DJI Mavic 3 Pro review – three is the magic number
The large three-camera gimbal dominating the front of the drone makes the DJI Mavic 3 Pro unmistakable and pushes the series towards increased creative potential, thanks to those three useful cameras for photography and video. This is the world’s first triple-camera drone, with all the impressive safety and flight features that Mavic 3 series drones are known for, and is easily one of the best drones available.
The main camera is the same Four Thirds 20MP Hasselblad as on the original Mavic 3/ Mavic 3 Cine and Mavic 3 Classic models. This camera offers the most functionality and the best image quality of the three, including an f/2.8-f/11 adjustable aperture and a dynamic range of up to 12.8 stops.
Video resolution is available up to 5.1K in Normal, HLG (hybrid log-gamma high dynamic range), and 10-bit D-Log M profiles at 200Mbps, while three Apple Pro Res options offer a significantly higher bitrate for professional workflows. 5.1K can be shot at up to 50fps, DCI 4K (4096 x 2160 17:9 cinematic 4K) up to 120fps, 4K up to 120fps and FHD up to 200fps. Plus, photos can be captured in 12-bit raw and JPEG.
The two telephoto cameras provide a 70mm equivalent with the same 48MP 1/1.3-inch sensor as the Mavic Mini 3 Pro and a 166mm camera with a 12MP 1/2-inch sensor. Both will shoot photos in raw and JPEG alongside a range of video options with manual control over both. This makes them incredibly useful in a range of situations, although the main 4/3 is likely to be the go-to option most of the time.
Moving beyond the cameras, which are undoubtedly the jewels in the Mavic 3 Pro’s crown, the drone offers excellent flight and safety features, including APAS 5.0 collision avoidance, ActiveTrack 5.0 for subject tracking, GEO 2.0 geofencing, Advanced Return to Home and Quickshots automated flight patterns. It’s not cheap, though, and launches at a similar price as the original Mavic 3 / Mavic 3 Cine, which it supersedes to become the flagship model in the Mavic 3 lineup.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro: release date and price
Available in May 2023
Two models available
Two controller options
After months of speculation and internet rumors, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro was finally announced in April 2023 with availability in May 2023. And just like the DJI Mavic 3, there are two options available: the ‘standard’ model with 8GB of onboard storage and a Cine version with a 1TB SSD. There are also two smart controller options available with the standard model; the DJI RC, which is the same controller that’s available with the Mavic Mini 3/3 Pro, and the higher-spec DJI RC Pro, which has always been an option with Mavic 3 series drones.
In terms of pricing, the Mavic 3 Pro is the same launch price as the Mavic 3, which is now unavailable on the DJI website. Kit options include the Mavic 3 Pro with the DJI RC for $2,199 / £1,879 / AU$3,099, the DJI RC Fly More Bundle for $2,999 / £2,549 / AU$4,199, the DJI RC Pro Fly More Bundle for $3,889 / 3,169 GBP/ AU$5,329, and the Cine Premium Combo for $4,799 / £4,109 / AU$6,939. The Fly More bundles make sense for most people because they come with two additional batteries, a carry bag, a charging hub, ND filters, and other useful accessories.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro: Design and controller
Similar design and build as other models
European C2 rating
The first thing that strikes you about the Mavic 3 Pro is the size of the camera and gimbal, which is naturally larger than those found on the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Classic models because it houses three cameras. In terms of design, there’s no mistaking its Mavic lineage thanks to excellent build quality and a folding design that takes the drone from 9.10 x 3.85 x 3.75 inches / 231.1 x 98 x 95.4mm when folded to 13.68 x 11.44 x 4.24 / 347.5 x 290.8 x 107.7mm unfolded (excluding propellers).
This makes the airframe marginally larger than other Mavic 3 models but the weight of the drone is the most significant difference, despite it being less than 2.4 oz / 70 g heavier than previous models at 33.79oz / 958g for the 3 Pro and 33.96oz / 963g for the 3 Pro Cine. This isn’t a huge leap, by any stretch, but it’s enough to place the Pro models into the European C2 classification. This means that pilots will have to use the drone 50m or more away from uninvolved people and at least 150m away from built-up areas in Europe.
In the UK, A2CofC certificate holders can fly in the A2 subcategory of the Open Category, which reduces the flight distances above. But this is, of course, not relevant to users in other parts of the world, so it’s worth checking local drone laws and regulations regarding usage of a drone of this weight in case of restrictions.
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The Mavic 3 Pro uses the same 5000mAh batteries as previous models. Presumably as a result of the additional weight, advertised flight times have been reduced from 46 to 43 minutes. In testing, flight times weren’t noticeably different and still sit around the 30-minute mark of the other Mavic 3 models, so this is pretty much negligible.
When it comes to controllers, except for the Mavic 3 Pro Cine Premium Bundle, which is only available with the DJI RC Pro, you can choose between the DJI RC and DJI RC Pro. Both are smart controllers featuring 5.5-inch touchscreens – the RC Pro is slightly larger, 43% heavier and offers up to four hours of battery life compared to three and a brighter screen. Both are excellent overall. The Pro model offers many more features, including a stronger signal, but it’s much more expensive.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro: Features and flight
Omnidirectional collision avoidance
ActiveTrack 5.0 subject tracking
Advanced Return to Home
The Mavic 3 Pro flies extremely well, and it’s impossible to differentiate between its performance and that of other Mavic 3 models. There are three flight modes available: Sport mode provides a top speed of 47 mph with collision avoidance switched off; Normal mode is slower with collision avoidance on and is the most commonly used mode; while Cine mode provides the slowest flight speed with reduced control sensitivity and is mostly used for capturing smooth cinematic video footage. Wind speed resistance is just under 27mph, which opens up many more possibilities than sub-250g models with lower wind resistance.
