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DJI Mavic 3 vs. Mavic 3 Classic: Which Drone Should You Buy?

8 mins
Drone Blog
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Investing in a drone is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be made without a little research.

If you’ve decided to buy a DJI Mavic 3, you might be scratching your head thinking ‘wait a second, what’s the difference between the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Classic and what is the Mavic 3 Cine?’.

The main difference between the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Classic- other than the price tag, of course- is the Mavic 3 Classic does not have the telephoto camera that the Mavic 3 has.

That is not the only difference.

And, if the telephoto camera is not enough to persuade you a certain way, then read on, because there’s a lot more to discover about these two drones, including a third drone that might just pique your interest.

In this article, I will mostly cover the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Classic as these are both drones under $2000 USD.

I will also briefly cover the Mavic 3 Cine, which was released along with the Mavic 3, but is much more expensive. 

DJI Mavic 3 #

Let’s start with the Mavic 3. Released in November 2021, this was the long-awaited upgrade from the powerhouse drone, the Mavic 2 Pro released in 2018.

With DJI releasing new drones every year, people were starting to get impatient for the next release in the Mavic series, waiting 3 years for the Mavic 3. 

Camera Sensor #

There was a lot of buzz around this new drone because it featured two cameras- one 4/3 inch CMOS Hasselblad camera and one ½ inch CMOS Tele camera.

The main camera can film in 5.1K 50 fps resolution and 20MP images.

The large sensor is able to capture crisp footage with a higher dynamic range, which means this drone is capable of keeping the information in the shadows and highlights and will perform better in low light than a drone equipped with a smaller sensor camera.

This is the first drone to feature a sensor this large on a body this small, so this release was pretty groundbreaking for DJI.

Another feature of the camera on this drone is that the lens on the Mavic 3 is equivalent to 24mm, which is a change-up from the 28mm equivalent on the Mavic 2 Pro. 

Zoom Lens #

One of the biggest differences between this drone and its predecessor is its ability to zoom.

With a Tele camera that allows for up to 28x digital zoom, this drone can keep its distance and still be able to capture the magic.

One thing to keep in mind with digital zoom is that you will lose quality the more you zoom in.

Plus, the fact that once you hit 4x zoom, you are now using a ½ inch camera sensor on the telephoto lens, the quality of the image goes way downhill.

This zoom can still be useful for any amateur filming, exploring, search and rescue, etc, but you may not want to shoot a professional TV commercial with this zoom camera. 

Upgraded Video Transmission #

Along with the omnidirectional obstacle sensing, another upgrade that came with the Mavic 3 release was the video transmission system.

This drone features the O3+ video transmission system, which allows 1080p quality live video feed on your controller, even at large distances or complex environments.

Speaking of controllers, the Mavic 3 comes with the RC-N1 controller, which is the same one you get when you buy the Mini 3. 

Flight Time #

One of the biggest talking points with this release is the flight time. Advertising a flight time of 46 minutes, that’s 15 more minutes than the advertised Mavic 2 Pro flight time with the intelligent battery.

Of course, flight time always depends on environmental factors, but I think it’s safe to say, the battery life has been significantly upgraded on the Mavic 3.

Pricing #

This drone comes at a current price tag of $1,899 USD without the fly more combo. If you want the Mavic 3 fly more combo, you will pay $2,649 USD.

It’s a hard number to look at, I know, but the basic package still comes in at under $2000, unlike the Mavic 3 Cine, which was released in conjunction with the Mavic 3 being sold as a premium combo but comes in at a price tag of $4,649 USD. Ouch! 

Because I’m focused on the more comparable drones- the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Classic- I will only touch briefly about the Mavic 3 Cine later on. 

DJI Mavic 3 Classic #

Usually, the word classic comes with the connotation of proving its value or quality over a long period of time, but the Mavic 3 has broken convention and earned that title within one short year.

The Mavic 3 Classic has all the best features from the Mavic 3 without the extra fluff and even boasts a lower price tag.

Of course, some of you may disagree with what I call fluff, but hey, everyone has their own needs when it comes to a drone, which is why you’re doing your research to figure out what’s what. 

Released in November 2022, the Mavic 3 Classic was seen as DJI’s push to get Mavic 2 Pro users onto the Mavic 3.

