Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
DJI Air 2S is one of the best DJI drones ever released. Don’t get me wrong. We had the Mavic 2 Pro before that, and the DJI Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro came later, which are all great drones, but the DJI Air 2S is still worth it a year after its release.
So, what makes the DJI Air 2S a good drone?
I love the DJI Air 2S for its affordability, high-quality camera thanks to the 1-inch sensor, ease of use, portability, and extended range. As a professional drone photographer, this drone has everything I would need and even more.
Having used the drone on several occasions, both as a professional and a hobbyist, I share my experience with this drone.
Table of contents:
- About DJI:
- DJI Air 2S Overview:
- DJI Air 2S Pros and Cons:
- How to Fly the DJI Air 2S?
- DJI Air 2S Alternative – DJI Mini 3 Pro
- Final Thoughts – Who Should Get The DJI Air 2S?
DJI needs no introduction. We can rest assured that any drone we get from them will have state-of-the-art features. Launched in 2006, DJI has grown to occupy about 70% of the drone market in the world.
Thanks to their ability to manufacture drones for all types of users; hobbyists, professionals, and enterprise users.
Their in-house engineering team allows them to produce most of their hardware and software. Having dedicated a lot of their time to manufacturing the best technology for drones, you could never go wrong with any of their products.
And if you did, there is a plethora of resources from other forums, DJI’s Support, and excellent refund and warranty policies. Besides the Air 2S, other drones they have, and some of which I have used, include;
- DJI Mavic 2 and Mavic 2 Pro
- DJI Inspire 1 and 2
- DJI Phantom 4 V2.0
- DJI Mini 2 and Mini 3 Pro
DJI Air 2S Overview:
The DJI Air 2S came in April 2021 and took the world by storm. It came as an upgrade to the Mavic Air 2. In physical appearance, it may resemble the Air 2, but the Air 2S comes with a more sophisticated camera and is a bit heavier than the Air 2.
Below are the main features that make the DJI Air 2S a good drone.
Type: Outdoor Quadcopter
Model: DJI Air 2S
Communication Features: Brushless Version, Radio Control, Wi-Fi APP Control, OcuSync 3.0
Motor Type: Brushless Motor
Functions: Camera, Focus-Tracking, Time-Lapse, Forward/backward, Hover, High Wind Warning, Mastershots, Quickshots, On-Coming Traffic Warning, One Key Return to Home, Automatic Landing, One Key Taking Off, Tap to Fly, Turn left/right, Up/down, Waypoints, Panorama, Livestreaming
Satellite System: GLONASS, GPS, BEIDOU
Sensor: Optical Flow, Sonar
Built-in Gyro: 6 Axis Gyro
Material: Carbon Fiber, Electronic Components, PC
Kit Types: RTF
Model Power: Removable Battery
Battery: 3500mAh LiPo
Flying Time: About 30 mins
Charging Time: About 3.5
Video Resolution: 5.2K at 30 fps, 4K at 60fps, and
Drone weight: 595g
Product size: 180 x 97 x 77 mm (folded) or 183 x 253 x 77 mm (unfolded)
Package size: 8.6 x 7.4 x 5.6 inches
What’s In the Box?
Below is what I found in the box (I got the Fly More Combo which I’d recommend you get);
- The quadcopter
- Remote Controller
- 3 Batteries
- Spare propellers
- Screw Driver
- USB-C cable
- Controller to smartphone cables
- Gimbal cover
- Instruction Manual
- ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32 filter set
- Charging Hub
- Shoulder Bag
Design is one of the areas that DJI always seems to get right. As mentioned earlier, the Air 2S resembles the Air 2, with the addition of forward and upward obstacle avoidance sensors at the top. It’s also foldable to make it easier to carry around.
However, this drone weighs about 595 grams. While that’s not very heavy, you must register it. The Mini drones exempt you from this, but they won’t offer the functionality you get with the Air 2S.
I also love the controller that comes with this drone. It feels more comfortable than the folding controller of its predecessor, and the phone holder is telescopic. It slides out when needed and fits right in for easy storage.
The joysticks are also removable to make it easier to store them without damaging them.
Right off the bat, the DJI Air 2’s camera stands out. The 1-inch sensor with 20MP resolution produces some of the best still images.
The sensor is twice the size of the Mavic Air 2, which came with a 12 MP still image resolution. How about videos? The Air 2S is capable of shooting in 5.2K at 30fps.
But I prefer shooting in 4K at 60 fps and 1080p at 120 fps for slow-motion videos.
I once participated in live streaming of a graduation ceremony for a local TV station, and we used the Air 2S to Livestream the whole thing to YouTube. That goes to show that this drone is good enough for professional photography.
Not forgetting the ability to shoot in JPEG and RAW and D-LOG and HDR (10-bit). Shooting in RAW gives you more control when editing the footage while shooting in D-LOG gives you access to millions of colors you wouldn’t find in previous drones.
