Following months of leaks, including photos which confirmed many of the leaks, DJI has finally announced this year’s worst-kept drone secret: the Mavic 3.
It replaces its 2018 predecessors, the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom, and brings wholesale improvements to photo and video quality, obstacle avoidance, flight time and more.
There are two models: the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine. The differences between them are relatively slight – except for the price, which is very different.
In fact, the new drones are so much more expensive than the Mavic 2 series that they’re arguably no longer aimed at consumers – especially the Cine. DJI talks instead about photo and video enthusiasts, along with pros who might consider using the Mavic 3 as a lower-cost alternative to much pricier professional drones.
When is the Mavic 3 release date?
As usual, you can buy the Mavic 3 straight away from DJI and ‘authorised’ partners.
How much does the Mavic 3 cost?
From £1879 / $2199 / €2099
So here’s the bad news, the Mavic 3 isn’t what you might call affordable. At least not compared to the Air 2S, reviewed.
The Mavic 3 Standard costs £1879 / $2199 / €2099 and comes with one battery, the RC-N1 remote controller and a few other essentials.
There’s also a Fly More Combo which is considerably more expensive at £2549 / US$2999 / €2799 and adds two more batteries, a charging hub, a set of ND filters and a carry bag.
If you want the flagship Cine Premium Combo, that’ll set you back £4279 / US$4999 / €4799 and has a 1TB on-board SSD, supports Apple ProRes 422 HQ video, the RC Pro controller, a second set of ND filters and a 10GBps Lightspeed cable.
What are the new features in the Mavic 3?
Dual-camera system with 5.1K video and 4/3 CMOS sensor
46-minute flight time
Omni-directional obstacle sensing
There are many new features. The Mavic 3 is all-new, not just an upgraded Mavic 2. DJI redesigned it from the ground up to be lighter and have a lower drag (35% to be exact) which, along with a higher-capacity 5000mAh battery, it can fly for over three-quarters of an hour in ideal conditions.
The onmi-directional object sensing system uses six fisheye vision sensors along with two wide-angle sensors (the dual cameras, we assume) to continuously look for obstacles in all directions, and figure out how to fly around and through them.
ActiveTrack has been improved again and is now up to version 5.0. Now, it can not just track a moving object but move with it forward, back, left right, diagonally, alongside and around it.
If that subject is too fast and it goes out of the frame, the vision sensors are used to keep track of it and it will be picked back up when it appears in the frame again.
Unfortunately, this isn’t available at launch – it will be added via a future firmware update.
Advanced Return to Home
Return-to-home has also been improved: now it can determine the shortest, most energy-efficient (and safest) path to the home point. It monitors wind speed, calculates the power required and can update the RTH path in real-time.
What that means is that you can fly for longer before RTH kicks into action.
Of course, the most important component is the camera, because the whole point of flying is to record video and take photos.
As leaks revealed, DJI has worked with Hasselblad again and has developed a dual-camera system that can shoot 5.1K video up to 50fps, 4K up to 120fps and 20Mp photos in 12-bit RAW.
That’s from the main wide-angle sensor that’s paired with a 24mm-equivalent lens that gives an 84° field of view and has an aperture range of f/2.8-f/11.
The larger 4/3 CMOS image sensor is what allows for higher video resolution and dynamic range (12.8 stops) and also means less noise in low light.
Rumours suggesting the camera would benefit from a mechanical shutter are – according to the spec sheet DJI sent us – unfortunately false. For both wide and tele cameras, the shutter is listed as “Electronic Shutter: 8-1/8000 s”. For consumers that won’t be relevant, and it applies only to photos where it will be disappointing for anyone wanting to use the Mavic 3 for mapping and 3D modelling.
The other camera has a 12Mp sensor and a 162mm-equivalent f/4.4 telephoto lens that has a 28x ‘hybrid’ zoom which combines optical and digital to “offer the user more dynamic perspectives and creative possibilities at a distance”.
The vision sensors are used in conjunction with the cameras to improve focusing time by using distance data from those sensors.
O3+ and remote controllers
Yet another upgrade is the latest version of Ocusync that supposedly works up to 15km even with strong signal interference, all while allowing a 1080p/60 live video feed from the Mavic 3. Again, according to the spec sheet, only the RC Pro that’s bundled with the Cine Premium Bundle will benefit from O3+’s extra range. The standard controller uses Ocusync 2 as the transmission system.
Of course, local regulations will severely restrict the range you’re allowed to fly a drone as a non-professional.
Speaking of which, at under 900g for both Mavic 3 and Cine models, they just squeeze into the new C1 category (of the confusing new system that’s coming into force at the start of 2023).
This means they can be flown in the A1 subcategory that’s far less restrictive in term of how close you can fly to people and buildings.
Getting to the remote controllers, the Mavic 3 Cine comes with the RC Pro controller that has a built-in screen and doesn’t require your phone, as the RC-N1 does which is the version bundled with the standard Mavic 3.
Mavic 3 too expensive? Here are our recommendations for the best drones to buy.