DJI Mavic 3 Review Of Features And Specs

DJI Mavic 3 Feature and Specs Review

DJI’s newest flagship drone, the DJI Mavic 3, once again sets the Mavic line as the go-to videography drone for beginners and expert cinematographers alike. A new body design, camera, and battery system turn the Mavic 3 into the new top-end prosumer drone that proves it was worth the three-year wait.

Introduction:

DJI’s newest revision of the Mavic line is nothing short of impressive. While the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine feature a sleek upgrade to the body with thinner arms and smoother lines, yet it still retains that iconic Mavic look. DJI boasts the imaging system on the Mavic 3 as its pièce de resistance, stating “Imaging Above Everything” and the camera system onboard proves it. Featuring a massive 20 MP Hasselblad 4/3rds CMOS image sensor, more commonly seen in small DSLR and mirrorless cameras than on drones. This sensor captures colors and hues unparalleled in previous revisions of the Mavic.

Not only does it feature this new larger camera sensor, but the Mavic 3 also packs a telephoto camera on top of that main camera. Imaging quality follows through as well, touting 5.1K video at 50 fps or 4K video at 120 fps. All while running DJI’s new ActiveTrack 5.0 (when the software update hits in January 2022) for autonomous flight that follows you over, under, and through obstacles. Combine these impressive features with a new battery system that provides up to 46 minutes of flight time, and you have a professional-level cinematography setup right out of the box.

You can buy the DJ Mavic 3 from Amazon by clicking here.

You can buy the DJ Mavic 3 Fly More Combo from Amazon by clicking here.

Feature Overview of the DJI Mavic 3:

The DJI Mavic 3 ships with the following components (for $2199 via DJI.com):

  • 1 DJI Mavic 3
  • 1 DJI RC-N1 Remote Controller
  • 1 pair of spare DJI RC-N1 Control Sticks (Pair)
  • 1 DJI RC-N1 RC Cable (USB Type-C Connector) 
  • 1 DJI RC-N1 RC Cable (Lightning Connector) 
  • 1 DJI RC-N1 RC Cable (Standard Micro-USB Connector) 
  • 1 DJI Mavic 3 Intelligent Flight Battery
  • 3 DJI Mavic 3 Low-Noise Propellers (pair)
  • 1 DJI 65W Portable Charger
  • 1 DJI Mavic 3 Storage Cover
  • 1 USB Type-C Cable

Camera System:

The DJI Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine pack an impressive camera set up for an all-in-one drone. As mentioned above, the Mavic 3 comes with a dual-camera set up with the Hasselblad L2D-20c 4/3rds CMOS camera as the main and a 162mm equivalent ½-inch CMOS telephoto lens as the secondary camera. Available in the explore mode, the operator can use the tele camera to find and plan shots like never before. The Hasselblad camera has a 24mm equivalent wide-angle lens with an aperture ranging from f/2.8-f/11.

While both models of the Mavic 3 offer a maximum of 5.1K @ 50fps video recording, only the Mavic 3 Cine offers the Apple ProRes 422 HQ encoding and a built-in 1TB SSD (vs 8 GB in the non-cine edition) to store all that beautiful footage. Meanwhile, the Tele camera has a fixed f/4.4 aperture with up to 4K @ 30fps video and 4x digital zoom (28x hybrid zoom).

When explore mode is activated on the Mavic 3, the camera automatically switches between the Hasselblad and the Tele camera when zoom reaches 7x. The hybrid zoom appears to compare the main Hasselblad camera to the max zoom Tele camera, for a total of 28x zoom. Photos on these cameras come in at 20MP for the Hasselblad and 12MP for the Tele camera, more than enough resolution for most users.  

Compared to the DJI Mavic Air 2S camera resolution, 5.4K @ 30fps on a 1-inch sensor, you will see a large difference in color depth and video smoothness favoring the Mavic 3 in a side-by-side comparison. The Mavic 3 boasts a full 10-bit D-Log color profile, meaning over 1 billion unique color variations can be captured, delivering more natural colors. With such a range in colors and details, post-processing footage from the Mavic 3 offers more flexibility than ever before. 

The main Hasselblad camera specs are summarized here below.

