The DJI Ronin Series line has historically been designed for high-tend, DSLR cameras. But especially in the past decade, mirrorless cameras have surpassed DSLRs in the eyes of many videographers and photographers as the camera of choice. And finally, DJI has made a version of its iconic Ronin gimbal designed especially for mirrorless cameras. Enter, the DJI RS 3 Mini.
DJI today launched the RS 3 Mini, which is a lightweight, handheld travel stabilizer developed specifically to support today’s mainstream brands of mirrorless cameras and lenses.
DJI’s first Ronin launched in 2014 as a handheld 3-axis camera gimbal developed for professional filmmakers. It takes the silky-smooth aesthetic of its drone footage and instead puts it on a sort of tripod or selfie stick that you hold (with your camera mounted to it) — thus bringing the iconic drone aesthetic to cameras on the ground. DJI has continuously been iterating on that, having most recently launched the DJI RS 3 and RS 3 Pro in June 2022.
And now, we have a Mini version of the Ronin, and it costs just $369.
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What to know about the new RS 3 Mini
Compared to the rest of the DJI Ronin line, the RS 3 Mini unsurprisingly has a smaller and lighter body. In fact, it’s about 50% lighter than the RS 3 Pro and 40% lighter than the RS 3. But although it weighs less than 800 g (1.8 lbs), it’s still strong; the gimbal can carry a weight of up to 2 kg (4.4 lbs). The battery lasts up to 10 hours and can be fully charged in as little as 2.5 hours (you can even use it as it’s charging).
The tech in this thing is smart. DJI RS 3 Mini features Bluetooth shutter control, a third generation stabilization algorithm, native horizontal and vertical switching, and a 1.4-inch color touchscreen.
The RS 3 Mini is able to “talk to” your camera through that wireless Bluetooth shutter function. Once you pair your camera and the RS 3 Mini, you’ll be able to directly control the video recording and photo capture functions via the record button on the gimbal. If you happen to have a Sony camera with a supported digital lens, you can also directly control the lens’s optical or digital zoom via the front dial — eliminating the need for a camera control cable.
Click the M-mode button to switch between the gimbal’s three custom modes and front dial for focusing. And use the NATO port on the side of the body to connect various accessories such as DJI’s Briefcase Handle, external fill lights or microphones.
Vertical shooting modes
Another big standout feature of the RS 3 Mini is the emphasis it puts on vertical video — which has grown increasingly popular thanks to formats like TikTok and Instagram reels.
One interesting feature on the RS 3 Mini is a dual-layered quick-release plate. By attaching the quick-release plate to the vertical arm, you can shoot vertical video without needing additional accessories and without limiting the gimbal rotation angle. An upper plate with a new curved placement guide also prevents the camera from rotating and loosening.
Mirrorless cameras vs DSLR cameras
DSLRs are usually what most people think of when they hear “professional camera.” Short for ‘digital single-lens reflex camera’ use sensors and interchangeable lenses with a mirror and prism to allow the photographer to see their subject and shoot. These cameras are often always larger and produce high-quality photos (taken with higher megapixel counts and faster shutter speeds) than a point-and-shoot camera. They also tend to be pretty big and bulky.
But in the past decade or so, mirrorless cameras have exploded in popularity by providing DSLR-quality photos in a more compact body, more similar to a point and shoot. While DSLR cameras tend to still offer superior lens selection to the mirrorless cameras, these mirrorless cameras often offer better autofocus, in-body stabilization and of course a more portable build than DSLRs.
A 2022 survey of 1,000 photographers from camera website Shotkit found that mirrorless cameras are now more popular than DSLR cameras for professional photographers. 63% of professional photographers use a mirrorless camera, while 36% of them use a DSLR camera (and 1% use both). Unsurprisingly, mirror cameras are also more popular among amateur photographers.
Among the most popular mirrorless cameras in 2023 include Fujifilm’s X-H2 and X-H2S, Olympus’ OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, Nikon’s Z9 and Sony’s A1. (See the full compatibility list of camera’s that the new RS 3 Mini supports here).
Why the Ronin’s pivot into mirrorless cameras is significant
Sure, past versions of the Ronin are certainly compatible with mirrorless cameras. But those Ronins have been relatively big and bulky — antithetical to the spirit of a mirrorless camera which is lightweight and compact.
Today’s DJI news broadens the appeal of its Ronin line — and it simultaneously should broaden the appeal of a mirrorless camera.
The prime demographic of mirrorless camera users is people who want a high-quality camera in a small package. Having a bulky Ronin doesn’t mesh with that — but having this new Mini version of it likely does.
And as more mirrorless camera users have access to the Ronin, we’ll likely see more films with that silky, drone-like movement. As that aesthetic catches on, a videographer who typically likes to stay on land might then be inclined to try out a drone — and the circle grows.
Plus, this thing is relatively accessible in price — just $369. And it’s already available for purchase.