Welcome to a comprehensive dive into the world of DJI drones. Undoubtedly, when it comes to aerial cinematography, DJI stands out as the prime choice for both enthusiasts and professionals. As the leading drone manufacturer, DJI consistently delivers robust products brimming with features to enhance your flying experience. For beginners, DJI is an impeccable starting point.
Which DJI Drone Is Best?
While DJI presents a range of drone models that might appear similar at first glance, each serves a unique purpose, catering from high-end professional needs to novice aerial cinematographers. What do they have in common? They’re user-friendly, simple to configure, and tailored to excel in distinct aspects.
Your primary consideration when shopping for a drone should be your intended use. For instance, investing $2200 in a Mavic 3 Pro solely for occasional “drone selfies” during vacations might be overkill, especially given its size. A more affordable and compact choice like the Mini 3 Pro can easily fit into your backpack, providing convenience without burning a hole in your pocket.
The drone that stands out for average users is the DJI Air 3. It’s feature-rich, boasting a revamped camera capable of delivering high quality 4k 60fps. Plus, its omni-directional sensors enhance safety during flight by improving object and people tracking. However, if you’re on a tighter budget and seeking a basic yet effective drone, the Mini 3 is also an excellent choice.
Mavic Mini 4 Pro – Budget Drone for Average Users
As the cheapest and most portable choice in DJI’s drone line-up, it’s your go-to if all you want is something basic that delivers quality, steady aerial footage without breaking the bank. Plus, it’s so compact, it’ll fit effortlessly into your holiday luggage. Delve deeper into its capabilities with our detailed review: You can learn more about the DJI Mini 4 Pro in our review: https://oscarliang.com/dji-mini-4-pro/
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In light of new drone regulations that mandate registration for drones above 250g in many countries, DJI made an impressive move. The Mini 4 Pro boasts a 20km range, 34-minute flight time, and a sharp 4K resolution camera, all while weighing just 249g. That’s right, just a gram under the registration limit.
Don’t let its weight fool you. This drone can still accomplish almost everything that the more expensive, heavier models can do. For context, consider that an iPhone 14 Pro weighs 206 grams. It’s the perfect travel companion.
When it comes to image quality, the more advanced Mavic 3 and Air 3 do outshine the Mini 3 Pro, despite all boasting 4K capabilities. Yet, thanks to enhancements in bitrate and resolution, the quality difference between them is becoming less pronounced.
The new drone now has sensors on the front and others aimed backward to ensure the drone has omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, providing protection from all angles. This feature was previously only available in DJI’s higher-end models like the Air and Mavic series, this is truly a significant step up from the previous Mini models.
It’s the cheapest in the DJI line-up, so if you crash it or lose it, it’s not as much of a loss. Oh and did I mention it’s foldable? It is tiny so if you have it in your backpack for a long hike you won’t even notice it, and for a cheap way into aerial cinematography, it is a great place to start. But if your sole focus is in flight performance, reliability and best possible image quality, then I’d recommend one of the larger models below.
Mavic Air 3 – DJI’s Latest Offering with Impressive Features
Learn more about the DJI Air 3 in this review: https://oscarliang.com/dji-air-3/
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Air 3 vs Mini 3 Pro
The DJI Air 3 boasts several superior features over the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
Camera Capabilities: Both drones pack a 1/1.3 inch CMOS 48MP sensor, but the Air 3 has a new stacked sensor, producing better image quality. Although both can shoot in 4K 60fps, the Air 3 outperforms with 4K 120fps slow-mo capability (only in 16:9) and more varied color profiles, including the D-Log M from the Mavic 3 Pro. The standout feature on the Air 3 is its 70mm equivalent zoom lens, which offers sharper and clearer images than the Mini 3 Pro’s digital zoom.
Navigation and Safety: The Air 3 benefits from 360-degree omnidirectional sensors, superior to the three-direction sensors of the Mini 3 Pro, ensuring better obstacle avoidance. With Active Track, the Air 3 offers enhanced tracking functionalities.
Additional Features: It also comes with extended features like waypoints, cruise control, and a night video mode. The Air 3 guarantees longer flight time thanks to the bigger battery, better wind resistance, improved signal transmission and range, while the Mini 3 Pro’s main advantage is its compact size.
Air 3 vs Mavic 3
The DJI Air 3 boasts several advantages over the DJI Mavic 3. Released after the Mavic 3 Pro, the Air 3 has the same popular 70mm focal length lens, offering both 24mm and 70mm lenses on a single drone. This configuration provides versatility in various filming situations.
