DJI Mavic 3 is a leading drone in its class with a corresponding price

The DJI Mavic 3 has finally landed – and the flagship foldable drone mostly lives up to the hype, according to our full review. (Want to jump to our verdict? Head straight to our DJI Mavic 3 review).

The Mavic 3 is a complete overhaul of its predecessor DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which arrived in August 2018. The big news is its dual camera system, which combines a 20MP Four Thirds sensor – the same size as the sensors inside. mirrorless cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV – and a 12 MP telephoto lens with an equivalent focal length of 162mm.

The combination of these two cameras gives aerial filmmakers a lot of flexibility, although the telephoto lens has some limitations like the lack of manual or raw modes. But they’re far from the only new features in DJI’s new flagship flying machine.

Other enhancements to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro include a redesigned battery that offers up to 46 minutes of flight time, as well as omnidirectional sensors, capable of detecting obstacles up to 200m.

Unfortunately, ActiveTrack 5.0 autofocus tracking, which promises to allow the Mavic 3 to track a subject in almost any direction, won’t arrive in a firmware update until January 22, 2022. This update will deliver also other features like MasterShots (a range of automated flight modes), which suggests the Mavic 3 isn’t quite the finished article at launch.

Still, there’s certainly enough power in this dual-camera system to keep drone fans happy in the meantime. The Four Thirds main camera lets you adjust its aperture between f / 2.8 to f / 11 – like on the Mavic 2 Pro, this lets you control exposure while the drone is in the air and means you don’t Don’t need a strong ND (Neutral Density) filters in bright conditions.

The Mavic 3’s main camera can also shoot 5K / 50p or 4K / 120p slow motion video, which was not possible on the Mavic 2 Pro. It can also record videos at a bit rate of 200 Mbps (double the bit rate of its predecessor) and take 12-bit raw photos. The second camera is a bit more modest, with its 1/2 inch sensor and f / 4.4 aperture, but digital zoom can take that 7x optical zoom up to 28x hybrid zoom for aerial close-ups.

The DJI Mavic 3 drone in flight on a blue background

(Image credit: DJI)

Upgrade to the considerably more expensive version of Mavic 3 Cine and you can also shoot videos in Apple ProRes 422 HQ format for an incredible maximum data rate of 3,772 Mbps. This naturally requires a lot of storage, so the Mavic 3 Cine comes with a 1TB SSD, with the base Mavic 3 offering a more standard 8GB internal storage.

Another big difference between the DJI Mavic 3 Cine model and the standard version is the controller. The Mavic 3 base pack includes the DJI RC-N1 controller that we have seen on previous drones like the DJI Air 2S.

But the Mavic 3 Cine takes it up a notch with the DJI RC Pro, a new version of DJI’s previous Smart Controller with a greater transmission distance of 15 km and a bright 1000 nits display. Its battery also promises to work for three hours.

The DJI Mavic 3 drone on a glass table

(Image credit: DJI)

Whichever controller you have, the Mavic 3 will talk to it through DJI’s enhanced O3 + transmission system. This promises a more robust signal that can withstand interference and serves up a 1080 / 60p live stream, a first for a DJI drone. This means that the stream you can see on your phone or RC Pro controller will look more like the video you are shooting.

Unfortunately, all of these pro-friendly features impact the price of the Mavic 3. The standard version of the DJI Mavic 3 is available for purchase today for $ 2,199 / £ 1,879 / AU $ 3,099, while the Mavic 3 Fly More Combo (which includes two extra batteries, a charging hub, a carrying case, and a set of ND filters, among other accessories) costs $ 2,999 / £ 2,549 / AU $ 4,199).

If that price made you nervously adjust your glasses, wait until you see the one on the DJI Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo – it’s available for just $ 4,999 / £ 4,279 / AU $ 7,199. As impressive as the Mavic 3 Cine is, it will likely exceed everyone’s budgets except the luckiest amateur filmmakers.

Analysis: A flying mirrorless camera with some roughness

The DJI Mavic 3 drone in flight on a blue background

(Image credit: DJI)

In the camera world, there has traditionally been a steep rise in prices from 1-inch compacts to Micro Four Thirds cameras – and the same is true with the DJI Mavic 3, which takes foldable drones into the territory of the Flying mirrorless cameras (albeit without interchangeable lenses).

In some ways, the 39% price increase on the Mavic 2 Pro is a bit of a shame. One of the charms of this drone was that it brought pro-level functionality in a backpack-friendly form factor, but with a price tag ($ 1,599 / £ 1,349 / AU $ 2,499) than hobbyists. could pretty much justify.

This title has now been inherited by the DJI Air 2S, but there is a big jump between this drone (£ 899 / $ 999 / AU $ 1,699) and the DJI Mavic 3, which starts at $ 2,199 / £ 1,879 / AU $ 3,099. Does that leave room for an intermediate model? Maybe, but for now, the DJI Air 2S will remain our choice as the best drone for most people.

That’s not to say that we won’t be strongly tempted by the Mavic 3. It’s a cutting-edge drone with an incredibly versatile camera that fits into a stabilized four-thirds camera – it’s something we don’t. We have seen that before on much larger drones like the Inspire series from DJI.

But for now, that’s probably overkill for most hobbyists, who will be better off with the smaller DJI Air 2S or DJI Mini 2 – unless they really want a drone to be their primary camera.

A final consideration for European drone flyers is that the DJI Mavic 3 was launched during a transition period for EU drone laws – to find out what that means and what DJI has to say about it. , check out our exclusive explainer on why the Mavic 3 might still be eligible for the next EU drone classes from 2023.

Eleanor C. William