DJI is at it again, bringing technology from its bigger, more expensive products down to its diminutive sub-250-gram DJI Mini 3 Pro drone, which means you don’t need a license to fly it in the US and other jurisdictions. That makes it a great high-end first drone for people who are just getting into the sport or for people who want an ultraportable drone that can do tricks that until now, only the much bigger drones could do.
DJI Mini 3 Pro – Features from bigger drones in 249g package
– Spotlight 2.0 Keeps the subject in frame while you fly manually.
– Point of Interest 3.0 Circles the subject in a set flight radius and speed.
– ActiveTrack 4.0 Follows the subject in two selectable ways.
▪ Trace: The aircraft tracks the subject at a constant distance.
▪ Parallel: The aircraft tracks the subject while flying beside it at a constant
angle and distance.
– Dronie: Aircraft flies back and up with the camera locked on the subject.
– Helix: Aircraft flies up and spirals around the subject.
– Rocket: Aircraft flies up with the camera facing down.
– Circle: Aircraft circles around the subject.
– Boomerang: Aircraft flies around the subject in an oval path, ascending as it flies
away and descending as it returns.
– Asteroid: Aircraft creates a shot that begins as a sphere panorama high above
the subject and ends with a normal shot hovering near the subject.
● MasterShots: Keeps the subject in the center of the frame while executing different
maneuvers in sequence to generate a short cinematic video.
● Hyperlapse: Creates a dynamic timelapse where the aircraft flies on set paths during
DJI Mini 3 Pro’s major flaw:
Here’s an example of the Mini 3 flying alongside and around the Rivian R1T using Active Track 4.0
Active Track 4.0 works in certain conditions, but it isn’t as robust as the Mavic 3’s Active Track 5. You can see above that the drone loses the pickup for various reasons. The complicated backgrounds and speed of the vehicle lose the drone on multiple occasions where the bigger, more expensive Mavic 3 or Skydio 2 drone would have been able to follow the subject longer.
More importantly, the Mini 3 doesn’t have sideways obstacle avoidance (which I learned the hard way). So if you are flying parallel with the subject, make sure there are no objects of any sort along the flight path because the Mini 3 can only avoid obstacles at are in front of or behind it.
That goes for any of the Master shots. If the Mini 3 is flying sideways, it is naked in terms of obstacle avoidance. Coming from bigger DJI drones, this will be a problem for pilots that are used to fully functioning obstacle avoidance.
DJI says the Mini 3 has “Tri-Directional Obstacle sensing” which is a little bit misleading. It sees only in the in front, below and behind plane. Anything to the left or right is blind which means you can’t get great follow shots without flying blind to obstacles.
For me and my now injured Mini 3, this was the biggest deficiency.
DJI Mini 3 flight time extended
If you need to stay under that 249g limit, the standard battery for the Mini 3 will keep the drone aloft for over a half hour (34 mins officially).
DJI also offers an extended range battery which will keep the drone aloft for 47 minutes (!!)
In my testing, I got incredible flight times with the 34-minute battery, even doing follow stunts and recording 4K video that seems to confirm DJI’s 34-minute flight time. It is genuinely hard to believe how long these little batteries keep this thing aloft.
DJI Mini 3 camera system
Probably the biggest step up on the Mini 3 Pro is the camera that now plays with the big boys, featuring 4K 60fps (30fps in HDR) and up to 48mp stills. In my limited experience here, the imagery coming out of the camera was worlds better than the Mini and Mini 2, but still not anywhere near the more expensive Mavic 3. The image quality is approaching the DJI Air 2S however, which might be a dilemma in DJI’s product strategy (why buy an Air 2S when the Mini 3 is cheaper and more portable?)
DJI describes the camera system thusly:
DJI Mini 3 Pro also brings a completely enhanced imaging system. A 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera
sensor has dual native ISO, a capturing technology previously only available on cinema and
some micro single cameras. It also has an aperture of f/1.7 and shoots images at up to 48MP
and video at up to 4K/60fps. To help capture high-quality easy-to-upload content, the camera
rotates 90 degrees for True Vertical Shooting, creating incredible photos and videos in portrait
orientation without quality-cutting image zooming and cropping. For the most vivid detail, HDR
video recording is available at frame rates up to 30fps. A Normal color profile is available for
quick in-app editing, while D-Cinelike allows for more post-editing possibilities. Digital video
zoom at up to 2x is available in 4K, 3x in 2.7K, and 4x in Full HD. Among the key pieces of user
feedback we’ve applied, DJI Mini 3 Pro also has improved image performance with 2.4μm pixels
that capture more image detail, which is especially helpful in low lighting and night.
While most 9to5Mac readers will be using their smartphone or iPad Minis for controlling their DJI drones, DJI also has a new, low-cost, and lightweight RC controller with a 5.5-inch built-in touchscreen.
In my experience, it was much easier to fly than rigging a phone to a controller and using the app. On the flip side, it is more work to get the images and videos off the drone and to social media or other publishing places where a smartphone shines. I think many drone pilots will prefer to have a fully functioning smartphone or tablet as their control device for this reason. Still, the RC is a great “set it and forget it” tool, and it is priced right. Another downside: Instead of folding sticks, DJI went with its tried and true screw in control stick which are stored in the back. So add a minute or 2 to your setup time if these are stored in the controller before flight. More on RC here.
Price and availability
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is available for pre-order today from store.dji.com and most authorized retail partners in several configurations. The DJI Mini 3 Pro (no remote controller) retails for $669 USD and includes DJI Mini 3 Pro, and excludes any remote controller for those who already have a compatible model to control the drone. Alternatively, the DJI Mini 3 Pro retails for $759 USD and includes DJI RC-N1. DJI Mini 3 Pro (DJI RC) retails for $909 USD and includes DJI RC.
In addition, accessory kits made for DJI Mini 3 Pro are available for pre-order today.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro Fly More Kit retails for $189 USD and includes two Intelligent Flight Batteries, one two-way charging hub, two sets of propellers, and one shoulder bag. The DJI Mini 3 Pro Fly More Kit Plus retails for $249 USD and includes two Intelligent Flight Batteries Plus, one two-way charging hub, two sets of propellers, and one shoulder bag. All other accessories will be sold separately.
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