DJI Mavic 3 Pro takes inspiration from iPhone, adding three cameras

The DJI Mavic 3 drone not one, but two cameras. And today, the Chinese drone maker launched a new, spiffier version of the popular camera drone, and this one has three cameras. And with that, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro can claim the title of world’s first three optical camera drone.

There’s the Mavic’s renowned Hasselblad camera, plus two tele-cameras of varying degrees of zoom capabilities. Unlike the traditional dSLR or mirrorless cameras (which goes for the cameras you’d mount in the $16,000+ drone rigs like DJI’s Inspire 3 or the Sony Airpeak) where you’d have to completely change the physical lens, the Mavic 3 Pro’s triple camera combination lets you switch between shot composition with just one tap. It’s not unlike the trend in today’s smartphones like the newer iPhone models (largely starting with the iPhone 11 Pro) and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra that features a triple-camera system on one side. Take that idea to the air for maximal convenience.

Throw in omnidirectional obstacle sensing, 15-kilometer video transmission and 43 minutes of flight time, and this here is one pretty incredible drone.

All that, and it starts at $2,199.

How the Mavic 3 Pro fits into the broader Mavic 3 universe

The DJI Mavic 3 drone first launched in November 2021 with two cameras: a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad sensor with a 20MP resolution, and a secondary 1/2-inch CMOS (12MP) sensor that’s used as its digital zoom lens. Since then, it’s evolved to have a few different versions. A year after its initial debut, DJI dropped a stripped-down, cheaper version called the DJI Mavic 3 Classic. The company also released an upgraded version called the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise, which took the shell and many of the internal parts of the existing Mavic 3 and put it on commercial-grade drone steroids.

And today, we get the DJI Mavic 3 Pro — a drone that gets its first-ever third camera, and that provides one more stepping stone toward DJI’s seriously high-end, professional camera drones (most notably the Inspire 3 that launched earlier this month).

Here’s everything you need to know about the new DJI Mavic 3 Pro:

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro’s three cameras

Each of the DJI Mavic 3 Pro’s three cameras has a different focal length. They are the:

  • Hasselblad wide-angle camera (24mm).
  • Medium tele camera (70mm).
  • Tele camera (166mm).

About the Hasselblad camera

The primary camera is that Hassleblad camera, which has been integral to DJI ever since it acquired a stake in Hasselblad in 2015 (within a year, the two companies had developed their first joint product — a combination of the M600 drone platform with the A5D medium format camera). When the DJI Mavic 3 launched in 2021, there was a dual-camera system (which included one zoom camera as well as one custom Hasselblad L2D-20c aerial camera.

The Hasselblad professional-level, 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera uses a 24mm prime lens and offers higher dynamic range and resolution, plus reduced noise in low-light environments for sharper, clearer photos. It supports shooting 12-bit RAW photos with a native dynamic range of up to 12.8 stops.

For videos, expect image capture at up to 5.1K at 50fps or DCI 4K at 120fps.

There’s also Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution (HNCS), which can accurately restore the colors the human eye perceives without post-production, and complex color presets.

New to the Pro version is a 10-bit D-Log M color mode, which supports recording up to one billion colors. This is ideal for filming in high-contrast scenarios, like sunrises and sunsets, and it also reduces the difficulty of color grading, allowing an efficient post-production without losing quality or image clarity.

The two telephoto cameras

So why three cameras in the latest iteration? It’s all designed to turn the drone into more of a storytelling tool, rather than simply taking sweeping, wide-angle (often landscape) shots that are more common in aerial photography (especially up through the past couple years). With the drone in one take, you might establish the environment with the wide-angle camera, then move in to a specific location with the medium tele, and then finish up the scene by using the 166mm tele camera to focus in on a particular area or character.

Medium tele camera

The first of the tele cameras is what’s referred to as a medium tele camera (which has a 70mm format equivalent). You’d use it for shots that aren’t super tight, but not wide either, like perhaps a building or a car, as it compresses the depth of field and depth of focus to highlight the subject and give a unique sense of depth and space.

This camera has a 1/1.3″ CMOS sensor and 3x optical zoom, and it is capable of 48MP/12MP photos, 4K/60fps video. Similarly, it supports the new D-log M. 

Tele camera

This one is your true telephoto, offering increased resolution, aperture (from f4.4 to f3.4), and video frame rate from the original DJI Mavic 3. It supports shooting 4K/60fps video with 7x optical zoom and 12MP photos.

