DJI Mavic Air 2 – Do you actually need a drone?

The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a phenomenal bit of filmmaking technology, but is it finally the product that changes my opinion, that drones are nothing more than expensive toys for youtubers?

We have a bit of a chequered history with drones. Like most filmmakers, when the old DJI Phantom’s started hitting the market we jumped straight on that band wagon, but sadly, like a lot of camera gear and accessories, it more often than not got left behind. And after a few failed attempts, multiple crashes & drone write-offs, we just resigned ourselves to not using one and to be fair have never actually missed it in our work. 

So when DJI offered to lend us the Mavic Air 2, I was scared for them and a little hesitant. How can I honestly feature something, that I don’t really use or even see the need for? So rather than a straight up review, I wanted to take you on our journey of using the Mavic Air 2 and to see if by filming with it that it convince me that it’s far more than just a toy.

The setup, this was always the first hurdle that used to kill the joy for me with drones and in fact any filmmaking tech that requires you to use your smartphone to work. And straight off the bat, this whole process has been infinitely refined, in fact I’d go as far as to say as it’s actually easy now. 

The last drone we flew was the now 4 year old DJI Phantom 4 Pro, back then the set up was really cumbersome and the smartphone integration was frustrating at best. In fact my hatred for smartphone apps came from this product line and how slow and restrictive it made the filmmaking experience. 

With this generation of drones and in particular with the Mavic Air 2, DJI have made this experience seamless, I’d even go as far as to say it’s painless!! Whatever superlative you want to use the key for me is that you’re up and flying really quickly and that is central to my decision making when using any camera gear. 

Now flying a drone for the first few times is a pretty nerve wracking experience, you’re constantly worrying about breaking the damn thing, this is only amplified when it’s someone else’s, especially the manufacturers own stock!! But much like the usability I mentioned earlier, you’re actually really quickly put at ease by all the safety, return to home and collision avoidance safety features. If only the old Phantoms had that, we could saved ourselves quite a few expensive bills.

On two occasions we flew to the full extent of the roughly 15 minute battery life and both times the drone bought itself back to land, safely and without our interference. It’s features like that make this thing a really joy to use. It has the ability to put you at ease and allow you to comfortably focus on filming the shots you want to capture. 

But none of these points prove to me that this isn’t anymore than just a toy, the proof there is in it’s ability as a filmmaking tool and ultimately in the shots it will capture for you.

As we filmed these shots, we were smiling from ear to ear, enjoying every second of the experience, excited for getting the footage into an edit and seeing it on a big screen. It brought not only stunning angles that only it can reach for you, but a huge amount of fun to the days shooting. 

I’m not going to sit here and pick apart the specs and criticise the quality of the footage, there’s other, probably better videos for that. What I will do though is say that I enjoyed every second of using this drone and enjoy every second of reviewing the shots it caught. I was sad to send it back and have firmly added one to our wish list. But is it any more than a expensive toy for youtubers? Well, yes & no, it’s an incredibly niche tool that brings you all the joy of the best toys and really what can better than that?

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