DJI introduced the Mavic Series in September 2016 which was a compact and foldable drone with professional-grade camera capabilities. Two years later, they followed up the series by releasing the Mavic 2 Pro. It was the smallest drone to feature a 20MP 1-inch type camera sensor with Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution technology. It really was an impressive feat, but there were some shortcomings. As a result, three years later in 2021, DJI returns with their highly anticipated DJI Mavic 3. Undoubtedly, this new drone packs some seriously impressive features. But that’s not all. What’s more impressive is that DJI made all of these improvements while reducing its total weight. There are several drones that the Mavic 3 can be compared with but the Mavic 2 Pro seems more appropriate as it held its crown for the best flagship drone for so long. If this topic sounds interesting, then let’s get started.
Camera Sensors & Specs
Content creation is the main focus when it comes to DJI Mavic drones, so starting the comparison with their camera sensor is a great place to begin with. Firstly, the new Mavic 3 features a dual-camera setup, including a primary lens and a telephoto lens, while the Mavic 2 Pro is only limited to one. Although the main cameras in both drones share the same Hasselblad Natural Color Solution, the new Mavic 3 packs a professional grade 4/3 inch CMOS sensor with a 24-millimeter lens (24mm) compared to the Mavic 2 Pro’s 1-inch CMOS sensor with 28-millimeter lens (24mm) equivalent.
The new Mavic 3 has a wider field of view of 84 degrees (84°) which can be extended to a whopping 108 degrees (108°) with an additional wide-lens accessory available in the DJI store. This significantly boosts the Mavic 3’s capability to capture more dramatic nature shots or to include more people and buildings in footage regardless of urban or industrial areas. The Mavic 2 Pro on the other hand tops out only at a 77degrees (77°) viewing angle.
Another upgrade for the Mavic 3 is the additional 1/2-inch CMOS sensor with a 162-millimeter (162mm) telephoto lens that offers up to 28 times zoom (28x zoom). This gives the Mavic 3 freedom to bring distant people and objects visually closer, offering a more dynamic and creative perspective to the shooters.
Now let’s talk about the camera performance. While both drones shoot images in 20 megapixels (20MP), the real difference is in videography. The Mavic 2 Pro can shoot videos up to 4K at 30 frames per second. The Mavic 3 on the other hand, can shoot 5.1K videos at 50 frames per second and also allows for slow-motion video in 4K at 120 frames per second. Also remember, the Cine version of the Mavic 3 supports Apple’s ProRes 422 HQ Codec for capturing more natural color, something that is missing on the Mavic 2 Pro.
Meanwhile, due to the large sensor, the Mavic 3 not only shoots video in high resolution but also captures more light tremendously well, especially in low lighting. It offers a better dynamic range than the Mavic 2 Pro as well. With 12.8 stops of native dynamic range, it retains more details in shadows and highlights.
Design & Other Features
Make no mistake, the Mavic 2 Pro is undeniably a powerful drone, but the new Mavic 3 seems to have unrivaled performance for a drone of its size. It’s quite impressive how DJI has been able to make their Mavic 3 lighter than the Mavic 2 Pro. Weighing around 12 grams less than the preceding models, the Mavic 3 also has a significantly improved wind-speed resistance.
The obstacle-avoiding sensor has also been an upgrade for the DJI Mavic 3 with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft. It features the APAS 5.0 that can sense obstacles from every side and move away.
And for transmitting live footage, the new drone comes with DJI OcuSync 3+ that offers a 15 kilometers max transmission range, whereas the OcuSync 2.0 from Mavic 2 Pro could transmit live videos within a 10-kilometer range only. Besides, the Mavic 2 Pro could transmit HD videos at 30 frames per second, and the Mavic 3 can transmit Full HD videos at 60 frames per second ensuring a clear view from the bird’s eyes.
Storage & Battery
DJI has also reduced the hassle for cinematographers, as the DJI Mavic 3 Cine comes with 1TB of built-in storage compared to the 8GB of storage in the Mavic 2 Pro. So, you will be able to capture raw footage as much as you want without the hassle of replacing the microSD card.
The battery life has also been a huge upgrade for the DJI Mavic 3. Previously, you could fly the Mavic 2 Pro only for 31 minutes, whereas the new drone offers a maximum flight time of 46 minutes. So, you won’t have to miss those perfect shots due to less battery life.
Along with the Mavic 3, a new remote controller named the DJI RC Pro was released. Although this comes bundled with the Mavic 3 Cine Combo, it is also available at the DJI store. Just like the Mavic 2 Pro’s Smart Controller, the new RC Pro also comes with a 5.5 inch Full HD display. But the similarities end there as the new RC Pro comes with an extended transmission distance with a very impressive 3 hours of runtime that can be fully charged within 90 minutes.
Taking everything into consideration, it’s safe to say that the only thing that keeps the Mavic 2 Pro ahead is the pricing. But with such upgrades, even the high price tag of the Mavic 3 is surely worth it. The new drone offers more flight time, a big jump up in the camera performance along with ProRes Codec for the best aerial shots. So, if you wanna have the best prosumer drone by your side, the Mavic 3 is sure to impress you with its overall performance.
“Imaging Above Everything” was the tagline for the newly released Mavic 3 and from all this discussion it’s pretty clear that wasn’t just a bluff. For years, the Mavic series has defined innovation in aerial filmmaking. And the Mavic 3 continues this tradition bringing some impressive upgrades over the Mavic 2 Pro. The Mavic 3 was a highly anticipated product and its impressive specs make the wait worthwhile.