Both the medium tele camera and tele camera support taking RAW photos in normal photo mode, just not in Explore mode.

So what’s the point of a zoom camera anyway, if a drone can just fly and zoom by moving through the air? There are plenty of scenarios where you don’t want to get too close. Maybe you don’t want to disturb animals. Maybe you don’t want to risk losing signal. Maybe the shot you want involves flying over other people. With powerful zoom, the drone can remain close to you while still getting that far out shot you need.

Joanna Steidle, one of the best drone photographers in America and the owner of Hamptons Drone Images, got her hands on a Mavic 3 Pro early and shared some sample video of its video capability up to 28x:

And if all that isn’t enough, there’s also a bonus accessory called the DJI Wide-Angle Lens for Mavic 3 Pro/Pro Cine. This is just a lens cover, which you pop onto the gimbal to increase the Hasselblad lens’ 84° FOV to 108°, with a 15.5mm format equivalent.

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro: the drone itself

The Mavic 3 Pro stands out for its powerful flight time of 43 minutes. Although for what it’s worth, the original Mavic 3 offers a slightly longer 46 minutes (presumably the extra camera adds extra weight that drops flight times).

The battery takes approximately 96 minutes to charge when connected to the USB-C charging cable of the DJI 65W Portable Charger, or 70 minutes when charging with the DJI 100W USB-C Power Adapter and charging cable.

Another powerful add on this drone (which was also there in the original Mavic 3 launch) is omnidirectional sensing and APAS 5.0.  This drone features eight wide-angle vision sensors, which can sense obstacles in all directions and plan a safe flight route to avoid them.

That also makes this drone a solid contender for best follow-me drone, putting it in the ranks of others like the Skydio 2+ that have historically had better sense and avoidance capabilities than DJI’s drones.

The transmission system is built around the DJI O3+ transmission system which can transmit a 1080p/60fps HD live feed at high frame rates at a distance of up to 15 km.

Once back on the ground, the footage can easily get to your phone through the High-Speed QuickTransfer option, which allows quick image and video downloads direct from the drone to a mobile phone over Wi-Fi 6 at speeds up to 80 MB per second — and that’s all without connecting to the remote controller.

It’s also compatible with the latest DJI Goggles Integra, DJI Goggles 2 and DJI RC Motion 2.

Related read: DJI Goggles Integra and DJI RC Motion 2 solve two of Avata’s biggest problems

Other smart features

This drone can largely fly itself, and take better videos than even the most adept pilot could thanks to its smart shooting modes.

As far as flying, expect features like:

  • Waypoint Flight: Automatically plans a flight route based on the user’s preset waypoints and can precisely repeat routes.
  • Cruise Control: Allows the drone to fly in any direction without continually pressing the control sticks for smoother camera movement during long-distance manual control.
  • Advanced RTH: Automatically determines a safe and efficient flight route back to its home point, easily bypassing obstacles on the RTH path.

Those are the smart flying modes, but there are smart filming modes too. Those include:

  • FocusTrack: Offers stable tracking shots in multiple directions via ActiveTrack 5.0, Spotlight, and Point of Interest (only available on the Hasselblad camera and the medium tele camera)
  • MasterShots: With one tap, the drone automatically shoots, edits and adds soundtracks to automatically generate cinematic footage. (only available on the Hasselblad camera
  • QuickShots: Allows the drones to fly in angles like Dronie, Rocket, Circle, and Helix (only available on the Hasselblad camera)
  • Panorama: Composes a 100MP lossless panorama photo (only available on the Hasselblad camera)

What about the DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine?

Just as the original Mavic 3 launched with an upgraded counterpart called the Cine edition, the Pro is also launching alongside a Cine edition. It’s far more expensive, but it can be worth it for film professionals as it means that now all three cameras support Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Apple ProRes 422, and Apple ProRes 422 LT encoding.

The Cine edition also offers a built-in 1TB SSDand a 10Gbps lightspeed data cable.

Though, the Cine is far more expensive than the ‘Just Pro’ edition. The DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine Premium Combo goes for $4,799 — still keeping it far under the Inspire 3’s $16,500 price point, but much more than the Pro.

How to get your hands on the DJI Mavic 3 Pro

While you can order it now, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro won’t ship until May. Here’s how much it costs:

There’s also the option to add on DJI Care Refresh, which is basically DJI’s extended warranty plan.

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