As one of the top drone companies in the world, DJI’s advertising makes some of its products come off as superior. Case in point: The claims made about the camera of the Mavic Air 2.
I became aware of this back around the time the Mavic Air 2 was released. I’d been getting ads on my Instagram feed from DJI saying that this new drone boasts a 48MP camera. With the Mavic 2 Pro boasting a 1-inch Hasselblad sensor with 20mp, I thought it was odd to market a cheaper drone with a smaller sensor like this. How could this Mavic Air 2 shoot more than double the quality of the Mavic 2 Pro? A full frame/medium format camera captures just about 50MP. Yet, DJI’s $799 Mavic Air 2 boasts a near-equivalent!
Does Mavic 2 really shoot 48MP?
Yes. This drone will shoot a 48MP. However, this 48MP photo is coming off the same 0.5-inch sensor as the 12MP photo. Something we don’t see in the advertising is the fact that single photo and smart photo shoot in 12MP. This means there is a specific photo mode to actually get that 48MP resolution.
How does a 12MP sensor shoot 48MP?
The Mavic Air 2 is able to capture the higher megapixels through the Quad Bayer Array. These sensors are also fairly popular among some of the smartphones that exist today. To achieve said quality (48MP), the true 12MP sensor breaks each pixel into 4 pixels. Here is a reference to an article on how this technique works. After all, a 48MP photo should be 2-4 times the size and quality of a 12MP image.
More megapixels can also mean more noise (colorful, yet subtle grain in photos). In this high megapixel mode, the sensor is only capturing one-fourth of the light it normally would. So in this case, if you’re not shooting in ideal light, the 48MP may not come out as good as the 12MP photos.
A true 48MP sensor would not have to go through some sort of process to create an image. Sony, Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad, and many other brands can produce a high megapixel image. However, this is done with the larger sensor, not a quad bayer array.
Why is this information misleading?
This information is misleading because while the Mavic Air 2 does indeed shoot a 48MP image in the 48MP mode, the promos make the camera seem superior to not just the Mavic 2 Pro, but even the Inspire 2 by its megapixel count alone. If you’re new to drones or cameras, this may not be something you catch onto. Especially when you see a steal of a deal for this drone and camera under $1,200.
While advertised to be a 48MP camera, the true sensor is actually 12MP. Is this a problem? No… sort of … because it does what DJI advertises. It also performs very well under the proper conditions. Yet it feels like DJI has just over-exaggerated the product specs in the hopes that the large megapixel count will catch people’s attention.
While it’s true that there is a mode to capture 48MP, the marketing pushes the limits. Just because something is advertised a certain way, doesn’t mean it is that way. DJI makes a solid product and in its specific “camera mode” you may achieve the specs the company advertises. From a more professional perspective, this over-exaggerated info can mislead beginners or people who aren’t willing to dive into more research about the product.
In the end, marketing is marketing, and it’s not up to me to decide how DJI advertises their products. The reason I wrote this was to help people be more aware of some of this info so they can do their own research before making purchasing decisions based on the specs. If you take the time to scroll to the bottom of the products page on DJI’s website, you will see the disclaimers and more info on how they achieved those specs (as seen above).
Soon, DJI will release the Air 2 S that is said to have a 1-inch sensor just like Mavic 2 Pro. In this case, higher megapixels would actually make sense!
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