DJI Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic review comparison drone

Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic: is the Pro worth the upgrade?

If you’re considering buying a Mavic 3 drone, you actually have quite a few options to choose from. Most people who aren’t professional cinematographers will find themselves choosing between the lowest-cost drones of the lineup: the DJI Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic.

There are really two key differences between the DJI Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic. In terms of the drone itself, the Mavic 3 Pro has three cameras versus just one, two of which are telephoto cameras. But perhaps more of a crucial deciding factor for most people is the price. The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is 37.5% more expensive than the DJI Mavic 3 Classic.

For the standard configuration kit, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic goes for $1,599. Meanwhile, the Mavic 3 Pro is $600 more at $2,199. So is it worth paying 37.5% more for the Mavic 3 Pro? Here’s how to know:

A brief history of the Mavic 3 lineup

Before we dive into comparing the Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic, it’s important to understand the history of the Mavic 3 line.

DJI Mavic 3 The Drone Girl Sally French
Sally French, The Drone Girl, with the DJI Mavic 3 drone.

The original Mavic 3

Original retail price: $2,199

Launch date: November 2021.

The initial DJI Mavic 3 drone launched in November 2021 as a dual-camera drone. The primary camera was a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad sensor with a 20MP resolution, and then there was a second, digital zoom lens with a 1/2-inch CMOS (12MP) sensor. It offers an incredible 28x Hybrid Zoom

The DJI Mavic 3 Cine edition.

Mavic 3 Cine: a Mavic 3 for serious photographers

Original retail price: $4,999

Launch date: November 2021.

In coincidence with the DJI Mavic 3 came the launch of an upgraded version called the Mavic 3 Cine. It has a few minor differences like bonus accessories, but the primary difference between the Mavic 3 Cine and the Mavic 3 is Apple ProRes 422 HQ encoding, which means higher-quality video for richer video processing. There’s also an internal 1TB SSD onboard for high-speed data storage. The DJI Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo launched at $4,999, making it more than twice the price of the Mavic 3.

DJI Mavic 3 Classic
The DJI Mavic 3 Classic

Mavic 3 Classic: a stripped-down version for pilots on a budget

Original retail price: $1,599

Launch date: November 2022

A year after the launch of the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine, DJI did the budget-conscious drone pilots a solid by launching the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, essentially a stripped-down (and much cheaper) version of the original Mavic 3. Most notably, the Mavic 3 Classic does not include the telephoto lens. At launch, it retailed for $1,599.

A rendering of the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise drone

Mavic 3 Enterprise: a version for industrial use-cases

Original retail price: $3,959

Launch date: October 2022

The same year DJI gave us the Classic, DJI also gave us the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise, which has features more appealing to the industrial crowd including a 56× zoom camera and RTK module for centimeter-level precision.

DJI Mavic 3 Pro
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro and Cine version.

Mavic 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Pro Cine: the latest and greatest (with three cameras)

Original retail price: $2,199 (Pro) and $4,799 (Cine)

Launch date: April 2023

And that brings us where we are today, with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro — a drone that can claim the title of world’s first three optical camera drone. Much like the 2021 launch of the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine edition, the Mavic 3 Pro also comes with a ‘Pro’ Cine option.

What’s impressive is that — despite inflation in pretty much every other aspect of life — these drones cost either the same or slightly less than the initial Mavic 3 cost, despite being more advanced. The Mavic 3 Pro matches the Mavic 3’s price at $2,199, while the Cine edition is actually $200 cheaper at $4,799 versus the original Cine that went for $4,999.

Comparing all the Mavic 3 drones

Unless you’re buying a used Mavic 3 drone or have otherwise found it at a deep discount, there’s little reason to compare the Mavic 3 vs. Mavic 3 Pro, as the Mavic Pro is better by almost every metric (there are only a few small drawbacks such as 6.5% lesser flight time (43 minutes vs. 46 minutes).

And in fact, DJI has discontinued sales of the original Mavic 3 drone on its website (though you can still find it through other third-party sellers such as Amazon), so we’ll skip that comparison here.

The Cine version of the Mavic 3 Pro is targeted at serious photographers who value Apple ProRes 422 HQ encoding (if you don’t know what that is, it probably means you don’t need it). The Enterprise version is good if you need RTK (and again, if you’re confused what RTK means, you definitely don’t need it).

But most people are left with a choice: Mavic 3 Pro? Or Mavic 3 Classic? Here’s how to decide:

Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic: are the two zoom cameras worth the extra cost?

