DJI's new Mini 3 Pro drone hits the ground running for aerial photography - TechCrunch

DJI’s new Mini 3 Pro drone hits the ground running for aerial photography – TechCrunch

DJI has just Introduced a new drone – the most capable ever to exceed the 250g limit which keeps operators away from a whole host of headaches and flight restrictions (note that local laws and rules still apply – just being small doesn’t mean you can do anything you want). The DJI Mini 3 Pro drone is the first in the series to add this “Pro” moniker, and it does a lot to earn it, making it the best overall value to date in the consumer/enthusiast drone space for people who want portability, affordability, and quality. photo / video.

basics

The DJI Mini 3 Pro is still small enough to earn its name, but it’s a bit bigger than its previous iterations. While the drone weighs 249 grams with the standard battery pack included, its wingspan in particular is much larger than that of the original Mini, in particular, when the arms are extended to fly. This provides additional flight control capabilities, and hardly alters the drone’s profile when folded up for carry, so it’s definitely a welcome design trade-off.

DJI has not only improved the aerodynamic engineering here, but has also packed an impressive 1/1.3-inch sensor camera into the Mini 3 Pro, which can shoot up to 48MP photos in RAW format, and record 4K video at up to 60fps, with… Slow motion shooting that captures 120 frames per second in Full HD (1080p).

The new DJI Mini 3 Pro Drone in flight. Image credits: Daryl Etherington

“Pro” also plays with the formats offered by the Mini 3 Pro: you can record video in D-Cinelike mode, which provides a wealth of color information to adjust your video’s color mix to your liking afterwards in programs like DaVinci Resolve. This can give you a downright cinematic look when you consider it’s coming for a drone that slips easily into a jacket pocket.

Another “pro” feature DJI introduced to this size class for the first time: obstacle detection and avoidance. The Mini 3 Pro gets the company’s Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems 4.0, which means you’re less likely to have to scale a tree to retrieve it because it got stuck in some branches.

Other features include the ability to rotate the camera via the gimbal for portrait video shooting, making this the perfect TikTok drone, subject tracking, 4x digital zoom (which unlocks some creative video shooting capabilities), panoramic shooting and 34 minutes of run time on a standard battery ( Plus a possible 47 minutes on the optional Flight Battery Plus extended juice – which also guides you over the 250g limit, I should note).

Design

At first glance, the Mini 3 Pro doesn’t deviate much from DJI’s tried and tested approach to drone design; It is a four-rotor aircraft, consisting mostly of that central body, with extendable arms and a short built-in landing gear. However, there are some obvious big changes versus the previous little ones, including on the front of the drone, where the usual bulging protrusion covering the camera gives way to a “hammer-head” look – like the look with the guidance cameras flanking the plane 24mm equivalent, f/1.7 camera below.

Comparing the DJI Mini 3 Pro to the DJI Mavic Mini

The DJI Mini 3 Pro (right) and the DJI Mavic Mini (left) are folded. Image credits: Daryl Etherington

This will likely help save weight to allow the Mini 3 Pro to show off its impressive specs while staying on the fair side of flight rules restrictions. This also means that drone ships have a larger, more bulging protective shell to keep the hub and camera secure and stable during transit. This was my only drone design – the axle is loose when the plane is off, which is understandable to protect the motors, but it does mean you have to fight it to a certain extent to get it aligned properly with a protective cover before it goes in.

DJI Mini 3 Pro and DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mini 3 Pro (right) and DJI Mavic Mini (left) with arms extended. Image credits: Daryl Etherington

DJI has clearly learned a lot from years of trying to make the most of the sub-250g drone class, and it’s already showing up in the Mini 3 Pro. The rotors don’t have the easy-release clamps that come on the larger models, but again this is a worthwhile trade-off. For a few minor inconveniences, what you get is a drone that doesn’t require much packing logistics to take with you – and one that takes photos and videos with a quality that won’t leave anyone but the most demanding professional users feeling like they should have brought a better machine.

A note here about controller options – the Mini 3 Pro comes with an RC-N1 controller by default (although there’s less of a controller option to save you some bucks if you already have one), which is a great controller for your Provide a viewfinder in the form of your connected smartphone. The DJI RC bundle comes with this new controller as well, and if you’re on the fence, you should totally go for it: DJI RC has a built-in display, and basically powers an integrated Android phone to run the DJI Fly app. It is a very compact and well designed device, with excellent display quality and many less headaches when it comes to fiddling with the hardware connectors of smartphones. More on DJI RC in the next section.

performance

I’ve already mentioned the DJI Mini 3 Pro’s photo and video capture quality a few times, but in case it wasn’t clear: this thing is more than just a delivery.

