DJI continues to raise its drone families higher in the food chain with more features at higher prices for each revision. The new DJI Mini 3 Pro is no exception. This is a massive upgrade from the Mini 2, with a significant increase in price to go with it. I’ve been flying with a pre-firmware scanner for weeks in both Europe and the US, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with what DJI has packed in its latest drone under 250 grams.

Starting with the basics, the Mini 3 Pro is available in three different versions. The drone alone (suitable for those who already have a DJI remote) is $ 669. The drone plus base remote (DJC RC-N1) is $ 759. The first-class and somewhat unique low-end drone offer is the option to purchase the drone along with the new DJI remote designed for use with the Mini (DJI RC). The DJI RC has its own display and is pre-loaded with the DJI Flight app. This configuration will return you $ 909. Fly More combos can be added to any of them. For an additional $ 189, it includes two batteries, a multi-battery charger, two sets of spare propellers and a bag for all that. Pre-orders are being accepted now, with deliveries expected to begin on May 17.

DJI Mini 3 Pro from the numbers

DJI Mini 3 Pro and RC by defaultThe title number for DJI Mini drones, of course, is weight. At just under 250 grams, the Mini 3 Pro is below the minimum weight required for US registration. It is not entirely clear to me what else this weight category brings to you in the United States, but in the EU and elsewhere there are often additional benefits in terms of where you can fly.

Flight time is estimated at an impressive 34 minutes, even with incredibly light batteries, and 47 minutes with an additional battery with a larger capacity, but heavier. To achieve this flight time, the batteries no longer include status LEDs, but the drone has a kit as well as a charger for several batteries.

The Mini 3 has also been enhanced to include 3-way obstacle detection and APAS 4.0 intelligent obstacle avoidance (forward, backward and down). This puts it exactly at the level you might expect from the Air model, and ahead of the original Mavic. There is also a full range of FocusTrack features.

The optional DJI RC with integrated display definitely makes drone control easier and saves your phone’s battery. However, to get maps (it uses Mapbox), you will need to have WiFi access. Unlike DJI’s Smart and Pro remotes, I couldn’t find a way to load additional applications on it. This may limit its attractiveness to those who use third-party applications to record data or pre-scheduled flights.

The camera of the Mini 3 Pro

One of the highlights of the Mini 3 Pro is the improved camera. A 1 / 1.3-inch sensor gives it 2.4 microns of pixels when used at standard 12MP resolution. This contributes to its stable operation with low noise and low light. The sensor is actually a 48MP design that uses a quad-Bayer array and pixel collection up to 12MP by default – like many new smartphones. You can turn off the collection to generate 48MP Raw images if you wish. Note that I’ve already seen some articles that combine raw and bind numbers, and it seems to claim that the camera has 48 million 2.4 microns of pixels. The camera has a fast f / 1.7 lens. The sensor also offers dual natural ISO – basically the ability to capture images at two different exposure levels at the same shutter speed and f-Stop. This improves the dynamic range of the camera even without the need to capture a frame bracket.

With the current firmware, the Mini 3 Pro can capture up to 4K / 30 frames per second using the default video profile. DJI plans to release updates that will add support for both 4K / 60fps and the D-Cinelike profile, for those who want more control. As accessories there is also a set of filters with neutral density. Using DJI RC, I got a clear 1080p live image via the O3 to Mini 3 connection over distances of over 1 km. (DJI claims a 12 km nominal range for this configuration, but as usual, this is more of a hypothetical test).

Winery

Sample image from DJI Mini 3 Pro. 12MP JPEG at Radevic Winery in Podgorica, Montenegro. Smaller for web viewing. [Credit: David Cardinal]

Like most consumer drones, the Mini 3 Pro has no optical zoom. Fortunately, getting a broader perspective is as easy as flying to a farther point. Sample image from DJI Mini 3 Pro. 12MP JPEG at Radevic Winery in Podgorica, Montenegro. Smaller for web viewing. [Credit: David Cardinal]

One of the interesting features of the latest DJI drones is the addition of MasterShots, which combine a series of pre-programmed Quickshots in one clip.