Is the Mavic 3 Pro worth the upgrade? Let’s start with a comparison table of the two drones:

Let’s put those specs head-to-head:

DJI Mavic 3 ProDJI Mavic 3 Classic
Starting Price$2,199$1,599
Takeoff Weight958 grams895 grams
Dimensions: folded, without propellers (LxWxH)231.1×98×95.4 mm221×96.3×90.3 mm
Number of Cameras31
Primary camera and lens specsHasselblad Camera:
4/3 CMOS, Effective Pixels: 20 MP

FOV: 84°
Format Equivalent: 24 mm
Aperture: f/2.8-f/11
Focus: 1 m to ∞
Hasselblad Camera:
4/3 CMOS, Effective Pixels: 20 MP

FOV: 84°
Format Equivalent: 24 mm
Aperture: f/2.8-f/11
Focus: 1 m to ∞
Medium Tele camera and lens specs1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP

FOV: 35°
Format Equivalent: 70 mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Focus: 3 m to ∞
N/A
Tele camera and lens specs1/2-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP

FOV: 15°
Format Equivalent: 166 mm
Aperture: f/3.4
Focus: 3 m to ∞
N/A
Digital zoomHasselblad Camera: 1-3×
Medium Tele Camera: 3-7×
Tele Camera: 7-28×

Gimbal mechanical rangeTilt: -140° to 50°
Roll: -50° to 50°
Pan: -23° to 23°
Tilt: -135° to 100°
Roll: -45° to 45°
Pan: -27° to 27°
Sensor4/3″ CMOS4/3″ CMOS
Obstacle AvoidanceOmnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraftOmnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft
Max Flight Time43 minutes46 minutes
Transmission SystemO3+O3+

The biggest difference between the Mavic 3 Pro vs. Classic is that you’re getting those two telephoto cameras. Whether those two additions are worth it to you depends on your photography style.

When to skip the Mavic 3 Pro upgrade

If you prefer shooting big, sweeping landscapes or panoramas, the telephotos likely won’t be of use to you. Even if you like to zoom in relatively close to a subject, what’s cool about drones is it’s usually easy to just fly right up to it. If you can’t get close to a subject, fly the drone closer!

Even among photographers who do use the zoom lenses, they’re primarily going to be flying with the Hasselblad camera anyway. Hasselblad is one of the most top-of-the-line camera companies, and so you’ll want to maximize it by making it your primary camera anyway.

After all, the Hasselblad camera on the Standard has incredible specs like:

  • 4/3 CMOS 20-megapixel camera
  • Hasselblad Natural Color Solution
  • 4K video at 60 fps and 1080p video at 60 fps
  • H.26x encoders
  • 10-bit D-Log for video (and 12-bit RAW for photography)
  • Night mode for video recording

When to opt for the Mavic 3 Pro upgrade

Where the telephoto lenses often comes into play is in scenarios where you can’t fly the drone closer. Perhaps you’re a wildlife photographer but you don’t actually want to fly that close to the animals so as not to disturb them. Maybe you’re flying in an environment with lots of ‘noise,’ where you don’t want to risk losing signal, or there is something on the ground that you cannot fly over — namely people.

The zoom enables it to look like you were flying much closer to (or over) something that you actually weren’t very close to at all.

The two separate lenses also offer up different aesthetics than what you’d get solely with the generally-single aesthetic that you get with the Hasselblad camera.

The medium tele camera compresses the depth of field and depth of focus to highlight the subject and give a unique sense of depth and space. You might use it for shots that aren’t super tight, but not wide either, like perhaps a building or a car. Among its specs:

  • 1/1.3″ CMOS sensor
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 48MP/12MP photos
  • 4K/60fps video.
  • Supports the new D-log M. 

The standard tele camera is truly best for situations where you just can’t get as close as you’d otherwise like to (typically because you’re prevented from flying drones in a certain area due to government restrictions or common sense, like an inexperienced pilot flying over crowds of people or animals). Among its specs:

  • Aperture from f/4.4 to f/3.4
  • 4K/60fps video
  • 7x optical zoom
  • 12MP photos

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:

Other factors to consider

The more-expensive pro has an incredible 43 minutes, but that’s actually slightly less than the 46 minutes on the Classic (presumably the extra cameras adds extra weight that drops flight times). Three minutes out of 43 likely wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for anyone, but if you do fly in scenarios where every minute is precious, then that could be something to consider as a reason to actually prefer the cheaper drone.

The Pro drone does offer a few extra upgrades that will be seen as minor to most drone pilots. The Pro version supports recording oof up to one billion colors via its new 10-bit D-Log M color mode. That’s good for pilots filming in high-contrast scenarios (like during sunrises and sunsets). That also reduces the difficulty of color grading, allowing an efficient post-production without losing quality or image clarity.

