- These are the DJI Mavic 3 pros and cons you should know about.
The DJI Mavic 3 – released this past November – is DJI’s newest flagship camera drone. It replaces the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom models – which were first revealed about three years prior. The Mavic 3 features many upgrades like a higher maximum video resolution, increased flight time, and an improved collision prevention system, among other changes which will be discussed below.
As a drone aimed towards photographers and cinematographers, the headline feature of the new drone is its dual-camera system, which allows users to choose between the main wide-angle camera and a zoom camera. The main camera utilizes a four-thirds CMOS sensor produced in collaboration with Hasselblad, a company renowned for its medium format cameras.
While this sensor is much smaller than those usually created by Hasselblad, it is of the same high Hasselblad quality. The sensor is 20-megapixels, which is the same as the previous Mavic. But there is still a significant difference seen due to the larger physical size of the sensor. Low-light performance is also improved by the larger sensor size.
Additionally, the main camera can be put into manual mode to allow for adjustments to aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. And its aperture range has been increased from the Mavic 2 and can now be set anywhere between f/2.8 and f/11. The camera’s ISO is variable as well between ISO 100 and ISO 6400, a range larger than that in the Mavic 2.
As for the shutter within the camera, it is electronic and can be set between 8 seconds and 1/8000th of a second. Along with the improved range in settings, RAW images from the main camera now have 12.8 stops of dynamic range, giving much greater flexibility in post-processing. As for the lens, the equivalent focal length is 24mm. This is wider compared to the predecessor’s 28mm lens. And, despite its wider angle, the lens doesn’t suffer much from distortion.
The second camera built into the drone gives a magnified view with its 28x zoom, an amount equivalent to a 162mm focal length. This secondary camera doesn’t seem to be a big focus of DJI and is accessed through the “Explore Mode.”
It’s marketed as a way to scope out a composition or area to make for a safer approach and create a faster photography workflow. There seems to be less attention given to this camera as evidenced by a smaller ½ inch CMOS sensor and the fact it can only output JPEG, rather than RAW. Its resolution sits at 12-megapixels, much lower than the amount of the main sensor and the aperture is fixed at f/4.4. The shutter speed can differ between 2 seconds and 1/8000th of a second.
The ISO is also variable within the same range as the main camera (100–6400). Neither lens has optical zoom, but the increased resolution of the main sensor makes up for this somewhat with its high megapixel count.
Other shared features between the two cameras include the new Vision Detection Auto Focus (VDAF). This system takes advantage of the improved omnidirectional sensors to aid the camera in locking focus quickly and accurately. Additionally, for those shooting images in JPEG, the onboard computer uses the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution system for image processing. This system doesn’t oversaturate colors like competitor drones may, providing a more realistic but still vibrant look to your images.
Video is another aspect of the Mavic 3 that has been upgraded from the Mavic 2. While in the past 4K was the maximum resolution, the Mavic 3 can record 5.1K at 50fps and DC 4K at 120fps when using the main camera. With the zoom camera, 4K and 1080p at 30fps.
Additionally, natural color grading is achieved through DJI’s 10-bit D-log recording, or one can opt for the Apple ProRes encoding available on the higher-cost Cine version of the Mavic 3.
For storing all the high-resolution images and videos, the base model Mavic 3 comes with an 8GB hard drive and accepts MicroSD cards to expand storage. The Cine model, on the other hand, because of the higher file size of video encoded with Apple ProRes, comes with an impressive 1TB hard drive.
Storage with the Cine version should seldom be an issue, especially with a large microSD card installed. For transferring files, the drone can be connected via Wi-Fi or QuickTransfer. If not plugging the microSD card directly into a computer, then the drone can also be connected to it through a USB-C port.
With a larger battery capacity of 5,000 mAh (compared to 3,850 mAh on the Mavic 2), the Mavic 3 can fly for a reported 46 minutes according to DJI. Though the actual amount will differ depending on a number of variables, the flight time is nevertheless extended compared to the Mavic 2.
As a trade-off for the larger battery, the Mavic 3 uses a different type of battery than the Mavic 2, so if you are upgrading from the previous system you will need to purchase entirely new batteries. Additionally, the batteries now go in the back of the drone rather than the top. Other piloting-related features include the drone’s top speed of 19m/s (43 mph) accessible through Sport Mode, a maximum descent speed of 6 m/s (13 mph), and its maximum ascent speed of 8 m/s (18 mph).
Through the remote controller, transmission can take place up to 15 km (9 mi) away, and the live feed on the controller is 1080p ay 60fps, giving a clear and smooth view for piloting. Furthermore, the Mavic 3 also features an updated ActiveTrack feature, called ActiveTrack 5.
A new and rearranged array of sensors complements the drone’s increased flight time and photography performance with its well-refined collision avoidance system. The new array uses eight sensors covering both the horizontal and vertical space around the drone. This gives the user more ease of mind, allowing them to focus more on their composition. Not to say collision avoidance should be left entirely to the drone’s sensors, but they can certainly be relied on with little worry of accidental collision. APAS 5.0 is the updated version of DJI’s obstacle avoidance system that is employed by the drone.
There also exists an updated RTH feature, which leads the drone down the safest and most efficient route home. As for the positioning system utilized by the Mavic 3, GPS, Galileo, and BeiDou are all used to give the most accurate position information. For windy days, the drone is capable of 12 m/s (27 mph) of wind resistance.
The weight and size have also been changed from the Mavic 2. While the Mavic 3 is slightly larger and features larger propellers, it is lighter, coming in at 895 grams for the base model. The Mavic 2 Pro, on the other hand, weighs 907 grams.
One significant con of the Mavic 3 as of its launch is that some of the advertised features seem to be missing. These include Panorama Mode, HyperLapse, FocusTrack, and MasterShots. DJI promises these to be included in future updates for the drone, though it is nevertheless a bit disappointing they weren’t included from the start.
The price of the base model Mavic 3 is $2,199, about $500 to $700 more than the Mavic 2 Pro depending on the kit purchased. The Mavic 3 Cine, with its 1 TB hard drive and Apple ProRes encoding, bumps the price up to $5,000. While these prices may feel steep, if you’re looking for the best camera a consumer drone will give you, the Mavic 3 series will certainly live up to the task.
It may, however, be worth waiting until the other promised features are released as you will then be getting the most for your money. If this cost is still more than you wish to spend, the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom drones still give more-than-acceptable results despite the smaller camera sensor and lack of other upgrades.
Pulse 2.0 Score
The DJI Mavic 3 has received a 4.5 out of 5 stars based on the specifications-to-price ratio.
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