DJI Mavic 3 Review
Is This The Best Flagship Drone Yet?
There's a good chance a drone is flying near you right now. In fact, over the past four years, a million new drones have taken flight, and the sales of these flying machines have skyrocketed by 500 percent. And despite the innate human fascination for flying high in the sky and having an aerial perspective on things, very few people know how to use drones for business advantage.
|Dimensions||3.6 by 3.8 by 8.4 inches|
|Integrated Camera||Integrated with Gimbal|
|Media Format||microSDXC, 8GB Internal|
|Remote||Dedicated with App|
|Live Video Feed||1080p|
- Powerful dual camera, and noise handling
- Pro-level image quality
- Strong safety features
- Falls shy of 46-minute battery estimate
- Base model offers only 8GB of storage
The best DJI Mavic 3 deals
People use drones for many purposes other than filming fantastic footage of their recent holiday, and professionals such as real estate agents, for example, use these machines to have excellent videos and pictures of their properties. Many more professionals will use drones for their business, and this is just the beginning.
DJI has always been a staple company for high-quality drones, and their latest DJI Mavic 3 is nothing short of incredible. The Mavic 3 is their newest flagship drone, and although it has a premium price tag, the DJI 3 offers the highest quality you can get on the drone market.
The Mavic 3 is a leap forward to DJI’s previous drones, as this quadcopter sports a dual-lens camera that takes stunning wide-angle views and a slightly less impressive telephoto camera. It also has some incredible tech inside, including a Four Thirds camera with Hasselblad color science and all-around obstacle avoidance sensors.
DJI’s flagship is a serious photography and video tool capable of incredibly high-resolution video. On top of that also includes an adjustable aperture, boosted battery life, and improved collision avoidance packed in a bundle lighter than the Mavic 2 Pro. Let’s now dive deeper into this premium drone. Let’s see if it’s the market’s best flagship drone.
Table of Content
The camera on the DJI Mavic 3 is a little technological masterpiece.
With its dual Hasselblad camera and the primary camera featuring a 20MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor, Mavic 3‘s camera will leave you speechless with its crisp footage more than once. This camera has a focal length of 24mm and offers an adjustable f/2.8 to f/11 aperture with auto and manual focus from 1m to infinity.
Image quality from the primary camera is breathtaking for both video and photo, with just a small amount of sharpness falling off at the edges of the frame when viewing still. However, the level off is minimal, and you have to really look for it. Even in high-contrast scenes, no chromatic aberration is visible on subject edges, and high ISO noise handling is incredibly good, with usable results throughout the entire range.
The geometric distortion of the primary camera is disappointing overall, as we noticed a good amount of distortion, and the rolling shutter performance is decent enough. This camera does not have a mechanical shutter, which is not ideal considering the price.
As we mentioned earlier, the Mavic 3 has not just one but two cameras, and the second one has a ½-inch CMOS sensor with an equivalent focal length of 162mm, a fixed f/4.4 aperture, and 28x hybrid zoom. A very limited camera can take only JPEG images, and the results are poor compared to the primary camera.
Having said that, there’s potential as the lens has a narrow FOV making it much better for zooming up to 7X.
Video quality is where the Mavic 3 really shines. Headline features are 5.1K 50p video with 200Mbps bitrate and 10bit 4:2:2 color information. This might not mean much for people who aren’t into technical stuff, but a 5.1K resolution is an excellent improvement over the standard 4K.
Even in the case of video quality, what you get out of the primary lens is insanely good. The footage you’ll capture with this drone is incredible, and it’s not just the image quality that’s impressive. One of the hardest things about shooting with a drone, especially a fast-moving one, is keeping things focused.
To help speed up the Mavic 3′s autofocus, DJI introduced what they call Vision Detection Auto Focus, a system that taps into the multiple vision sensors in the Mavic 3. So overall, the focus is incredibly fast, and video footage is crisp in most tests.
Surprisingly, the Mavic 3 uses the DJI’s Fly app. This is surprising because this is clearly a drone aimed at pros, and the company’s Go 4 app has all the settings that a professional would love, such as white balance controls and Aperture Priority mode.
The Fly app is terrible for a drone of this caliber, considering the audience it will likely attract. Still, the variable aperture controls are easy to use, and you can customize the settings to suit your workflow.
It’s impressive how well the gimbal stabilizes such a long focal length. It captured smooth video footage of an eagle in flight roughly half a kilometer away in tests, which is truly impressive.
The gimbal is a three-axis camera mount, and it keeps the lens steady and level during flight, even when you turn and change altitude. The camera can tilt down to 90 degrees for bird’s eye views and supports 35 degrees of upward tilt – a big plus for using the drone as a tool for building or bridge inspections.
Design and Controller
The M3 is around the same size as the Mavic 2, though it opens out a little larger ( 221x96x90mm folded/347x283x107 unfolded.) The drone looks much more like the Air 2S, the legs are thinner, and the vision sensors are placed diagonally on the corners rather than glaring forward like those on the Mavic 2.
At a weight of 895g, you can’t mistake this M3 for a toy and much of its weight is in the battery.
There’s not much to say for the standard controller as it’s the usual controller DJI fans are used to. It’s a design many pilots like that feels good in the hand and can easily hold the size of an in-case iPhone 13 Pro Max. One thing to note is you can get the “upgraded’ version of the controller with the Cine option. This controller is a bit larger and has 03+ and WIFI 6 capabilities. It also has a built-in display, so you don’t have to connect your phone to fly, and the pro controller shaves 10m/s from the control latency down to 120, making the Mavic 3 more responsive.
Flight and Stability
The Mavic 3 is fun, responsive, and handles like a sports car. It fires up quickly with the automatic startup function and is ready to fly in seconds, thanks to the improvements to the GPS system. The responsiveness of the Mavic 3 is also fantastic, with no lag in remote inputs, as it can ascend or accelerate without any skips or delays.
