DJI Launches Mavic Air Foldable Camera Drone That Fits in Coat Pocket & Shoots 4K & 36MP Panoramas

DJI has launched the Mavic Air, a foldable, highly portable camera drone with a 3-axis gimbal for stability, 4K video shooting, and the ability to capture 36MP panoramic images from high in the sky.

Weighing just under a pound and the shape of a large smartphone when folded up, the Mavic Air made its debut after being pulled from the coat pocket of DJI North America director Michael Perry’s down vest at a press conference in New York City this morning. Perry actually pulled three Mavic Airs from various pockets of his vest to demonstrate how small and sleek the drones are when stowed away.

Designed for photo and video enthusiasts, the Mavic Air ($799) is the follow-up to the Mavic Pro ($999) from a few years ago, and has some of the same features including a 4K video camera. Along with being slightly smaller and less expensive than its predecessor (which will remain in the line), the Mavic Air adds new QuickShot modes, which fly pre-set patterns so the user just needs to launch the drone to capture a scene in a unique way.

The Mavic Air also adds SmartCapture, which lets you control the drone using just hand gestures; and FlightAutonomy 2.0 with Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS), which uses seven onboard cameras and infrared sensors in the drone to create a 3D map of the area to help avoid large objects such as trees and boulders when flying.

The Mavic Air has a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and a 24mm-equivalent f/2.8 lens that can shoot 12MP still images. It can shoot 4K video at 30fps with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps. The drone also shoots 1080p slow motion video at 120 fps, and has 8GB of onboard storage plus a microSD card slot of additional storage, along with a newly added USB-C port.

A new Sphere panorama feature in the Mavic Air automatically shoots and stiches together 25 photos to create a 32MP panoramic image in just a minute, according to DJI. You can also shoot multiple panorama modes to create horizontal, vertical and 180-degree aerial images.

The Mavic Air has a maximum flight time of up to 21 minutes and, according to DJI, it can fly stably in windy conditions of up to 22mph and at elevations of up to 16,404 feet above sea level. When using the included remote controller, you can control the Mavic Air up to 2.5 miles away with 1080p real-time video transmissions. In Sport Mode, the Mavic Air can shoot across the sky at up to 42 miles per hour, and is compatible with DJI Goggles for VR, in-flight control.

The Mavic Air’s QuickShot modes offer predefined flight paths that are designed to automatically keep a subject in the frame. Along with Rocket, Dronie, Circle and Helix modes from the previous model, the Mavic Air adds Asteroid and Boomerang QuickShot modes. Asteroid (see Gif below) first shows a spherical image that then zooms in as it moves toward the subject on the ground. 

Meanwhile, Boomerang (below) circles the subject in an oval-shaped flight pattern with the video ending at the start point.

Other new tweaks include the ActiveTrack intelligent flight mode in the Mavic Air, which DJI says has been improved to automatically to sense multiple subjects. It then follows the subject and keeps it in the frame with more precision, according to DJI, such as during high motion activities like running and cycling.

One of the more fascinating demos at this morning’s press conference was the Mavic Air’s SmartCapture function. When engaged it allows the user to give hand gesture commands to launch, follow, photograph, record, push, pull and land the drone, so you can control it from multiple angles without a remote controller. SmartCapture hand gesture control has a maximum range of 20 feet. Here's a video of SmartCapture being demonstrated at today's Mavic Air press conference.

The Mavic Air will go on sale at the end of month for $799, as a kit, which includes the drone, battery, remote controller, carrying case, two pairs of propellers guards and four pairs of propellers. The Mavic Air Fly More Combo pack includes the drone, three batteries, a remote controller, a travel bag, two pairs of propellers guards, six pairs of propellers, a battery to power bank adapter and battery charging hub for $999. It will come in three colors Onyx Black, Arctic White and Flame Red.