Just purchased a new Air 2S? Or are you a current Air 2S owner who has been enjoying it for a few months to a year now? Regardless of your time with the Air 2S, it’s unanimous that it is quite a capable machine.
Like most DJI drones, there are quite a few things that can be done to customize the experience for the way you fly and shoot, right through the DJI Fly app.
We’ll be going over various tips, tricks, and settings, broken down by area of interest, that you might not have heard of before or even thought of, all of which can assist in you producing the best images or video possible.
These Tips, Tricks & Settings are categorized as Gimbal Related, Photo and Video Related, Remote Controller Specific, and Miscellaneous.
Gimbal Related Tips
Horizon Level Adjustment
As someone who shoots a fair bit of video for clients, there is nothing more annoying than arriving on-site, getting all of the camera settings correct for the conditions, sending the drone up for footage, and seeing that the horizon level is off, although it had been set prior.
This has happened to me numerous times on non-DJI manufactured drones and also a couple of times on my Phantom 4 Pros.
The easiest way to tell if your horizon is level is by taking the drone up a few dozen feet and seeing if the background is, well, level.
A pretty poorly shot example of a crooked horizon is below. I took this shot a few years ago on day one with my first ever drone. WOW.
There are two ways to correct a crooked horizon. One way that many photographers and videographers use is through post-processing software. However, the best way to do so is within the DJI Fly app, before even taking pictures or videos.
To level your horizon on the Air 2S, you can use one of two methods. Automatic (for when on a flat/level surface – like a sidewalk or a driveway) and Manual, for when you are already in the air.
- Tap the Settings Menu (the 3 dots in the upper right-hand corner of the Fly app).
- Go to the Control Tab and scroll down to Gimbal Calibration.
You will see the 2 mentioned options: Auto and Manual.
If you choose Automatic, the process will proceed and then complete, with no input from you.
In our particular case now, choose the Manual Option.
- There will be options to change the values for the Horizon and, interestingly, the Yaw. The Yaw adjustment basically adjusts the camera left and right.
The Horizon option allows you to adjust the gimbal roll to the left or right until the horizon line is straight.
When you are happy with the image leveling, you can just tap the X on the upper left of the screen to return to the Camera View screen.
Pro Tip: If you have your gridlines turned on, you will be able to use them to visually straighten the horizon line. We will discuss turning on the gridline options later in this article.
Below is an example of a level horizon, using the Air 2S’ manual calibration.
Move the Gimbal with On-Screen Touch
This is one of those functions that some don’t realize is actually a thing. I personally do not see a use for it, in my day-to-day function, however, some might have use for it.
While in the air, or on a solid surface, you can basically move the camera up and down or side to side by simply pressing and holding the screen, then sliding your finger side to side and up and down. By doing it this way, you won’t necessarily need to turn the Air 2S.
Again, to do so, simply press and hold anywhere on the main camera-view screen and drag your finger. The camera will follow your finger. You will be presented with up/down, left/right movements represented in visual degrees.
Upward Gimbal Rotation
Upward gimbal rotation allows you to tilt the camera upwards 30 degrees past the horizon center. This may be useful for, but not limited to, the following reasons:
- Underbridge/structure inspection or viewing
- Taking pictures under tree canopies
- Taking Hyperlapses or videos of clouds, while under them
- Filming hot air balloons from below
To allow Upward Gimbal Rotation:
- In the main menu, go to Control
- Scroll down to Allow Upward Gimbal Rotation
- Make sure the slider is blue (activated)
Conversely, if your drone is already set this way and you’d like it turned off, simply slide the option off, so the switch turns gray. The gimbal will no longer rotate upwards past the 0-degree mark.
Gimbal Pitch Movement
For those that want the smoothest gimbal motion(s) when shooting cinematic video, the standard gimbal pitch speed and smoothness may need to be adjusted.
