DJI Mavic 3 review: Powerful flagship drone delivers the most incredible video and stills – Irish Mirror

2022 is the year of Mavic 3, the ultimate consumer drone for video and photography enthusiasts
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Now is the perfect time to buy the DJI Mavic 3 drone, the aerial imaging specialist’s flagship flying camera.
The global leader in drone tech makes compelling machines to suit every budget, from the ultra-compact €469 Mini 2 which shoots 4K video to the slightly larger €849 Mavic Air 2 which sports a bigger camera sensor and extra features such as obstacle avoidance and active track ‘follow me’ tech.
The next step up is the €1029 DJI Air 2S which drops the Mavic name but adds a 1in camera sensor and can capture video at up to 5.4K resolution.
The firm’s latest pro-grade foldable consumer drone Mavic 3 costs from €2139 and was launched in November although not all of its features were immediately available.
However, that has been rectified with two huge firmware updates – the first in December was followed by the final piece of the jigsaw in late January.
I’ve been testing the standard Mavic 3 Fly More Combo for the past couple of months. It includes the standard Mavic 3 drone which can capture 5.1K video at up to 50 frames per second (fps) or 4K video at up to 120fps.
There is a decent selection of accessories including extra batteries, propellers, ND filters and a luxurious new style of carrying case. Files are saved to a microSD card but there is 8GB of onboard storage too.
The drone comes with a new style of clip-on gimbal protector that looks a little like an S&M mask. It also tucks the propellers in safely. The gimbal on this machine actually locks itself after each flight which is nifty safety feature for carrying it around.
With a weight of 895g, you’ll know you are carrying Mavic 3. Much of the weight is in the sizeable battery which slides into the back of the device.
The company said that the 5000mAh battery is capable of 46 minutes of flying time but this would be in perfect flying conditions and in my tests I was getting 35 minutes in the air which is still hugely impressive.
In many scenarios, this gives you ample time to get your drone in the air to plan and then execute your shots.
The fantastic camera is the primary reason to choose Mavic 3 over any of the other foldable DJI drones mentioned above. Actually, there are two cameras.
The primary camera is a 20MP Hasselblad shooter with a large Four-Thirds sensor and a fixed 24mm focal length.
With such a large sensor it offers a huge jump in quality when used in lower light conditions.
It also gives you full control over ISO, shutter and aperture from ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/11 in Pro mode.
But the auto mode delivers incredible quality in both stills and video and balances the exposure nicely.
What DJI calls Vision Detection Auto Focus taps into the multiple vision sensors – the collision avoidance sensors – in the drone to speed up auto-focus. It certainly is the fastest autofocus on any drone I have reviewed.
The onboard processing is called Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution which does a fantastic job, delivering footage and shots that are lively and colourful but not over-saturated.
Videographers who wish to shoot in 10-bit D-log can do so, with the aid of the Colour Display Assist.
Attached to the main camera is a 12MP telephoto lens capable of up to 162mm focal length.
This is accessed by the Explorer Mode button which allows you to tap through 1x, 2x, 4x, 7x, 14x and 28x zoom – anything above 7x is not very sharp at all.
Switching from 4x to 7x causes a jump as you are switching from the main camera to the zoom lens.
DJI has said that the second camera is meant as a tool for hovering and planning your shots, which makes sense.
The difference in quality between it and the Hasselblad lens is immense and would mean that combining footage from the two cameras would be challenging to say the least.
In terms of flying, Mavic 3 has all of the safety features you would want and expect. It sports collision sensors in all directions and in my tests its excellent obstacle avoidance consistently avoided trees and continued on its journey.
It has six fisheye sensors and two wide-angle sensors that add up to 360-degree obstacle avoidance.
Transmission range is 15km but given that the legal limit in Ireland is 300 metres this seems excessive. I found video dropouts were much less frequent using this machine compared to, for example, my Mavic Air.
Mavic 3 features the latest version of the RTH technology, APAS 5.0, which enables it to automatically work out the safest, shortest and most energy-efficient route to its home point. I've found it most effective.
The drone can be flown in winds of up to 40kmph and its maximum flight speed in Normal mode is 54kmph, which increases to more than 70kmph in Sport Mode but be warned as Sport Mode disengages all obstacle avoidance protection.
Mavic 3 uses slightly larger propellers than other DJI drones and I think this may be why it is a relatively quiet drone in the air.
As usual, you control the drone using the supplied RC-N1 controller which attaches to your smartphone running the DJI Fly app and recharges using USB-C.
I’ve used the remote with phones as big as an iPhone 13 Pro Max but if you would prefer to use it with an iPad or iPad Mini you will need a DJI Remote Controller Tablet Holder which costs €45.
The live view from the drone is in full HD resolution at 60fps. It’s quite stunning.
Features that DJI drone owners will know and love such as MasterShots, HyperLapse, Quick Transfer, QuickShots (Dronie, Rocket, Circle, Helix, Boomerang and Asteroid) and high-resolution Panorama Mode are present and correct.
The automatic subject tracking ActiveTrack 5.0 is excellent. This allows your Mavic 3 to move with the subject as it moves forward, backward, left, right, and diagonally, and fly alongside as well as around a moving subject.
ActiveTrack 5.0 is part of FocusTrack, an intelligent flight mode that also enables Spotlight 2.0 ( control the aircraft manually while the camera remains locked on subjects whether they are stationary or moving) and Points of Interest 3.0 (tracks the subject in a circle based on a set radius and flight).
You get burst shooting too and for the first time you can shoot in RAW only as well as RAW/JPEG and JPEG only. The maximum video bitrate has been increased to 200Mbps.
There is also a Mavic 3 Cine model available which adds the ability to capture Apple Pro Res 422 HQ video to an onboard 1TB SSD and comes with a DJI RC Pro controller which has a much brighter display and does not need to connect to a smartphone or tablet. The Premium Combo pack costs €4879 and bear in mind the RC Pro costs €1019 if bought separately.
One thing to note is that while it’s handy that the batteries can be charged with any USB-C power supply, they do take a couple of hours to fully recharge.
As I outlined above, DJI offers foldable consumer drones for every need and budget, and as Mavic 3 is the most expensive you would probably not be surprised that it delivers the best quality video footage.
But take into account all of its flying capabilities, amazing safety features and extended battery life, and Mavic 3 is the ultimate consumer drone.

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