Having owned a DJI Phantom for a few years I’d no doubt about the value and benefit from owning a drone. There’s something about an image from above that to me looks fresh and dynamic. The downside to the Phantom is it’s size. Carrying it around alongside my normal photography gear was clumsy and I just stopped using it.

Then DJI brought out the Mavic Air.

The Mavic Pro was released in 2016 and although I was tempted it was still pretty big. The Spark came out in 2017 and it packed a lot in a tiny size, but it was too simple for what I wanted. When I got to see the Mavic Air in the flesh I knew it was for me.

The size was perfect considering the quality of image you could get. It’s hard to describe if you are used to the Phantom but the best comparison is it’s not much bigger footprint wise than a modern large smartphone like the iPhone Plus. It’s obviously got more depth but in the supplied case it’s around the size of a set of premium headphones. That’s something I can easily fit in the camera bag.

Before I talk more about the drone it’s worth highlighting there are a couple of buying options. The drone on it’s own costs £699 but I really advise getting the Fly More Combo for £849. Although £150 more you get a far more complete package.

To get three batteries instead of one is great value but you also get spare rotors, guards and a great carry case that will hold all the drone parts. You also get a charging hub which makes it far easier to charge the batteries and the controller.

Positives

  • Size of the device along with the folding arms make for a really portable drone.
  • Feels really well engineered, especially compared with the Phantom which can feel a bit cheap.
  • Despite the smaller device DJI haven’t dropped the sensors. The Mavic Air can detect objects in front, behind and beneath the drone so hopefully less chance of crashing in to something.
  • The camera is good enough. It’s a 12 megapixel camera with an f/2.8 lens. Same as the Mavic Pro but with higher bitrate so supports 4K and HDR.
  • A lot quieter and easier to launch and land – especially love hand catching the drone rather than trying to find a flat surface to touch down.
  • DJI have stepped up automation from within their app. The Mavic Air supports a few quickshot options that make it easy to capture a selfie (or dronie as DJI call it) or rotate smoothly around an object. You can also capture panorama’s with ease and select from a 360, horizontal or vertical panorama.
  • The controller is nicely engineered. Folds up small and even the sticks can be screwed off and stored in the controller making it easier to stow.

Negatives

  • Flight range of the Mavic Air compared to the Mavic and Phantom is reduced at around 4KM. It’s double the Spark but the niggle is that the range is in perfect situations and how often do we get that? I’ve had video break-up and connection issues in the 1-1.5KM range and that’s in remote area’s. Not a show stopper but something to be wary off.
  • The images from the Mavic Air can be a little soft and also show quite a bit of noise. You really need to take care when taking pictures and also remember it’s a 12 megapixel camera.
  • Battery life is around 20 minutes, less in colder conditions. You really need extra batteries to make the most of the Mavic Air. However considering the size of the battery I’m being picky.

Summary
The DJI Mavic Air is a great drone in a really portable format. The size to quality ratio is the best out of the DJI range with the Spark image being a bit sub par for me and the Mavic Pro and Phantoms being too big despite their better image quality. Coupled with the ability to take off and land in most conditions and the many automated video and photo options it’s a really nice option to take on remote shoots or walks where you really don’t notice it’s size and weight. If you are interested in buying I really recommend the Fly More pack to get the best out of the Mavic Air.