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Is the Mavic Air good enough?

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Dec 6, 2018
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#1
I've considered getting a drone for a year and this weekend they are selling MA Fly More Combo for $843 which is basically 20% off its regular price here. That's about my threshold to get a drone for hobby and family videos so I was about to buy it immediately.

Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of problems. Weird saturation issues in the shadows, stuttering videos, wobbly lines when panning, low resolution, purple discoloring, soft images (lens issue?), out of focus images, shadows from propellers, loud noise, really short range in Europe, dying batteries, drones that are running away, etc. Overall my first DSLR I had back in 2005 and my current $220 phone delivers better results. Video reviews seem to love it but I'm starting to question how much time they actually spent looking for these issues or if their main task was to get a cool looking video for YouTube while getting affiliate commission.

So.. Is the Mavic Air mature enough for usable videos and photos or would it be better to just wait 1-2 years for MA 2 or even MA3? I would love a drone but it would be wasteful of me to get a beta drone that delivers underwhelming results and runs off after a week. I've genuinely tried to study other peoples results but they love the saturation slider which (in my view) ruins the photos and I never know if poor videos are down to user error or poor hardware. I would hate to repeat my mistake of buying an early EVF camera which was just unusable due to the lag.
 

dannybgoode

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#2
I think you’ve been reading some very biased anti Air reviews. The MA is an incredible drone - possibly the best value drone in the DJI line-up.

Photo quality is very good and video quality is brilliant given the limitations of the sensor size (and note it’s tge same sensor and in the MPP and M2Z).

The range issue is easy enough to overcome - takes 2 minutes with an Android device (you only need to force FCC mode - not fly all the time with it is iOS is your thing).

Have a look in the photos thread for some sublime examples - unless you are an extraordinarily good photographer you’ll be the limiting factor in how good the output is.
 

CanadaDrone

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#3
Every single issue you listed is not a problem with the drone, is user error, or is something that you have complete control over - so don't worry about any of that. "Low resolution" isn't an issue because you know exactly what the resolutions are before even buying, and they aren't low.

Range outside of North America isn't an issue, it's designed that way to comply with CE standards, but in 30 seconds you can just switch it over to FCC mode. If you are in North America and travel to Europe or another CE country, you're good to go you don't need to do anything except say "no" when the pop up asks if you want to change your mode.

You mention you have DSLRs, so if you have a photography background, you're already ahead of the average user.

I have an Air and I can tell you I have literally none of the issues listed in your second paragraph, especially since most of them would be the result of user error.

It's an extremely capable drone - at 20% off I would not pass that up if you're in the market.

Do note it has a 1/2.3" image sensor, so while it's significantly better than the original Mavic Pro, it has the same limitations as any other device with a 1/2.3" sensor has (such as a smartphone or point & shoot camera). Video is quite a bit better than still images and you're going to want to be at base ISO most of the time. If you want great stills you need to move up to one of the 1" sensor models, but you pay double and lose a lot of portability so obviously there are compromises there.
 

Mike_Flys

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#4
I love my Mavic Air, and have shot some great videos/photos with it.
It doesn't have the range, flight time or camera of my Mavic 2 pro. but I feel it is a capable drone for short range line of sight.... if something gets between you and the drone it may drop the video. Mine used to drop video feed all the time but fortunately the drone always responded to the controls. It is better with the newer firmware updates.
If I can find time later today I will look for some of the video and pics I have taken with it.

I love it enough that when I bought my Mavic 2, I sold my Mavic Pro and kept my Mavic Air

Mike
 

RTKD

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#6
I have a slightly different take, I'll just throw my 2 cents in.
I have a Mavic pro, love it. That said, if I want to save money and fly a drone for personal use I'd get a spark. Personally, I wanted more manual control, so I went with the Mavic.

If you care about the video quality, and you want more discrete control, then get a Mavic or a Mavic 2
If you just want to fly, get a spark and save some money. The mavic air is really a compromise between the two.

Not hating on you MA owners, just my opinion
 

CanadaDrone

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#8
The Mavic Air has fixed focus and a very tiny sensor with with almost infinite depth of field), so the only time you would ever get soft focus under normal circumstances is if you flew too close to something (inside it's minimum focus distance). Additionally you have control over things like sharpness settings to adjust minor differences.

If you have generally soft footage outside the norm, or dramatically uneven sharpness across the frame, then you have a defective drone but the chances of that are pretty slim so you would just be unlucky at that point, and you would be equally as likely to have the same issue with whatever else you bought.

