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How to Download Photos/Videos from DJI Drones using DJI Fly (Step-by-Step Guide)

Camera drones have come a long way since the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ release back in 2014. With its 3-axis-stabilized camera, 14-megapixel stills, and 1080p video, it was truly groundbreaking.

Fast forward 7 years to 2021 with the release of the DJI Air 2S, and we have an outstanding, feature-rich, affordable consumer/prosumer drone able to take 20-megapixel RAW photos and shoot 5k video.

With such great video and still photo capabilities, knowing the various ways to retrieve and view said footage is essential.

We will be looking at the best practices for accessing and downloading the Air 2S’s footage, whether to your smartphone or computer (PC or Mac), as well as the various locations the Air 2S stores its media.

Storage Options on the Air 2S

The Air 2S utilizes two separate storage options: Internal Storage and external Micro SD Card storage. The internal storage option, although just 8GB, is a nice addition, as there may be times it is necessary to use this storage.

I personally had to use the internal storage option once, when I forgot my SD card in my editing computer one day, before a shoot. Thankfully, the shoot was only images and not video and the internal storage option worked just fine.

Also, the Air 2S has an SD card slot built into the drone itself. This slot takes a maximum micro SD card size of 256GB. This micro SD card appears to be the most utilized option for those who take a lot of photos and video, or those using the drone for professional work.

» MORE: SD Cards for DJI Drones (What You Need to Know)

Below is a chart that breaks down how many images and how much footage can be expected, if they are full to start with.

Note: The following information is approximated, actual storage figures may vary.

FormatStorage Type/SizeAmount
JPEGInternal – 8GB1235 images @ 5.5MB
RAWInternal – 8GB162 images @ 5.5MB
4k 24fpsInternal – 8GB14 Minutes Total
JPEGExternal – 256GB39532 images @ 50MB
RAWExternal – 256GB3952 images @ 50MB
4k 24fpsExternal – 256GB1 Hour 25 minutes Total

As this chart clearly shows, once you begin shooting in higher resolution formats (RAW & 4K), the amount of usable space can shrink drastically.

I personally use 128GB cards, so the numbers represented here are cut in half for me when compared to 256GB cards.

Switching between storage types is actually fairly simple. As a matter of fact, if you, like me, ever forget your SD card on your home computer, the DJI Fly app will alert you to the missing SD card and automatically switch to Internal Storage.

Image Credit: Dan Bayne

To manually switch between Internal Storage and the SD Card:

  1. Tap the image of the SD card (if you are in Pro Mode) or tap where it says “storageand has an image of an SD card (if in Auto Mode).
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. You’ll see an area labeled storage. There you can change between the micro SD Card (on the left) or Internal Storage (on the right).
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. If you look closely at the image of the SD Card, you will see a number.

    This number will represent either the number of photos/images you can take in your chosen format or how many minutes of video footage you can take with your current video settings.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
Image Credit: Dan Bayne

Transferring Photos and Video from the Air 2S

There are various ways you can download your hard-earned footage. Some choose to download their footage to the smartphones or electronic devices originally used to fly the Air 2S.

Others, like myself and various media professionals, choose to download the footage to a PC or Mac to work with in post-production, using Photo or Video editing software.

Transferring photos to a Smartphone or Tablet

There are two ways to transfer files to your electronic device. The slow way and the fast way.

TRANSFERRING THROUGH THE DJI FLY APP

The first way to transfer files, which uses no additional peripherals, is also the slowest way to do so and uses just the DJI Fly app.

If you plan to use this method (especially with video), you will need to ensure that the Max Video Cache Capacity is set.

In a nutshell, this is where a low-res version of your videos is stored on your phone, for later viewing. This is pretty much used to inspect (at length) what videos you’d like to download to your device.

Note: There are 4 different GB settings. 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB (as well as Auto – unlimited). Once the cache has filled these amounts, older videos will automatically be purged to free up space. This does not affect video on the external SD Card stored in the Air 2S.

To set the Max Video Cache Capacity:

  1. Open the main menu in the Live View screen
  2. Go to the Camera tab
  3. Scroll down to Max Video Cache Capacity
  4. Choose the amount in GB you’d like.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne

With that step out of the way, we will now walk through transferring photos and videos to a smartphone/electronic device.

  1. On the Main screen in DJI Fly, go to the Album.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. On the Album display screen, you will see thumbnails of your images and videos. Choose the one you would like to download to your device.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. You will now be presented with a preview screen of sorts. The preview is a Low Res representation of the files stored in your cache. As seen below, simply choose the download option to get your full resolution image or video.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. Not only can you download your images & video locally but, you can also share them to social media using the icon in the upper right of the screen.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. After the file(s) have been downloaded to your device, you can go into your device’s camera roll and do whatever you’d like with it, whether this is sharing it or editing it.

