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Mavic Air Camera - not great.
2585 23 2018-4-1
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Kevjones1959
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South Africa
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I have now had the time to take videos and stills with my Air and to look at the countless videos posted all over the web from the Mavic Air. Even taking into account that most of the videos taken are taken by hobby photographers I have the following observation on the general overall quality.

Firstly let me give some perspective. The Mavic Air is not and never will be a professional camera platform and is not marketed as such. Secondly the 4K 120fps mode is nice but in reality is not great.

Many years ago in the photography world a "fight" broke out between two camps of photographers. It was the fight between the pro Canon and Pro Sony camps. Sony was accused (rightfully so) of doing too much processing in their camera software and could never compete at the Jpeg level with Canon. This fight faded into insignificance when Nikon, using Sony sesnors blew both the Canon and the Sony out the water. (crop sensors). Canon has actually never recoverd, Sony closed down their DSLR plants left right and center and focused on making sensors. Sony's inability to fix the software processing or unwillingness nearly lead to the demise of the entire camera divison until they produced the Mirrorless cameras which are very very good. Sony in the mirrorless space is still the benchmark that the others measure themselves against. Sony continues to make some of the best sensors in the world and many manufactures still use them.

Dont shoot me down when I tell you DJI are suffering from a "Sony" problem. With all the attention on the technlogy in the "flying" platform they are missing the boat with their camera. Sure they have 80% of the market now, but history shows how quickly that can change. Let's be brutally honest. The Mavic Air camera to be generous is pretty poor. Their are no settings that you can make on that camera that make the video anything but barely acceptable without post processing. Rememebr most of the videos we see have been sized for the internet and You Tube etc and as such many of the flaws are well hidden in the subsequent resolutions. Your PC is not a great photo viewing platform. (Mac Pro for editing as an exception).  

I strongly urge DJI to relook at their processing software engine. Look at the new Galaxy S9 and the quality video and photos coming out of that tiny pice of technology. There is no reason why, using a fixed focus camera, with the low megapixel count that the Mavic Air camera cant be an absolute winner (by hobby standards).  The current quality reminds me of the first poor video effors of the early Sony Nikon and Canon DSLR's. The problems with the current DJI camera quality is software related and not hardware. Ill almost go as far to say that without filters and post processing the Mavic Air video is almost unusable other than as a "happy snappy". Colur saturation is poor, sharpness is poor, fringing is rife, defocus is random and unpredictable. The sensor they have mounted is a great little sensor and should be capable of producing much better. DJI needs to put more effort into the camera and software and firmly shut the door on any competition.

Once again let me reitterate I am not suggesting for one minute that the quality should be anything near pro quality video or stills,  but currently, I wish I just had a Go-Pro equivalent mounted inside my gimble.  There is no need to add complexity with auto focus, manual focus, F stop adjustment etc. Keep it simple but improve the engine.



2018-4-1
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DANIEL10
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Spain
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I agree with your comment, I have the Spark and the Mavic Air and I am disappointed with the approach of the Air, at least it could be as good as the Spark.
2018-4-1
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DANIEL10
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If the Mavic Air is not a professional drone because I have to spend a lot of money on video or color editing programs and spend hours doing tests to finish taking a video of poor quality and realism, I also need to spend € 1000 on a computer that can process videos in 4K, in the end I will end up selling the Mavic Air and continue with the Spark recording videos to 1080P that does not need retouches, expensive filters, or powerful computer.
2018-4-1
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frankengels
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Luxembourg
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You are right, the Mavic Air is not a professional drone.
I have no  Mavic Air  but P3s, Mavic Pro and Spark and if the light conditions are good the pictures are stunning.
I have also drones where I have a GoPro  or equivalents on it and honestly it is not better, I would even say worst.
Post processing is here a must.
If you are searching for SLR grade quality you must opt for bigger Drones, at least for the moment.
2018-4-1
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Kevjones1959
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South Africa
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frankengels Posted at 2018-4-1 23:58
You are right, the Mavic Air is not a professional drone.
I have no  Mavic Air  but P3s, Mavic Pro and Spark and if the light conditions are good the pictures are stunning.
I have also drones where I have a GoPro  or equivalents on it and honestly it is not better, I would even say worst.

You are absolutely right. Nope I am not expecting that kind of quality out of this machine at all. It is good enough for what I need, I dont mind doing the processing. I have seen so many posts where people are expecting to get "cinema" type quality from this machine and the expectations in my view are far too high. Having said that I stand by what I say and the software engineers need to get some focus on this thing's camera. It can be a great deal better.  My observations are in the context of the hype around the picture quality in the sales talk and managing an expectation.
2018-4-2
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MavicFit91
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I strongly disagree with this. If one knows anything about range, iso, and shutter. then the result of production is quite impressive with the mavic air. I have a 65 inch Samsung 4k TV, and the footage is incredible. Please do not make long posts like this if you do not even own a mavic air.
2018-4-2
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Kevjones1959
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:08
I strongly disagree with this. If one knows anything about range, iso, and shutter. then the result of production is quite impressive with the mavic air. I have a 65 inch Samsung 4k TV, and the footage is incredible. Please do not make long posts like this if you do not even own a mavic air.