In the thread you linked, some of those samples are pretty poorly done and don't tell us anything conclusive, but some people seem to have some lens issues. I've certainly never heard of it before and my Air does not have that problem, so I do not believe it is widespread by any means.

No lens is perfect across the frame, and that includes my $3,000 DSLR lenses. If there is a dramatic difference though, that would be outside the norm and would suggest a defective product which you would presumably simply exchange like any other product.

If you go looking for problems, you are going to find them, because people typically only post on the internet when they are having issues - rarely do they post to say "I love this thing and have zero issues", which is the camp most of us are in. :)

I truly don't think you have anything to worry about regarding the list of issues you presented, and the chances of you getting a defective product are the same no matter what you buy (i.e. very low).
 

dawgpilot

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#9
The only issue you listed that I've found to be a problem is the loudness of the props. It's still very useable, I just wish that the drone were a bit quieter, especially when flying in a residential area. My understanding is that the loudness is really a consequence of the small size and needing to spin faster to overcome that, and there isn't much DJI could do about it.
 
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Jun 23, 2018
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#10
I've considered getting a drone for a year and this weekend they are selling MA Fly More Combo for $843 which is basically 20% off its regular price here. That's about my threshold to get a drone for hobby and family videos so I was about to buy it immediately.

Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of problems. Weird saturation issues in the shadows, stuttering videos, wobbly lines when panning, low resolution, purple discoloring, soft images (lens issue?), out of focus images, shadows from propellers, loud noise, really short range in Europe, dying batteries, drones that are running away, etc. Overall my first DSLR I had back in 2005 and my current $220 phone delivers better results. Video reviews seem to love it but I'm starting to question how much time they actually spent looking for these issues or if their main task was to get a cool looking video for YouTube while getting affiliate commission.

So.. Is the Mavic Air mature enough for usable videos and photos or would it be better to just wait 1-2 years for MA 2 or even MA3? I would love a drone but it would be wasteful of me to get a beta drone that delivers underwhelming results and runs off after a week. I've genuinely tried to study other peoples results but they love the saturation slider which (in my view) ruins the photos and I never know if poor videos are down to user error or poor hardware. I would hate to repeat my mistake of buying an early EVF camera which was just unusable due to the lag.
As always in forums your mostly read about problems. You don't hear much from people who are satisfied. And if it's a product which has sold well (which I believe it is) there is always quite a crowd of unsatisfied customers.

The Air is great for most purposes and especially if you need a compact unit. I love being able to take it with me without much planning and just on the off chance I might use it.

A bit loud maybe but that is the trade-off for the small size compared to the capabilities. For future versions the main request for improvements I would have is a bigger sensor for better low light capability.
 

CanadaDrone

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#11
The props aren't too much louder than other Mavics , but they are definitely higher pitched (smaller props need to spin faster) which is perceived as louder and more annoying by most people. It is not a huge difference but it's noticeable.

Keep in mind that neither the Air or Mavic (or any of the DJI's drones) are at all quiet, and they will all get the exact same amount of attention if you are near other people. If there is any background noise at all, you can't hear either drone once it's 100ft away or so. If I had to choose a drone to hover directly over my head for an hour, I would not choose the Air, but in any normal usage scenario the noise is mostly a non-issue. At least in my opinion after using both drones, if you can hear one, you can hear the other, so while the Air is higher pitched, you aren't going to have a scenario where one drone is quiet and the other isn't.
 

AussieDrone

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#12
I have used both Phantom 4 and MA. I would pick MA any day of the week over Phantom 4. MA produces amazing videos in 4K. I would highly recommend it. Given your budget, this is the best you can buy IMHO.
 

Azex

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#13
Most of the reviews you'll find on YouTube tend to be over 8 months old and since then some firmware updates arrived. I got mine a month ago after extensive research between Mavic Pro/Air and ended up getting the Air Fly More Combo because of portability. Went on a trip to Netherlands and Argentina and have NO issues other than calibrating the compass when changing locations (I calibrate it every time I fly so not a big deal). I'm still editing my videos and photos but I couldn't be happier with this amazing device. I mean just look at this video someone posted on YouTube:

 
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#14
Thanks Azex, it truly is an amazing video with gorgeous views but it also highlights one of my main concerns with Mavic Air. Look at the background at 1:00 and the trees in the foreground at 1:35. The shadows are just different shades of gray and the color information seems completely gone.



 
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Nov 11, 2018
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#15
I think it depends on your needs. If you want an amazing fun fast drone with a nice camera you can put in a pouch for under 1k get mavic air. If you want a drone that flies forever and a decent camera for under 1k get the mavic pro. If you need professional footage get mavic 2 or p4p and eat the price. If you want a nice camera similar to air dont care about range or speed buy a q500 4k or typhoon h for under 500. Love my air but gimbal isnt quite as good as q500 4k or typhoon h, with same basic camera quality.

