helpful for adventurers far from the car.
Borrowing a popular feature from the Spark, the Mavic Air includes gesture controls, which allow users to control the drone's movements and certain functions (such as taking a picture) using their hands. This can be particularly useful to anyone trying to take a self portrait, such as a climber on a rock wall. Also, thanks to a rear obstacle avoidance system, the drone will sense if you're trying to back it into an object.
In our review of the Spark we noted that its gesture controls were often far from reliable, however DJI tells us that the system on the Air has been ’significantly improved’ for more precision and reliability. Based on our hands-on experience with the Air at the launch event we’re inclined to believe this. It seemed much more responsive to our gestures, and we didn't notice any hesitation when directing it to move. Gestures will work up to a distance of 19 ft.
|The Mavic Air's controller is designed to be as compact as possible for travel, including removable control sticks.|
Also included is a compact controller that's visually similar to that of the Mavic Pro, however it's now possible to detach the sticks to make it as compact as possible for travel. Using the controller, the Mavic Air can be controlled at a range of up to 2.5 miles, more than enough when operating with visual line of sight.
Obstacle avoidance and intelligent flight modes
A very useful feature on a drone is obstacle avoidance, and the Mavic Air is full of it. It includes seven onboard cameras for sensing and avoidance, including dual forward, downward, and backward cameras. Also included is a feature DJI is calling ‘Flight Autonomy 2.0’, which conducts real-time positioning by building a 3D map of the environment around the aircraft.
Thanks to this 3D mapping, the Mavic Air also includes an ‘advanced pilot awareness system’ (APAS) for advanced obstacle avoidance. Instead of simply stopping when an obstacle is detected, APAS will plan a path to bypass or go around obstacles, allowing the drone to continue on its course.
DJI has also added two new intelligent flight modes, ‘Asteroid Mode’ and ‘Boomerang Mode’. Asteroid mode creates a sort of hybrid clip in which a spherical panorama zooms in to a short video clip. Boomerang does more or less what the name suggests, flying up and away from a subject before coming back, creating an interesting cinematic effect. Additionally, DJI claims to have improved its ActiveTrack technology, giving it more precise tracking as well as the ability to detect multiple subjects simultaneously.
There are some notable performance improvements as well. With a top speed of 42.5Mph in Sport mode the Air is the fastest Mavic to date, and it has an operational ceiling of 16,404 ft. Some drone users may be disappointed with the 21-minute flight time. We suspect it's a necessary tradeoff in order to achieve the Mavic Air's compact size, and it’s still 5 minutes more than you'll get from the Spark.
DJI says the Mavic Air will also be compatible with a wide range of accessories including a car charger, ND filters, and DJI’s flight goggles for a first person view flying experience.
The Mavic Air will be available for $799. The standard package includes a protective case, propeller guards, and the newly designed remote control. A 'Fly More' combo that includes an additional set of propellers, 2 extra batteries, a folding charging hub that charges two batteries, and a shoulder bag will be available for $999. It's available in three impressively descriptive colors: Arctic White, Onyx Black, and Flame Red.
Preorders begin today, with shipments and retail availability beginning on January 28.
DJI Introduces Mavic Air For Limitless Exploration Wherever Adventure Takes You
The Most Portable 3-Axis Gimbal 4K Camera Drone Features SmartCapture, FlightAutonomy 2.0 And Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems
January 23, 2018 – DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, today introduced Mavic Air, an ultra-portable, foldable camera drone that delivers higher performance, more intelligent features and greater creative possibilities than any other consumer drone. Developed with the traveler and outdoor enthusiast in mind, Mavic Air inherits the best features of DJI’s iconic Mavic series with a 4K camera for superior image quality, new QuickShot modes and SmartCapture for easier, more intelligent photo and video capturing, and FlightAutonomy 2.0 with Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems for smarter, safer flight. A marvel of engineering and design, Mavic Air enables limitless exploration wherever adventure takes you.
“When DJI introduced the Mavic Pro, it reinvented what a consumer drone could be: powerful, yet portable, accessible, but advanced,” said Roger Luo, President at DJI. “Today, with the introduction of Mavic Air, we have pushed these attributes to the next level to create our best consumer drone yet.”
Designed for Portability and Power
Weighing just 430 grams, Mavic Air is the most portable DJI drone ever created. Its folding arms and propellers sit flush against its slender aerodynamic frame, making it so compact that its footprint is nearly the size of a modern smartphone when folded.