We spoke earlier about this being the slow way to get your images and videos to your smart device. To put that into perspective, transferring a 4GB 4k video takes close to 12 full minutes to download. Imagine if you have a lot of videos you’d like to download locally!

TRANSFERRING FILES DIRECTLY

When we talk about directly transferring files from the Air 2S to your smart device, we are referring to taking the micro SD card out of the drone itself, putting it into an SD card reader, and then transferring the files directly into your device’s gallery.

Depending on your electronic device (iOS or Android), you will need to purchase an SD Card Reader that is either Lightning or USB-C compatible (some devices might even use Micro or Mini USB).

In addition to the SD Card readers, you may also need to purchase a Micro SD to SD Card Adapter (to put the micro SD card in).

Below are some suggestions found on Amazon.

iPhone/iPad SD Card Reader
$13.99

2 In 1 Double Card Slot: The sd card reader is compatible with sd and micro sd(TF) memory cards, and supports all iPhones with iOS 9.2 and up and ipads with iOS 8.0 or later.

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06/30/2022 03:35 pm GMT
USB-C SD Card Reader
$7.99

USB C/lighting SD card adapter. SD card reader uses the newest USB Type C and lighting plug, easy to transfer photos and data to your laptop or smartphone.

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06/30/2022 06:00 pm GMT
Micro SD to SD Card Adapter
$3.42

Micro SD to SD card adapter. Built-in write protection switch. For use in devices with a standard secure Digital slot. SanDisk Micro SD to SD Memory Card adapter


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06/30/2022 05:00 pm GMT

Below are the steps to transfer files to your device using the above-mentioned readers.

Note: These steps are for iOS devices. Android will be slightly different.

  1. While your Air 2S is off, remove the memory card (SD)
  2. Insert the SD card into your SD card reader
  3. While your iPhone/iPad is on, plug the SD card reader into the device
  4. Launch the Photos app. You will see an Import icon on the bottom right of your screen
  5. After selecting Import, you will now see all of the files stored on the SD card
  6. All the available files to import will have a white check-mark on the bottom right-hand corner. Simply select the file you want to import (the check-mark will turn blue)
  7. After all the files you want are selected, tap the Import button that is now on the upper-right hand side. All of your chosen files will now be in your Photos app

Transferring files to your electronic device is much faster this way.

Transferring a 4GB video file only takes 1 minute, as opposed to 12 minutes using the DJI Fly apps built-in method.

Transferring photos to a PC or Mac

The second way to download files would be by transferring them directly to either your PC or Mac, which you would do to work on them in Photo or Video editing software.

This is done by copying the contents of the SD card into the PC Windows/Files Explorer or Mac Finder (file management systems).

Although I use both Macs and PCs to process the Air 2S media for clients, we will go through the steps needed to do so on a standard Windows PC.

Note: While PCs and Macs use different operating systems, the concepts used are very similar, although the methods to accomplish the same tasks are slightly different.

Like with transferring files to your electronic device, you will need a USB SD card adaptor.

I use one similar to the one below. If you decide to purchase this card reader and have a USB-C-enabled device, you can use this particular reader with your PC/Mac and USB-C smart device.

USB-C SD Card Reader
$13.99

Designed to not block your other ports. Its slim profile makes it easy to store in your camera bag or backpack and provides convenient access to micro/SD cards when needed.

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06/30/2022 01:30 pm GMT

To transfer the files from your Air 2S to your PC:

  1. Eject the SD card from the Air 2S
  2. Insert the SD card into the corresponding Micro SD card slot on the reader
  3. Insert the SD card reader into your computer
  4. On your PC open your Windows/File Explorer (this can easily be done by right+clicking on the Windows icon on the bottom of your PC and choosing File Explorer
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. After opening your File Explorer, you should see your Air2S SD card. I previously named mine “AIR 2S” so I could keep track of the 10 different SD cards I have for our drones.
  1. Click on your Air 2S SD card. This will then open the contents of the SD card.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. Selecting the DCIM folder will bring you to the directory where your media is ultimately stored.
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
Image Credit: Dan Bayne
  1. After accessing the directory with the videos and photos, you can select them and copy them to wherever you deem necessary to either work on them in post or share them, using the standard Windows/Files Explorer procedures.

Conclusion

With the Air 2S taking professional, high-resolution photos and videos, it is nice to have a few different options to download and share the files.

Using the various types of SD card readers mentioned in this article, almost any device or smartphone can download the Air 2S files directly and quickly.