I own a Mavic Air........ and a few hundred thousand bucks worth of camera Kit. I am glad you like your footage on your 4k TV and I am glad it is the quality you are comfortable with. Oh and of course you are welcome to strongly disagree and you are completely entitled to your view, which I appreciate by the way.
Lastly if you read the post carefully you will see I said if you run the video through post processing it is more than acceptable. Prior to processing it is terrible.
2018-4-2
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MavicFit91
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Kevjones1959 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:13
I own a Mavic Air........ and a few hundred thousand bucks worth of camera Kit. I am glad you like your footage on your 4k TV and I am glad it is the quality you are comfortable with. Oh and of course you are welcome to strongly disagree and you are completely entitled to your view, which I appreciate by the way.
Lastly if you read the post carefully you will see I said if you run the video through post processing it is more than acceptable. Prior to processing it is terrible.

I see, can you a single camera, the size of the mavic air that produce a comparible quality result as the mavic air's camera and gimble setup? The HDR algorithm is pretty incredible, and the color saturation in the raw video recording looks like something that you would find in a post production edit? Alot of the quality comes from the lighting limitations of such a small sensor. Still do you know of any camera that small, that can perform as well?
2018-4-2
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Kevjones1959
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:20
I see, can you a single camera, the size of the mavic air that produce a comparible quality result as the mavic air's camera and gimble setup? The HDR algorithm is pretty incredible, and the color saturation in the raw video recording looks like something that you would find in a post production edit? Alot of the quality comes from the lighting limitations of such a small sensor. Still do you know of any camera that small, that can perform as well?

I agree with what you are saying but let me ask you just 1 question. What is your view of the MP4 video and Jpeg directly from the aircraft --- NO processing no filters no RAW with camera settings on standard ?
2018-4-2
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LoSBoL
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I'm not a purist when it comes to camera's, I like the image the Mavic Air produces considering its a smartphone camera in the sky, but they could indeed do better work with the imaging software.

The warping of the image is bad... just take a look at this topic:  https://forum.dji.com/thread-133180-1-1.html

I'm still hoping they update the imaging firmware...
2018-4-2
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Captain Mal
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Interesting post regarding the DJI image processing, and I don't disagree with you. I have a Nikon D750 so I can definitely see that the Mavic Air camera is basically an average cell phone camera. Do your thoughts about the still photos only apply to the DJI in camera processed JPGs? What are your thoughts on the RAW photo files that come out of the Air?
2018-4-2
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MavicFit91
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Kevjones1959 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:40
I agree with what you are saying but let me ask you just 1 question. What is your view of the MP4 video and Jpeg directly from the aircraft --- NO processing no filters no RAW with camera settings on standard ?

Do you mean the phantom 4 pro? In my opinion for the money, the quality is not what i expexted.
2018-4-2
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Kevjones1959
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Captain Mal Posted at 2018-4-2 05:41
Interesting post regarding the DJI image processing, and I don't disagree with you. I have a Nikon D750 so I can definitely see that the Mavic Air camera is basically an average cell phone camera. Do your thoughts about the still photos only apply to the DJI in camera processed JPGs? What are your thoughts on the RAW photo files that come out of the Air?

I agree with the guy above. Once you have RAW you can actually do quite a bit with it and for a small sensor it's very good. Look you are never going to make a 20 by 20 foot poster from it with around 12 Megapixels but it is still very good. The issue I have is that you should be able to get a better in flight image WITHOUT processing it. It merely needs some adjustments in the software. The current noise reduction for example which you cant set is killing some of the detail especially in the darker areas. Do yourself a favor and put the aircraft in front of a high contrast subject the use your pad or phone to play with the camera settings in both video and picture mode. Now look and see if you can get anything near the reproduction as you see it. In standard mode the colours are washed out and the blacks almost non existent. Now take a photo in RAW and a JPEG and compare them on your PC. You will see that the RAW file has an incredible amount of detail that is missing in the JPEG. This means they are processing it out and it's usually noise reduction that causes this.
2018-4-2
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MavicFit91
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LoSBoL Posted at 2018-4-2 05:40
I'm not a purist when it comes to camera's, I like the image the Mavic Air produces considering its a smartphone camera in the sky, but they could indeed do better work with the imaging software.

The warping of the image is bad... just take a look at this topic:  https://forum.dji.com/thread-133180-1-1.html

Do you think you could fly an iphone x or galaxy 9 100 ft in the sky, 100 feet away from the subject being recorded? Get even close to the same results?  even if the galaxy s9 or iphone x was on a gimble with hardly any vibration or movement it would not happen?
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Kevjones1959
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:51
Do you think you could fly an iphone x or galaxy 9 100 ft in the sky, 100 feet away from the subject being recorded? Get even close to the same results?  even if the galaxy s9 or iphone x was on a gimble with hardly any vibration or movement it would not happen?

