Consumer tests and product reviews

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Choppy videos and FPV from the DJI Mavic Air 2 - the reason?

What's the reason you might get crappy videos from your Mavic Air 2 drone and how to fix lagging FPV and recordings

choppy video Mavic Air 2 drone

We had some really bad experience shooting work video with our wonderful DJI Mavic Air 2 the other day. We say wonderful because we managed to get some great videos and images with this drone in the last couple of weeks.

Still it managed to disappoint us couple of times but we all know nothing is perfect. So what really happened and what we tried to fix it?

The issue with choppy and lagging videos

Couple of days ago we needed to shoot a work video in an open field where we didn't expect to have any issues since the Mavic Air 2 was doing great so far. There was really nothing to disturb the connection and it was a bright sunny day, so good light conditions.

Choppy and lagging video in 4k recorded on internal Mavic Air 2 memory

Please note this is not our only example - we tried different altitudes and movements and occasionally got similar result with choppy video.

What happened when we got our DJI drone up in the air was some really lagging FPV despite the drone was some 100 meters away from the remote controller but also a very choppy video which we needed to cut big time in post edit and save just whatever was usable.

So, what was wrong? Our first assumptions

  • Issues with storage/memory, cache etc.
  • Reception disruption due to unknown source
  • Hardware issues with the drone itself
  • The smartphone we were using

Issues with storage/memory, cache
In this particular day we had a SanDisk Extreme 128 GB (we believe this was one of the recommended memory cards) but the internal storage was completely empty so decided to use that one first. The recording setting was 4k at 24 fps both with and without the HDR setting turned on.

memory card
SanDisk Extreme 128 - the memory card we last used with our Mavic Air 2

Usually we would assume that the issue occurs because the memory card was too slow and the high bitrate at 4k is just too heavy for this particular SanDisk Extreme. But again, that was not possible because we were recording on the internal drone storage.

Reception disruption due to unknown source
As mentioned in the beginning this reason was highly unlikely as we were in an open field where no buildings were present or any tall trees or hills that might have caused reception issues. The drone was calibrated and did not show any errors on display.

Hardware issues with the drone itself
We used the drone couple more times after that and most of the time it was recording fine but still lagging FPV and choppy videos happened quite often. We have to admit that things got a bit better when recording 2.7k on the memory card but still we can't confirm that bitrate (data rate) and memory source are the definitive root-causes as we got the problem when recording in 1080p at a very close distance from the remote-controller as well.

Blame the smartphone
"Hey, it might be because of your smartphone" - some of our colleagues assumed that the crappy FPV might be due to smartphone issues. We are using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 with the latest product updates when flying with the Mavic Air 2. We checked all settings and no errors occurred whatsoever. Also the Note 9 has been fantastic for all the tasks we are using it and we have to admit that even though it is not the latest Note model it is a very capable phone, even in 2020.

If we have to speak honest, we felt really bad about this situation. The reason behind was that we felt kind of humiliated at first since we really needed those shots which were nothing special - just couple short open-field videos. 

We had to spend hours after that, researching online in DJI and drone forums to get any hint where the issue with the lagging FPV and choppy recorded videos came from. 

Our best guess so far is that the choppy video situation is due to the higher bitrate in some situations and the storage not being able to process and record all data when these payload peaks occur.

DJI and product updates
Thankfully DJI are doing a great job with their product updates in 2020. That is one of the main reasons we trusted them when choosing our work gear. Soon we are buying the DJI Osmo Action camera for the same reason (chosen over the GoPro HERO 7 Black) - constant product updates, fixing small glitches and problems and improving their products.

We hope that if there is anything wrong related to the choppy and lagging video, they will do their best to fix it shortly. 

We will definitely monitor the situation and update you accordingly! Meanwhile, we will be happy to hear your opinion about the Mavic Air 2, have you experienced any issues with lagging 4k videos and transmission problems?