Since its release in April of 2020, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has continued to be a highly regarded drone commonly used by many, to this day.
Fast forward one year, to April 2021, and the DJI Air 2S was released with much fanfare. Like the Mavic Air 2 before, the DJI Air 2S proved and continues to prove to be, a popular drone, even amongst photo and video professionals, myself included.
Both drones, on the video front, are able to film in Ultra HD at 4k 60fps, with the Air 2S stepping this up with the ability to film in 5k 30fps. With such high-resolution video comes the need to be able to download it.
We will discuss how to download video footage from the Air series, using either the supplied USB-C cable connected directly to the Air 2 or, by using external card readers to copy videos from an SD card to Mac Finder.
Air Series Storage Options
Like with many, if not most, of DJIs newer lines of drones, the Mavic Air 2 and the Air 2S have both internal storage and ports for SD Cards.
The internal storage for both drones is 8GB, of which 7.2GB is actually available for usage by the drone operator for photos and videos.
Although not an immense amount of storage, the 8GB option is indeed a viable option in a pinch, say, if you were to forget to bring SD Cards with you, like I might have done once before.
The more popular option, and the one we would suggest, would be utilizing the SD Card storage. The Mavic Air 2 and the DJI Air 2S can use cards up to 256GB.
What does this translate to for real world video usuage? Below is a chart based on the Air 2 and Air 2S bit rate. These numbers are approximate:
|Air 2||4k 24fps||120||8GB Internal||14 Minutes|
|Air 2||4k 24fps||120||256GB SD Card||336 Minutes|
|Air 2S||4k 24fps||150||8GB Internal||4 Minutes|
|Air 2S||4k 24fps||150||256GB SD Card||224 Minutes|
Something we might not really think about is that higher resolution video formats, such as, in this case 4k, take up a considerable amount of space. Once shooting in the Air 2S 5k resolution, the amount of space on any given storage medium is drastically reduced.
Mentioned earlier, the Air 2 and Air 2S have both internal storage and SD card storage.
Switching between storage types is actually fairly simple. If you accidently forget your SD card, the DJI Fly app will automatically alert you to the missing SD card and switch to Internal Storage, after acknowledging the notification, seen below.
To manually switch between Internal Storage and the SD Card:
Tap the image of the SD card (if you are in Pro Mode) or tap where it says “storage” and has an image of an SD card (if in Auto Mode).
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).
If you look closely at the image of the SD Card, you will see a number.
In this articles case, this number will represent how many minutes of video footage you can take with your current video settings.
Transferring Video from the Air 2/Air 2S to a Mac
Because the Air Series has the ability to save videos internally and on SD Cards, there are two individual ways to access said data.
- Directly connecting the Air 2 or Air 2S to your Mac via the included USB-C to USB cable. This method accesses both the internal and SD card data.
- Removing the SD card from the drone and inserting it into an SD card reader, then connecting the SD card reader to your Mac.
USB-C to USB Method
The USB-C to USB method is a direct connection from the Air 2/2S to your Mac. This method requires a few more steps to perform then using an SD card reader (more on this later).
However, this method does enable you to access any video that might have been stored on internal storage, as well as your SD card media.
In order to perform this method, you will need to have the original UBC-C cable that came with your Air 2.
Step 1. Locate the USB-C slot on the left side of the Air 2/Air 2S and open the protective cover.
Step 2. Plug the supplied USB-C cable into the Air 2’s port.
Step 3. Turn on your Air 2/2S by single pressing the power button once, then press+hold the power button, until the drone powers up.
Plug the USB end of the plug into an open USB port on your Mac or USB hub.
After you have completed the first 3 steps, you will then see on your Macs desktop, 2 new folders representing the internal storage (default name of Untitled) and the SD card you have in the drone.
Note: We will go through the steps to change the name of the internal storage, further in this article.
I have my SD card named Air 2S. As a habit, I name all of the SD cards for my drones and multiple DSLR cameras to avoid confusion.
Step 4. To access the internal storage, simply double-click “Untitled”. This will open a Finder window and bring you to the directory tree containing DCIM, LOST.DIR, and MISC.
Note: You can also access the videos on your SD card using these same steps. The directories will be named the exact same.
a) Double-click the DCIM Directory.
b) Double-click the 100MEDIA directory.
You will now see your videos, listed as MP4 files.
At this point you are able to copy the file(s) to any directory on your Mac.
c) To do so, right+click the file you want, choose copy and then paste it to your desired directory (listed on the left of the Finder window).
Changing the Internal Storage Name
As previously mentioned, if you, like me, like to keep everything organized, you can change the name of the Air 2/2S internal storage to whatever you’d like (as long as you don’t use names that are too long or names that have special characters).
In my case, I named the internal storage Air2Sint (Air 2S Internal).
To change the internal storage name:
Step 1: Locate the internal storage on the left side of the Finder window (it will be named Untitled).
Step 2: Right+click Untitled.
Step 3: Scroll down to and click “Rename Untitled” and type in the name you’d like the internal storage to be.
Note: After the renaming step has been taken, everytime you access the drive through a direct USB-C to USB connection, the drive will have the new given name.
SD Card Reader Method
This method is a preferred method amongst many drone owners, as it is quicker and more convenient than having to hook up USB cables and power on the drone, etc.
SD Card Reader
To use this method, you will need to purchase an SD card reader to insert into your Mac. I personally use an SD card reader similar to this:
Uni USB C Memory Card Reader Adapter USB 3.0, Supports SD/Micro SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC [Card Not Included], Compatible for MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPad Pro 2018, Galaxy S21.
To transfer the files from your Air 2/2S to your PC:
Step 1: Eject the SD card from the Air 2/2S
Step 2: Insert the SD card into the corresponding Micro SD card slot on the reader
Step 3: Insert the SD card reader into your Mac
On your Mac desktop you will see the Air 2/2S SD card directory (again, mine is named Air 2S).
Step 4: Double+click on your Air 2S SD card. This will then open the contents of the SD card.
Selecting DCIM, then the 100MEDIA folder will bring you to the directory where your videos are stored.
Step 5: 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 standard Finder copy/paste and share procedures.
At first glance, accessing and/or moving Air 2/2S videos around, whether stored internally or on an SD card, might seem daunting.
By following this short guide and regularly accessing these files, moving videos to directories for further viewing or editing should become second nature with time.