Here is the 4K MasterShot of the depicted wine mansion:

For reference, below are two versions of a video of MasterShot, which I recorded on a famous monument (monument) in Montenegro. The first is recorded at 1080p, while the second from the same subject is recorded at 4K, so you can compare. Both were uploaded directly from the drone to YouTube and were captured with the default settings of Mini 3:

Another convenient feature is the generation of full spherical panoramas. The drone achieves this by using a content-based fill type to draw areas above the horizon that it cannot capture with its camera. This makes it quick and easy to upload them to sites like Kuula that accept them directly. However, in my testing I found a lot of color problems in the painted areas. Maybe this will be considered in a future firmware update.

DJI’s “Twist”: Shooting in portrait orientation

While most of the Mini 3’s specifications had expired, there was definitely still some tension when DJI teased the Twist idea just before it was released. In fact, the physical camera can be rotated 90 degrees from the gimbal – allowing you to take photos and videos with a portrait orientation. While portrait-oriented photos have been around for decades, video has been largely limited by the horizontal orientation of TVs and monitors to the advent of smartphones and social media. So it finally makes sense to add support for vertical shooting.

Mini 3 test frame

Mini 3 Pro has a physically rotating camera that allows it to capture images like this in portrait orientation

DJI RC (remote control)

The premium version of the Mini 3 includes a newly designed remote. It looks and feels like a scaled-down version of DJI’s Smart Remote or Pro Remote. Like the other two, it has a built-in screen and full wireless operation. When flying the drone in sight, I could keep in touch with the Mini for about a mile (in situations where this was allowed). The screen is not as bright as my Pro remote, so you’ll still want to look for shade, but it was easier to read than a typical smartphone and was quite responsive. Of course, it’s bigger than the base remote, so for those looking for the most elegant travel experience possible, using your phone with the standard remote will be a good option.

One thing to keep in mind when using a remote DJI is that it doesn’t come with internet connectivity other than Wi-Fi. So, if you’re somewhere and need to download maps, you’ll need to either connect it to your phone’s hotspot or find another solution. On the plus side, RC and Mini were able to download photos from the drone to the RC at very high speeds (video downloads to the DJI RC are not yet available).

You can also view your photos and videos – including panoramas, on RC, whether on the drone or downloaded to the controller.

A few problems to keep track of

I found two problems while flying the pre-production drone. First, twice the RTH command tried to land the drone about 6 feet from where it took off and the starting point was set. Other times he landed on the spot. Sure, I may have done something wrong, but I’ve never had this drone problem before, so I suspect there may be a problem that DJI, I hope, can solve.

Second, the Mini currently echoes the GPS problems of the Mavic 3. It sometimes connected to enough GPS satellites to fly relatively fast, but sometimes it took up to a minute, even in a clean area. In one particularly alarming case, I flew the drone outdoors after it locked for about 10-12 seconds. Then I turned it off, then I turned it on again, and it took me about a minute to lock it up again.

Is DJI Mini 3 Pro right for you?

DJI directs the Mini 3 Pro to serious hobbyists, video bloggers and frequent travelers who want a device with minimal weight. If you can handle the price, I think they scored all the points. This is an incredibly functional drone in a very small package. With the high-end remote, you can be in the air with a first-class flight experience without cables or problems. With a more traditional remote you have an incredibly lightweight travel drone system.

For me, price is where compromises become less clear. The Mini 3 Pro is close to the price of the Air 2 S – which has many more flight and photo / video features. The good news is that I think both models are great options and are good price points for those who don’t want to buy the more expensive Mavic 3. If you want to look beyond DJI, Autel & Parrot also have entries in this category.

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https://www.extremetech.com/internet/335148-dji-mini-3-pro-sets-a-new-high-bar-for-travel-drones

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