  • Sensor: 4/3 CMOS
  • Resolution: 20 MP, 5280×3956 max image size
  • Lens: 24 mm (equivalent), 84° FOV
  • Aperture: f/2.8 to f/11
  • Focal distance: 1 m to ∞
  • ISO: 100 – 6400
  • Shutter Speed: 8 – 1/8000 s
  • Photo Modes: Single shot (20 MP), Auto Exposure Bracketing (20 MP, 3/5 bracketed at 0.7 EV), Timed (20 MP, 2/3/5/7/10/15/20/30/60 s)
  • Video Resolution: H.264/H.265
  • 5.1K: 5120×[email protected]/25/30/48/50fps
  • DCI 4K: 4096×[email protected]/25/30/48/50/60/120*fps
  • 4K: 3840×[email protected]/25/30/48/50/60/120*fps
  • FHD: 1920×[email protected]/25/30/48/50/60/120*/200*fps
  • Video Resolution (Cine Edition only): Apple ProRes 422 HQ
  • 5.1K: 5120×[email protected]/25/30/48/50fps
  • DCI 4K: 4096×[email protected]/25/30/48/50/60/120*fps
  • 4K: 3840×[email protected]/25/30/48/50/60/120*fps
  • Video Bitrate (max): 200 Mbps (H.264/H.265)
  • File Formats: JPEG (photo), DNG (RAW photo), MP4 (video), MOV (video)

The secondary Tele camera specs are summarized here below.

  • Sensor: ½-inch CMOS
  • Resolution: 12 MP, 4000×3000 max image size
  • Lens: 162 mm (equivalent), 15° FOV
  • Aperture: f/4.4
  • Focal distance: 3 m to ∞
  • ISO: 100 – 6400
  • Shutter Speed: 2 – 1/8000 s
  • Photo Modes: Single shot (12 MP)
  • Video Resolution: H264/H.265
  • 4K: 3840×[email protected] fps
  • FHD: 1920×[email protected] fps
  • Video Bitrate (max): Not stated 
  • File Formats: JPEG (photo), MP4 (video), MOV (video)
  • Digital Zoom: 4x
  • Gimbal, ActiveTrack, and GNSS:

The camera system is mounted on a 3-axis motorized gimbal to ensure every shot is smooth and steady. While the body of the Mavic 3 is covered with six fisheye and two wide-angle avoidance sensors, aka Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance, to protect the drone from unintentional collisions and assist with autonomous flight. Like most any global navigational satellite system these days, the Mavic 3 contains multiple receivers for different satellite positioning systems. The GPS, Galileo, and BeiDou receivers ensure the drone’s positioning requiring systems work effectively across the globe. Intriguingly, opting for the EU Galileo system over the Russian GLONASS system like in the Mavic Air 2S or the DJI FPV drones. Could this have to do with changing EU drone regulations? EU drone classification laws have not yet been finalized, so it is hard to say for certain.

Collectively with the GNSS sensors onboard and the ActiveTrack 5.0 software (update coming out in January of 2022), the Mavic 3 can use those sensors in flawless combination to track a subject with the main Hasselblad camera. DJI’s promotional video features a mountain biker ripping down a trail through the woods as the Mavic 3 weaves through trees to effortlessly follow along. Compared to previous versions of the ActiveTrack software, this seems to be a major upgrade- we’ll see come January. 

The Mavic 3 uses both GNSS and vision positioning to calculate hover height. Using the vision system, the Mavic 3 has a vertical accuracy of ±0.1 m and a horizontal accuracy of ±0.3 m. While the GNSS is less accurate at ±0.5 m vertical accuracy and ±0.5 m horizontal accuracy, it is still good enough and the redundancy in this system will mean the Mavic 3 will always have a robust awareness of where it is relative to the ground and keeping stationary shot steady. DJI calls this Extreme-Precision on DJI.com and I’d have to agree that it is exceedingly precise for a consumer drone.

The gimbal is controllable in the pan (left and right) and tilt (up and down) directions from -5° to 5° for the pan and -90° to 35° for the tilt. However, the Mavic 3 can move the 3-axis gimbal much further automatically to keep a steady shot. Able to pan from -27° to 27°, tilt from -135° to 100°, and roll from -45° to 45° all at a maximum speed of 100°/s. These numbers mean the gimbal can do its job in wind speeds of up to 12 m/s or 43.2 km/h.

Obstacle Avoidance and Flight Speeds:

The sensing system is composed of 5 different directional sensor pairs. The forward directional sensors have a max effective detection range of 200 m and can accurately measure obstacle distances to 20 m at speeds up to 15 m/s or 54 km/h. The backward directional sensors provide measurements to 16m at speeds up to 50.4 km/h, the lateral directional sensors provide measurements to 25 m at 54 km/h, and the upward directional sensors provide measurements to 10 m at 21 km/h.