Personally I'm keeping both as I can easily mount other cameras to q500 but only mavic can go in my backpack to vegas next week
 
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Splashy

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#16
For me the difference in size is important. I am very happy with the images and video from my Air and recently bought a Mavic 2 Zoom. The difference in size is huge and to me it seems like the two require a different mindset when using them. The Air you can put in your backpac and just fly when you feel like it. The M2Z requires a decision prior to using it as it takes up so much more space and adds so much more weight.

I am only a hobbyist DJI user but have built and flown drones for nearly 10 years. If I had to sell one of my drones then I would keep the Air. It fits in my glove compartment and is ideal to just grab and fly.
 

dannybgoode

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#17
For me the difference in size is important. I am very happy with the images and video from my Air and recently bought a Mavic 2 Zoom. The difference in size is huge and to me it seems like the two require a different mindset when using them. The Air you can put in your backpac and just fly when you feel like it. The M2Z requires a decision prior to using it as it takes up so much more space and adds so much more weight.

I am only a hobbyist DJI user but have built and flown drones for nearly 10 years. If I had to sell one of my drones then I would keep the Air. It fits in my glove compartment and is ideal to just grab and fly.
I too would keep my Air over my M2P. It’s just so useable and likeable.

I plan on taking it when I do some long distance bike rides for eg and as you say you can keep it in the car and get it flying pretty much anywhere.
 

dannybgoode

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#18
Thanks Azex, it truly is an amazing video with gorgeous views but it also highlights one of my main concerns with Mavic Air. Look at the background at 1:00 and the trees in the foreground at 1:35. The shadows are just different shades of gray and the color information seems completely gone.



You’ll find fault with any footage if you go through it frame by frame. The Mavic Pro is no better -exactly the same camera albeit with autofocus.

Trouble you have with the though is it sometimes focuses on something you didn’t want to and then your target is a little out.

Swings and roundabouts really. If you look at all the comments here though you’ll see that everyone that actually owns an MA loves it to bits. And with good reason.
 

vanderzyde0

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#19
The Mavic Air has fixed focus and a very tiny sensor with with almost infinite depth of field), so the only time you would ever get soft focus under normal circumstances is if you flew too close to something (inside it's minimum focus distance). Additionally you have control over things like sharpness settings to adjust minor differences.

If you have generally soft footage outside the norm, or dramatically uneven sharpness across the frame, then you have a defective drone but the chances of that are pretty slim so you would just be unlucky at that point, and you would be equally as likely to have the same issue with whatever else you bought.

In the thread you linked, some of those samples are pretty poorly done and don't tell us anything conclusive, but some people seem to have some lens issues. I've certainly never heard of it before and my Air does not have that problem, so I do not believe it is widespread by any means.

No lens is perfect across the frame, and that includes my $3,000 DSLR lenses. If there is a dramatic difference though, that would be outside the norm and would suggest a defective product which you would presumably simply exchange like any other product.

If you go looking for problems, you are going to find them, because people typically only post on the internet when they are having issues - rarely do they post to say "I love this thing and have zero issues", which is the camp most of us are in. :)

I truly don't think you have anything to worry about regarding the list of issues you presented, and the chances of you getting a defective product are the same no matter what you buy (i.e. very low).

Here’s one - "I love this thing and have zero issues"

Also go to YouTube there is a video I watched on settings to make the whole capture area sharper and to capture those shadows with more data so in post production you can sharpen up and see those colors you mention being just shades of gray. Sorry I don’t have the link because I’ve watched hundreds of MA photography videos. That’s another selling point- there are so many helpful videos on YouTube about the MA because of its popularity.

Buy it and go have some fun! But practice like $1000 depends on it.
 
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#20
You’ll find fault with any footage if you go through it frame by frame. The Mavic Pro is no better -exactly the same camera albeit with autofocus.
This isn't a frame by frame issue though. The drone is producing selectively gray footage from beginning to end.

If you look at all the comments here though you’ll see that everyone that actually owns an MA loves it to bits. And with good reason.
Which surprises me a bit. I'm convinced that the form factor is amazing and I'm not trying to talk down the product but posts here claim that the issues are "biased anti Air reviews" and user error. Since I have no experience with it, I'm trying to figure out if that's really the case or if my expectations are just too high.

Are satisfied users not seeing the issues because they don't have them, are they not seeing them because they aren't looking or are they just finding it reasonable considering it's a fairly low-prized drone?
 

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