Is the Mavic Air right for you?

The DJI Mavic Air is a compact drone with powerful features. In the hands of an operator who knows its strengths and weaknesses, it can deliver results difficult to distinguish larger, more expensive models. It's particularly well-suited for some applications but less so for others.

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Professional applications

ISO 100 | 1/160 sec | F2.8 | DJI Mavic Air

Photo by Reza Malayeri

The Mavic Air is a decent fit for small business owners or content creators who need quick online videos for things like weddings, real estate, online ads, etc. It can be useful as long as you won't need full control over the image settings or the low-light capabilities of a bigger sensor. It lacks the larger 1"-type sensor found on some other models, as well as aperture control, but it still offers a compelling feature set that's small, powerful, and less expensive than more pro-oriented offerings.

What we like

  • Video quality: 4K/30p at 100 Mbps
  • DNG Raw stills capture at 7 fps in burst mode
  • 2.7K/60p slow motion video
  • Adjustable shutter speeds
  • Compact design results in fast capture of content

What we don't

  • Sensor handles shadow detail poorly in video regardless of bitrate
  • No D-Log color profile (has D-Cinelike which is significantly less flat)
  • Limited and unpredictable signal range

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Enthusiasts and hobbyists

ISO 100 | 1/500 sec | F2.8 | DJI Mavic Air

Photo by Kjell Redal

The Mavic Air is a dream drone for enthusiasts or hobbyists who want photos and videos in a compact package that are just shy of professional level. What it provides at this size and price point would have been unimaginable just a couple years ago. This drone resides in an enthusiast sweet spot.

What we like

  • APAS obstacle avoidance, intelligent flight modes
  • Good-quality video and images; high-bitrate and Raw capabilities for stills
  • Competitive price

What we don't

  • Obstacle avoidance doesn't apply to sideways flight
  • Limited range and reliability for image transmission
  • Noisy motors - might distract some subjects

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Travel

ISO 100 | 1/2000 sec | F2.8 | DJI Mavic Air

Photo by Kjell Redal

The Mavic Air is arguably the best drone on the market for travel. It can fit into a purse, a messenger bag, a small backpack, you name it. It will pack easily with all other cameras and lenses in a backpack and arouses little suspicion or attention when packed in the provided case. With a footprint smaller than a tablet, the Mavic Air is the perfect drone to take on your traveling adventures.

What we like

  • Size
  • Good quality images and video
  • Looks like a toy to customs agents, security, etc.

What we don't

  • Shrill noise while in flight - might attract unwanted attention
  • May need to carry more batteries than other models
  • Limited signal range - can't get too far in urban areas particularly

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Lifestyle and social

ISO 100 | 1/45 sec | F2.8 | DJI Mavic Air

Photo by Reza Malayeri

The Mavic Air is a fun and easy to use drone for spontaneous aerials on social media, like this shot at Seattle's Harbor Steps. But for this type of use you may be able to find models at a lower price that meet your needs, like the DJI Spark.

What we like

  • Intelligent flight modes that are fun for friends and family (Dronie, Asteroid, Rocket)
  • Fast sharing to social media with built-in editor in the DJI GO 4 app
  • SmartCapture mode for controlling with your hands
  • Small, portable

What we don't like

  • Noise again likely to draw attention

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Action and adventure

ISO 100 | 1/2000 sec | F2.8 | DJI Mavic Air

Photo by Kjell Redal

This drone is also great for adventurers due to its small size, high quality, subject tracking, and obstacle avoidance capabilities. The Mavic Air won't add much weight on your back when hiking, biking, climbing, and more.

What we like

  • Fast: 65 km/h (42 mph) in sport mode
  • Solid subject tracking (active track)
  • APAS obstacle avoidance can move around trees and other natural features
  • Very lightweight in a backpack for light-and-fast missions where aerials are still a necessity

What we don't

  • Wi-Fi signal transmission has limited range for extended outdoor applications
  • APAS does not work in ActiveTrack
  • Drone battery is very susceptible to the cold and will not take off below a certain temperature; it needs to be kept in a jacket pocket before flight

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