DJI Mavic Air in Depth Series – Part 3 – Camera

DJI Mavic Air in Depth Series – Part 3 – Camera

Heliguy continues their in-depth look at the new DJI Mavic Air by looking at the camera. Including the new sphere panorama, QuickShots, HDR mode and much more.

11 minute read

DJI Mavic Air in Depth Series – Part 2 – Camera

In the third part of our in-depth series on the Mavic Air, we will be looking at the camera of the new aircraft and its surrounding features. We will give you a detailed insight into the camera on the aircraft, its impressive features and the Intelligent Flight Modes DJI have incorporated to improve both the user experience and end results. You’ll also get chance to see some of Heliguy’s example pictures and videos to judge for yourself. Keep reading to see the camera in action and find out more about the Mavic Air’s new features.



Specifications

As usual, we’ll start with the specifications of this small but tremendously powerful camera:

Camera

Sensor

1/2.3" CMOS
Effective Pixels: 12 MP

Lens

FOV: 85°; 35 mm format equivalent: 24 mm; Aperture: f/2.8; Shooting Range: 0.5 m to

ISO Range

Video: 100 - 1600 (auto); 100 - 1600 (manual)
Photo: 100 - 1600 (auto); 100 - 3200 (manual)

Shutter Speed

Electronic Shutter: 8 - 1/8000s

Still Image Size

4:3: 4056 x 3040; 16:9: 4056 x 2280

Still Photography Modes

Single shot; HDR; Burst shooting: 3 / 5 / 7 frames; Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed frames at 0.7EV Bias; Interval: 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 30 / 60 s

Video Resolution

4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 24 / 25 / 30p
2.7K: 2720 x 1530 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60p
FHD: 1920 x 1080 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p
HD: 1280 x 720 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p

Max Video Bitrate

100 Mbps

Supported File System

FAT32

Photo Format

JPEG / DNG (RAW)

Video Format

MP4 / MOV (H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC)

Camera Features

The Mavic Air’s camera is superb considering its small size. It features a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor capable of 12 MP images and up to 4K UHD video at 30 fps. This builds on the camera on the Spark, which also had a 1/2.3” sensor and 12 MP capability but could only capture video in 1080p. A key benefit of the Mavic Air is its three-axis gimbal with a vibration range of 0.005°. A gimbal of this calibre is impressive, especially considering the size of the Mavic Air. The Spark only featured a two-axis gimbal, which was slightly limiting for some pilots and a drawback to the aircraft. The additional axis was a positive move, taking the Mavic Air to a similar standard of the Mavic Pro. The gimbal also performs well in high winds, maintaining professional video and picture quality. When it comes to the Mavic Air's maximum video bitrate, the Mavic Air clearly stands out against its similar drones from DJI. The Mavic Air shoots at an impressive 100 Mbps, a huge improvement on the 60 Mbps of the Mavic Pro and 24 Mbps on the Spark. Video bitrate is the speed in which the video is transmitted which can lead to a higher quality video. DJI Mavic Air Camera

QuickShots

QuickShots allow users to capture professional video clips with the touch of a button. The technology was introduced in the Spark, and later added to the Mavic Pro series, with four modes available; Rocket, Helix, Dronie and Circle. These modes are all available on the Mavic Air, with an additional two modes included; Boomerang and Asteroid. These preloaded functions allow users to simply capture shots that would have previously taken a pilot with extremely advanced skills or a lot of work in post. The following QuickShots can be chosen on the Intelligent Flight Mode icon on the DJI Go 4 app: Boomerang – Select your target and the Mavic Air will ascend whilst circling the subject, then descend again, whilst still circling. This shot is great for taking a selfie and capturing the surrounding scenery. Asteroid – This mode starts from high above your chosen subject with the image automatically shaped into a ‘planet’ like object. The Mavic Air will then zoom in on the subject creating a Rocket – Select your subject and the Mavic Air will fly directly up from it. Helix – The Mavic Air will fly backwards and away from the subject in a spiral motion. Dronie – The Mavic Air will fly backwards away from the subject, revealing the background. Another great selfie shot that can be used to reveal an impressive background. Circle – Specify your subject and the Mavic Air will circle around it once whilst the camera remains trained on the subject. Take a look at our video test of all the available QuickShots: These modes are a quick and easy, and ideal for capturing interesting footage you can share instantly on social media or incorporate into longer shots. The results are stunning and would take a pilot several a large number of attempts to get close to some of these manoeuvres. So far, it’s unclear whether these two new QuickShots will be backwards compatible with the rest of the Mavic Series or the Spark.

