The DJI Air 2S is going to be the one that makes photographers want to really pay attention.
If I were to think about all the things I want from a drone, then the DJI Air 2S would come closest to the perfect one. What’s perfect? RAW shooting capabilities is high on the priority list. Same with a large sensor of at least 1-inch in size. And of course, the drone needs to be lightweight. And for photographers, the DJI Air 2S is ticking off all those boxes. If you’ve ever wanted a small, lightweight drone that did all that, then this is it. What’s more, you can use it with the new FPV system.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
The DJI Air 2s is a fantastic drone that honestly does everything most photographers would need. They’re targeting it at consumers and passionate photographers that want RAW. They’re also giving you a large 1-inch sensor that’s probably the same as in Sony’s cameras. The DNG raw files make a huge difference later on. It’s not under 249 grams, so you’ll need to register it. But that’s a small inconvenience for what’s otherwise an incredibly fun experience.
Pros and Cons
- RAW shooting capabilities
- Manual exposure; or just about as manual as a phone allows you
- Image stabilization
- 1-inch sensor
- Beautiful colors
- Easy to use and get started with
- FPV capabilities are coming after launch
- It’s over 249 grams, so you have to register it
There’s nothing seriously, amazingly innovative about this experience. But it’s the first drone with a 1-inch sensor that lets you fly FPV style. It’s also DJI’s latest drone with a 1-inch sensor and RAW.
- 20MP 1-inch sensor
- 5.4k video
- RAW photo shooting
- 31 minutes of flight time
- APAS 4.0 lets it be more or less autonomous
- The latest iteration of Ocusync for transmission
- Timed Photos mode
- Panoramic mode
The DJI Air 2s is more or less an upgrade from the Mavic Air 2. But they’re totally changing the naming structure. And it’s also not super lightweight. It’s more than light enough to go flying. Like most other drones, it’s got four arms. There’s also the camera on the front. Additionally, DJI put sensors up top that look sort of like eyes.
On the underside of the drone, you’ll find the very standard things about a DJI drone. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve more or less seen them all. The battery compartment is up top, and a few sensors are on the bottom.
The sides of the DJI Air 2s have small ports. You can access the internal contents via USB-C. There’s also a slot for a mini SD card.
There are lights all around the drone that help you see it a bit better in the dark or even in the day. There are also rear sensors that help with avoiding collissions.
Here’s a closer look at the camera mechanism. There’s a 1-inch sensor here.
When the drone lands, here’s what it looks like. The propellers are all detachable. During our testing, none of them broke.
Here’s what the DJI Air 2s looks like when it’s all folded up.
The DJI Air 2s is a lightweight, plastic drone. It needs to be for it to be able to fly. With that said, it’s not weather resistant. And I’d never recommend you taking it into inclement weather to fly. But the drone is light and built pretty well. However, expect to have propellors broken just as time goes on.
Let’s be real here, this is a drone! Autofocus doesn’t really matter, but DJI discusses it a bit in their press release. If you’re shooting and using a drone like you should, then this isn’t going to be any worry for you. If you’re using it as a glorified selfie stick, then scene recognition will kick in a bit. Either way, you don’t really have to worry about autofocus here.
Ease of Use
We played with an early version of the DJI Air 2s. If you’re experienced in the drone world, it’s the same as always. You download the app, connect your phone to the remote, activate the remote, turn on the drone, and go! When you’re doing everything legally, it shouldn’t be any sort of issue. But there are surely times you’ll probably end up deactivating location services. How you set up the control will also matter a bit.
Just take it slow. It’s like driving, give it a little bit of gas.
Operating the DJI Fly app is also pretty straightforward once you explore the menus. You can change things like the exposure mode, enabling RAW, sync, and more. It’s far less intimidating and a million times more modern than most camera menus. DJI almost holds your hand through the entire process. As long as you’re not ignoring the notifications, you’ll be just fine.
It’s pretty hard to do a Sunny 16 metering test with a drone. This is extra difficult because the camera doesn’t have a real aperture. With that said, we can’t stop the lens down to f16. But for the most part, the metering works just fine. You can tell the DJI Air 2s to shoot brighter, darker, or totally manual. Anything you can’t get, you’ll be able to fix in post-production with the RAW capabilities. Unlike dedicated cameras, there aren’t a lot of profiles built-in where you don’t need post-production.
The DJI Air 2s uses a 20MP 1-inch sensor. Think of it as a Sony RX100 camera up in the air. The image quality overall is more than usable and absolutely satisfactory. It also helps that drones are mostly flown during the daytime. So that means you can keep the ISO levels down.
RAW File Versatility
I’d like to remind everyone that this is a 1-inch sensor. So you’re not going to get insane dynamic range, colors, etc. With that said, the metering is typically good enough to recover enough details. The highlights and shadows are both easy to work with. To boot, the colors are also very vivid.
Extra Image Samples
- 1-inch sensor
- I wish it had an actual aperture, but I understand that they need to charge more.
- It’s over 249 grams.
By all means, the DJI Air 2s is almost everything that I’ve wanted for a long time now. I’m a city photographer. And I’ve only ever wanted a drone under 249 grams, with RAW, a large sensor, and a real aperture. Of course, that’s the dream. But the DJI Air 2s is the close acceptance of reality to what I want. For the passionate photographer, we finally have the drone we want. It delivers on versatility, build quality, image quality, and portability. Flying with it is such an incredibly fun experience. And overall, there isn’t a lot to complain about here. If you’ve ever perused Behance and fell in love with the drone photos there, then this is the one for you.
The DJI Air 2s receives our Editor’s Choice Award and five stars for the best drone for the serious passionate photographer. Want one? Check out Amazon!