DJI has just launched the Mavic Air 3, offering a variety of innovative features and technologies that make it stand out. In this review, we’ll delve into its standout features, determine its value as an investment, and compare it to other drones, including the DJI Mini 3 Pro, DJI Mavic 3, and Air 2S.
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Where to Buy?
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The Fly More kit that comes with the Air 3 includes two extra batteries, a charging case, and a 100W wall charger. The versatile 100W wall charger, featuring two USB-C ports, is compatible not only for the drone, but also for devices like smartphones, MacBooks, and tablets.
Design & Build
At first glance, the DJI Air 3’s sleek design is notably smaller than the Mavic 3 but marginally larger than its precursor, the DJI Air 2S. The dark grey color aligns with the Mavic 3 and Air 2S’s aesthetic. The design echoes the Mavic 3, but the Air 3’s larger front arms improve its landing gear, largely due to its significantly larger camera at the front.
The new propellers are a new design specific to the Air 3, and they are incompatible with those of the Air 2S. They are larger which improves efficiency and lift, promising extended flight times under optimal conditions. Conveniently, these foldable propellers come with a quick-release system, ensuring the user cannot mount them in the wrong way even if you want to which is especially beneficial for new users.
Weighing approximately 720g including battery, the Air 3 is around 160g heavier than the Air 2S. Though slightly smaller in size than the Mavic 3 when unfolded, it remains travel-friendly.
Dual Lens Camera System
Without a doubt, the camera is one of the best features of the DJI Air 3.
The Air 3 boasts a dual-lens camera system – a significant upgrade that was previously exclusive to the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Pro. This new camera promises better performance in night shooting and greater versatility in framing shots. The lenses are:
- A 1x 24mm equivalent wide-angle lens, ideal for capturing vast landscapes. It possesses an f/1.7 aperture for superior low-light performance.
- A 3x medium telephoto 70mm lens with an f/2.8 aperture, enabling shots with great compression and background clarity. It allows you to emphasize your focus point and differentiate your shots from the standard wide-angle captures.
While the Air 2S has an 1-inch image sensor, the Air 3 has a slightly smaller 1/1.3 inch sensor. But before you make judgments purely based on numbers, DJI has clarified that despite the Air 3’s smaller sensor, its video and photo quality are actually superior, thanks to enhanced technology.
Tests do indicate the Air 3’s superior dynamic range, especially in shadows. Even in flat color profiles, the Air 3’s footage outperforms the Air 2S. Though there’s a noticeable difference in the overall image quality between the two, it remains subtle.
Image Quality and Modes
Surprisingly, DJI reduced the Air 3’s maximum resolution to 4k 60fps, down from the Air 2S’s 5.4k. This may be a disappointment for some, but the Air 3 makes up for it with no cropping in HDR mode.
Additionally, the Air 3 offers 4k at 100fps for slow-motion footage. For avid photographers, it supports 48MP photos. Moreover, its refined panorama AI algorithm promises faster stitching, producing panoramas 2.5 times larger than those from the Air 2S.
The Mini 3 Pro provides ‘Normal’ or ‘D-Cinelike color’, whereas the Air 3 boasts ‘D-Log M’, ensuring richer image detail in varied lighting. But for unparalleled image quality, the Mavic 3 with its superior ‘D-Log’ takes the lead.
Thanks to its backside illuminated stack sensor, the Air 3’s new night mode is a game changer in low-light photography. This mode captures clearer, smoother footage in dark conditions, bringing in details often lost with the Air 2S.
A feature I particularly appreciated was the vertical orientation mode on the Air 3, perfect for social media content. Instead of merely cropping, the camera adjusts its position for authentic vertical footage.
Flying the Air 3 feels smoother and more controlled than the Air 2S. DJI seems to have enhanced the flying experience, offering a polished feel straight out of the box.
Incorporating advanced flight modes from the Mavic 3 series, such as waypoints and cruise control, the Air 3 doesn’t just provide gimmicks but truly enriches the flying experience.
The Air 3 can hover for up to 46 minutes, commendably longer than the Air 2S. It also impresses with a 10m/s max ascending and descending speed, a crucial improvement for emergency maneuvers and nimble movements.
For utmost portability, the Mini 3 Pro is an excellent choice. Its lightweight design is truly a dream for those on-the-move, making it even lighter than most DSLR cameras.
The Air 3 on the other hand, balancing image quality, performance, and weight, is perfect for professional work. While it demands a flat surface for takeoff and is sensitive to rapid take off. Still, once it’s in the air, it flies really smoothly. The footage quality remains consistently top-notch across DJI’s premium drone range. However, the real differences lie in the style and specific features of each drone.
