There is no doubt the Skydio 2 is going to be an exciting drone. It is most certainly an improvement over the original Skydio drone. Its autonomous flight modes are undoubtedly better than any DJI drone to date. But how will the camera stack up against the Mavic 2 series or the Phantom 4 Pro ($2199)? With a 1/2.3-inch sensor it can’t likely compete, right? After all, size matters. Or does it?

Sony a6500

Skydio 2 Camera Comparison by NomiCam

Luckily we don’t need to test the camera on the Skydio in exhausting detail. The independent lab NomiCam did it for us. NomiCam did side-by-side testing with the Mavic Air ($919), Mavic 2 Pro ($1729), and Mavic 2 Zoom ($1439). They measured the drones on 5 objective metrics and also did subjective testing. Let’s see how the Skydio 2 stacks up.

Skydio 2 vs. DJI – Objective Metrics

The crew at NomiCam rated the 4 drones from Skydio and DJI on 5 different metrics: color, resolution, noise, dynamic range, and exposure. The graphic below shows how the Skydio 2 compares from their testing.

Skydio 2 Vs DJI Camera Comparison Graph

Color

The Skydio 2 wins for the best color and we can’t disagree. The rank order of Skydio 2, Mavic Pro, Mavic Zoom, and Mavic Air is completely consistent with testing that we have done with the DJI drones. Granted we haven’t tested the Skydio 2 yet, but I still see room for DJI to improve. The Mavic 2 Pro with Hasselblad’s color technology was a big step up for DJI, but it looks like they still have room to grow.

Skydio 2 vs DJI image quality comparison

Resolution

It looks like NomiCam only tested one of each drone, and that can leave some room for error. There is some drone-to-drone variability in the real world. For example, in our testing, we certainly can’t rank the Mavic Air above the Mavic 2 Zoom as NomiCam did. My Mavic Air camera is a bit soft when you digitally crop, while my Mavic 2 Zoom is laser-sharp at all zoom states.

NomiCam gives only a slight edge to the Mavic 2 Pro in this category and I don’t quite believe the advantage is so small. Our Mavic 2 Pro lens is perfect when it comes to sharpness. That all said, the Skydio 2 seems to be making the most of its 12 megapixels and it produces a really crisp picture.

Noise

I think NomiCam got this one right, the Skydio 2 clearly produces photos with the lowest noise. DJI cameras have consistently provided me with photos and videos that seem strangely noisy. The Mavic 2 and Phantom 4 series drones have improved over the older Phantom 3 cameras, but even the Mavic 2 Pro is still a bit noisy. We are happy to see the Skydio 2 winning, and I can’t agree more.

The Skydio 2 is taking cleaner pictures than the Mavic drones. I expect to see better stuff out of the upcoming Mavic 3.

Skydio 2 vs DJI image quality test

Dynamic Range

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. NomiCam puts the Mavic 2 Zoom’s dynamic range really low in the ranking. While we do sometimes see some problems with the Mavic 2 Zoom, they can certainly be compensated for with camera settings. I always recommend taking photos with AEB (auto exposure bracketing) turned on when not shooting HDR (high dynamic range).

In any case, the Skydio 2 is winning here which is amazing given that is has a smaller sensor than the Mavic 2 Pro.

Exposure

This one is all about algorithms and apparently Skydio has a little more work to do in optimizing exposure in their shots. The good news is that this can be handled in firmware updates if Skydio really believes they have a problem.

While DJI takes an Apple-like stance by not adding features to older model camera phones, I expect Skydio to take more of a Tesla approach to upgrades. I would expect the Skydio 2 camera to get better, not worse, over time.

DroneDJ’s take: the Skydio 2 competes!

The take away is clear – they Skydio camera is top-notch. Camera snobs may turn their nose up at a 1/2.3 sensor, but the results show that size isn’t everything. After all, in my testing, the iPhone 11 (and the X) still outcompete DJI drones in most situations, even with their relatively small sensors. DJI should be very nervous about Skydio, their new American competitor. The Skydio 2 is a very compelling drone with a lower price, equivalent camera, and way better flight modes.

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