The movement of the gimbal pitch, as you may know, is controlled by the wheel on the upper left of the Air 2S controller. When you change the speed and smoothness in the DJI Fly app, no matter how fast you rotate the wheel, it will respond according to the parameters you set.
To change the pitch speed and smoothness:
- Go into the main menu
- Choose the Control tab
- Go to Advanced Gimbal Settings
Once in the Advanced Gimbal Settings, you will be able to play around with the Pitch Speed and Pitch Smoothness parameters, represented by the 6 and the 16, respectively, on the image.
Moving the values up or down (using the slider) will either increase or decrease that particular function’s speed or smoothness.
These values are also independent of the particular flight modes you are in, being Normal, Cine, and Sport. You can choose to change all of them or just focus on one particular mode’s setting.
This is an interesting one. The Air 2S is known to be a great piece of equipment for shooting high-quality, smooth, 5k footage. At times, though, you might want to change the status quo and have a bit of fun.
With the FPV mode on the Air 2S, you can basically lock the gimbal so there is no stabilized compensation for the Air 2S movement, keeping the camera fixed. Whichever way the Air 2S turns or banks, you’ll clearly see it in your footage, as drastic turning.
To activate FPV mode:
- Go into the main menu
- Go into Control
- Change the mode from Follow Mode (the standard, smooth, stabilized mode) to FPV Mode.
Picture and Video Related Tips
On-screen Exposure Adjustment
Changing exposure on the Air 2S can easily be done on-screen, without having to go through the lower right-hand side Menu Bar System to change things manually, like the Shutter and ISO in Pro mode (the equivalent of a camera’s Manual Mode), or even leaving the exposure on Auto.
There are times when it is necessary to take the reins for a moment, while in Auto Mode, and get the Air 2S’s exposure to where you want it and not where the drone thinks it should be.
Thankfully for those not wanting to be in Pro mode, you can indeed easily adjust the exposure on screen, with the swipe of a finger.
To change the exposure while in Auto:
- Tap your screen and you will see the yellow exposure box (which looks like a thin-lined yellow box with a sun icon on the right-hand side).
- Press your finger on the screen and slide it up and down to brighten or darken the screen.
- That’s it!
Note: The on-screen exposure adjustment only works while the shooting mode is in Auto and not Pro Mode. We will discuss going into Pro Mode shortly.
Histogram, Zebra Lines, Gridlines (Oh-My) & Focus Peaking
Just like with a standard ground camera (DSLR or Mirrorless), the DJI Fly app includes a set of tools to assist in composing great shots and taking better videos.
We will go a little into what these particular tools are and show how to access them. They are actually all on the same options page, so it is convenient to get to and enable them all.
A histogram gives a visual representation of your drone camera’s exposure. It allows you to immediately see if the image or video is too light or too dark, in real-time.
The left side represents the shadows and blacks, the right side the highlights and whites, and the center represents the mid-tones.
OVEREXPOSURE WARNING (AKA ZEBRA LINES) & FOCUS PEAKING
Like the Histogram, the overexposure warning is a tool used to assist in properly exposing your shot. With this option turned on, any overexposed area (too bright) will show up with a series of zebra lines.
These lines are a screen overlay that does not show up on the final image or video.
Focus peaking likewise can be turned on and, when enabled, gives a red highlight around the areas in the image or video that are in focus.
The intensity of the peaking, or peaking level, can be set to Low, Normal, or High.
There are 3 different styles of gridline overlays that can be enabled on the Air 2S, these being:
- Rule of Thirds
- Center Target
In the image below, you will see that I fly with all 3 options turned on.
To enable Histogram, Overexposure Warning, Gridlines, and Peaking Level:
- on the Main menu go to the Camera Tab
- Under General, you will see the 4 options.
Camera Settings Bar and Pro Mode
The camera settings bar may go unnoticed by some Air 2S first-time owners and contains useful settings such as White Balance, Image Format (JPEG or JPEG + RAW), Image Ratio (3:2 or 16:9), and SD Card Storage information, and the ability to change from internal to external storage.
