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DJI Air 2S review | The best new all-purpose drone for 2021

DJI Air 2S

DJI Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S is a hard drone to top for just about anyone. Photographers, videographers, and drone enthusiasts are going to be surprised by just how many features the Air 2S delivers in a compact design that’s portable, powerful, and user-friendly.

Compared to last year’s drones, including the impressive Mavic Air 2, the Air 2S is really hard to beat for a lot of reasons. It’s affordable,the specs are great, and I could see a lot of people wondering if it’s time to upgrade.

The DJI Air 2S is $999 USD, with the drone, remote controller, battery, and cables; or $1299 USD for the Fly More Combo that includes all of the standard items plus 2 extra batteries, the neutral density filters, a charging hub, and a shoulder bag. You can purchase the drone from DJI.com.

Here’s my look at why the drone is going to make it onto a lot of people’s wishlists this year.

Design & Specs

The Air 2S design has been upgraded from the Air 2 in a lot of subtle ways. The front of the new drone is rounder and sleeker, DJI has added two upward-facing sensors on the front for collision avoidance, but otherwise it’s very similar to the Air 2.

The specs have been bumped up from the previous model in almost every way, too. The upgrades include a new 1″ sensor that captures 20 MP stills and 5.4K Ultra HD video at 30fps, or 4K video at 60fps and 150 Mbps. The drone has the new DJI O3, the latest version of OcuSync, for wireless transmission that works up 12 KM.

While I wish the 5.4K video could record at a higher frame rate, overall I’m impressed with the specs.

Similar to the Air 2, the Air 2S weighs 595 grams, and it can fly for up to 31 minutes.

The original Mavic Air had a sleek design that I do miss, but the Air 2S takes advantage of a wider layout that makes the drone more stable, and more efficient.

Folding it down, it fits in most camera bags with the controller, or the Fly More combo includes a simple, well made, and compact bag for travel with enough space for the neutral density filters, and the spare batteries too.

And just in case you fill up your memory card while flying, the Air 2S includes 8 GB of internal storage.

Holding the controller, it is a little bit bulky, but it’s incredibly comfortable, the battery lasts a long time, and I love the design because it holds the phone above the controls, where it’s easier to see the screen. This controller also does a great job of holding the phone firmly, without much room for it to shift, like some of the older model controllers.

Flying & Features

The DJI Air 2S is easy to fly, manoeuvrable, and it comes with upgraded obstacle avoidance, thanks to APAS 4, for better collision protection. While it’s not foolproof, and it doesn’t work sideways, the Air 2S can detect most objects forward, backward, upward, and downward.

With a top speed at just over 68 kph, the Air 2S matches its predecessors, and it handles pretty much identically to the Air 2.

From the remote, you can switch between the three flying modes: Cine, Normal, and Sport.

In Cine mode, you get slower, more stable, cinematic-style footage; Normal mode offers all the bells and whistles to keep the drone from flying into obstacles, with more speed; and Sport mode flies at a maximum of 19 m/s or 68 kph, but without any obstacle avoidance.

Drone features are excellent for both travellers and photographers, including the brand new MasterShots, digital zoom, QuickShots, and SmartPhoto.

MasterShots is probably the most exciting new feature, and offers a lot of options for anyone looking to share video quickly right from the DJI app, but it does come with some limitations.

In MasterShots, you set a subject–like a person, location, or building–and then a distance you want the drone to fly from the subject, and it will automatically fly around it capturing a footage. Once it’s done, you can choose from a few automatically created videos, download it, and share it. The only drawback is that, likely because of the processing power required to capture the footage, the drone only provides the video at 1080p.

That’s the same limitation as QuickShots, so hopefully we’ll see future DJI drones that can create automatic videos at higher resolution.

Photo & Video

The Air 2S captures striking, sharp, and excellent photos and video. It’s a fantastic drone, and does a great job in a range of light conditions–right up until dusk, thanks to that 1″ sensor–and offers some of the best quality footage I’ve seen on any DJI drone. That includes the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which has the better camera, but unless you’re shooting in manual mode, most people won’t care about the differences.

One of my favourite features is the digital zoom, and that works at up to 3x in 5.4K mode. At 2x zoom, the video still looks good, and you can see a sample of that in my video below, but I found it a bit fuzzy at 3x.

If you’re looking to take your video even further, the drone can record in 10bit D-log as well as RAW format photos. It captures from ISO 100 to 6400 automatically, or up to 12800 manually, with an aspect ratio of either 3:2 or 16×9.

For shooting during the day, the ND filters included in the Fly More Combo are well worth learning how to use. Video can look a bit jittery when it’s bright out, so snapping on one of the four filters can help you create smoother, better looking footage.

Otherwise, it’s worth mentioning that there is no option to shoot vertically. That’s something I’m asked a lot about DJI drones, and so far they haven’t embraced vertical or portrait shooting. If you’re planning to share videos to TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube Shorts, you’ll need to edit your video.

Like the Air 2, the Air 2S can also capture hyperlapse videos, and the other photo modes from previous DJI drones, like panoramas.

Final Thoughts

The Air 2S is exactly what most people are looking for in a drone. It’s easy to fly, it can be fast or cinematic, the 5.4K video is excellent and looks amazing, and it’s a portable drone to take with you on adventures, or out to your nearby park.

If I was about to buy a new drone, this would be the one I’d get today, knowing how precious camera bag space can be, and looking for the best results when we can travel again. While I’m excited to see when DJI updates the Mavic Pro line of drones, the Air has quickly become my favourite for the way it balances the line for key features.

As well, consider DJI Care Refresh if you’re a less experienced pilot, or if you’re going to be flying anywhere that conditions could cause a crash. DJI Care Refresh is $99 USD for one year on the DJI Air 2S, or $169 USD for two years, which will provide up to 2 or 3 replacement drones, respectively over those terms.

Watch my unboxing and first flight with the Air 2S below, and if you need help picking your next drone, leave a comment on YouTube or find me on Twitter.

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