A Year with the DJI Mavic Air

I began my journey with quadcopters several years ago. I started out with in-expensive micro drones and gradually progressed up to a DJI Mavic Air. I’m an accomplished pilot now and have captured thousands of pictures and countless hours of video. You can read about my experience in a previous post here.

I’ve had the Mavic Air for a year and I’m more impressed with it now, than I was the day I bought it. One of the most surprising aspects of the powerful little flyer is how durable it is. Even after a year of being hauled around in backpacks, laptop bags, car trunks and plane luggage, there isn’t a mark on it. I’m still using the original props! I can ‘t think of any other flying vehicle that I’ve owned that didn’t need at least, new props a few weeks or months in.

There have been several major software updates for the Mavic Air since I unboxed it. The updates can catch you off guard; you’ll boot up to catch some video of your dog only to be hit with the firmware required message. Thankfully they’ve added a feature to update later. The phone app can hang on the unzipping of files during big updates, but you just need to close and restart it. The software has been noticeably improved. The user interface has remained largely the same but multiple bugs have been corrected. I can’t remember the last time the app froze or crashed during flight, which was a frequent occurrence at the start.

The AI has been in school for the last few months, it now flies the drone better than I do. Object avoidance, pre-programmed dramatic shots, follow me, return to home, and TapFly are all improved. My use of the quadcopter has evolved from that of a flying toy to a camera platform, so I find myself using these automated functions much more frequently.

You might be wondering what a drone could be used for besides taking pictures. They’re surprisingly versatile machines; here are a few of the cases I’ve encountered so far:

  • Lost pet locator
  • Sky surveys of friend’s homes and property
  • Examining roofs for hail damage and lost toys
  • Chasing off various unwanted creatures: stray dogs & cats, racoons, opossums, bats, it’s a long list
  • Getting close to dangerous things: Fire, Fireworks, Wildlife, Guns, Bees, Wasps, etc. the FPS view makes you feel like you’re there in the action

While looking back through the photos and videos for this article, I can’t help but smile. I’ve got some fantastic shots that would be impossible to get without the little machine. Quadcopters are not just for aerial pictures and videos. They’re great for anywhere that a human doesn’t easily fit, or places that would be too dangerous to be in, they make great tripods too.

Now that I’ve had a great camera drone for a year, I can’t imagine not having one. Especially a compact unit like the Mavic Air. I carry it with me almost everywhere since it folds up and fits in my laptop bag. I was a little skeptical about how much I would use it when I first purchased it and was concerned that it would be a waste of a considerable amount of money. Luckily, it turns out that my instinct to get one was justified. I consider it to be one of my favorite gadgets and look forward to all the things I’ll be doing with it in the future.

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About Kevin Trent

IT professional with almost 30 years of experience in Infrastructure, Architecting, Administration, Development, and Communications.

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