Hard to say whether it worked or not, I know I still haven’t made the switch, but the Mavic 3 Classic is very, very tempting.

Camera #

In terms of the camera, the Mavic 3 Classic has one 4/3 inch CMOS sensor Hasselblad camera. This is the only camera on this drone.

It shoots 5.1K video at 50fps and 20MP photos, which is the same as the main camera on the Mavic 3.

If you’re like me and don’t really ever have a use for zoom capabilities, then the Mavic 3 Classic might be the better option (that is, of course, unless you need ProRes).

The Mavic 3 Classic can only digitally zoom 3x vs. 28x digital zoom on the Mavic 3. 

Because of the fact that this drone has 1 camera instead of two, its design is a little different than the Mavic 3 and you’ll need different ND filters for this drone.

But, in terms of the other essential accessories, everything else remains the same for these two drones, for example, the intelligent batteries, chargers, cases, etc.

Design #

Other than the camera, the Mavic 3 Classic has relatively the same design as the Mavic 3. It still has a longer flight time, the same video transmission, and obstacle avoidance system.

The Mavic 3 Classics buying options do differ when compared to the Mavic 3 though.

With the Mavic 3 Classic, you are unable to purchase a fly more combo with this drone.

You have to purchase the Mavic 3 Classic either with the DJI RC-N1 controller, the DJI RC controller, or no controller at all. You then would need to purchase the Mavic 3 fly more kit separately. 

Let’s get to pricing, which, let’s face it, is one of the main comparison points when it comes to these two drones.

As of the writing of this article, the Mavic 3 Classic comes in at $1369 USD for just the drone. $1449 USD for the drone and the RC-N1 controller, which is the controller that comes with the Mavic 3.

Finally, you can buy the Mavic 3 Classic with the DJI RC controller, which has a built-in screen display, for $1599 USD.

If you also want the fly more kit, which I don’t see why you wouldn’t, that will cost you an extra $539 USD on top of whichever buying option you choose for the Mavic 3 Classic. 

Now, let’s look at these two drones and their most relevant comparison points side by side, shall we?

Comparison #

DJI Mavic 3 ClassicDJI Mavic 3CameraHasselblad 4/3 CMOS, 20MP, 5.1K resolutionMain camera: Hasselblad 4/3 CMOS, 20MP, 5.1K resolutionTele camera: ½ CMOS, 12MP, 4KFlight Time46 minutes46 minutesDigital Zoom3xMain camera: 3xTele camera: 4xObstacle AvoidanceOmnidirectional obstacle sensingOmnidirectional obstacle sensingVideo TransmissionO3+O3+Range(video transmission with no interference)15km15kmInternal Storage8GB8GB

DJI Mavic 3 Cine #

If neither the Mavic 3 Classic nor the Mavic 3 work for you and you’re looking for something a little higher-end and more professional, then you might want the Mavic 3 Cine.

The Mavic 3 Cine is basically the Mavic 3, except it includes Apple ProRes 422 HQ as a video recording format, which is a codec used in a lot of bigger productions.

It is a great codec for smooth editing and high-fidelity colors. 

Another main difference between the two is that the Mavic 3 Cine includes 1TB of internal storage vs. 8GB in the regular Mavic 3.

This is useful because the ProRes footage creates larger files than your more compressed video formats and can use up storage quite quickly.

It is also worth mentioning that the cine version weighs a little more than the Mavic 3 at 899g. 

To get this drone, you buy the Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo, which comes with the DJI RC Pro controller instead of the RC-N1 and has a built-in screen.

It also comes with everything you get in the fly more combo, plus the cine drone. As of the writing of this article, this will cost you a whopping $4,649 USD. 

Which Drone Should You Buy? #

This question all depends on what’s most important to you.

If you are really attracted to zoom capabilities then you might prefer to go with the Mavic 3.

If budget is a concern for you and you never really use zoom functionalities anyway or don’t foresee that being a necessity, then I’d go with the Mavic 3 Classic.

You get almost everything the Mavic 3 does but at a more reasonable price. 

And if you just want the best of the best and money is no issue, well then the Mavic 3 Cine is just right for you.

Whichever way you decide, you can be assured you’re getting a workhorse with any version of the Mavic 3.


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