The DJI Air 2S improves image quality over the Mini 2 and Mavic Air 2 while keeping an inexpensive price tag.
DJI is up to new tricks with the Air 2S, a drone that packs 20MP still images and 5.4K video in a new one-inch sensor that was only previously made available on the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. So will the next-gen Pro and Zoom models be getting even larger sensors? Possibly.
The Air 2S sits between the Mavic Air 2 and the Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom, offering 5.4K video at 30fps or 4K at 60fps and 150Mbps. The sensor is larger than the 1/2" CMOS sensor on the Mavic Air 2, providing a pixel size of 2.4μm for better image detail and hopefully better low light performance. Additionally, the drone has three color profiles: normal (8-bit), D-Log (10-bit), or HLG (10-bit), and you can choose to record in H.264 or H.265. Better yet, DJI has included 8 GB of internal storage which is a big bump from previous models and has a suggested maximum record time of 31 minutes.
And of course, the Air 2S has a three-axis mechanical gimbal for smooth footage, but the lens does have a fixed aperture. To control the depth of field, ND filters are available as a separate purchase or in the Fly More Combo. If you already own them from previous generations (Mavic Air 2, Mini 2) the camera is larger in size, so they won't work with the Air 2S.
The Air 2S starts to shine when it comes to photos. It has standard options like Timed Photo, AEB, and Panoramas, but the SmartPhoto mode records 20MP photos using scene analysis and deep learning to choose the best of three options from HDR, Hyperlight, and Scene Recognition. HDR will merge several images at different apertures, Hyperlight is more for low light situations, and Scene Recognition identifies common settings and applies specific camera adjustments to the photos.
In terms of features, the Air 2S carries many of the Mini 2 and Mavic Air 2 features including Hyperlapse, Quickshots, and the digital zoom found on Mavic Air 2, a feature we tested here. The digital zoom on the Air 2S supports: 4x zoom at 4K 30fps, 6x at 2.7K 30fps, 4x at 2.7K 60fps, 6x at 1080P 60fps, and 8x at 1080P 30fps.
New to the Air 2S is MasterShots, a feature that will autonomously plan a flight path from three different image capture modes. Users can select from Proximity, Portrait, or Landscape, and start recording footage automatically. While using MasterShots, it's important to keep an eye on the drone in case you need to stop it from hitting an object.
With the Air 2S, there are obstacle avoidance sensors on the front, back, top, and bottom, which will be helpful when using the FocusTrack options that allow you to select a subject on the screen and the drone will follow it using three different modes. Point of Interest 3.0 creates an autonomous flight path around the subject, ActiveTrack 4.0 tracks the subject and keeps it in the frame, and Spotlight 2.0 allows you to control the drone while the subject is locked in frame.
Speaking of obstacle avoidance, the Air 2S touts DJI's Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 4.0 to automatically avoid objects. What makes the Air 2S a little better than the Mavic Air 2 is the addition of top sensors which will avoid any objects in vertical flight paths.
Additionally, the Air 2S has OcuSync for a stable connection up to 7 miles (12km), DJI's AirSense system that warns drone pilots of nearby airplanes and helicopters transmitting ADS-B signals, an improved Return-To-Home (RTH) feature, and the GEO 2.0 geofencing system to help keep the drone away from restricted areas.
The Air 2S is a worthwhile upgrade for the larger sensor alone. You can read our review of the Air 2S here.
The DJI Air 2S is available now for $999 or in a Fly More Combo that includes 3 batteries, ND filters, a charging hub, and a shoulder bag for $1,299.