A few weeks ago, I asked "is the DJI Mavic 3 worth it". Now I know for sure. See the video review below.
The DJI Mavic 3 Drone is the New Flagship of Their Prosumer Range
This superb drone sits neatly between the high end professional DJI Inspire 2 and the consumer level DJI Air 2s.
It has two cameras and shoots 5.1k 50fps video and 20mp stills. However, where it really shines (in my opinion) is at night.
Super clean video at 1600 ISO and enough stability, even in light winds, for me to shoot 3 second exposures with superb results.
There are some less than perfect points which I will address along with the full review above. Remember to leave your comments at the end and please share.
Image Credit (Taken with Mavic 3): Nick Stubbs
Introduction to the DJI Mavic 3
Please note: This DJI Mavic 3 drone was lent to me by Mark Boyt at the Drone Safe Store in West Sussex. When I told him I was about to rent a Mavic 3 to review, he offered to lend me his fully operational review copy. This was also agreed with DJI UK so I headed off to grab it from him.
Buying Options for the DJI Mavic 3
The Mavic 3 drone comes in two versions with three buying options:
The copy I received (above) was the standard version with one battery. The differences are that number 1 above comes with 1 battery and the same controller as the DJI Mini 2 and DJI Air2/2s.
The Fly More Combo comes with a set of filters, 3 batteries and again, the same controller along with some other bits.
The Cine Premium Combo comes with more filters and everything in the Fly More Combo except that the drone is different. The Cine Premium shoots Pro Res video and to do this it needs a super fast, 1tb internal hard drive as opposed to the standard MicroSD card in the other two options.
DJI Mavic 3 Build Quality
After hearing a few people complain that the build quality wasn't up to par, I was keen to test this right away. It's superb. The weakest part of the drone is the camera and gimbal obviously due to the operational structure.
The second weakest would be the legs but to me, they feel solid and strong.
This thing is designed to fly, in air, and not hurtle along the ground. Any drone will be damaged if it falls from any significant height. Learn to fly this thing. For every day use, putting in and out of bags/cases and general handling, this drone is tough. Just look after it.
Flight Times and Battery Life
Once again, the stories were out there and I even commented in this video about the flight times. This was based on early "influencer" reviews.
In reality, there is something you should know about the battery and flight times with the DJI Mavic 3.
What Affects the DJI Mavic 3 Battery Life?
Below are three examples of how the battery life of this drone is affected. It is important to know these so that you can plan your flights accordingly. Whether on set of a movie or out photographing stills, it is good to know what flight times you can expect from the DJI Mavic 3.
If just flying slowly, setting up and taking stills photographs, the battery life is at it's best. You can expect up to 40 minutes flight times in low wind and mild temperatures.
A Mix of Photo and Video
Unless working with a client on a specific job (filming, roof inspections etc), most of us will be doing a combination of stills and high resolution video (4k50, 5k50). Perhaps in LOG and h.265. Doing this, I was getting between 30 and 35 minutes flight time in light wind.
Filming in Pro Res Constantly
If you are shooting constantly in Pro Res/LOG with the Cine version of the DJI Mavic 3, expect shorter times. This is due to the excess load on the battery as the camera records, processes and stores the massive Pro Res files to the internal SSD. Couple this with light winds and fast manoeuvres, you are looking at around 20 minutes flight time.
All in all, I was impressed with the battery life and anything between 30 and 40 minutes is superb. My DJI Inspire 1 and X5R camera used to give me between 12 and 14 minutes!!!
Mavic Stills Image Quality
Stills image quality from a drone is important to me. I shoot a lot of roof inspections where clarity is needed. I also shoot images for printing onto canvas and selling so they need to be good. Ignore the web quality below but check out the dynamic range with the sun.
I have shot stills with the Inspire 1/X5R, DJI Mini 2, DJI Mavic Air 2, DJI Air 2s and now the DJI Mavic 3 with Hasselblad camera. All of them produce stills worthy of web use.