The Mavic 3’s distinction lies in its adjustable aperture which is desirable in advanced manual video shooting.
What makes the Air 3 stand out is its price, being half of the Mavic 3 Pro, offering significant value for the money. The Air 3 also introduces the latest OcuSync 4.0 transmission, a feature absent even in the more expensive Mavic 3 Pro. Furthermore, the Air 3 has an innovative battery charging feature, enabling nearly depleted batteries to charge a nearly full one to maximize your flight time. Despite a smaller camera sensor size compared to the Air 2S, the Air 3 boasts enhanced photo and video capabilities, possibly due to a back-illuminated sensor. It also has superior obstacle avoidance.
With its blend of features and price point, the Air 3 is perfect for enthusiasts and professionals alike and offers excellent value. But if top-tier image quality is non-negotiable, then the Mavic 3 is still your best bet.
Mavic 3 (Classic and Pro)
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Why Mavic 3 Classic Might Be Better than the Air 3
A slight step-down from the Mavic 3 Pro but the Classic version still packs plenty of punch and cheaper.
Camera quality is paramount in these drones. While the Mavic 3 Classic, with its larger Hasselblad sensor, offers better dynamic range and performance, especially in low light, the Air 3 shines with its optical zoom capabilities and rapid switching. The Mavic 3 Classic can shoot up to 5K at 50fps, whereas the Air 3 tops at 4K 60 HDR.
When it comes to flight performance, both drones have similar battery life (up to 46 minutes). However, Air 3 has an edge with its Active Track performance, and OcuSync 4 video transmission, though it requires a new remote controller because of the new protocol (such as the RC 2 or RC-N2). For raw power, the Mavic 3 Classic stands out with superior wind resistance and stability.
In terms of features, the Air 3 offers more versatility. For travel, the Air 3, being lighter and equipped with more features, is preferable unless one anticipates very windy conditions. Lastly, in terms of price, the Air 3 presents better value and offers more in its bundle. In conclusion, if zoom and value are priorities, opt for the Air 3. If camera quality and wind resistance are more crucial, the Mavic 3 Classic is the better choice. For top of the line image quality, consider the more expensive Mavic 3 Pro.
Mavic 3 Pro vs Classic
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The DJI Mavic 3 Pro and the DJI Mavic 3 Classic are both highly capable drones, but there are some distinctions.
The main difference lies in the camera systems. The Classic has one camera with a Hasselblad 4/3 CMOS sensor, which produces impressive images. The Pro, however, features a tri-camera system. Each camera in the Pro has distinct features, with the lens setup on the Pro’s wider camera outperforming that of the Classic. The Pro’s medium telephoto lens, with a smaller sensor, surprisingly delivers excellent image quality, whereas the third telephoto lens in the Pro offers up to 28x digital zoom, which is unparalleled compared to other drones.
Besides the camera, both drones look and function similarly. Both have the same sensors, battery, motors, and propellers. Yet, the Pro has a wider ISO range for better low-light shots and faster battery charging due to a 100W charger, compared to the Classic’s 65W.
In conclusion, for the best camera capability, the Mavic 3 Pro is superior and more versatible, while the Mavic 3 Classic is ideal for those content with a single high-quality camera.
Inspire 3 – Business Level
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The DJI inspire 3 is the ultimate cinematography workhorse that you can just buy off the shelf. However, its high price of $16,500 makes it suitable mainly for professionals who intend to monetize its use. Comparing the Inspire 3 to the more portable and affordable Mavic 3 or Air 3, the latter may offer more value to most users, especially as the quality difference might be imperceptible to the general audience.
The DJI Inspire 3 boasts significant improvements over its predecessor, the Inspire 2. The most notable feature is its new 45MP full-frame sensor which promises enhanced low light performance and dynamic range. The camera can shoot up to 8K 30fps.
Design-wise, the construction is somewhat similar to the Inspire 2, but the Inspire 3 is wider, which is mainly to allow the camera to tilt up without obstructions. They are using more plastic replacements in the Inspire 3 for weight savings and to accommodate sensors. The screen on the controller is more responsive, and the overall software feels more refined. A significant change is the dual gain sensor which offers improved low light performance.
The Inspire 3 is ideal for larger film sets requiring precise shots and may not be necessary for everyone given its high price point. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.
- Mar 2020 – Guide created
- May 2020 – DJI Mavic Air 2 released to replace Mavic Air 1
- Jan 2021 – DJI Mini 2 released to replace Mini 1
- Aug 2023 – Updated products