Digital or Optical zoom?


Hi all, I’m sure this has been covered before but is there any point in having the MP zoom?

I wondered if the MP would give any improvement over the Air for capturing fine detail?

I’m assuming that digital zoom in camera is exactly the same as digital zoom in post-processing?

The Air gives superb detail, can I better it?



You mean as in comparing M2P and M2Z?


I’ve done this upgrade. The zoom is 2x optical on the M2Z with the option of another 2 digital if you drop the video quality. The image quality is a little better overall, but it does zoom and the aircraft itself is substantially better than the Air. You’ve also the superzoom feature that can deliver impressive results.


I was really trying to find out whether a shot with the Mavic Pro zoom would be substantially better than the Mavic Air zoomed (cropped) in Photoshop. After all, that’s all a digital zoom is.


Thanks for that. The optical zoom will be good, but of course it’s an expensive upgrade. I’m very impressed with the quality of the Air and I wonder if the MP zoom will be twice as good. Also, the portability is very important for me.


Hi Ash,

as a camera, no it’s not twice as good. As a drone, it’s more than twice as good IMO. You’re getting much longer flight times, increased speed, increased stability, stronger signal (and better distance), superior transmission back to the controller, more quickshots, side and top obstacle avoidance and the comparatively near silent operation.

The zoom ability opens up more than you may think too, other than the photo mode with 9 zoomed shots making one photo. In video you can create a parallax effect by zooming in on your subject then circling, dolly zooms etc and in photography you can use compression to really change the scene you create.

The air is undoubtedly more portable, but carrying the M2 isn’t exactly a bind either. I loved my MA, it’s a great drone and any owner should be very happy with one. In my view though, the upgrade to the M2Z is a worthwhile one as long as you can justify the cost.


Yes, someone posted a vid with that in one clip a couple of months back. Very noticeable (since none of the other popular drones have it) and (when used sensibly) very pleasing.

Edit: Not the one I was thinking of … Red Street Monument Drone Flight … but shows two MPZ “features” from the zoomed lens …

Good parallax @ 0:55, and even a superb “Dolly Zoom” @ 1:53.


BTW, the biggest cost is replacing all your filters, batteries and bag! At least the landing mat still works :joy:


just to add my 2 cents. Last Summer I purchased the Mavic Air as my first drone. I was in awe of its performance, 'how can something that small do that much?". However, after a couple of Months I purchased the Mavic Zoom and frankly I never use the Air, for me its just so much more complete and feels like a more professional execution of the ‘what I didn’t know I needed until I had it’ syndrome - if that makes any sense? That said I don’t feel that the video quality is any better than the Air but, the flexibility of zoom lens should not be underestimated, also, it claims to offer better low light results.If you want to see a comparison of the video output have a look at my video of Red Street Monument (as mentioned above) the shots taken between 1:18 and 1:44 are using the Air the rest is the Zoom. By the by, if you are shooting in 1080P the zoom gives you 4 times magnification and although its described as 2x optical and 2 x digital, because of the way the sensor is utilised there is no loss of quality!
And one other point the still pictures taken with super res mode are head and shoulders better than the Air.
In conclusion, the Air is great but, with hindsight I wish I had waited a couple of months and gone straight to the Zoom.


Thanks Lee, Dave and Ian.
It sounds very convincing, especially in terms of the aircraft performance, I don’t think I ever do a flight without the “weak signal - adjust antenna” or part way through a slow pan lose the signal and end up all juddery. I’m a bit confused as to the difference between the Pro and the Zoom. Is it the same sensor and camera? Just different optics?
I love the idea of the Hasselblad camera. But do I get this with the Zoom?


The other thing is I’m going to be doing lots of flying over water and the Pro is a lot more to lose if it dunks!

I’m helping someone with an investigation of Scottish salmon farms so it might be a little way off the shore and I want as much detail as possible (of the lice and disease!) That’s why I’m keen on getting the Zoom, I think.

Stealth is a big big bonus too!


Sorry, so many questions - do you think the Pro would be easier to hand catch than the air?


The Mavic 2 Pro ( not to be confused with the older Mavic Pro ) has a larger sensor ( about 4 x bigger I think ) than the Zoom. In practice this means that whilst the video resolution is no greater than the 4K of your Air ( or M2Zoom ) the image will suffer less from noise, in practice this should only be noticeable in low light scenarios. I have seen online videos and performance in the dark of the M2P over the M2Zoom is ‘night and day’ - if you’ll pardon the pun. :grinning: The M2P should also give you better still photography. Important there is no zoom function on the M2P or thou you can switch the lens from wide angle to narrower field of view and you can control the aperture of the lens ( useful for exposure and depth of field ).

So to summarise the above, the M2Zoom is identical to the M2Pro with the exception of the lens ( strictly speaking the gimbal is different as well, but, don’t worry about that ). DJI have stated their intent to offer a retrofit service where you can swap the zoom lens for the M2Pro and vice versa, but no idea if and when.
Given your stated wish to have a stealth option, I think the Zoom might be a better choice as it allows you to get closer from a distance


The aircraft bit of the drone is exactly the same, as Ian says the difference is the camera. The M2P is a far superior beast, it is however a good few hundred pounds more. It all depends on your usage. For what I plan to be doing, the ability to zoom was required. However, if I was buying purely for myself as a full hobby camera then I’d more than likely go 2 pro


Thanks Ian.
I’ve been reading lots of posts here and it seems that the Hasselblad camera is significantly better so why couldn’t I just fly much higher and crop in post? Same effect?


You could by all means. Remember that using a zoom gives you “compression” in your image, essentially changing the relationship between the foreground and the back ground. Also, the M2Z has “superres” which really does take a cracking image.

The pro is the better camera, as I said it’s down to your use case for it


Hello Lee,
the reason why you can’t just crop the M2P image as a means to circumvent the zoom functionality is because both drones have a highest video resolution of 4K. To explain, this point illustrates the difference between optical and digital zoom. Specifically, both drones use the same number of pixels to construct the video image. So if both drones are the same distance from an identical subject shooting at the same focal length of approx 28mm ( the zoom is near 25mm I think but of course you could zoom the M2Z in slightly to match the fixed wide angle of the M2P. At this point both video feeds are showing the same resolution i.e. vertical to horizontal pixels and will resolve near identical - some variation in lens quality might make for a minute difference. Now the guy with the Zoom goes to maximum optical zoom in 4K which is 2x, this gives a smaller field of view ( per function of a zoom lens ) but the resolution of that smaller field is still 4K. Once back home the two compare images and the M2P owner decides he will match the tight crop of the Zoom by using editing software to crop their video to the same field of view. Heres the point the crop is taken from the same resolution of 4K and as a consequence zooming in 2 x will reduce the viable pixel dimensions ( as in resolution ) to just 25%. As you can see the zoom is clearly better in this regard except I must point out that the M2P does have an ace up its sleeve in that it can also shoot at a fixed 39mm ( note this not reached by zooming but rather switched on or off ) using 39mm optical still ain’t as good as the 48 mm zoom of the M2Z when it comes to resolution
To be clear if you wish to video in low light or just take photos the M2P makes more sense, but thats your call.

Long answer to a short question hope it helps.
Give me a minute and I’ll post you an example of a still picture taken with the Zoom


Lee, per last mail …

Heres an example of a photo

taken with zoom

and heres a link to a super res image I took, again with the Zoom, this uses multiple views and combines them

Link to full-sized image](


Sorry, just noticed I addressed my posts to Lee and Not Ash. Sorry but I have turned 60 and its down hill :roll_eyes:


I was getting a bit confused by that myself :grin: