DJI has just revealed its new Mavic 2 Pro quadcopter, which it describes as “the most advanced DJI camera drone ever built”.
As the name suggests, this new Mavic is aimed at professionals looking for a portable flying camera for aerial photography and filmmaking – and that means some potential buyers among you will be weighing up whether to go for it over DJI’s own Mavic Air, a smaller and cheaper model released earlier this year.
So how do the two drones compare, aside from the obvious physical and fiscal differences? We’ve run the numbers based on today’s launch info, and here’s how we think the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic Air stack up against one another.
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DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs DJI Mavic Air – Design and Controller
One of the main benefits of both drones is that they’re incredibly small and portable. This is particularly the case with the Mavic Air (below), though: when folded, it measures just 168x83x49mm in size, which makes it compact enough to fit in larger jacket pockets.
Of course, you’ll probably want to pack the controller too (even though the Air can be flown with just a smartphone), but thankfully that’s foldable and features detachable thumb sticks to lower its profile further.
You’ll also find these screw-off sticks on the Mavic 2 Pro’s controller, which has a similar shape to the Air’s but offers an additional LCD display to give the pilot flight and battery info at a glance.
As for the Mavic 2 Pro itself, while it’s also a folding drone it is a little larger and heavier than the Air, measuring 214x84x91mm, so the Mavic Air just edges this round.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs DJI Mavic Air – Flight Features
Let’s start by looking at flying features. DJI claims the Mavic 2 Pro can fly for up to 31 minutes on a single battery charge – significantly longer than the Mavic Air’s maximum of 21 minutes. In sport mode, it’s also marginally faster than the Air, with a top flight speed of 44mph compared to 42.5mph.
While the Mavic Air has sensors facing forward, backward and downward to prevent collisions, the Mavic 2 Pro has no fewer than 10 sensors, covering left, right, up, down, forward and backward. That means, in theory, it should be very difficult to crash, at least in good lighting conditions. DJI also states that obstacle avoidance doesn’t work in sport mode or during high speed tracking. To ensure safe landing in low light, the Mavic 2 Pro has a downward-facing LED to illuminate the ground.
According to DJI, the Mavic Air’s maximum transmission range when using the controller is 4000m, while the Mavic 2 Pro’s is 8000m. That’s thanks to an updated OcuSync 2.0 transmission system, which promises to live-feed 1080p to a companion smartphone with more stability than previous DJI systems. Both drones are compatible with the DJI Goggles headset for FPV flying.
As you might well expect from a more expensive and newer model, the Mavic 2 Pro seems to have the edge over the Air in every aspect of flight.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs DJI Mavic Air – Camera
The Mavic 2 Pro is the first drone to bear the fruit of DJI’s 2017 acquisition of legendary Swedish camera maker Hasselblad, and that fruit comes in the shape of a Hasselblad-branded camera with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor that supports recording in both 4K, HDR10 and the D-Log-M colour profile (the Mavic Air doesn’t support D-Log, but some other DJI drones do).
DJI says the Mavic 2 Pro captures four times the levels of colour per channel than the first Mavic Pro, providing more scope for editing later on. It also features an adjustable aperture (f/2.8 to f/11), which should give you more control over how it performs in brighter lighting conditions than the fixed-aperture Mavic Air.
The Mavic 2 Pro’s camera can record 4K video at a bitrate of up to 100Mbps, which is the same as the Air, but its larger sensor size apparently gives it more dynamic range – and it supports Hybrid Log Gamma HDR, which the Air does not. Both cameras can shoot JPEG or DNG RAW stills photos, but the 2 Pro’s are 20-megapixel while the Air’s are 12-megapixel.
In terms of combined flight/camera modes, the 2 Pro offers a couple of advantages over the Air (although some of this could be added to the Air via firmware or app updates): a hyperlapse shooting feature produces in-camera moving time-lapse videos; and a new 2.0 version of DJI’s Active Track promises more accurate tracking of moving subjects, even while autonomously flying around obstacles or at the drone’s top speed of 45mph.
Storage-wise, both drones have 8GB of internal built-in space, plus support for microSD cards for those who need more space. Both use a three-axis gimbal to keep the camera steady during flight.
The Mavic 2 Pro’s camera is one of its big selling points over cheaper alternatives like the Air, so it makes sense for it to be better. We’re looking forward to finding out just how much better in our full review soon.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs DJI Mavic Air – Early Verdict
One key aspect we haven’t really touched on yet is the relative pricing of the two drones: the Mavic Air is £769, while the Mavic 2 Pro will cost £1,299 at launch. So while it’s highly likely that the Mavic 2 Pro will be the superior model in terms of aerial imaging quality, flight time, flight safety, flight stability and remote control design, it’s also almost twice the price of the Mavic Air.
With the Mavic Air being much more portable than the Mavic 2 Pro, DJI is very much pitching the two models at different people. The Air – small and affordable, with impressive specs and a great camera for its price – is the mass market all-rounder; the Mavic 2 Pro is for hobbyists and enthusiasts who demand a bit more in terms of camera performance, and don’t mind paying a premium and carrying around a drone that’s marginally larger and heavier.
Every camera, flying or otherwise, carries a compromise of some sort, so you’ll need to decide on your own priorities to decide between these two. Most prospective drone owners, we suspect, will be more than happy with the Mavic Air, but those demanding truly excellent image quality from a fairly small drone will surely be tempted to go Mavic 2 Pro.
Which of the two drones do you prefer? Let us know @TrustedReviews.