DJI Mavic Air offers ultimate in drone portability

ANYONE who has lugged a full size drone in a hard carry case knows it's no walk in the park.

That was the experience we had recently when my son's mate decided he wanted to film surfing action at Noosa National Park.

I offered to help him carry the drone part of the way. It wasn't long before I realised the generous gesture would cost me an arm and leg of pain.

That's why DJI's announcement of the Mavic Air foldable drone will be welcome news for many.

This looks like one cool bit of kit with 4K video shooting at 30 frames per second, 60fps slow motion at 2.7k resolution and the great range of automated shooting sequences that DJI has become famous for.

Last year, we put the DJI Spark to the test and found it was an incredible performer for its size.

The Mavic Air is a decent step up from that but is still just half the size of the bigger Mavic Pro.

At  $1299 or $1599  with spare parts, extra batteries and accessories, it is no cheap toy.

But if you dream of aerial photography and creating great video content, it will certainly do the trick.

The Air can take 12 megapixel stills while the video features an impressive bitrate of up to 100 megabits per second.

At 1080p HD resolution, you can shoot at slow motion at 120 fps.

You can also shoot in high dynamic range mode.

DJI says it can track and shoot multiple objects and automatically stitch together 25 photos to make a 32-megapixel panoramic image within one minute.

You can create horizontal, vertical, and 180 degree panorama images.

It also features six QuickShot shooting modes where the drone goes off and shoots a pre-programmed sequence - something you can easily slot into a video.

DJI is already well known for the rocket, dronie, circle, and helix modes.

The two new modes are asteroid and boomerang.

Asteroid starts with a spherical image that zooms in as the drone descends toward the subject on the ground, while boomerang circles a subject in an oval-shaped flight path with the video finishing at the start point.

"When DJI introduced the Mavic Pro, it reinvented what a consumer drone could be: powerful, yet portable, accessible, but advanced," said Roger Luo, President at DJI.

"Today, with the introduction of Mavic Air, we have pushed these attributes to the next level to create our best consumer drone yet."

The compact drone features recessed three-axis mechanical gimbal is suspended from dampeners to further reduce vibration providing superior protection and steadier shots.

The camera has a 1/2.3" CMOS sensor and the equivalent of a 24mm F2.8 lens (on a 35mm full frame sensor).

DJI says Mavic Air is DJI's first drone with 8 GB of onboard storage letting you save photos and videos directly to the aircraft on the go, plus a micro SD card slot for additional storage capacity. The newly-added USB-C port makes exporting captured footage easy and fast.

"More powerful computing capabilities and optimized algorithms help Mavic Air fly smarter and safer through obstacles and terrain,'' the company said in a statement.

" FlightAutonomy 2.0 processes data gathered from seven onboard cameras and infrared sensors to construct a 3D map of its environment for more precise hovering and better flight performance.

"The improved forward and backward dual camera vision systems can sense obstacles up to 66 feet (20 meters) away.

To help navigate through more complex outdoor environments, Mavic Air has newly developed Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems that helps pilots avoid and bypass obstacles automatically, providing an extra layer of reassurance during flight.

Mavic Air has a maximum flight time of up to 21 minutes. It can fly stably in windy conditions of up to 36 kph and at high elevations of up to 5000m above sea level.

The remote has detachable control sticks that can be stored inside the remote controller for added portability.

Its omnidirectional antennas placed on the foldable landing gear help increase signal coverage to deliver a maximum range of up to 4km  with 720p real-time video transmission when flying with the remote controller.

When in Sport mode, Mavic Air flies at speeds of up to 68 kph and is compatible with DJI Goggles.

News Corp Australia

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