SmartCapture

Although SmartCapture isn't limited to control of the camera, we felt it needed to be included in this section of the series. SmartCapture allows pilots to use various gestures to fly the aircraft, take pictures and record videos. This functionality is available on various DJI drones including the Spark, however, the responsiveness of the Mavic Air is second to none. It reacts quickly even when switching control between people. It also rarely fails to follow instructions which is a huge development on the Spark. The following can be completed on the Mavic Air: Takeoff and Landing - Take off and land the DJI Mavic Air by raising or lowering your palm in front of the Mavic Air.

Mavic Air Control - Hold your palm in from of the Mavic Air and move it to the desired position. Gesture Direction Control Drone Proximity - Control how close or far away the drone is by moving your palms together or apart.

Follow Mode - Drop your hand and move and the Mavic Air will follow you. Gesture for Follow Selfie - By raising the middle and index finger known as the V or peace symbol, the Mavic Air will take a selfie. Group Selfie - Like the above, three or more hands detected will take a group selfie. Video - Start recording by making a rectangular box with your fingers in front of your face. Make the same gesture again to stop recording. Gesture to Start/Stop Video Switching Control - The person controlling the drone should drop their arms to the side. The new person wanting to control the Mavic Air should wave at it to take over control.


The accuracy of the SmartCapture mode is unlike any other DJI drone. It's ultra responsive and easy to use and activate. Please note, SmartCapture should only be used in a wide and open space in an area where you won't encounter people. It's recommended propeller guards are used in this mode.

Other Intelligent Flight Modes

In addition to the above, the Mavic Air has access to DJI's Intelligent Flight Modes available on the Mavic Pro and other DJI drones. All Intelligent Flight Modes can be selected under the below section of the DJI GO Menu:

ActiveTrack

The ActiveTrack function is a popular mode across the DJI range. It allows you to track a subject in several different positions. Subjects can be people, vehicles etc. To use, simply enter the mode, hover at 6.6ft or above and select the target to follow. The Mavic Air will then follow the subject as they move. ActiveTrack is available in trace, spotlight and profile to allow users to achieve their desired shot with ease.

 

TapFly

In TapFly, the Mavic Air will fly to a specified point simply by tapping the screen on your device. Choose forwards, backwards, free or coordinate and the Mavic Air will fly in this direction whilst you control the camera. The Mavic Air will actively avoid obstacle in this mode in the correct conditions.

 

Tripod

Tripod mode is a great feature available across the majority of the DJI drone range. It limits the speed of the Mavic Air to 2.2 mph in order to achieve stable shots with smooth movements. Stick responsiveness is slowed down to give cinematic gestures.  

 

Cinematic

This mode increases the braking distance of the Mavic Air and limits its turning speed.  This helps you achieve shots with Smooth movements, even when flying at fast speeds. Due to the increase break distance, take care when flying at high speeds and avoid flying around obstacles.

 

Point of Interest

In this mode, you choose your subject and the Mavic Air will circle around with the camera on it. You can choose the speed of the Mavic Air, altitude, direction and the size of the circle.

Slow-Motion Video

Another video mode available on the DJI Mavic Air is slow-motion video. The Mavic Air is capable of capturing 120 fps in 1080p allowing you to capture stunning video and images. 