Unfortunately, unlike most professional drones, the Air 2S has a fixed aperture of f/2.8. While you could get creative and get high-quality footage by adjusting the ISO and shutter speed, at some point, you will need ND filters to achieve the best footage from your drone.
That’s because, unless you have to, you should always aim to adhere to the 180 rule and keep ISO numbers low to avoid noise in your footage.
Luckily, in the fly more combo, DJI provides 4 ND filters (ND4, ND8, ND16, and ND32). These are the filters you will need.
The ND4 is good for sunset and sunrise, ND8 is suitable for cloudy days, and the ND16 and ND32 come in handy for very bright days. But if there comes a time that you need more powerful ND filters, FreeWell has got you covered with both ND filters and polarizers designed explicitly for the Air 2S.
Another excellent feature of the DJI Air 2S is the 8X Zoom. It allows you to get close enough to the subject as the law allows and compensate for the rest using the zoom feature.
Intelligent Flight Modes:
To add to the exceptional camera, DJI also included intelligent flight modes that allow you to take cinematic shots more easily. These modes include;
- FocusTrack – This mode includes ActiveTrack (follow me), Spotlight 2.0, where the drone maintains the subject in view as you maneuver, and Point OF Interest, where the drone circles the subject.
- Hyperlapse – This mode allows you to create time-lapse footage by selecting how long the time-lapse will be and how often to take the shots. You can do the Hyperlapse through Waypoints, Circle, and Course Lock options.
- Quickshots – This mode allows the drone to take shots of your subject in 6 different patterns; Helix, Dronie, Circle, Boomerang, Asteroid, and Rocket.
Flight time should be one of the main concerns when buying a drone. You don’t want a drone whose battery gets depleted before you can accomplish anything.
Luckily, the DJI Air 2S has a 30-minute flight time, allowing you to record lots of footage. And with the Fly More Combo, you get three batteries, extending this flight time to 1.5 hours.
Of course, factors like temperature, wind, and battery quality will also affect how long the battery will last. Therefore, always ensure you are using batteries that aren’t damaged and always fly in ideal weather conditions.
Like all other DJI drones, DJI Air 2S is a GPS drone featuring a solid GPS for both navigation and stabilization. That’s why when you take off the drone, it will hover unless there aren’t enough GPS satellites, or you’ve decided to switch to ATTI mode. Its weight, vision sensors, and GPS make it one of the most stable drones in strong wind.
In addition, the DJI Air 2S features ADS-B, allowing it to communicate with manned aircraft. As a result, if a manned aircraft flies close to where you are flying, you can view it and its information on the DJI Fly App and take necessary action to avoid accidents.
This feature is useful when flying in Aerodromes or close to airports where there will be low-flying aircraft.
A review of this drone can’t be complete without the mention of the Obstacle Avoidance system, named the Advanced Pilot Assistance System. That consists of forward, backward, top, and bottom obstacle sensing.
You also get the downward auxiliary light LED. You can set the drone to either bypass (avoid the obstacle) or Break (to stop) when it faces an obstacle. You can also switch it off.
However, the Obstacle avoidance system is not always reliable. For instance, the downward sensors may not work as expected when flying over water, tiles, branches, mirrors, and reflective surfaces.
I learned that you shouldn’t entirely rely on these systems and always be aware of the drone’s surroundings as it flies. You will also realize that it lacks sideways sensors.
DJI prides itself on having one of the most advanced transmission systems, OcuSync. The DJI Air 2S features one of their latest versions of the OcuSync, the OcuSync 3.0.
As a result, this drone can fly up to 7.5 Miles (12KM) from the controller without losing the connection. I tested this range, and it was thereabout.
However, you will not be able to see this drone when it is that far, and it’s not always advisable to fly a drone to areas you can’t see it. Besides, the regulations require pilots to fly within the line of sight. While you can’t fly the drone miles away, you can rest assured you will have the most robust connection for short-range flights.
DJI Air 2S Pros and Cons:
- Very affordable.
- Professional grade camera.
- Lightweight and easily portable.
- Excellent flight modes.
- Easy to use.
- Exceptional support and warranty policy from DJI.
- Fixed aperture.
- It could use a longer flight time.
- The charging hub provided with the Fly More combo is sometimes not practical.
How to Fly the DJI Air 2S?
This is my favorite part. The DJI Air 2S is one of the best drones I’ve ever bought, and I enjoyed every part of it. And now, I will show you how you can get started with it.
DJI Air 2S is an RTF (Ready to Fly) drone, so you can set it up in a few minutes and start flying. Once you get the drone, unfold it starting with the forward arms.
Please pay attention to the rear arms since they unfold by moving down, not sideways.
You also need to pay attention to the propellers. They rotate in different directions to cancel rotation and keep the drone in the air. To know which propellers go where, check for the orange mark.
Each propeller with an orange mark goes to the orange motor. And each black propeller goes to the motor with no orange mark.