Every aspect of Mavic Air’s camera has been designed for maximum performance. Its recessed three-axis mechanical gimbal is suspended from dampeners to further reduce vibration providing superior protection and steadier shots. A powerful camera housing a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor and the equivalent of a 24mm F2.8 lens (on a 35mm full frame sensor) captures high-quality photos and videos.
Mavic Air photographs crisp 12-megapixel still images utilizing new HDR algorithms that preserve more highlight and low light details, allowing you to capture stunning aerial pictures from sunrise to sunset. It also shoots smooth stabilized 4K video at 30 fps, capturing the highest quality video of any DJI consumer drone with a maximum bitrate of 100 Mbps. Preserving the action in dramatic fast-paced scenes is now possible through its ability to shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 120 fps.
Mavic Air is DJI’s first drone with 8 GB of onboard storage letting you save photos and videos directly to the aircraft on the go, plus a microSD card slot for additional storage capacity. The newly added USB-C port makes exporting captured footage easy and fast.
Expand Your Creativity
Mavic Air’s intelligent camera system creates new possibilities for anyone regardless of their photography and drone piloting experience. Photo enthusiasts who want to capture their surroundings in complete detail can use the new Sphere panorama feature to automatically shoot and stitch together 25 photos, creating a crystal-clear 32-megapixel panoramic image within one minute. Mavic Air also supports multiple panorama modes, creating horizontal, vertical, and 180-degree images.
QuickShot intelligent video modes make creating professional videos fun and easy with predefined flight paths that automatically keep your subject in the frame. Use Rocket, Dronie, Circle, or Helix plus two new modes Asteroid and Boomerang, to effortlessly create videos that once required significant piloting skills and sophisticated editing software. Asteroid starts with a spherical image that zooms in as it descends toward the subject on the ground, while Boomerang circles the subject in an oval-shaped flight path with the video finishing at the start point.
Mavic Air’s ActiveTrack intelligent flight mode has been improved to automatically sense multiple subjects, following your subject and keeping it in the frame with more precision, especially during high motion activities like running and cycling.
Powered by machine learning technology, SmartCapture is an ultra-responsive control mode that makes shooting photos and videos effortless. With a maximum range of up to 20 ft (6 meters), you can give hand gesture commands to launch, follow, photograph, record, push, pull and land, letting you capture the moment from any angle without the need for a remote controller.
Smarter, Safer Flight
More powerful computing capabilities and optimized algorithms help Mavic Air fly smarter and safer through obstacles and terrain. FlightAutonomy 2.0 processes data gathered from seven onboard cameras and infrared sensors to construct a 3D map of its environment for more precise hovering and better flight performance. The improved forward and backward dual camera vision systems can sense obstacles up to 66 feet (20 meters) away. To help navigate through more complex outdoor environments, Mavic Air has newly developed Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems that helps pilots avoid and bypass obstacles automatically, providing an extra layer of reassurance during flight.
Mavic Air has a maximum flight time of up to 21 minutes. It can fly stably in windy conditions of up to 22 mph (36 kph) and at high elevations of up to 16,404 ft (5,000 m) above sea level. Mavic Air’s remote is the first to feature detachable control sticks that can be stored inside the remote controller for added portability. Its omnidirectional antennas placed on the foldable landing gear help increase signal coverage to deliver a maximum range of up to 2.5 miles (4km) with 1080p real-time video transmission when flying with the remote controller. When in Sport mode, Mavic Air flies at exhilarating speeds of up to 42 mph (68 kph) and is compatible with DJI Goggles for an immersive FPV flight experience.
Price and Availability
Mavic Air will be available in three colors: Onyx Black, Arctic White and Flame Red. The US retail price including the drone, battery, remote controller, carrying case, two pairs of propeller guards and four pairs of propellers, is $799 USD. The Mavic Air Fly More Combo includes the drone, three batteries, a remote controller, a travel bag, two pairs of propeller guards, six pairs of propellers, a battery to power bank adapter and battery charging hub, for $999 USD.
Starting today, Mavic Air will be available for pre-order at store.dji.com, the four DJI Flagship Stores and authorized dealers. Pre-orders will start shipping on January 28. For more information on all the new features and capabilities of Mavic Air, please visit www.dji.com/mavic-air.
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