Gadgets & Gizmos

Will the editor replace a plane and helicopter with a new drone? Just maybe! Better Photography recently borrowed a DJI Mavic Air, a small drone with a built-in camera and a remote control. And there are a lot of things to like about this little package, especially if you're new to aerial photography and wanting a drone that is easy to fly and operate.

To begin, the drone itself is small and compact, especially when folded up and stored in its carry case. It will easily fit in your camera bag instead of a 70-200mm zoom, for instance. You no longer need a large, dedicated hard case to transport it around (although they are still needed for larger drones, of course).

The remote controller works in tandem with your smartphone, the latter giving you a live video feed of what your drone is seeing from up above. All you need to do is download the DJI Go 4 app, plug your phone into the controller and you're ready for flight.

Now, you can't just fly anywhere, of course. In Australia, there are CASA rules and regulations that you need to be aware of and abide by. Our office just happens to be in a drone friendly area, but you need to check this yourself – and this is easy to do by downloading another app called Drone Complier.

Making sure the batteries are charged, start up the remote control, start up the drone and follow the instructions online. The DJI Go 4 app will even point you towards some introductory videos to help you make your first few flights and we can report that if our editor can do it, anyone can!

When folded, the Mavic Air measures 168x83x49 mm and weighs 430 g. It has a maximum flight time of 21 minutes (with no wind). The camera only has a tiny sensor with 12MP resolution, but it has a 3-axis gimbal and can shoot stills, 4K video and 32MP sphere panoramas. This camera might not be the answer for professional producers, but for the enthusiast looking for a different angle on the world, the quality of its images is very good.

And importantly, the Mavic Air has lots of cool new features, like SmartCapture, meaning you can launch and fly the Mavic Air using hand gestures and then take photos and videos as you like. No doubt this will have a lot of appeal to photographers and video producers who like to be in the picture themselves! RRP $1299.

For more information, visit www.dji.com.

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