I dont know...... they take pretty decent photos when stable though ....
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MavicFit91
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Kevjones1959 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:51
I agree with the guy above. Once you have RAW you can actually do quite a bit with it and for a small sensor it's very good. Look you are never going to make a 20 by 20 foot poster from it with around 12 Megapixels but it is still very good. The issue I have is that you should be able to get a better in flight image WITHOUT processing it. It merely needs some adjustments in the software. The current noise reduction for example which you cant set is killing some of the detail especially in the darker areas. Do yourself a favor and put the aircraft in front of a high contrast subject the use your pad or phone to play with the camera settings in both video and picture mode. Now look and see if you can get anything near the reproduction as you see it. In standard mode the colours are washed out and the blacks almost non existent. Now take a photo in RAW and a JPEG and compare them on your PC. You will see that the RAW file has an incredible amount of detail that is missing in the JPEG. This means they are processing it out and it's usually noise reduction that causes this.

I agree, Raw captures more detail. But that is to be expected. That is why we know raw is better for post editing. The brightness on the devise being used can really effect what your expectations are of what you are seeing and what you expect to get. If you phone or tablet has bad resolution then you cannot expect for the resulting image to be the same. When it comes to viewing things on youtube or the forum, alot of the quality is stripped away. Unless you want to wait 6 hours for a MOV file to upload to youtube? you cannot see the full quality of the video. The forum only allows a maximum of 3mb picture uploads so that is not a good way to see true quality either.  If you download straight from the aircraft on to a mac book pro, the quality is amazing.
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Kevjones1959
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:45
Do you mean the phantom 4 pro? In my opinion for the money, the quality is not what i expexted.

I dont know the phantom at all man sorry. The videos I have seen from it look pretty good ... guys that are good at processing these files can make magic.
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LoSBoL
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 05:51
Do you think you could fly an iphone x or galaxy 9 100 ft in the sky, 100 feet away from the subject being recorded? Get even close to the same results?  even if the galaxy s9 or iphone x was on a gimble with hardly any vibration or movement it would not happen?

No, why would you think that I would think I could fly an iPhone x or galaxy 9 100ft in the sky?

Maybe you misunderstood.
My comparison of the Mavic Air not being more then a flying smartphone camera is pretty much an assessment of how well you can expect the camera to be.

So basically I bought the Mavic Air with the expectance I would not get any better pictures from it then from a smartphone, because you can't get both worlds at this pricepoint. It's a stabilised smartphone camera that flies. If I wanted DLSR quality, I'd have to pay accordingly.

But with all that said, yes, I'm a bit unsatisfied of the degree the imaging software is doing its work.
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MavicFit91
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LoSBoL Posted at 2018-4-2 06:02
No, why would you think that I would think I could fly an iPhone x or galaxy 9 100ft in the sky?

Maybe you misunderstood.

What i am saying is, put a smartphone sensor and camera on the mavic airs gimble. "Suppose it cam that way" there is no way the smart pjone camera could process as well as dji,s software
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LoSBoL
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 06:09
What i am saying is, put a smartphone sensor and camera on the mavic airs gimble. "Suppose it cam that way" there is no way the smart pjone camera could process as well as dji,s software

And you know this for certain because you've tested it? Did you strap a smartphone to a gimballed Inspire or are you just guessing?

Anyway, its arguing for the sake of arguing. I have explained in what context I assessed the Mavic Air as nothing more then a smartphone in the sky. And I'm impressed with it, except for the imaging software what could do with some more love from DJI to get more out of it then it does now.
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MavicFit91
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LoSBoL Posted at 2018-4-2 06:21
And you know this for certain because you've tested it? Did you strap a smartphone to a gimballed Inspire or are you just guessing?

Anyway, its arguing for the sake of arguing. I have explained in what context I assessed the Mavic Air as nothing more then a smartphone in the sky. And I'm impressed with it, except for the imaging software what could do with some more love from DJI to get more out of it then it does now.

No But I have tried to record landscape 100 feet away?
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LoSBoL
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MavicFit91 Posted at 2018-4-2 06:25
No But I have tried to record landscape 100 feet away?

Yes I have, I went to Norway last year and left the DSLR at home and instead took an Samsung S7 and a Nexus 6 with me. Nevertheless I got stunning pictures from them, they were good enough to leave the big bulky DSLR at home.
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Montfrooij
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I have seen very bad (image quality wise) video's from the MA and very good ones.
And I agree that DJI has some catching up to do when it comes to image quality.
Then again, the fact that they can both make great drones and decent enough camera's is a good achievement if you ask me.
Now I would not rush into conclusions just yet.
DJI is known for improving their product (not everybody will agree since they also make mistakes on updates), so I do hope it will get good enough for you. w
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Monkey007
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Totally agree! Without any processing, the Air's videos are below average, or average at the most, and the jpegs are simply unacceptable!
2018-4-2
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