DJI released the Mini 3, a more affordable version of the Mini 3 Pro that forgoes obstacle avoidance and a few other features, but keeps the same large 1/1.3 inch sensor, at a price of about $200 less than the Mini 3 Pro. Is it good for photographers?
Earlier this year, DJI launched the Mini 3 Pro, a drone equipped with a large 1/1.3-inch sensor with the unique ability to rotate its camera into a portrait orientation. Although DJI intended this feature primarily for social media, that same ability enabled the Mini 3 Pro to do something that no other DJI drone has been able to do to date: capture [almost] fully spherical aerial 360 photos, with almost no hole in the zenith.
Today, DJI launched the Mini 3, a more affordable version of the Mini 3 Pro. There had been previews and leaks about the Mini 3, but I thought they would make it more affordable by using a cheaper sensor. Instead, they saved on costs by removing obstacle avoidance sensors, reducing the maximum 4k frame rate to 30fps (instead of 60fps) and removing some automated shooting modes. For 360 shooters, this is perfect because aerial photos are almost always taken at a distance from the subject (among other things, to reduce stitching errors) so we don’t really need the avoidance sensors, nor do we need the automated shooting modes.
Although Mini 3 is a lightweight drone at 249 grams, DJI says it Level 5 wind resistance and can fly with winds up to 10.7 meters per second (about 23 mph). This should mean that it is able to hold a relatively stable position, which can reduce stitching errors. Another useful feature of the Mini 3 is the availability of the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus which DJI claims to enable flight times of up to 51 minutes.
WHERE TO BUY
For 360 shooters looking for an aerial 360 photo drone, the Mini 3 appears to be the best option for an affordable drone, while those who want the best quality can the Mavic 3 Classic, which has a much larger sensor but will have a hole in the zenith that you’ll have to patch. Mavic 3 Pro, Mavic 3 Classic, Mini 3 Pro and Mini 3 are all compatible with the RC-N1 controller or a DJI RC Remote, so a single controller can control them all. Mini 3 with the basic RC-N1 controller is $559. If you already have the RC-N1 from the Mavic 3 or another drone, then you can get just the Mini 3 by itself for $469 (this version is available only from DJI).