While the forward, backward, lateral, and upward directional sensors use an omnidirectional binocular vision sensor, the downward sensor uses an infrared sensor to measure distances downward. This infrared sensor provides the Mavic 3 with better feedback than an imaging sensor for landing and has an effective range from 0.3-18 m at speeds of 21 km/s. Compare the sensor speed limitations to the rates each flight mode can max out at in the next paragraph to see that C mode and N mode are within or at the limitations of the sensors, while S mode is simply too fast for the sensors to keep up with. Use extra caution when flying at the S mode speeds as your Mavic 3 is unable to use the obstacle avoidance sensors.

In S mode, you can hit speeds of up to 19 m/s (or 68.4 km/h) with ascent speeds of 8 m/s (28.8 km/h) and descent speeds of 6 m/s (21.6 km/h). While C mode is limited to 5 m/s (18 km/h) with ascent/ descent speeds of 1 m/s (3.6 km/h) and N mode limited to 15 m/s (54 km/h) with ascent/ descent speed of 6 m/s (21.6 km/h). Compared to the S mode on the DJI FPV, it is a bit slower, but understandably given the vastly different purposes of those two drones.

Other limitations between flight modes are the tilt angles of the Mavic 3, aka how far forward the drone rotates to provide forward thrust. In C mode, the tilt angle is limited to 25° while N mode moves to 30° and S mode to 35°. What do these angles tell you? In combination with gimbal tilt angle limits, you will lose up to 35° of uptilt on the gimbal to counteract the flight tilt angle. Remember you only have 35° of controllable uptilt on the gimbal, maxing out S mode speeds will keep that camera pointed straight forward. If your shot requires a more upward angle, it’ll be best to go slower and speed up the shot in post-production than fly all out.

DJI Mavic 3 Video Transmission:

The video transmission system on the Mavic 3 uses DJI’s newest update, O3+, which gets a 15 km range with 1080p @ 60 fps in optimal, unobstructed conditions. Compared to the O3, which gets an ideal range of 12 km with 1080p @ 30 fps, it is a good upgrade. Although most legislation will not allow for flights past line-of-sight, it does mean your signal will be more reliable for flights in suboptimal, obstructed, or interfered environments. Video transmission also varies by the controller used for both latency and video bitrate.

The standard RC-N1 remote controller will receive video at 5.5 MB/s with a 130 ms delay, while the RC Pro remote controller will receive the video feed at 15 MB/s with a 120 ms delay. New with the Mavic 3 is WiFi 6 and the ability of the remote controller to automatically choose WiFi 6 over the standard transmission protocol if transmission speeds will be greater. So, if you are within range of WiFi 6 streaming, your bitrate will be a blazing fast 80 MB/s, with no changes in latency. Both DJI remote controllers operate video transmissions on the standard 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, so be careful in dense residential areas as a standard home router can cause a loss of video. Hopefully the ability to switch transmission protocols to-and-from WiFi 6 automatically will reduce this possibility.  

Battery:

A larger 5000 mAh 4S LiPo battery provides plenty of power for the Mavic 3 and with new RTH (return to home) functionality ensuring you never critically discharge your batteries. This new RTH functionality takes wind speed into its calculation and improved the flight path calculations as well, all while still retaining the Auto-RTH functions in previous Mavic drones (like signal loss).

Size and Weight:

Coming in at 895 g (and 899 g for the Cine edition), the Mavic 3 is barely lighter than the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. Still one of the heavier drones in DJI’s consumer lineup after the Phantom series drones. The Mavic 3 measures at a size of 347.5 x 283 x 107.7 mm and folded size of 221 x 96.3 x 90.3 mm, sans propellers. For a full-sized drone, it is quite portable and measures only 41 x -0.7 x 13.3 mm larger than the Mavic Air 2S when folded. The new gimbal cover looks good enough to protect the Mavic 3 when in a backpack. Much like the inclusion of a Galileo GNSS receiver, the weight was likely influenced by EU’s new drone regulations, but it makes the Mavic 3 more portable than ever before.

DJI Mavic 3 Pricing:

The Mavic 3 standard edition comes in at $2199 with the standard equipment, over twice the cost of a Mavic Air 2S. If you opt for the Fly More kit, expect to pay $2999 to get 2 more DJI Mavic 3 Intelligent Flight Batteries, 3 more pairs of spare DJI Mavic 3 Low-Noise Propellers, 1 DJI Mavic 3 Battery Charging Hub, 1 DJI Convertible Carrying Bag, and 1 DJI Mavic 3 ND Filters Set (ND4/8/16/32). With the DJI Mavic 3 Intelligent Flight Batteries costing $209 each and the Convertible Carrying Bag at $319, the Fly More kit is a good deal.

