DJI has launched its flagship drone for consumers, the Mavic 3. It’s the most expensive Mavic ever, starting at $2,200, all the way to $5,000 for the top of the line Mavic 3 Cine. But it has a Micro Four Thirds size sensor, making it one of the most affordable drones to have such a sensor. Here are its 12 key features. UPDATE: here is my hands-on review.
1. Hasselblad camera with Micro Four Thirds size sensor. The headline feature of the Mavic 3 is the Hasselblad-branded main camera with Micro Four Thirds size sensor,* which is eight times larger than the typical 1/2.3 inch sensors found in consumer drones, and about twice as large as the 1-inch sensor in the Air 2S and the Mavic 2 Pro. Until now, to get a Micro Four Thirds sensor drone, you needed to get the DJI Inspire, which is at least $5,000. The Mavic 3 isn’t cheap either but it’s still the most affordable Micro Four Thirds sensor drone.
*Technically, DJI calls it a four thirds sensor, which is true, but when a sensor is 4/3 inch size, most photographers and videographers would call it Micro Four Thirds size, because the Four Thirds camera system ended a long time ago.
The Hasselblad branding is interesting but ultimately meaningless, like the Hasselblad-branded camera on the OnePlus phone. Hasselblad is well known for its medium format cameras and lenses. This isn’t medium format, so it has little in common with famed Hasselblad cameras other than the name.
2. 162mm telephoto camera with 1/2 inch sensor. The Mavic 3 has a dual camera system. Besides the main camera, it also has a telephoto camera with 162mm equivalent focal length (approximately 7X the focal length of the 24mm main camera).
3. 5.1K 50fps video. The Mavic 3’s main camera can shoot 5.1K video at 50fps, 4K at 120fps, or 1080p at 200fps.
4. 10-bit video (all versions) and ProRes 422 (Mavic 3 Cine). The Mavic 3 captures 10-bit video at 200mpbs (H.264) or 140mbps (H.265). The high bitrate makes it easier to grade the footage. The high-end Mavic 3 Cine is even better for color grading because it can record in Prores 422.
5. Speed. Despite its size and weight, the Mavic 3 is the fastest Mavic to date and can fly up to 47 mph in Sport mode.
6. Adjustable aperture f/2.8-11. The Mavic 3’s main camera has an adjustable aperture from f/2.8 to f/11, a 4-stop range that is similar to ND16 for getting a slower shutter speed, although unlike an ND filter, you can’t use a wider aperture in bright conditions. On smaller drones, that’s not a big deal but on the Mavic 3’s large MFT size sensor, the f/2.8 aperture may produce a noticeably shallower depth of field, so an ND filter would still be desirable.
7. 46 min. flight time. DJI claims a flight time of up to 46 minutes. However, Landon Bytheway from Fulltime Filmmaker found that he could only get about 35 minutes.
8. 360-degree obstacle avoidance. As I mentioned in my previous post, the Mavic 3 has eight sensors and 360-degree obstacle avoidance.
9. ActiveTrack 5.0. The Mavic 3 has a more advanced tracking algorithm. This feature will be enabled via firmware update in January 2022. It will ship with ActiveTrack 4.0.
10. Smart Return to Home. The Mavic 3 has a more advanced Return to Home that can fly the most efficient path home, making it more likely that it will be able to return to home before it runs out of battery.
11. 1TB SSD (Mavic 3 Cine). The top-of-the-line Mavic 3 Cine has a built-in 1TB SSD. But please note that Prores422 takes up a lot more space than H.264 or H.265, so that 1TB can go much quicker than you think if you’re using Prores.
12. RC Pro controller (Mavic 3 Cine). The Mavic 3 Cine has a newer controller that uses Ocusync 3.0 for lower latency.
One of the specs that I wanted to know about is whether it can do 360 photos, and if it can use the telephoto lens to do so. However, there is no mention of a 360 shooting mode in the specs or the user manual. But I would almost bet that it does have such a mode, which is available even in the Mavic Mini. Anyway, I ordered a Mavic 3 (the basic version) from B&H Photo (to get a rebate on the sales tax) and will be posting a review. UPDATE: In January 2022, the firmware was updated to add 360 photo shooting capability. See samples here.