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DJI Mavic 3 Classic vs Air 2S (Here’s My Choice)

In this comparison, we have a really good matchup. There is more commonality between these two systems than found when comparing others.

A true match between Titans, sort of a Godzilla vs. Mothra type of deal.

As a DJI user of many years, I have had and used both of these systems. As a Part 107 pilot, both of these systems can easily find a place in my gear bag.

We’re going to take a look at each of these and see just which one of these systems may be the best one for you.

Unlike the Mavic 3 Pro or the Air 3, both the DJI Mavic 3 Classic and the DJI Air 2S offer a single camera system and are very comparable to one another not only in the many features DJI offers but in the pricing as well.

Comparatively speaking, it’s a tough choice. We’ll take a look at the main differences below, making that choice easier for you.

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Brief Overview

DJI Mavic 3 Classic

The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is a drone that not only integrates the flagship cutting-edge technologies to deliver powerful imaging and flight, like all of DJI’s products it is also a friendly and useful creative tool for beginners, photography enthusiasts, consumers and professionals alike. 

  • It is equipped with a generous 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera that can record up to 5.1K video, one of DJI’s highest formats, only beat out by the Air2S. 
  • The Mavic 3 Classic offers an unheard-of maximum flight time of 46 minutes per battery and supports an up to 15km max transmission range, using the DJI 03 Transmission system
  • It also features an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system, leading to safer flights.
  • The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is a heavy drone weighing 895g when we consider the weights of other systems.

» MORE: Mavic 3 Review: Is This the Best Camera Drone? (Find Out Here)

DJI Air 2S

The DJI Air 2S is just a bit smaller but was one of DJI’s most popular drones for quite some time. Even though it has now been superseded by the DJI Air 3, it still has a lot to offer.

  • The DJI Air 2S is a bit more of a compact drone that comes with a premium 1-inch sensor camera, capable of recording up to 5.4K UHD video and taking 20-megapixel still photos. 
  • It has a maximum flight time of 31 minutes and can fly up to 15 km max transmission range
  • It is equipped with the DJI O3 Transmission System which provides a stable and reliable connection between the drone and the remote controller, providing a 1080p/60fps live feed.
  • It features the full complement of intelligent shooting modes such as MasterShots, which was introduced with the Air2S.

MasterShots is able to automatically create a professional-looking video by using pre-programmed flight paths and camera settings.

» MORE: DJI Air 2S – A Complete Real-World Review

Quick Verdict

Hey, look. I get it; I know we live in a very busy world. With this going on or that happening, running and running from here to there all the time, it can be hard to devote time to reading a whole article.

So here it is: while both of these DJI systems are well worth the investment, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic is the leader over the Air 2S, with the deciding factor being camera quality.

If your focus is strictly photography-driven, feel free to spend less on the DJI Air 2S. You will get similar results from it as you would from the Mavic 3 Classic, although you will miss out on the Hasselblad camera.

The DJI-designed 1″ sensor in the Air 2S is a work of operational art, and with a good knowledge of the camera, you will achieve exceptional results.

With the capability of 5.4K30/fps video, it’s certainly up to any task you could require it to perform.

On the flip side of that, if you mainly record video and videography, the Mavic 3 Classic is an excellent option.

Its larger size means it can fly in windier conditions, and with the omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system, your flight can be conducted safely while you get that footage.

As it’s the lowest cost Mavic 3 system available, it provides all that the Mavic 3 is capable of, including the Hasselblad named camera, at a highly reduced price.

Hasselblad is one of the old guards in the world of photography, so you know you’re getting the best quality in your imaging system.

Of course, if you’re interested in what led to this split decision, we’ll get to it here below.

The reality is that it’s up to what your budget will allow, with the Mavic 3 only holding a slight advantage over the Air2S otherwise.

Although we do have a somewhat of split decision.

You will ultimately be better off with the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, it is after all part of the Flagship lineup and as such superior to any of the lower grades, such as the Air systems and the Mini systems.

» MORE: DJI Mavic 3 Classic vs. Mini 3 Pro (Here’s My Choice)

What are the main differences?

As we are dealing with two systems that seem so similar to one another on the surface, it’s probably best that we highlight and look at the things that really set these two systems apart.

The DJI Air 2S and the DJI Mavic 3 Classic are both considered to be high-end drones with the advanced features that have won many over to being DJI consumers.

