Fans of the original Mavic and Mavic Pro camera drones have literally waited years for their successor. Now that it has arrived as the Mavic 3, the list of features includes just about everything a drone owner could want. But those features come at a much higher price ($ 2,199 for the base kit, $ 2,899 for the Fly-more Combo, and $ 4,999 for the Cine version). We’ve been riding a Mavic 3 since before launch and we have a lot to report. All of this comes with the important caveat that several heavily promoted features – some of which were briefly available prior to launch – have been delayed. Even without flagship features like Active Track 5, it’s an impressive drone, with an even more impressive camera. So, rather than wait for them to ship, we are reviewing the product as it currently is and will post an updated rating once the feature is complete.
DJI Mavic 3 in numbers
The first and most obvious upgrade is the impressive dual camera cluster on the front. The Hasselblad-designed 20MP, 4/3-forma main camera promises – and delivers – significantly improved image quality over previous models. There is also a second telephoto lens. Its use can provide up to 28x zoom, using a combination of its longer optical lens and digital enhancement.
Next on the upgrade list are Object Sensors. The drone is practically covered with them and they allow to avoid obstacles in all directions. DJI claims that early next year, the combination of Mavic 3 hardware and upgraded firmware will allow full tracking capability in tough scenarios – currently claimed by Skydio.
While not specifically touted by DJI, the build quality of the Mavic 3 is impressive. At one point, we pushed the limits of obstacle avoidance by making a quick descent through bare trees and the drone hit a branch about 20 feet high, responded by climbing into another, then spinning uncontrollably, crashing and sliding down. a slope covered with leaves for about 100 feet. Fortunately, the Find My Drone feature helped us locate it. We were sure it would be a wreck. However, other than some mud and dirt, as well as a few damaged propellers, everything seemed to be going just fine. Unfortunately, we weren’t recording video at the time.
The Mavic 3 also boasts an improved nominal flight time of 46 minutes, thanks to an impressively-sized battery that helps keep its 899 grams in the air. The drone has the ability to alert you to nearby manned aircraft, but of course, unless you have an appropriate license or permit, you usually shouldn’t be near it anyway. You can set how sensitive you want the alert system to be. On the default setting, even when the Mavic was only a few feet high, we would be aware of commercial jets flying above nearly 10,000 feet.
The return home (RTH) is also increasingly impressive. Ultimately, he will know how to intelligently avoid obstacles (in daylight) and choose the most efficient flight path on his return. Unfortunately, this feature has been delayed until January, but in the meantime it’s at least smart enough to dodge obstacles while in use. If he doesn’t see a path home, he just stops in midair. The drone also keeps track and shows you how long it will take before returning, how long before it is forced to land, and how long before the battery is completely depleted. The RTH calculations now take wind conditions into account (this feature alone would have saved me from losing my first Mavic). Instead of the battery percentage, you see a continuously updated estimate of how long you can keep flying until you run out of power.
DJI Fly app
Like many newer drones from DJI, the Mavic 3 uses the Fly app (downloadable from DJI). We weren’t impressed with the previous versions, but it has become a decent replacement for DJI Go and has a more user-friendly way to adjust the camera and other settings. It still lacks some of DJI Fly’s more advanced photo and video tuning options, but given that the top-of-the-line Mavic 3 is a $ 5,000 model aimed at serious filmmakers, we hope Fly offers more options soon. .
Pilot the Mavic 3
First and foremost, the Mavic 3 is fun to ride. It’s powerful, responsive, and has a solid connection to the remote. However, with the standard remote, we found that we couldn’t get a good signal over a longer range than with the Mavic Pro. So we’re assuming that DJI’s massive 15km range for the 3 requires the upgraded $ 1,200 remote (it’s included with the Cine kit).
The obstacle avoidance is also very impressive. In the sample clips we posted, every time the drone stopped it was because my feet got cold. He was happy enough to make his way through all kinds of obstacles. But it can be a bit like a Tesla on autopilot, because you’re always a little nervous that he makes a mistake.
An awesome camera
Besides obstacle avoidance, the highlight of the Mavic 3 is undoubtedly the main camera. Designed by Hasselblad, a DJI subsidiary, its 20MP 4/3 format sensor is paired with a variable aperture lens (f / 2.8 – f / 11) to provide both high resolution and great shooting flexibility. What we found most impressive was the native video quality and color rendering. With the Mavic and even the Mavic Pro, I relied on shooting with a Log-based profile, its conversion and post-processing to reduce noise – a complex workflow that we explain here. With the Mavic 3, I was getting magnificent results right out of the box.
Using the telephoto camera
Another novelty is the telephoto capability of the Mavic 3. You can “explore” around the scene in front of you, zooming in on the center for a close-up. The 12MP telephoto camera has a full frame equivalent focal length of 162mm, which is roughly 7 times the main camera at 24mm. On top of that, DJI uses up to 4x digital zoom to achieve a claimed potential of 28x. As you would expect, once you get into digital zoom territory, the quality drops off pretty quickly.
Lots of unfinished business
Unfortunately, many of the Mavic 3’s most touted new features are not yet available and won’t be released until later in January. This includes an improved ActiveTrack that the company seems to want to position against Skydio, Intelligent Return to Home, and 100MP panoramas. Enough is missing that we plan to do one more review once the Mavic 3 performs on all fronts. In the meantime, you get a very impressive video drone with advanced flight capabilities, at a corresponding price.
Is the Mavic 3 the right drone for you?
If you are a DJI fan and want an amazing drone for video, the only question is if you have the budget for it. Otherwise, the DJI Air 2 S is quite tempting. After all, even if you crash it, you can buy a few more before you rack up the cost of a Mavic 3. If you want to leave Skydio now that they seem to be leaving even the well-heeled hobbyists behind, then we suggest you leave Skydio behind. ” wait until ActiveTrack and Intelligent Return-to-Home are released. We will also add additional coverage at this time.
If you’re looking for an awesome video drone and don’t have a special affinity for DJI, the other drone that looks great on paper is the Autel Evo II Pro. We haven’t flown any, but I’m particularly intrigued by their mission planning software.
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