DJI released a firmware update for the Mavic Air 2 that adds a 4K digital zoom among other features. Here's a quick test.
The Mavic Air 2 is DJI's latest folding-style consumer drone and it's a big improvement over its predecessor. Sitting between the Mavic Mini, and the more robust, and also more expensive Mavic 2, it packs in a 1/2" CMOS sensor, new motors, a longer-lasting battery, and a top speed of 42mph while adding a negligible amount of weight when compared to the Mavic Air.
DJI didn't hold back when it came to features either. Video can be recorded at 4K UHD up to 60fps, photos can be captured at 12MP or 48MP, there's HDR video and panorama, an 8K Hyperlapse mode, different tracking modes, color profiles for Normal or Cine-D, and on top of that, it's equipped with DJI's GEO system to prevent the drone from entering prohibited areas. The drone is also equipped with obstacle avoidance sensors on the front, rear, and bottom, but does lack sensors on the top. But all in all, for many enthusiasts, content creators, and indie filmmakers, it might be the perfect drone.
The Mavic Air 2 has received a notable firmware update, version 01.00.0340, which updates the done and the remote controller. There's also an update for the DJI Fly app, version 1.1.6, which adds advanced gimbal settings for the Mavic Air 2 and updates the logic for the battery and flight time alerts.
DJI Mavic Air 2 Firmware Update V01.00.0340
- Safety Flight Mode. The aircraft avoids obstacles automatically and will not respond to commands to fly left or right.
- Added 4K resolution in Hyperlapse
- Added 4K Zoom Mode. Supports 2x digital zoom at 4K UHD 30/25/24fps
- Added 2x digital zoom at 2.7K 60/50/48/30/25/24fps
- Added 4x digital zoom at 1080p 60/50/48/30/25/24fps
- Optimized FPV mode for the gimbal
- Optimized shooting performance in Sport mode. Adjust the flight attitude to avoid propellers unexpectedly showing up in the camera view.
- Optimized Hyperlapse. Added ability to pause shooting during Hyperlapse, increased the number of waypoints to 45, and added support for Task Library.
- Optimized ActiveTrack when tracking vehicles at low altitude.
What stood out most about the update was the digital zoom options for 4K UHD, 2.7K, and HD video formats. It made us wonder if the image quality would be any better than a post zoom, so we decided to do a quick field test.
For each test, the Mavic Air 2 was set to the various resolutions at 30p and used the Normal color mode. No grading was done to the image in post. The image is straight from the camera. The only change is the post zoom. Below are the results.
4K UHD Digital Zoom Test
The 4K UHD mode now as a 1x and 2x digital zooms. While there's a slight shift in the image framing when comparing it to a post zoom, the difference in the quality of image is almost unnoticeable.
2.7K Digital Zoom Test
The 2.7K has also added a 2x digital zoom. Similar to the 4K UHD video, it's hard to tell the difference between the two.
Full HD Digital Zoom Test
When it comes to HD, the Mavic Air 2 has options for 1x, 3x, and 4x digital zooms. When we compared them to manual zooms in post, there was no real advantage in image quality.
While our tests showed no real advantage when using the digital zoom on the Mavic Air 2, the good thing is that the image didn't degrade in any way. It would have been a step backwards if DJI added the feature and it made the image worse. Having the options on the Mavic Air 2 will essentially save you time in post. But if you want to play it safe, shoot everything at 1x.
Safety Flight Mode / Disable Sideways Flight
Additionally, the obstacle avoidance of the Mavic Air 2 has been updated so that when the Bypass mode is enabled, there's an option that the drone will not fly left or right when an object has been detected. The option can be found under the Safety settings menu under Disable Sideways Flight. When enabled, the obstacle avoidance icon will flash green and be missing its left and right arrows.
You can still cycle through the obstacle avoidance modes – Bypass and Brake – by tapping the icon on interface, but Disable Sideways Flight is on by default. In order to turn it off in Bypass mode, you will need to go into the Safety menu and disable it manually.
This new feature works as advertised. To bypass an object, the drone will provide a clearance of about 3 – 6 feet depending on how large it is and if the sensor picks it up. When Disable Sideways Flight is enabled, the drone will not fly left or right. It's important to note the drone does not have a top sensor, so the feature will not work then.
What do you think of the digital zoom capabilities on the Mavic Air 2? Let us know in the comments below.