Here are some of the main differences between the Air 2S and the Mavic 3 Classic:

  • Flight Speed: The DJI Air 2S has a maximum flight speed of 19m/s, while the DJI Mavic 3 Classic has a maximum flight speed of 19m/s.
  • Wind Resistance: The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is slightly better at resisting strong winds, with a wind resistance of 12 m/s compared to the DJI Air 2S’s wind resistance of 10 m/s.
  • Weight: The DJI Air 2S is lighter than the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, weighing in at 595g compared to the Mavic 3 Classic’s weight of 895g.
  • Size: The DJI Air 2S is more compact than the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, with dimensions of 183mm x 77mm x 253mm compared to the Mavic 3 Classic’s dimensions of 347.5mm x 283mm x 107.7mm.
  • Intelligent Flight Modes: The DJI Air 2S has more intelligent flight modes than the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, including ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and Point of Interest.

Both the DJI Air 2S and the DJI Mavic 3 Classic have a 20 MP resolution camera.

The DJI Air 2S and the DJI Mavic 3 Classic both have a 20 MP photo resolution and offer the following video resolutions for Air 2S: 5.4K up to 30 fps, 4K up to 60 fps, 1080p up to 120 fps 12.

However, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic does have a better camera quality than that of the DJI Air 2S. The Mavic 3’s sensor captures more light and thus offers higher definition and dynamic range.

The Mavic 3 also has a higher recording bitrate, equaling better video quality and a higher maximum ISO.

The DJI Air 2S is a great option for those who want a high-quality drone system with advanced features, but don’t want to break the bank.

It is also a good choice for those who want a more compact, lighter drone that is easy to carry around, such as hikers, or for traveling around.

It’s even a good choice for Real Estate as it is more than capable of covering those needs. 

On the other hand, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic is a better option for professional photographers and videographers who need the best possible camera quality.

» MORE: DJI Mavic 3 vs. Mavic 3 Classic: Which Drone Should You Buy?

The DJI Mavic 3 Classic

Explore Vivid!

The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is currently the third evolution of the Flagship Mavic 3 system.

Unlike the first version, the Mavic 3, which was a two-camera drone system, we then saw DJI release in a rapid amount of time the Mavic 3 Pro and the Mavic 3 Classic.

The Mavic 3 Pro is a tri-camera system, and you’ll have to dig deep into your pockets for one. The Mavic 3 Classic is another story, being one of the lowest-cost Mavic 3s you can get.

Holding true to the form of the original Mavic and the Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic 3 Classic is a single-camera drone system.

Featuring the mainstay of the Mavic systems, the Mavic Classic has the customized L2D-20c Hasselblad camera that the Mavic systems have come to be known for.

This iconic Swedish brand, Hasselblad, designed and built the L2D-20c aerial camera just for the Mavic 3 Series by embedding a professional-grade 4/3 CMOS in an unbelievably compact space, bringing imaging quality to an entirely new level.

» MORE: DJI Mavic 3 Pro Review (I have NEVER flown a drone that I enjoyed so much)

With a 20mp Adjustable Aperture of f/2.8-f/11, this camera is top-of-the-line and comes from a company known worldwide for its camera systems.

It offers a 46-minute flight time per battery and an Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system with the 5.0 APAS system.

The Mavic 3 Classic does indeed allow you to explore the world vividly.

DJI Mavic 3 Classic w/built-in 5.5-inch HD display
$1,749.00

Includes:

  • Drone
  • DJI RC remote controller
  • Battery
Buy from Amazon
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03/06/2024 03:42 pm GMT

The DJI Air 2S

All in one!

When DJI brought out the Air 2S, they used those very words as a short means of describing this middle-of-the-road aircraft.

The Air Series is just that – the middle ground of the DJI lineup, falling right between their Flagship Mavic systems and the smaller and lighter DJI Mini series.

With a weight of 595 grams, it has enough weight to hold up to some windier conditions.

It features a 20mp 1-inch CMOS sensor, powerful automatic functions, and a compact body that can be easily stored.

The DJI Air 2S is the ultimate drone for creators on the move.

More powerful than its DJI Mini counterparts, it is able to perform in areas and situations where the Mini would not be able to perform as well due to its smaller sensor and limitations.

The Air 2S is still small enough to fit in areas where a Mavic 3 would be too risky.

» MORE: DJI Mini 4 Pro vs Air 2S

This is one of the reasons for a middle-of-the-line system. Each one is able to do something the other is unable to or would be too risky to use in that situation.

Equipped with ADS-B, it has the same extra layer of airspace safety that we usually only saw in the more advanced systems like the Mavic 3.

The 1″ sensor is equipped with a fixed aperture of f/2.8, and it is one of DJI’s only drone systems capable of 5.4K/30fps video.

The 1″ 20mp is able to capture a rich clarity, and DJI’s color toning seems more authentic and natural than that found in some other systems.

