DJI Air 2S Photography Review

DJI Air 2S Photo Settings

Sensor Size1″
Photo Resolution20Mp (5472×3648)
Field of View88° (22mm)
ISO Range100-12800
File FormatsRAW, JPEG
Flight Time31 minutes
Weight595 grams
PriceEuro 1029
Credit: DJI website

The big new feature of the Air is the 1” sensor with a photo resolution of 20 MP. It should give improved performance in low light and in high dynamic range situations, while the extra resolution should result in better quality in large prints and in more room for cropping and reframing

I have done an analysis of photography with the Air 3, the successor of the Air 2s

The photography modes available in the Air 2S are the same as in the previous model. Besides the single shot, there is the same Smart Photo mode, which works in different ways according to the situation: in high dynamic range it takes several shots to operate a sort of in-camera Merge to HDR, in low light it takes several photos to optimize exposure and reduce the amount of noise (Hyperlight), in other situations it acts as Scene Recognition

The Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) has a choice of 3 or 5 photos at an interval of 0.7 stops of exposure to merge them to HDR. It is a very useful mode, but it would be preferable if the interval between each shot was larger

Other modes are burst shots, to take a chosen amount of photos in rapid succession, useful for action or sports events, and timed shots, useful for static timelapses or for selfies

The different photo modes

I have done an article about 9 tips and tricks for epic drone photography which may interest both beginners and intermediate users

DJI Air 2s Photo Quality

At the time of its release, the Air 2S in terms of photo quality was more than an incremental upgrade, rather a quantum leap, closer to full-sensor cameras than to previous prosumer drones. Even after the release of new models like the Mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3, the Air 2s remains an outstanding contender for photography

For editing and color grading all the images I have used the excellent Luminar Neo, the tool I use for editing and managing all my photos. Click on the link for an in-depth analysis of this program

DJI Air 2s Photography in Easy Light

In top-down shots we take the sky out of the equation, therefore the dynamic range is very low and we can concentrate on detail and color. In this image, the detail in the vegetation is very well preserved. Even when zooming quite deeply there is no loss of detail and not a hint of noise. At the edges, the image holds well with good detail and no evident distortion

As expected the 20 Mp sensor leaves plenty of room for cropping and reframing, after a heavy crop there is no evident loss of resolution. Let’s see how far we can go with cropping with the same image taken from a higher altitude. This is a very heavy crop and the image is still usable, at least for the web

The hour before sunrise is a good test for color rendition. The shadows can be very dark and bluish, noise can appear and detail can be lost. In all these images I find the rendition of the colors with the Air 2S a thing of beauty, the detail is astonishing and the noise very contained

Even when shooting against the direction of the sun, the image holds up very well, with just some loss of detail and little noise in the deep shadows

The Air 2S regarding photos is in another league compared to the original Mavic Air 2 and the Mini 2. The only model that could take the fight when it was released was the Mavic 2 Pro. The Air 2s still competes very well against newer models like the Mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3 and 3 Classic

Here are some comparisons I have made about the photo capabilities of the Air 2s versus other models

Best Drone for Photography: DJI Mini 3 vs Air 2s vs Mavic 3

DJI Air 2s vs Mini 2 Image Quality

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Air 2s Photo Quality

DJI Air 2s vs Mavic 3 and 3 Classic for Photography

DJI Air 2s Photography in High Dynamic Range

High dynamic range situations are an area where drones, in general, tend to struggle

With drones, HDR situations are very frequent, as a good portion of the sky is generally in the frame. The closer we aim toward the direction of the sun, the higher the dynamic range

Until a few years ago I used to say that with a drone I would never shoot facing South, I used to keep the sun always behind me, because the results in High Dynamic Range used to be quite horrible. Let’s see the Air 2 S in action

This is a typical drone image with moderate-high dynamic. The sun is on the left of the image and the sky is obviously much brighter than the elements on the ground. For the Air 2S these situations are a piece of cake: the structure of the sky is excellent and the color rendition is a thing of beauty, astonishing detail, and not an inch of noise

Let’s move to more extreme HDR: the sun is in front of us before sunset, almost in the frame and the area on the left is extremely dark, with any other drone I have tried in this shot there was always plenty of noise creeping up and horrible flare. With the Air 2S, the detail is astonishing and again, no noise at all

This time part of the sun is in the shot and with a drone, this usually translates into an image with huge flare, chromatic aberrations, and lack of saturation in the left part of the image. Again the Air 2S has everything under control, the structure of the sky is perfectly preserved. DJI must have done something serious to the lens, as the usual problems of drones against the sun are nowhere to be seen

In this sunrise, the full sun is in the shot and the result is in my opinion superb. I really like the colors of the shot taken with this drone

DJI Air 2s Automatic Exposure Bracketing

The Air 2S has an Automatic Exposure Bracketing mode (AEB) mode similar to many other DJI models. It takes 3 or 5 photos in rapid succession with different exposure at an interval of 0.7 shots. It is an extremely useful feature to make sure to have always a perfectly exposed shot

It is then possible to merge the 5 images for better results using programs like Lightroom or On1 Photo AW, especially in high dynamic range situations. But with the Air 2S the results obtained with a single image are so good that it is rarely needed to merge the single photos

DJI Air 2s Night Photos

This is another area where drones traditionally seriously struggle, due to their tiny sensors. Until a couple of years ago, I would simply keep the ISO value at its base level at all times

Let’s start with this image. There is some artificial light in the village in the foreground, but also plenty of dark shadow in the clouds and on Mount Etna. The Air 2S at ISO 400 produces an excellent overall luminosity, perfect detail even in the shadows, and hardly any noise

At ISO 800 thighs are almost the same, but just a bit better, with even more detail and less noise in the shadows

And the best of the 3 is the one shot at ISO 1600

DJI introduced a function called Hyperlight in the Mavic 2 Pro. In low-light situations, the camera takes several shots in rapid succession with high ISO values and then merges them in order to reduce noise. In the Air 2S this feature is now contained in the Smart Photo mode

Here is the previous low-light photos shot in Smart Mode. The result is very good and can at times be better than the normal single shots

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More about Photography with the Air 2s 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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