What do you get when you take the image quality of the DJI Phantom 4 and put it into a body about the same size as a DJI Spark? The answer, revealed by DJI’s Mike Perry at an invite-only media event in New York City today is the Mavic Air, a restyled, revamped, folding drone that looks to be the “gotta have it” tool for photographers and videographers.
I’ve been playing with the DJI Spark recently for an upcoming piece about using the Spark as a scout for locations before taking out a larger, more expensive drone.
The Magic Air is a redesigned platform with a new 4K camera capable of shooting 30fps at 100Mbps, and 120fps, as well as stills at 12mp, and a spherical panorama at 32mp.
In a an Apple-inspired keynote presentation, Perry showed off the new Mavic Air and it’s revamped remote controller, pulling several from the pockets of his vest. The Magic Air has new unfolding landing gear, which house new antennas, allowing the unit (with the remote control) to travel up to 2 miles from the user.
New flight modes allow the Mavic Air to perform a few cinematic flight patterns, including rotating around the subject for a dramatic reveal. It also has a new system of obstacle avoidance, allowing it to navigate a path around and above obstacles instead of just coming to a stop—as do other drones.
With a price of $700 for the Mavic Air, it reduces a lot of the attractiveness of the Mavic Pro, which sells for around $1100. It also for the photographer, eliminates the need to use the Spark, except as a low-cost go-anwhere toy that won’t cost too much if it’s destroyed in a collision. (And, it still makes a great scouting tool, as long as you don’t need great footage from it.)
Photographer Chris Burkard took to the stage to show images he shot with the drone for DJI in Patagonia, and really made a use case for the gear. Small enough to fit in any camera bag, Burkard carried the Mavic Air on a mountain climb, and hand launched the Mavic Air to capture images of climbers making their rope-assisted ascent, from an angle impossible without a drone.
The Magic Air goes on sale January 28th, and a bundle with bag and other gear will allow photographers to grab a ready-to-go kit.
I think that this is a killer device for photographers and videographers, as it takes up around the same space as an average 24-70mm zoom lens—there’s really no reason to not have a drone with you now. We’ll bring a hands-on review as soon as we have our media evaluation unit.
See the full DJI Magic Air press release below
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
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 micro SD 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 feet (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 720p real-time video transmission when flying with the remote controller. When in Sport mode, Mavic Air flies at exhilarating speeds of up to 42mph (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.
DJI Care Refresh
DJI Care Refresh is available in select countries and provides peace of mind for Mavic Air owners. DJI Care Refresh covers accidental damage to the aircraft, gimbal or camera during normal use for up to 12 months, and for an additional charge, the plan will offer up to two full replacements that are new or equivalent to new. DJI Care Refresh is available for $89 USD before the new Mavic Air is activated, or within the first 48 hours after activation. For more info or service availability in your country, please visit www.dji.com/service/djicare-refresh.