The 1" sensor (which isn't really a 1" sensor) on the Air 2s produces beautiful 20mp stills. However, there is a noticeable difference when shooting with the 20mp, M43 Hasselblad camera and aperture-driven lens of the Mavic 3.
Stills Edge Quality
There has been talk of the (lack of) quality at the edges in the stills from the M3. So let's check it out. The image below has had basic adjustments such as levels and light sharpening.
Exactly what I would do to start with on any image from any camera. Click for a larger copy but bear in mind this has been reduced for web.
Edge Quality at 100%
Let's zoom into the left, right, bottom and corner edges to check sharpness. I did actually find a very slight drop off in the corners but not enough to bother me. The Mavic 3 right now shoots in the 4:3 aspect ratio so you may well be cropping those corners away anyway.
Far Left Centre Edge Image Quality
Far Right Center Edge Image Quality
Bottom Edge Image Quality
Bottom Right Corner Image Quality
I was going to upload a gallery but the image sizes are huge which will slow down the page. Then by reducing the size, it doesn't do the camera justice. Take my word for it, the day and night images are superb.
DJI Mavic 3 Night Photography
Night photography with the DJI Mavic 3 deserves a special mention. The M43 sensor in the Hasselblad camera produces beautifully clean and colour accurate images. Check out the heavily-reduced-in-quality for web image below and then scroll down to see a 100% crop from this image.
100% Crop of Night Image Cruise Ship
Again, these images have been greatly reduced for the web but the full size images are superb.
Mavic 3 Video Quality
Hopefully you watched the video at the top of this page? If not, please do but here are a few more video clips from the DJI Mavic 3. I personally think the quality from the 162mm secondary lens is superb. If processed correctly.
Sample Video Clips
The 5.1k sensor also allows you to do cool creative things like Dolly Zooms.
Ok, so this is a great drone but it isn't perfect. Yet. In fact it may never be in some people's eyes. Perfect is more reserved for the larger, more professional drones. Remember, this is still a "prosumer" drone at a lower price point (despite myself and others thinking it is a little too pricey).
Whilst quality from the smaller 1/2" camera at 7x (162mm) is good, it is lacking. The aperture is fixed at f4.4 which I understand. F2.8 at this focal length would be ugly and far too shallow. I can live with this if you just gave us RAW for this camera and lens. Please.
Myself and others have noticed that when you turn the aircraft at any speed, it tends to throw a bit of a wobbly. The drone tries to correct itself making any footage unusable. I think this may be adjustable in the control settings but haven't had time to look yet. I hope so...
Not a huge issue but getting the MicroSD card out of the drone is a pain. Especially if you have sausage fingers like me. I mostly have to use the pliers on my penknife to get it out unless I remove the battery first. It is too recessed into the body. Minor niggle.
Offloading Footage from SSD
You must hook up the drone to your computer and use the supplied cable to offload media. Not only this, you need to use the battery power to do so. This wastes battery power and perhaps shortens its lifespan? The SSD is so small so making it removable would make this issue a non-starter. Note: Applies to Cine version only.
Ok, not such a biggie because DJI were open about this before the launch. However, it is frustrating not being able to do my Hyperlapse's. I noticed also that there is not even a greyed out option for waypoints? I hope this feature makes it into the firmware update in 2022!
Pros and Cons
Nothing is perfect in life so here are the pros and cons to the DJI Mavic 3. In my humble opinion anyway. I love this drone and I think you will too.
Ok so that's enough for now. There is so much to this drone and so much more to come in the New Year. In my opinion this is a superb drone and well worth buying. Who is it for and which drone should you buy?
If you are new to drones, get the DJI Air 2s. If you are more experienced and hoping to take this hobby further, get the DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo. Full on pro? Grab the DJI Mavic 3 Cine with Pro Res. The other filmmakers on set shooting Pro Res from the ground will love you for it!
Enjoyed this review or have something to say about the DJI Mavic 3? Please leave a comment below. Do you own one? What are your experiences? Also, please share this with your friends.