DJI Air 2s Color Modes (Normal vs D LOG vs HLG)

I often get questions about the different color modes of the Air 2S, about the 10 bits color modes, the codecs H264 or H265, if they are compatible with 5.4k resolution, with the higher frame rates, and the different zoom modes

The DJI Air 2S has three different color modes: Normal, D Log, and HLG. Normal is an 8 bits mode, meant to be used as it comes out of the camera, even without any editing. D Log and HLG are 10 bits modes and need a good amount of computer post-processing

It might be a little confusing, so I will explain all you need to know about the different color modes in the Air 2S. I will also show footage comparing them in different light conditions to help choose the correct color mode for different situations

An example of a clip in HLG mode

DJI Air 2s Normal Mode

Normal mode in the Air 2s is the one meant to be used as it comes out of the sensor. It is aimed mainly at users who want to use their footage on social media and don’t rely on computer post-processing. It is an 8-bit mode, works at all resolutions and frame rates, and is the only one that can be used with the zoom function

It is available in two different codecs: H264 and H265. Most users will prefer H264, as H265 is much more computer-intensive and at the moment it is not supported by some software packages. There is no visible difference in quality between Normal in H264 and in H265

Comparison of the two codecs: H264 and H265

Out of the box, Normal mode doesn’t look ready to use as in the Mini 2 or the Mavic Air. It needs a very quick touch of editing to increase contrast and saturation. But after a couple of adjustments, it looks very nice

Limitations of 8-bit Color Modes

So we can just use Normal mode all the time and forget about the other 2, right? Well, it is not that simple, there are three main reasons why professional users prefer the other two modes

  • An 8-bit color mode can hold 16 mil colors, against over 1bl for 10-bit modes. When color correcting and grading footage in 8-bit modes color banding and other artifacts can appear in the sky or other uniform parts of the image when increasing contrast or saturation or when modifying individual colors
  • The dynamic range is not as wide as in the other two modes, as the files contain less information
  • The files don’t respond as well to post-processing, especially the correction of the white balance, as they are already heavily processed

HLG vs D Log in the DJI Air 2S

HLG and D Log are the two 10-bit color modes of the DJI Air 2s. They are available only in the H265 Codec and are used by professionals and prosumers who rely on computer post-processing. They are not compatible with the Zoom functionalities but can be used at 5.4k resolution and with intelligent flight modes up to 4k and 30 FPS

In professional videography, the footage must match the color scheme and the mood of a project in most cases. Customers have different tastes and requirements, and sometimes it is better to supply several variations of the same footage

LUTs are often used to color-grade these profiles. Both profiles are flatter than Normal mode, especially DLog, and are not meant to be used without serious processing. They look washed out without grading, especially DLog.

By far the most popular is DLOG, which is often considered the flat profile to use for serious post-processing. 

I use HLG practically all the time. I find that it retains perfectly the wonderful natural colors of the Air 2S and it doesn’t need a lot of extra contrast. During dolor grading, there is a slight tendency to oversaturate the orange-red, but it is very simple to reduce the saturation of these colors 

The choice is a matter of personal preference. Also, a color profile can work better in certain light conditions. Some specific LUTs may work better with one of the two modes. The choice between DLOG and HLG involves a process of trial and error

D Log and HLG Footage Face to Face

Let’s compare footage shot in DLOG and HLG at exactly the same time, therefore under identical light conditions. All the footage in this video was shot in 4k, to make it easy to compare to footage made with other drones of the Mavic line

D Log vs HLG top-down

In this top-down scene, we take the sky out of the equation to concentrate on detail and color rendition

D Log vs HLG in sunny conditions

Here are the two 10-bit modes in sunny conditions with a blue sky

D Log vs HLG against the sun

Finally the worst possible conditions. We are on a roasting hot August day very hazy and foggy, with hardly any visibility. I never shoot footage in summer here in Sicily for artistic or commercial purposes, as the conditions are horrible

But these conditions are interesting for a face-to-face, as the two color modes are pushed to their limits. To make things even harder, the clips are shot against the sun. Mission impossible!

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DJI Air 2s Camera Quality for Video

More Info and Examples in this Video


I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

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