Panoramas

The Mavic Air has access to four different panorama modes, giving an even greater number of creative options to users. All panorama modes included on the Mavic Air automatically capture a set number of pictures at pre-set points and automatically stitch the images together, giving you a stunning result any time. Panoramas are available in the following modes: 32 MP Sphere Panoramas - New to the Mavic Air, sphere panoramas allow users to capture stunning 360° images that can be viewed on smartphones, computers or the DJI Goggles. Explore the sphere by moving around the image or zoom out to view as a planet with all of the image captured, similar to the sphere mode on the Spark. Due to the range of the Mavic Air's gimbal, the sky cannot be captured within the panorama. Therefore, a zenith patching algorithm is used, a common tool used with panoramas that are too large to capture all data. 25 pictures are taken and automatically stitched for the sphere panorama. 180° Panoramas - The 180° panorama allows users to capture unique panoramas at a 180° angle. 21 pictures are automatically taken and stitched together. 180° Panorama Horizontal & Vertical Panoramas - Capture horizontal and verticle panoramas and show off different shooting locations and subjects. For vertical, three images are taken and stitched together. For horizontal, nine images are taken and stitched together. Panoramas can be accessed in the camera settings on the DJI GO 4 app under the shooting options. The automated stitching on all modes occurs quickly for images that can be shared instantly or edited as desired.

HDR Images

HDR or high dynamic range images are a great solution to always capturing an image with the best exposure. On the Mavic Air, there are newly developed HDR algorithms which help you get the best images results based on the light available. The HDR function takes three images, that are overexposed, underexposed and with the correct exposure. These images are then combined to create an image with the best exposure choosing the best aspects of each image. With the new HDR function, over and underexposed images are processed to give a more natural condition to the final image. HDR capabilities were not available as standard on DJI's consumer-level drone such as the Mavic Pro and Spark and would have required work in post-production to be made. The HDR feature can help users capture the best images possible in the light available. The function is great for new users who may not be familiar with drone camera settings. The HDR option can be selected in the camera settings of the DJI GO 4 app under the shooting modes option.

Internal Storage

A completely new feature to DJI’s product range is the Mavic Air’s option to store images and videos internally on the aircraft. 8GBs of storage can be selected as the The option to choose whether media files are stored internally on the Mavic Air or on an inserted SD card is don’t in the camera settings in the DJI GO 4 app. The preferred option should be selected under the ‘Storage Location’.

Filters

Like with the majority of the DJI product range currently offered, DJI have released a set of Neutral Density (ND) filters for the Mavic Air to reduce the shutter speed on the camera. The ability to use filters with drone cameras is valuable for photographers and videographers looking to get more out of their work, bringing the aerial creative industry up to speed with the ground-based. Filters are available through DJI and third-party companies, including PolarPro. Several options are available with the PolarPro filters, including ND, ND/PL and UV filters. Due to the recent release of the PolarPro filters, stock is currently not available, however, we have tested the DJI filters. For more information on ND filters and to see the comparison between DJI and PolarPro filters, head to out previous Insider post here.

Summary

The Mavic Air's camera and Intelligent Flight Modes are some of the most impressive features available on the Mavic Air. Building on the success of previous Intelligent Flight Modes, increasing their capabilities and overall performance. The QuickShots allow you to capture complex manoeuvres that would be difficult for an advanced pilot to achieve. As the camera is more advanced than that on the Spark, these videos look even more striking with a deep colour pallet and a huge amount of detail. The responsiveness of the SmartCapture is the best we've seen on any DJI drones to date. Face and palm tracking are nearly faultless. Considering the price of the Mavic Air, any pilot will likely be impressed with its picture and video quality.
To discuss the new DJI Mavic Air, or any DJI or Freefly product, please give one of our team a call on 0191 296 1024 or email us at info@heliguy.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

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