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Intro

I’ve always loved the idea of Mavic Air. It lives in the sweet spot between great value and professional features. The Mavic Air 2 takes this idea even further by adding HDR capture, OccuSync 2.0, and High frame rates to name a few. But there’s more…

Simplified Interface

The new interface in the DJI Fly app is simple and elegant. Everything you need to get started is right in front of you, and anything that would be confusing has been tucked away. Even seasoned drone operators appreciate this. So well only need to change a few things to get going. 

Best Settings

If you’d like to get the most dynamic range out of your image, switch over from Normal color mode to D-Cinelike. It comes dialed in with lower contrast, giving you extra shadow detail and more flexibility to color grade in post. But if you’d like to skip color grading altogether, just stick with Normal color mode.

Coding Format

The new HEVC codec is a big improvement over the original Mavic Air. It’s the same codec that you’ll find in the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom. Put simply, HEVC gives you twice the quality for the same file size, although it’s harder on your computer to edit. 

settings for the mavic air 2Best Camera Settings

Center Marker

Enabling the center marker is a simple trick to help when you need a precise, symmetrical shot, or if you’d like the subject perfectly centered.

Advanced Gimbal Settings

The sensitivity of the gimbal is largely preference, but it also requires practice to get smooth and precise movements. I’ve found these settings to be a great starting point.

advanced gimbal settings for mavic air 2Suggested Advanced Gimbal Settings

Quick Tip

Try flying in Tripod Mode for shots with close foreground. This will keep you from flying too quickly, which can be distracting for the viewer.

HDR Capture

This is my favorite feature of the Mavic Air 2. Unlike normal HDR recording that simply records for HDR displays, the Mavic Air 2 has HDR capture. This is when the camera captures a scene with greater dynamic range than is normally possible by blending two exposures together. As you’ll see, it’s impressive, but there are two problems.

Problems with HDR

  1. The first is that it’s auto exposure only, not a huge deal, but I wish you could at least lock the exposure. So be sure to avoid and tilt ups that gradually reveal the sky, because this will cause the exposure to shift.
  2. The second problem is the saturation rolloff into the highlights. Because the HDR mode is creating a lower exposure for the highlights, you can end up with these strange images.  It often times looks artificial, almost like a cartoon.

 

Over saturated highlights in HDR mode

How do we fix it?

Well, it turns out to be more complicated than just lowering the highlight saturation, so I created a free preset for HDR mode to give a smooth saturation rolloff, it’s very film-like.

Mavic Air 2 HDR Mavic Air 2 HDR Preset

HDR fix removing oversaturated highlights

Color Grading

Since D-Cinelike gives you the most control over your exposure and image, this should be your main recording mode. And when it’s time to color grade, you’ll need to correct for the flat image. This will make D-Cinelike shots match your HDR footage.

I like to use an accurate color preset, called a LUT, to get a base grade going. It’s easier and faster than anything else. That’s why I helped to develop SkyGrades presets for the Mavic 2 Air. The Natural presets give warm, rich color, and the Cinema presets go even further for vibrant, creative color grades.

Occusync 2.0

The original Mavic Air’s remote used WiFi to communicate with the drone.  WiFi has a shorter range than Occusync, but the biggest downside is the lag. The Air 2 has Occusync 2.0, which is not only responsive, but has amazing range.

4k zoom

The latest firmware has a 4k zoom mode. This crops the sensor by 30%, giving you more reach. I love that the camera is more flexible now, and closer to the Mavic 2 Zoom. So use this anytime you want more lens compression or parallax.

Overall thoughts

While I wish there were obstacle avoidance sensors on the sides, the DJI Mavic Air 2 strikes a perfect balance between affordability and quality. Between the HDR capture, high frame rate recording, new Occusync 2.0, and excellent build quality, this portable drone is an excellent choice for beginners and professionals alike.

Matt Harris

Matt is the lead filmmaker and educator at The Film Poets.

4 Comments

  • Are ur luts filmora compatible?

  • Yes all SkyGrades LUTs work with Filmora.

  • Thanks for the write up! Giving your gimbal settings a try today.

  • Hi. Since there is no D-cinelike setting for stills in the Mavic 2 Pro software (as there was in the Phantom 4 Advanced), I was hoping I could emulate D-cinelike as closely as possible in the Mav 2 pro. I was going to do this by manually sliding contrast brightness and saturation to their lowest negative values, and then run through Aurora on the ‘Essentials.– ‘Fix Dark’ setting at around 20%. This gave me spectacular results with D-cinelike from the P4A which I haven’t been able to match with the mavic2p

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