You can buy the DJ Mavic 3 from Amazon by clicking here.

You can buy the DJ Mavic 3 Fly More Combo from Amazon by clicking here.

Once you jump to the Mavic 3 Cine edition, the cost jumps up dramatically as well, coming in at 4959 €. Whether or not the price difference is worth the upgrade is for you to decide, but you get an upgrade in features on the drone and in equipment that comes included as well. Instead of the standard RC-N1 remote controller, the Cine edition includes the bigger DJI RC Pro controller with a 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080, 1000 nit, 10-point multi-touch screen. A significant upgrade from the RC-N1 controller and one that would cost you 1029 € to do separately- if you can even find one in stock.

You also get a 10 Gbps Lightspeed Data Cable and another set of darker DJI Mavic 3 ND Filters (ND64/128/256/512) to go with the upgraded Mavic 3 Cine. The most substantial upgrade, however, is internal with that 1 TB SSD built into the Mavic 3 Cine. While a hack might come out eventually on how to add the internal SSD yourself, you’d likely risk your warranty and risk breaking the Mavic 3 itself in the process. Plus, only the Cine edition can shoot the Apple ProRes 422 HQ encoded video. If you are buying the Mavic 3 to shoot cinema-quality videos, upgrading to the Cine edition is the best way to accomplish that.

With a large price difference between the Mavic Air 2S and the Mavic 3, there is speculation about another new Mavic drone coming to fill that gap. If your budget doesn’t allow for such a lavish upgrade, it might be worth waiting a few months to see if more rumors come out. There is no guarantee of this mid-level Mavic, it’s all conjecture, but DJI could have wanted the Mavic 3 to stand on its own as the best portable drone there is and the price to go up along with it. It could also be a byproduct of the global supply shortages that seem to plague every industry this year. Without DJI confirming any of this, only time will tell.

January 2022 Updates:

Intrudingly, 3 of the key software upgrades are not available on the Mavic 3, yet. ActiveTrack 5.0, as mentioned above, is released in January; but WiFi 6 QuickTransfer and MasterShots are also delayed until then. WiFi 6 QuickTransfer is DJI’s protocol for transferring images and videos captured on the drone to your device quickly.

Available on the smaller Mavic drones at speeds of 20 MB/s, the Mavic 3 will likely be up to 80 MB/s with WiFi 6- but it is unspecified by DJI at this time. MasterShots is an autonomous functionality that creates professional-looking cinematography-type shots at the click of a button. Why these features got delayed from the initial release of the DJI Mavic 3 is unknown and feels a bit disappointing. With the Mavic 3 being DJI’s flagship device, I would expect the release of these features to be ready to go for the launch. Is it going to delay me from purchasing a Mavic 3 or Mavic 3 Cine? No, likely not, but missing these selling points may be a sign that the Mavic 3 might have some functionality bugs and might make some less likely to jump on the Mavic 3 until then. 

Allegedly, the specific release date for these updates is January 22, 2022.

DJI Mavic 3 Conclusion:

The DJI Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine are sure game changers to the world of portable, professional videography drones. Boasting an incredible dual-camera system with a 12 MP telephoto camera on top of the cinema-quality 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera on a drone weighing less than 900 grams, the Mavic 3 will go anywhere you do- and then some.

The upgraded battery system, with 46 minutes of flight time, ensures you can fly longer and get every shot in. The sleek new body gives new, modern lines while keeping the iconic shape true to its roots. Capable of autonomously recording videos at 5.1K or 120 fps slow motion at 4K with DJI’s new ActiveTrack 5 and new Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance system. Upgrade to the Mavic 3 Cine for Apple ProRes 422 video encoding onto the internal 1 TB SSD and get the professional DJI RC Pro remote controller in the same box.

For amateur pilots and videographers, the Mavic 3 is likely a lot more drone than you’ll need. The Mavic 3 looked ideal for those who already use a drone for work; with the Cine edition posed to be a step between the older Inspire line and the regular Mavic 3. 

You can buy the DJ Mavic 3 from Amazon by clicking here.

You can buy the DJ Mavic 3 Fly More Combo from Amazon by clicking here.