The DJI Air is one of the best user friendly drones available. I already have the huge DJI Inspire (and have crashed it several times too), but the compact Air represents a quantum leap for aerial photography for travel bloggers.
I recently purchased a DJI Air and took it with me to Tahiti and Bora Bora.
This is my first aerial video, and only second flight with the drone.
The aerial shots were really easy to take, but launching and retrieving the drone from a moving electric boat were quite the challenge. I was all prepared to lose the drone to the ocean, but really wanted the still and videos which required a transfer after landing.
My shots were done at 1080, since the 4k video requires you physically remove the memory card, and put into a reader to transfer to something useful (like my iPhone). The 1080 setting allowed me to do that via Wifi.
Here are some more videos of our villa at the Conrad Hilton and the electric boat:
I used my iPhone with controller, and used the iPhone screen to see where the drone was and its view of the world. The drone is so small, that on a sunny lagoon in Bora Bora, it’s hard to see where it is, unless you rely on the screen as a first-person pilot view. Once you get used to that, it’s a breeze to use. You might want to find some shade, since viewing the iPhone screen in full Bora Bora sunlight is not easy to do.
The sensors are fantastic. Almost too good. When landing, the smart drone didn’t want to get near the boat (within about 3 feet of an object it will stop and hover, or move in the opposite direction if the object is moving – as was the case with our boat), and I just ended up grabbing it by hand to land it. The propellers stop immediately upon a grab, or the propellers are forced to stop, and they were undamaged by my less-than-eloquent hand-grab landing.
I highly suggest reviewing the videos on YouTube to familiarize yourself with camera settings, especially when trying to capture outdoor scenes. Because it was sunny, I used the manual mode for outdoors (but would do automatic exposure for inside) and the cinematic mode for the videos. The results were outstanding.
The entire drone package is very compact, and easy to travel with in a carry-on. DJI has really outdone themselves on this drone, and its capabilities.
Travel Drone Tips:
Image Save to Card: Set the image save to the MicroSD card for the maximum storage capability.
Firmware Upgrade: Set up the drone the night before you want to do a photo flight, while you have Wifi. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself trying to update your drone using data roaming (which can be expensive abroad, and slow).
Battery Life: While the battery life is around 20-22 minutes, your actual flight time may be less since you’ll fly to your scene, take photos and videos, then fly back. I recommend buying at least two extra batteries. If you pre-plan the desired shots, the time won’t be a limitation. This is really important when doing over-water flights, where your landing options are very limited.
Extra Props: I never had to use the extra propeller set, but was glad to have them.
Range: I have not done a range test, but was within a 1 km distance when I did my drone flights over the lagoon in Bora Bora. The money shot would have been launching on the island, and doing a panoramic flying up the mountain (Otemanu). Maybe next year.
Summary: The DJI Air is an incredible tool for the travel blogger and photographer. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed.