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The DJI Mavic 3 has a 28x digital zoom plus extraordinary flight time, it also has the largest camera sensor yet.
Flight time: 46 minutes
Cameras: 4/3 CMOS (20MP); 1/2-inch CMOS (12MP)
Smartphone controlled: Yes
FAA registration: Required
Indoor use: No
Rotors: 4 (2 blades per rotor, replaceable)
Size (unfolded): 13.7 x 11.1 x 4.2 inches
Size (folded): 8.7 x 3.8 x 3.6 inches
Weight: 1.97 pounds
DJI Mavic 3: Design
The Mavic 3 is similar to DJI’s earlier Mavic drones, however it is larger. The Mavic 3 includes four folding arms that extend from its body, making it easier to carry the drone.
Underneath the drone’s forehead, a huge camera on a gimbal sits, and the battery is slid into the back. A USB-C port and a microSD card slot are located above the battery compartment; while the Mavic 3 contains 8GB of internal storage, you’ll want to add your own card.
Aside from the camera, the drone has sensors on the front, rear, top, bottom, and sides to prevent it from colliding with obstacles. (In comparison, the DJI Air 2S lacks side-view sensors.)
DJI Mavic 3: Image and video quality
The Mavic 3 contains two cameras: a primary 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad sensor with a resolution of 20MP and a secondary 1/2-inch CMOS (12MP) sensor that serves as the digital zoom lens.
The primary camera features a 4-degree field of vision, a 24-millimeter-equivalent lens, and an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/11; the ability to alter the aperture offers you far more control than other drones. The ISO ranges from 100 to 6400, but at ISO 3200 and higher, you’ll notice a lot of graininess, much like with most other cameras.
It can shoot video at up to 5.1K resolution (24/25/30/48/50 fps) and 4K resolution (24/25/30/48/50/60/120 fps). The Mavic 2 Pro could only shoot in 4K at 30 frames per second, so this is a significant improvement.
Even in 4K, the footage I recorded was breathtaking. I flew the Mavic 3 about my neighborhood and a friend’s farm in upstate New York, and I was able to pick out minute details in everything I photographed.
Aside from the main camera’s quality, the Mavic 3’s 28x digital zoom is also excellent. While you lose a lot of information at its maximum, you can get up and personal from a long distance.
I was able to zoom in close enough to identify some distinctive elements on the Freedom Tower from my home, which is roughly 15 miles distant from lower Manhattan.
DJI Mavic 3: Flight time
DJI has enhanced the flight time of their drones with each consecutive generation; the Mavic 3 can stay aloft for a whopping 46 minutes (41 while hovering). While practice takes a few minutes less than reality, the Mavic Air 2 takes roughly 10 minutes longer. The extra flight time makes a big difference in allowing you to fly it for longer and capture the photo you desire. However, I would still recommend buying up an additional battery or two.
DJI Mavic 3: Features and performance
There are no new flying modes in the Mavic 3 compared to the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic Air 2. The Mavic 3 can lock onto a subject and then fly various pre-set patterns while keeping the object in the center of the frame, just like its predecessors.
Object tracking, on the other hand, has been improved: the Mavic 3 is better at following subjects regardless of how they move, and its algorithms, according to DJI, are able to respond to subjects’ motions faster. Also noteworthy is the drone’s capacity to track you even if you temporarily disappear from view, such as when you move behind a tree. While you can’t stay concealed indefinitely, it was interesting — and a little unsettling — to have the Mavic 3 keep an eye on me.
The Mavic 3 features three flight modes: Cinematic, Normal, and Sport. Sport mode travels at up to 43 miles per hour, while Cinematic mode travels at a leisurely 11 miles per hour. The Mavic 3 proved just as effortless to fly as its predecessors, regardless of mode, and the camera’s 3-axis gimbal kept every video I recorded looking rock-solid stable.
DJI Mavic 3: Ethics issues
DJI was placed on the US Entities List in December 2020, following reports that its drones were used to spy on Uighurs, a primarily Muslim ethnic community that has been subjected to Chinese government human rights violations. While consumers in the United States can still buy DJI products (unlike Huawei, whose products have been outlawed), the corporation is unable to get components from American companies without a licence.
DJI was also placed on an investment blocklist by the US Treasury Department in December 2021, banning US citizens from investing in the company.
DJI Mavic 3: Verdict
DJI has dominated the consumer drone space, much like GoPro has done with action cameras; each year, it launches a new drone that, in some manner, outperforms the competition. It has great cameras, and its roughly 50-minute flight length allows you to keep it in the air for much longer.
The Mavic 3 is, however, far more expensive than the models it replaces; it costs more than twice as much as the Air 2S, which has a smaller 1-inch CMOS sensor, less capable recording capabilities, and a shorter but still impressive 31-minute flight time.
Most people will find the DJI Mavic 3 to be too much drone; your money would be better spent on the Air 2S, Air, or Mini 2. However, if you want the best video quality and the longest flight time in a small drone, the Mavic 3 is well worth the money.