The battery is on the back of the drone. To remove it, press in the locks on both sides and pull. And to insert the battery, press the same locks, and push the battery in until you hear a locking sound.
Below are the main parts of the drone. Each part has a number which is then named at the bottom.
- Forward obstacle sensors
- Camera and Gimbal
- Upward obstacle sensors
- USB port for data transfer (not for charging). On the other side, at the exact location, is the SD card port.
- Backward sensors
- Downward sensors
- LED landing light
Now that you know where everything should be, unfold the drone, remove the gimbal cover, and ensure the propellers are tight, and you will be ready to fly. It’s also good to fit an appropriate filter based on the brightness.
Two controllers are available for the DJI Air 2S; the RCN1, similar to the Mini 2, and the DJI Smart Controller. If you have the budget, you can get the Smart Controller since it has an inbuilt screen and extra memory. But I stuck with the RCN1. To set it up, follow the following step;
- Get the sticks from the bottom and screw them in.
- Pull out the phone holder and place your smartphone.
- Pull out the cable and connect it to the smartphone.
- Press the Power button once, and hold to switch the controller on. Do the same for the drone.
- Launch the app on the smartphone. In most cases, the DJI Fly App will automatically detect the drone.
- If it doesn’t, go to Settings – Controller, click on Re-Pair to Aircraft (Link), and press the drone’s power button for 4 seconds.
- Observe the controller’s button. The Cine, Normal, and Sport Mode are in the middle, which controls how fast the drone goes. On the right is the Power button and on the left is the Return-To-Home button.
- Next to the Right control stick is the camera swap that allows you to switch between photo and video modes.
- On the Top left is the gimbal dial allowing you to turn the gimbal up and down.
- On the top right is the shutter or record button.
The DJI Air 2S uses the DJI Fly App. This is where you update the firmware, access the album, change camera settings, set the home point, and do much more.
DJI has done its best to simplify the app, so it isn’t that hard to configure it. Before taking off, you need to set the Home point, so the drone knows where to come back to.
On the bottom left section, click on GO FLY. On the next screen, you will see the mode you are in, Status (take-off permitted or not), battery power, and GPS signal strength. On the far top right is the Menu.
On the right edge is where you control the camera and video mode and select the flight modes. At the bottom right is where you control ISO, resolution, and monitor storage. And on the bottom left is the map.
On the far left is the Automatic Take-off, which turns to Automatic landing when the drone is in the air, and at the top is the Obstacle Avoidance indicator.
There’s so much you can do with the app, but I will not go into every detail here.
For my first flight, I did it at a local training station where there is an open field. Like all other drones, conduct a pre-flight check where you check the batteries and the SD cards, and make sure you are allowed to fly in the region. Below is how you take off and land.
You can either use the Automatic Take-off or do it manually.
- For automatic take-off, tap the button, and the drone will automatically take off and hover.
- For Manual Take-Off, power everything up, make sure it’s connected, push the joysticks downward and in, then push the left stick up until the drone takes off.
- For manual landing, push the left stick down until the drone touches the ground and keep pushing to disarm it.
- For automatic landing, press the Auto-Land button and hold for it to land.
Drone controls are similar to all other drones. The left stick pushes the drone up and down and rotates the drone left and right. The right stick accelerates the drone forward and backward and rolls the drone left and right.
DJI Air 2S Alternative – DJI Mini 3 Pro
I have mentioned the Mini 3 Pro a couple of times now, and it would be my next pick if I can’t get the DJI Air 2S. The Mini 3 Pro is a recent release since it hit most markets between July and August. It came as an upgrade to the DJI Mini 2, but it is way better.
Even some drone users have dubbed it the Air 2S killer, though I beg to differ. Some of the best features of the Mini 3 Pro is the 30-minute flight time with the ability to get a 40-minute battery.
Secondly, you still get a 4K 60fps video, D-Cinelike or D-log color profile, sub-250 grams design, vertical gimbal, tri-directional obstacle sensing, and avoidance.
The Mini 3 Pro is also cheaper if you don’t get the DJI RC controller. With the standard controller, you can get it for less than$700, while the DJI Air 2S goes for $999. And if you choose to get the DJI RC with an inbuilt screen, you can get it for about $1100.
Final Thoughts – Who Should Get The DJI Air 2S?
I had used the DJI Mini 2 for a while, and I only just got it for fun and sometimes doing client work. Later, I decided to upgrade to a better drone to provide professional drone photography.
After debating between the Mini 3 Pro, Mavic 2 Pro, and the Autel Evo II, I settled for the Air 2S due to its affordability and advanced features.
So, who should get the DJI Air 2S? Any professional photographer looking for their first drone, or anyone upgrades from the DJI Mini drones, the DJI Air 2S provides the perfect balance between the Mini drones and the more advanced Mavic drones. I’d consider this everyone’s drone, but if you want to avoid registering the drone, the Mini 3 Pro will do just fine.