With the Pro moniker, you may be wondering if the Mavic 3 Pro is suitable for beginners, and the simple answer is absolutely; it’s incredibly easy to fly and offers excellent safety features that we’ll cover in a moment. You may be better suited to a more regulator-friendly sub-250g DJI Mavic Mini 3 because the Mavic 3 Pro is expensive and offers features aimed at professional photographers and videographers. If you’re a beginner with the cash to spend, though, it’s a great drone you’d no doubt enjoy.
GPS positioning is provided by connection to GPS, GLONASS, and BeiDou satellites and offers precise hovering. Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing uses the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 5.0 for collision avoidance, which collects data from six fisheye sensors and two wide-angle sensors to sense obstacles in all directions. When collision avoidance is turned on, the drone can be set to Brake or Bypass obstacles when they’re detected; the Bypass setting also offers a Nifty option designed to provide smoother flight when obstacles are detected in more complex environments. This allows you to fly in trickier environments, but it still comes with a greater risk of a collision, although during testing this mode proved extremely effective.
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Additional safety features include Advanced Return to Home, which scans up to 200m to calculate the safest route back and AirSense ADS-B receivers, which provide notification of nearby planes and helicopters for additional safety. The Mavic 3 Pro uses the DJI 03+ transmission system that can transmit a 1080p/60fps live camera feed at a distance of up to 9.3 miles / 15km in the US and up to 5 miles / 8km in other regions.
Flight features include Cruise Control, Quickshots automated flight patterns for video, Mastershots, and Focus Track, which includes ActiveTrack 5.0. This is the subject tracking system that uses omnidirectional obstacle sensors to improve subject tracking. One point to note here is that ActiveTrack isn’t available when shooting above 4K or frame rates higher than 60fps.
The Mavic 3 Pro, alongside the Mavic 3 Classic and Mavic 3, is also compatible with the DJI Goggles Integra, DJI Goggles 2, and the DJI RC Motion 2, so it can also be flown in an FPV style for a more immersive flight experience and video footage. This is useful for those who can’t justify purchasing the DJI Avata but, inevitably, adds additional cost to the Mavic 3 Pro kits if you decide these accessories would be beneficial.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro: Image and video quality
Hasselblad 20MP 4/3 main camera
Fully functional telephoto cameras
Up to 5.1K video with the main camera
I have to confess that when I first heard that the Mavic 3 Pro was likely to include three cameras, I was skeptical about how effective and useful the two telephoto cameras would be. This was simply down to the fact that the Mavic 3 telephoto camera was extremely limited at launch, to the point of being pretty much pointless. Then with the Mavic 3 Classic, which had a few reductions in video specs, including the removal of the Apple ProRes format for video, it felt like DJI might be giving up on the multi-camera approach.
The Mavic 3 Pro has, I’m happy to say, quelled my initial reservations about how useful the additional cameras would be. Having a 24mm 20MP Four Thirds main camera, a 70mm camera with the same 48MP 1/1.3-inch sensor as the Mavic Mini 3 Pro and a 166mm camera with a 12MP 1/2-inch sensor is incredibly useful. What’s more, except for aperture control for the telephoto lenses, which have fixed apertures, manual control is available with the additional cameras alongside shooting video in ApplePro Res and the Normal color profile. The medium telephoto can also shoot in HLG/D-Log M, although this is unavailable with the telephoto.
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The Image quality of the main 24mm Four Thirds Hasselblad camera remains the best for both photos and videos. Plus, the adjustable f/2.8-f/11 aperture is incredibly useful for making exposure adjustments to video without having to land the drone to change ND filters. That said, image quality from all three cameras is excellent, and the ability to zoom in 3x and 7x is useful for situations where the drone needs to be further away from people and objects for safety and legal reasons. There’s also a digital zoom with each camera – the Hasselblad camera offers 1-3x, the medium telephoto 3-7x, and the telephoto 7-28x – but this feels superfluous with the two telephoto cameras.
All three cameras can capture photos in Raw and JPEG and offer photography modes, including Single Shot, Burst Shooting, AEB and Timed. The medium 70mm camera can shoot at both 12MP and 48MP. For video, the main camera holds the trump card in terms of resolution options, formats and framerates, but the two telephoto cameras are more than capable, just with a sliding scale of features and overall image quality. The medium telephoto remains useful in terms of what it offers, though. The Hasselblad camera can capture video in 5.1K up to 50fps, DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) 17:9 cinematic 4K up to 120fps, 4K up to 120fps and FHD up to 200fps. The medium telephoto and the telephoto cameras can capture 4K and FHD up to 60fps.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic 3 Pro?
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How I tested the DJI Mavic 3 Pro
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro was tested over several days of flying in a range of locations, environments and weather conditions (excluding rain) to test flight performance, flight features, overall handling and image quality for both photo and video capture. All testing is conducted in a way that meets local aviation laws and restrictions to ensure that all flights are safe and legal.
Drones are always tested using manual flight patterns for video that are typical of professional aerial video capture to capture visually interesting footage, as well as automated flight patterns and subject tracking features when available. Manual flight provides the opportunity to test aspects such as the connection between the drone and controller, latency between the two and the accuracy of the controls and flight in general.
With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been covering drones in terms of shooting and editing techniques, alongside writing drone reviews for a number of years. As well as flying most consumer and prosumer models, I’ve previously held a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, and now fly under an A2 CofC (A2 Certificate of Competency).
First reviewed May 2023