OcuSync 4 & Range
Equipped with the O4 transmission system (OcuSync 4), the Air 3 impresses with a massive 20km flight range, compared to the Air 2S’s 12km. This upgrade ensures a more robust signal, especially in interference-prone areas.
The original DjI FPV system (aka DJI FPV Goggles V1/V2, DJI FPV Air Unit, and Caddx Vista – later Runcam Link) was based on OcuSync 2.5. DJI made a significant leap with the DJI O3 Air Unit by introducing OcuSync 3.0 (O3) using the P1 chipset, resulting in enhanced video encoding.
Things get even better with O4. It uses the new chipset, S2, which functions similarly to its predecessor S1 but boasts an upgraded RF capability and increased number of I/O lanes, translating to superior performance and compatibility.
While O4 currently features only in the DJI Air 3 drone, its implications for the FPV system are vast. The chipset suggests DJI’s intention to leverage enhanced RF performance and possible support for older and newer hardware.
DJI RC 2 Remote
The new DJI RC2 remote controller that ships with the Air 3 introduces significant improvements, notably in range. With almost no lags or stutters, flying the Air 3 feels smooth and seamless. The RC 2 controller has its own screen, and doesn’t require a smartphone to fly unlike the RC-N2 remote.
The DJI RC 2 resembling its predecessor, and fitted with six antennas, ensuring superior transmission and an impressive coverage of up to 20km in FCC mode. The remote is also versatile, supporting multiple frequency bands.
Obstacle Avoidance & Tracking
The obstacle avoidance system on the Air 3 is revolutionary. The 360-degree obstacle avoidance system gives the Air 3 a noteworthy edge similar to the Mavic 3.
With only two sensors, the Air 3 sees more than the four sensors on the Air 2S, thanks to its innovative lenses. Its omnidirectional obstacle avoidance ensures the drone detects and steers clear of obstacles from all angles. This upgrade notably patches the blind spots seen in the Air 2S.
The Air 3 also stands out with its smart features that now, for the first time, are compatible with tracking. Active track, point of interest, spotlight, master shots, and more are all configurable with the desired camera settings.
The Mavic 3 Pro and Classic share the same sensors, whereas the Air 3 has an advanced system with sensors placed strategically for optimal detection. The Mini 3 Pro has minimal sensors due to its size but still works decently for most users.
Battery & Charging
You can expect a whopping 40+ minutes of flight time from the Air 3, a substantial improvement over the Air 2S’s 30 minutes. The secret is the new battery design, which is an Air 3 specific model (incompatible with other DJI drones). It is a 4S 4200mAh Li-ion battery (14.7V, with 4.35V cells instead of 4.2V), weighs around 265g. The new latching mechanism also feel safer and more intuitive.
The Air 3’s charging hub has a revamped design too, securely holding the batteries. One feature exclusive to the Air 3 is the power accumulation mode. This ingenious feature lets you transfer power from one battery to another. Quite handy when one is running low.
The Lightcut App
DJI has invested heavily in the Lightcut app, their recommended video editing platform. It wirelessly connects your drone to your phone and uses AI to auto-edit your footage, delivering a professional touch with minimal effort.
Conclusion: Is the Air 3 F for You?
The DJI Air 3 is undoubtedly an upgrade from its predecessor in various aspects. From its dual camera system to the O4 transmission, unmatched battery life, intelligent flight modes, and safety enhancements, DJI has packed in significant improvements.
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Which DJI drone is best for your, ultimately boils down to what you value most: portability, features, or image quality. Whatever your choice, DJI seems to have you covered.
- Mini 3 Pro: As the name suggests, this drone is all about portability. Weighing a mere 249g (under 250-gram), it feels like a toy. Perfect for long walking trips or when you want minimal weight.
- Air 3: The Air 3 promises a balance between stellar image quality and lightweight design, weighing in at 720g. The dual cameras are a notable improvement. With its blend of features and price point, is perfect for enthusiasts and professionals alike.
- Mavic 3 Pro: This is where DJI pushes the boundaries. With top-of-the-line features, it’s meant for those who want nothing but the best. If top-tier image quality is non-negotiable, then the Mavic 3 Classic or Pro is your best bet
- Mavic 3 Classic: A slight step-down from the Mavic 3 Pro but still packing plenty of punch and cheaper.
Should I upgrade from the Air 2S to Air 3? If you’re an existing Air 2S owner, whether or not to upgrade will depend on your specific needs. For new buyers, the Air 3 offers a well-rounded, high-performance drone experience that’s hard to beat.