DJI Mavic 3 Pro: The new 3X camera makes it far more useful
DJI’s Mavic 3 Pro is much like the popular Mavic 3, but adds a highly useful portrait camera on top of the primary 24mm Hasselblad camera and 7X zoom. This extra reach adds a lot more excitement to things like tracking shots, as it provides more of a first person perspective. It also crunches the distances between things, helping your subject pop against the background. The new camera doesn’t offer image quality as good as the Hasselblad, though, so it might not be suitable for high-end productions. DJI also improved the low-light capability of the main camera, added some battery life and introduced a new, easier-to-grade log mode, but otherwise, the Mavic 3 Pro (and its Cine version) are identical to the Mavic 3.
STEVE DENT: Since its launch in 2021, DJI's Mavic 3 has been the drone for serious content creators who want relatively simple operation. Now, DJI has launched a new version called the Mavic 3 Pro that adds a useful third camera with a portrait-length lens. The Mavic 3 Pro has the same $2,200 launch price as the Mavic 3, which is no longer being sold.
The other option is the $1,600 Mavic 3 Classic, which only has the single main Hasselblad camera. The question is how useful is the new camera? And how good is the video and photo quality? To find out, I took it for a quick spin in various conditions to see how it performed.
The Mavic Pro has a triple camera system instead of two as before. Those include the existing 24-millimeter 4/3 wide-angle Hasselblad camera with variable aperture along with the seven-time zoom 166-millimeter Tele Camera. What's new is a 70-millimeter equivalent portrait camera with three times the reach of the main camera.
It also introduces a new log mode from DJI called DLog-M. Like the regular DLog-M mode, this improves dynamic range but is easier to edit later on. DJI has said the camera is designed for a range of different scenarios from framing intriguing buildings to cars and commercial shoots. I'd take that to mean that not only it offers a useful new field of view, but also, quality that's high enough for professional work.
So does it deliver on those things? On the first point without a doubt, the 70-millimeter framing is ideal for a lot of scenarios ranging from people's shots to high-speed action. For instance, the main camera lets you take a nice tracking shots flying behind, towards, or behind vehicles, cyclists, and more. But you have to get relatively close to get a sense of speed. And the wide angle makes the background appear farther away.
The new camera in comparison lets you back the drone away from the subject with the same or even tighter framing. Background subjects appear closer allowing for a better sensation of speed and more exciting shots overall. Quality, though, is another matter. The new camera has a 48 megapixel, 1 over 1.3-inch sensor with about a third the area of the 4-3 sensor on the main camera.
In addition, while it offers the new DLog-M mode, it doesn't support regular DLog like the main camera. The smaller sensor area means less detail and inferior low light capability. The lack of full DLog also limits the camera's potential dynamic range. And unlike the main camera, which has a variable aperture between f/2.8 and f11, it has a fixed f/2.8 aperture. That provides less flexibility when shooting particularly on sunny days.
That's not to say quality is bad by any means. On the contrary, video and photos are relatively sharp and colors accurate much like the Mini 3 Pro, which appears to have the same sensor. Plus the DLog-M option does deliver extra dynamic range. Using it for commercial shoots would be a stretch though. It would be like shooting a pane job with an iPhone 14 Pro, which has about the same size sensor.
It's also challenging to match it up to the main 4/3 camera as the difference in quality is apparent. If you want to use DLog on the main camera and DLog-M on the portrait camera, sorting out the colors later is more of a challenge too. If you take it for what it is, though, you can certainly get great results from the Mavic 3 Pro's new portrait camera. The field of view opens up new creative and practical avenues. So I think it's great for our YouTubers and others.
Along with a new camera, DJI has introduced a few other small updates. The 7 Times Tele Camera has a faster f/3.4 aperture up from f/4.4 on the Mavic 3. And it supports 4K, 60 frames per second video rather than just 4K 30p as before. The Tele Camera still offers no log modes, though, colors appear to be improved. And it's definitely sharper.
It's great for things, like wildlife spotting and inspection, but still has limited creative use given the lack of quality compared to the other cameras. Since the Mavic 3 Pro is a bit heavier, battery life is down to 43 minutes, three less than the original. That's still outstanding for a drone of this size. But count on more, like, 35 to 38 minutes in real-world usage.
Oh, and it also has a new sleeker carrying bag. Otherwise. The Mavic 3 Pro has the same features as the Mavic 3. Those include the same excellent obstacle detection that makes flying easy for amateurs along with subject tracking modes, like master shots and quick shots. It offers the same 1080p 60 frame-per-second video transmission over a 15-kilometer range.
With the Mavic 3 Pro, DJI is giving content creators and videographers a bit more for their money. The Mavic 3 was already easily the best drone in its category. And the new model is even better. The new camera is an awesome addition as long as you're aware of the quality limitations compared to the main camera.
As before, the Mavic 3 Pro costs $2,200 with a basic DJI RC Controller. If you can afford it, though, get the 3,000 Fly More Combo, which includes two extra batteries, a charging hub, ND filters, and the aforementioned bag. Add $900 if you want the DJI RC Pro Controller. Finally, the city version with ProRes and a built-in 1 terabyte SSD costs $4,800 with the DJI RC Pro Controller and Fly More Bundle.
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