To access these settings, click on the area at the bottom of the Camera View screen as shown below.
For those not wanting to stay in Auto mode when taking pictures or filming, there is the ground camera (DSLR/Mirrorless) equivalent of Manual Mode, called Pro Mode.
When in Pro Mode, you have complete access to ISO and Shutter speed, all needed when manually exposing your image or video. Because the Air 2S has a fixed Aperture of 2.8, this can not be adjusted.
To access Pro Mode:
- Tap the small camera icon on the bottom right of your Camera View screen (it is most likely set to Auto).
- After tapping Auto, it will then go into Pro Mode. The screen will have probably darkened. This is normal, as the ISO and Shutter are now able to be changed.
- While in Pro Mode, simply tap the highlighted area below to adjust the ISO and Shutter.
Remote Controller Option Tips
Function (FN) Button Behavior
Looking at the face of the standard Air 2S remote controller, you will see the FN button. This button has behaviors or options assigned to it, based on the number of times you press the button.
You can press the button once to perform a task or double-press it to perform another task, essentially letting you do 2 actions through one button.
The customizable actions that can be assigned to the button groups are as follows:
- Advanced Camera Options
- AE Lock/Unlock (auto exposure)
- Hyperlapse Cruise Control
- Increase EV (exposure value)
- Decrease EV (exposure value)
- Recenter Gimbal
- Auxiliary LED (enables you to toggle the auxiliary LED)
- Toggle Map/Live View
- Gimbal Follow/PFV Mode
- Advanced Camera Settings
- AE Lock/Unlock
- Hyperlapse Cruise Control
- Increase EV
- Decrease EV
To access and change these actions:
- Go to the main menu
- Go to the Control Tab.
- You will see the Button Customization section.
- There you can go to the individual dropdowns for Tap and Double Tap to change the FN button behavior to the options listed above.
A fairly popular option that was included in the Air 2S is the ability for the RC to charge the device it is connected to.
Some operators like this, as they don’t have to worry if their Phone/Tablet has enough of a charge to make it through their current session or paid assignment.
On the other hand, some do not want their electronic device charging through the RC, depleting the much-needed charge in the RC itself. I personally fall in this category.
Whatever your preference is, you can either enable your RC to charge your device or you can turn this option off, by going to the Control tab and then down to the Phone Charging option.
The following are tips that don’t have a particular category, but may be useful to many using the Air 2S.
Detailed Battery Information
The Air 2S has detailed battery information that highlights how many minutes you have until:
- RTH (return to Home)
- Forced Landing
- Battery 100% depleted
This comes in handy when considering on-site battery management or just determining how much juice you’ll have to complete a shoot, etc., in the area.
To look at this information, simply press the battery percentage icon on the upper right-hand section of the camera view screen to see the information.
This information is viewable when the Air 2S is airborne.
Updating the Home Point
When you turn on the Air 2S and Remote Controller and it connects to the available satellites, the home point is automatically set. For many, this is perfect.
However, there are times when you might want to go in and manually set the home point. An example of this may be when flying around a park and you’ve been walking around quite a bit while flying, and you’d like the Air 2S to return to your current location when you hit RTH (Return to Home).
There are 3 separate Home Point options:
- Set home point on the map, using the drag method
- Set home point where the remote controller is located
- Set home point where the Air 2S is currently hovering
You can get to these 3 settings (manually telling the Air 2S where you want the home point set):
- Go into the main menu
- Go to the Safety Tab
- Update Home Point.
Setting home point on the map, using the drag method
Setting the home point to where the remote controller is located
Setting the home point to where the Air 2S is currently hovering
Here we have only a hand full of the many many tips, tricks, and settings that can enhance your experience with the Air 2S. As more firmware updates come out, it will be great to see if any more options and functionality are added to an already feature-rich consumer and prosumer drone.