DJI Mavic 3 has three modes ( Cinema, Normal, and Sport), as we’ve seen with most DJI drones. Putting the M3 in Sports mode drastically increases the sensitivity of the controls and puts obstacle awareness, detection, and avoidance responsibility on the pilot. Sports mode is also great for showing off and flying your drone while friends and relatives watch.
On the other hand, Cinema mode is the slowest one and is fantastic for indoor flight ops, as you could use the M3 as a super expensive tripod for its excellent stability in “slow mode.”
Flying the Mavic 3 at night is a blast, and you’ll get crisp video although no one is going to take over Hollywood with the M3 alone, you’ll get breathtaking footage at night with DJI’s new drone.
Another essential feature is the all-around obstacle avoidance system the M3 has.
The M3 has eight sensors in total, each facing forward, aft, upward, and downward. The Mavic 3 can sense obstacles coming from any direction, and its sensors can sense objects standing in its way as far as 200 meters (656 feet) away. These safety features are perfect for safety-cautious pilots as there’s a lot less chance of an accident, and the more sensitive sensors improve the return-to-home functionality, too.
Mavic 3 promises to better navigate autonomously through complex spaces using their new version of the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS 5.0). When you turn on this feature, the Mavic 3 automatically navigates around obstacles in its path, avoiding them smoothly and without making the flying experience uncomfortable or too forced.
Active Track 5.0 is also a thing on the M3, and subject-tracking for people and vehicles is extremely good on this drone. The Mavic 3 also tells you when another aircraft is nearby thanks to the AirSense ADS-B system and also supports AeroScope Remote ID, which is a kind of license plate for drones.
The Mavic 3 has a robust geofencing system in place, too, and you’re very unlikely to crash by accident. Safety features on the drone include FlySafe, which prevents the M3 from taking off in no-fly zones and prompts you to go through an authorization process in restricted areas.
The built-in communication system sends 1080p60 video back to the remote over a digital 03+ connection, and the signal is flawless within line of sight.
With the new upgraded remote control and improved antenna, The Mavic has a staggering maximum range distance of 15 kilometers (9,3 miles.)
Maximum flight speed is good, and in Sport mode, the M3 can reach 75kph (47mph) with a wind resistance of 43,4 kph (27mph.) Although the M3 is pretty fast, you can decrease the speed based on the mode you choose. For instance, if you want to take it slower.
A reliable battery is as important as the flight experience or camera quality.
The M3 uses a new flight battery that promises to deliver up to 46 minutes of flying time on a full charge. Those numbers are in ideal conditions, though in reality, the battery can’t reach those estimates.
The actual average flight time is closer to 36 minutes per flight.
Standard, Fly More Combo, or Cine?
With the Mavic 3, there’s more than one version you can choose from.
The $2,199 standard edition includes the drone, a protective cover, a remote control, one flight battery, two extra propellers, and a charger. It also includes 8GB of internal storage (this is very little if you factor in the 5.1K video files) and obviously a MicroSD slot to expand storage.
Next, we have the $2,999 Fly More combo, which includes everything the Standard edition has, plus two extra batteries, a three-battery charger, a set of neutral density filters, and two complete sets of extra propellers. You’ll also get a branded carrying case that can convert between a handbag and a backpack. It’s a high-quality bag overall and feels very sturdy.
The last one on the list is the Cine Premium Combo, at the staggering price point of $4,999. It includes the same accessories from the two previous versions but swaps the standard remote control for the DJI RC Pro remote. This premium remote controller has a built-in display, so you don’t have to connect your phone to fly. But more importantly, the Mavic 3 Cine aircraft includes a 1TB SSD, and it adds support for higher video-quality compression, encoding footage using Apple ProRes 4:2:2 HQ codec.
The base price for the Mavic 3 is $2,200, which is fair if you consider all the features it provides. It is a high-end drone, and if you’re looking for fantastic camera quality and top-of-the-line technology, you’ll have to pay a premium price for it.
If the price of the Mavic 3 is off putting, you might look into some alternatives.
Some of the best alternatives to the M3 are the Autel Lite, the DJI Mini 3 Pro, and the Air 2S.
If you’re looking for a similar camera to the M3 but with a lower price, you should look into the Autel Lite. With its upgraded 4/3 CMOS professional camera, it can take photos of up to 20MP. And at a price of $1149 for the basic version, it’s a valid alternative to the M3.
However, if you’re looking for a drone that has a similar flight time to the M3 and is more affordable, you should look for the DJI Mini 3. The Mini 3 has a flight time of around 34 minutes, and although the Mini 3 camera is worse than the one you have with the Mavic 3, at a price point of $900, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is hard to beat for the value it provides.
Lastly, the DJI Air 2S is a great affordable option if you’re looking for similar QuickShots, as both drones have the latest MasterShots, which is when the drone takes control of the critical shots. If you’re not a professional photographer/videomaker, you’ll capture incredible shots without hassle. The Air 2S comes at around $1000, which is still considerably lower than the Mavic 3.
There’s no question that, among small drones, the Mavic 3 is arguably one of the best cables. But that’s also a reasonable expectation if you factor in the $2,200 base price, and the M3 is the best small drone for independent filmmakers, enthusiasts, and professional photographers. It’s ideal for location work also as it folds down easily for transport.
The camera is incredible with its Hasselblad color science, and obstacle avoidance is better this time around too.
Not everyone needs a high-end drone, and although the M3 justifies its cost for professionals, many of its features are available in more affordable drones too. For those who are just taking aerial photos, the M3 is too expensive while other cheaper drones might suffice. For filmmakers, the Mavic 3 does offer new possibilities which can be worth the price.