48MP photos bring new levels of detail and printing options, and RAW capture means you can really get plenty of still shots when editing after the fact in programs like Lightroom. Images are also much less noisy than they were from previous iterations of the Mini, due to the larger sensor and the larger pixel size on the sensor itself. Low-light capture hasn’t been a particular strength of these drones, but DJI has done a good job of prioritizing improvements in this area over the Mini 3 Pro, and it shows.

DJI Mini 3 Pro JPEG from camera, automatic settings

DJI Mini 3 Pro JPEG from camera, automatic settings. Image credits: Daryl Etherington

The automatic mode provides really impressive visuals, and there is probably not much reason for most users to delve into the manual mode. But for enthusiasts and advanced professionals, manual modes offer the ability to tweak to your heart’s content, which can result in some truly unique shots that stand out from the crowd. Custom photo modes including the panorama feature are excellent for unique applications such as large-scale prints, and the Mini 3 Pro makes getting good photos relatively easy.

Speaking of the breeze, when it comes to flight control, the Mini 3 Pro seems to have no problem handling the wind with aplomb. One thing I noticed a little bit on my OG DJI Mavic Mini was that it was complaining a lot about wind speed and stability as a result; The Mini 3 Pro, even at altitudes over 400 feet, has given no indication that it has this particular problem. The days I’ve traveled were relatively quiet at ground level, so your mileage may vary, but it’s definitely improved compared to previous generation machines.

DJI Mini 3 Pro sample picture, automatic settings

DJI Mini 3 Pro sample image, automatic settings. Image credits: Daryl Etherington

As much as the DJI Mini 3 Pro is optimized for capturing still images, the new video options are a major upgrade versus what this class could previously have done. 4K/60, HDR, Full HD 120 fps slow-motion video, portrait video, and a D-Cinelike color profile all add up to a drone that can do it all, whether you’re an amateur filmmaker trying to create the next classic art house, or a YouTuber who puts On top of a production value, or a TikTok creator who wants to add another dimension to their content. Target tracking works well, and in combination with vertical video and modes like the ‘dronie’ aerial selfie option, you can dive into plenty of creative options for new posts on any platform.

As for actually flying a drone, it’s a bit difficult to assess from a newcomer’s perspective since I’ve now been flying a DJI since the original Mavic. But it certainly sounds intuitive and simple, with the added bonus that obstacle avoidance protection kicks in when big things get in your way, potentially saving you from an expensive accident.

You can tweak settings like how fast the camera tracks in order to improve the final product and compensate for inexperienced or jerky joystick movements, but out of the box the DJI Mini 3 Pro appears to be fine-tuned to produce good end results for a wide range of users.

As mentioned, the DJI RC controller option really raises the bar in terms of the actual experience of flying the drone. My main headache with DJI drones in the past has been the less than elegant experience of connecting a smartphone to the console, getting everything working properly and locking into the handle optimally. DJI RC changes that into a truly seamless experience that “just works”, and you can connect the controller to any WiFi network (including tethering to your phone in the field) to keep it updated and the plane with firmware and flight maps restriction. The picture quality and live video feed are HD and excellent, and can be viewed even in direct sunlight, which is not something you can give up once you try it.

minimum

Besides the performance boost, DJI’s latest mini-drone also gets a significant price hike: the DJI Mini 3 Pro starts at $669, and that’s without a remote control. $759 gets you a Mini 3 Pro and an RC-N1 (which requires you to bring your own phone). The best option is of course the most expensive one, but I think it’s the one most people should consider – this is the DJI Mini 3 Pro plus DJI RC for $909. As reviewed, my unit also included a DJI Mini 3 Pro Fly More Kit, which provides two additional batteries for 34 minutes, a hub to charge all three batteries simultaneously, additional fans, a handy shoulder bag that fits the drone and controller and all I just mentioned, a 189 an extra dollar.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Sample Image

DJI Mini 3 Pro sample image. JPEG with automatic settings. Image credits: Daryl Etherington

Finally, the DJI Mini 3 Pro set I reviewed costs about $1,100 — nearly double the price of the DJI Mini 2 Fly More set, which still retails for $599. But for what you get, especially with the improvements in image and video quality, plus the inclusion of an obstacle avoidance system, it’s well worth the delta price tag. Ultimately, the Mini 3 Pro will probably be better compared to something like the DJI Air 2S, which costs $1,299 for the Fly More set. With this option, you’ll get a bigger and better sensor, 5.2K video recording, but most users probably won’t appreciate the differences there, and the Mini 3 Pro still manages to slip past that 250g limit, which the Air 2S doesn’t.

DJI’s pace of innovation means it can be hard to say when I can jump in as a consumer (I have three drones from my previous generation, including the original Mini). But what’s bundled into the Mini 3 Pro feels like a package with a few compromises that should satisfy even the most discerning enthusiast for years to come.

2022-05-11 20:51:39

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