DJI Air 2S Fly More Combo
$1,249.00

Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal Camera, 5.4K Video, 1-Inch CMOS Sensor, 4 Directions of Obstacle Sensing, 31-Min Flight Time, Max 7.5-Mile Video Transmission, MasterShots, Gray

Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/07/2024 05:16 pm GMT

With a 31-minute flight time and a 12km range with a 1080p/30fps live feed, this system is well worth its cost, offering attributes usually only found by spending more.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Flight time

One of the first things, and you may have noticed above, is flight time.

The Air 2S has a rather limited flight time of 31 minutes, and in real life, it’s closer to 28 minutes.

The Mavic 3 Classic has a flight time of 46 minutes, with 40 to 42 minutes being the real-world realized flight time.

The Mavic 3 Classic will keep you in the air longer, around an extra 10 to 12 minutes longer.

If flight time is one of those checkmarks you look for, the Mavic 3 Classic takes it hands down.

» MORE: Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

Obstacle avoidance

Another key difference between the Mavic 3 Classic and the Air 2S is found in the obstacle avoidance systems.

The DJI Air 2S has the ability to perceive its environment in four directions: up, down, forward, and backward, and it uses the DJI APAS 4.0.

This allows the DJI Air 2S to actively avoid obstacles in complex scenarios while flying at high speeds.

Now, the Mavic 3 Classic is equipped with Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, which has the ability to perceive its environment in 360 degrees around it: up, down, forward, backward, and side to side.

It uses DJI’s latest APAS, the APAS 5.0, the next generation of that within the Air 2S. This allows the DJI Mavic 3 Classic to actively avoid obstacles in even more complex scenarios while at high speeds.

The Mavic 3 Classic certainly wins out here, as well, as it has a full 360-degree view around the aircraft and the latest of the APAS systems that DJI has developed.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 vs. Air 2S vs. Mini 3 Pro: Which One is Right for You?

Sensors

Then we have the sensors. The Air 2S has a large 20mp 1″ CMOS image sensor, which can shoot RAW (at 10-bit color depth) and/or JPEG, as well as 5.4K/30fps or 4K/60fps.

The Mavic 3 Classic has the Hasselblad 4:3 CMOS image sensor, which can shoot RAW (at 12-bit color depth) and/or JPEG, as well as 5.1K/50fps or 4K.120fps.

Here again, the Mavic 3 Classic does win overall. This is what we would expect, as these systems are more than a few hundred dollars apart in their pricing.

The Air 2S, though, still holds its own against that of one of DJI’s Flagship systems.

As we’ve gone along here, we see that the DJI Mavic 3 is a superior system. It should be; DJI designed it that way.

What we’re doing is a bit disingenuous in a way.

The DJI Air 2S, although being a well-built, amazing aircraft, was always meant to leave you wanting. Wanting, that is, to spend more to get the Mavic 3 systems.

What DJI didn’t realize, though, was they made something unique in the Air 2S, a system close in the specs to that of one of their other flagship systems, the Phantom 4 Pro, in a more compact package.

Really, if we were to look over at the P4Ps specs, you’d have a holy cow moment.

Speaking of which, I flew under a cow. I think we were both nervous. Here, you can check it out if you like.

Crazy, right? She was unhappy with me for a while after that. Back to it, then.

So, yeah, the DJI Air 2S, for its cost, is an immensely valuable system not only for fun, but for practical commercial use as well.

The Mavic 3 Classic does offer some slightly improved camera specs, but more importantly, its additional flight time and omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. Those extras come with an extra cost, however.

Conclusion

As with most things, by investing more, you will get more. It’s the same here.

The cost of the Mavic 3 Classic is a bit steep. Well worth the cost, however, considering. It will provide you with the very latest and greatest that DJI has to offer. For now! That’s it, though, isn’t it?

We live in a fast world, with new drone systems being brought out left and right, it seems. What is top of the line today can easily be yesterday’s old shoe tomorrow.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s obsolete, oh heck No. When you look at purchasing a drone system, cost is always a factor, and sometimes the most important factor.

The real focus, though, should be your intended use. The question is, “Will this system accomplish what I need it to?” “Will this system grow with me, as my skills increase, and I want to do more?”

If your answer comes back as a negative, then you may need to look at spending more to get a system that will be able to do everything you need it to.

If the answer is yes, then spending less on a system that still provides a good, solid solution to your needs, well, there’s nothing wrong with spending less.

At the end of the day, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic or any of the Mavic line will be superior to any of the other systems in the DJI lineup; that is, when we look at the consumer prosumer line.

DJI does offer even more advanced systems in the form of the Inspire or Enterprise series. Simply put, if there is a choice, then it would have to be the Mavic 3 Classic over that of the Air 2S.

Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!

» MORE: How to Register My Drone with DJI (For Warranty Purposes)