But since both drones entail use of Hasselblad’s Natural Colour Solution (HNCS) technology — which can accurately restore the colors the human eye perceives without post-production — both will deliver stunning colors.

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro (left) and DJI Mavic 3 Classic (right)

Mavic 3 Pro vs. Mavic 3 Classic: the bottom line

If you’ll never need the extra telephoto lenses, save your money and go with the Classic. But if you’re looking to experiment with new photography techniques (or already have a need for zooming in) then you’ll certainly want that Pro, as the different lenses unlock new possibilities of the types of images you can take.

There’s also slightly better color capabilities (but slightly worse flight times) on the Pro.

Of course, if you’re really a serious photographer, you’ll skip the Mavic 3 Pro altogether and go for the Inspire 3 that launched earlier this month and ships at the end of June. That drone offers up a full-frame Zenmuse X9-8K Air Gimbal Camera that allows for interchangeable lenses. Lens options for that include:

  • An additional 18 mm F2.8 full-frame ultra-wide lens
  • A new telephoto lens specially made for 8K aerial cinematography
  • Full-frame 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm lenses

That said, there’s one glaring problem with that Inspire 3 telephoto lens: it hasn’t been formally released yet and there’s no firm date when it’ll arrive (but it likely won’t be until after June 2023). If you need a telephoto sooner than that, well then the Mavic 3 Pro (or Mavic 3 Cine) might actually serve you better.

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro begins shipping at the end of May 2023.

5 Comments

  • Hi Drone Girl: Sadly, DJI seems to be abandoning those of us married to INSPIRE2, with 3-4 interchangeable lenses, X7 camera (super 35) sensor. Multiple TB50 Batteries .a wonderful charging station and more. DJI hasn’t updated the Crystal Sky firmware since 2017 (used with Cendence.which is NOT OS3.) I’ve no idea if there was any thought of updating CENDENCE (tho likely requires a different mother board) or configuring the X9 camera as a stripped down version for the Inspire 2 (as it works with X7 lenses…or even if possible….but a mid range price point supporting the INSPIRE 2 would have been welcome. Yes. I own Mavic 3 Classic with the advanced RC (not the bundled version.) Perhaps after the initial sales of Inspire3, DJI will return to assist those who love the INSPIRE 2, with a massive investment in it….yet not ready to plunk down $20K

  • Hello Drone Girl: I own the Mavic3 Classic and bought the RC Pro separately as the superior RC was NOT bundled with the Classic. None of the retailers could sell the Mavic 3 Classic, without the bundle of the RC I didn’t want. DJI to their credit sold the M3 Classic to me, direct from Shenzen. As I own the RC Pro, and batteries for the Classic, I would like to buy the Mavic3 Pro ala carte. At this time, DJI does not permit that kind of sale. One of their customer representatives called me from California last night saying DJI adamanntly would not sell the Mavic 3 Pro without the current bundle. Seems to be a bundle blunder. And ignores customer needs.

  • Eric says:

    The sensor size is the same between the two drones – you have an error in your table.
    Also, are those tilt numbers correct? Hard to believe they’re that much different 50° versus 100°.

  • Jonathan Atkin says:

    Since writing my last note: I now own the Mavic 3Pro. However with all the gushing about 3 lenses, I’ve not seen much discussion about what one sacrifices with lenses that cut the 20MP sensor on the original camera to smaller sensors. What does that do to a still photographer’s end output in prints. Regularly I’m producing 17″ x 22″ prints but I use TOPAZ AI to enhance the quality of the Mavic3Pro maximum telephoto. While the emphasis is video, whatever format one prefers, Wwhat’s up with DJI’s RC’s that do NOT permit font size enlargement? To activate nearly every choice on the controller one’s fingers must be lilliputian. Gloves? fuggedhaboutit. Other functions require moving from the home screen to a secondary screen, with similar lilliputian tapping spots. Even an Iphone permits larger fonts. Why DJI can’t install font size change capability on the RC? Or giving a broader choice of screen actions to the programmable buttons? Small activating buttons can result in inadvertently tapping the wrong function.

    In its rush to bring out the INSPIRE3, a large contingent of Inspire2 owners have been ignored. Why not a “Classic” version of the Inspire3. Many have a pile of X7 lenses the wonderful battery station box and more. Is that now trash? Many may not need all the bells & Whistles of the IN3…just the RC and its Occusynch with a long awaited full frame camera. Likely the new Inspire3 batteries are more stable than the problem plagued TB50’s. Not likely the Inspire2 will be updated, as it would require internal surgery. Or some major re-vamp…so hello DJI are you listening? Bring on a Classic affordable version of the INSPIRE3 as there is a Classic Version of the Mavic3.

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