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The DJI Mini 3 is the latest release from DJI. It comes after they released the DJI Mini 3 Pro, the ultimate mini drone, but the Mini 3 Pro was also quite expensive.
The Mini 3 offers an excellent upgrade to the Mini 2 thanks to the larger aperture, larger sensor, and extended flight time.
While DJI tries its best to simplify drone flight, you can’t just take off and start shooting Hollywood-worthy videos right out of the box.
You will need to change some settings, get some accessories, and even fly in a certain way or at certain times to get the best footage.
With that in mind, which are the best video settings for the DJI Mini 3 to get the best footage?
Select shooting/file format #
With the Mini 3, you can either shoot in MOV or MP4. Neither is better than the other. It only depends on the device you are using or the editing software.
Most devices render MP4 efficiently, so I would switch it to that.
Normal profile vs. D-Cinelike color profile #
The DJI Mini 3 has two color profiles for video capture: Normal Profile and D-Cinelike.
The Normal profile provides a more natural and balanced color representation in the recorded footage, ideal for casual videography and everyday use.
This profile provides accurate and lifelike colors with good contrast, making it easier to edit and grade the footage without any color correction.
On the other hand, the D-Cinelike profile offers a more cinematic and artistic color representation aimed at professional videographers.
It is designed to provide a flat image with reduced contrast and saturation, allowing for greater post-production flexibility.
By having a flat image, color correction and grading can be applied more easily, enabling the creation of a unique look and feel for the final video.
Both the Normal and D-Cinelike profiles have their advantages, and it ultimately comes down to the specific needs and preferences of the user.
If you are looking for a quick and easy solution for capturing high-quality video, the Normal profile is the way to go.
But if you want to produce more cinematic and visually appealing footage, then the D-Cinelike profile is the best choice.
D-Cinelike has 1.07 Billion colors compared to Normal’s 16 Million colors. The 10-bit shooting also makes it superior to Normal’s 8-Bit.
However, it’s possible to produce the same footage you would produce with D-Cinelike with the Normal color profile as long as you use the appropriate exposure settings.
What I would use D-Cinelike for is when I want to thoroughly edit the footage and add new colors since D-Cinelike has more colors.
Or when I have a feeling the drone is getting the exposure wrong (which it rarely does) since D-Cinelike will give you more room to edit the footage back to the colors of the actual scene.
You can also use it when using Manual mode since you may mess up the exposure and have to correct it later during post-processing.
But for everyday shooting, I believe Normal has everything you need, and D-Cinelike would give you too much editing work if you are not adding any special effects.
You should also test both modes and see what works best for you in the various situations you will be filming in.
Choose coding format #
H.264 and H.265 are both video compression standards used in drones for recording and storing video footage. The main difference between them lies in their compression efficiency.
H.264, also known as AVC (Advanced Video Coding), is a widely used video compression standard that has been around for several years.
It provides good-quality video at relatively low bitrates, making it a popular choice for consumer drones.
However, as the demand for higher-quality video has increased, the limitations of H.264 have become more apparent, particularly in terms of its file size and processing requirements.
H.265, also known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), is a more recent video compression standard that provides higher compression efficiency than H.264.
This means that H.265 can achieve the same video quality as H.264 at a much lower bitrate, resulting in smaller file sizes and lower processing requirements.
Additionally, H.265 provides improved color accuracy, making it a good choice for videography.
Both H.264 and H.265 have their own advantages and limitations, and the choice between them depends on the user’s specific needs and the device they are using.
H.264 is a good choice for those who prioritize simplicity and compatibility, while H.265 is best for those who require higher-quality video and are willing to trade some processing power for a smaller file size.
Add grid lines #
You can find the Grid lines by going to Settings through the 3 dots at the top right section, then go to Camera, toggle Grid Lines on and select your favorite format.
I prefer to have the Grid Lines switched on since they help apply the Rule of Thirds when filming.
This rule states that images placed along the intersections of the grid’s lines are the most visually appealing.
The lines will not appear on the actual footage; they are just there to guide you and help your footage look more professional.
Set the White Balance to AUTO #
White balance is a crucial aspect of photography that helps ensure that the white objects in a scene are rendered pure white, without any color casts.
Essentially, it’s the process of adjusting the colors in an image to account for the color temperature of light.
As a videographer, you want to ensure that your footage looks its best, and that’s where white balance comes in.
If you leave your camera’s white balance setting on auto, the camera will determine the correct white balance for the scene by analyzing the light in it.
This is an excellent option for most situations, as the camera will do the work for you and adjust the color balance to ensure your footage looks accurate.
Use AUTO mode #
Many photographers believe in using Manual mode, where they have complete control of the shutter speed, ISO, exposure, histograms, and all other camera settings.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, and you even have a better chance of achieving the 180-degree rule if you shoot in Manual mode, I believe AUTO mode is applicable for most scenarios.
The DJI Mini 3 comes with a battery that can last up to 38 minutes and another one with a 51-minute flight time.
While these are some of the longest flight times on a consumer drone, they are still not enough, and if you stress yourself with setting everything manually, you end up wasting the time you could be using to get the perfect shot.
Unlike handheld cameras, where the lighting doesn’t change much, drone cameras are exposed to different lighting very often depending on where the sun is facing.
As such, you will have to keep changing the exposure, and it will be challenging to keep up with the changes.
Having used DJI products for some time, I believe they have improved their AUTO modes to the point that you can take cinematic footage when the camera is in AUTO mode.
The drone will do all the work for you in adjusting the exposure and the other settings as you work on the creative side.
And if you need to lock the exposure for a certain shot, you can do it by either tapping the screen or assigning the C2 customizable button to the locking exposure function.
That way, you can lock the exposure, then unlock it with the click of a button as the drone moves.
Manual exposure would come in handy when flying at lower altitudes and close to the subjects. In such a case, you will need to have the shutter speed almost double the frame rate as per the 180-degree rule.
Use ND filters #
I am a big fan of ND filters because of how they make shots that would otherwise be difficult to take easier.
ND filters work as sunglasses for your drone’s lens, limiting the light that gets to the sensor and helping you achieve motion blur and achieve the 180-degree rule without altering the settings too much.
ND filters also have varying strengths, measured by how much light they can stop.
You can test the filters to find one that works depending on the light available. But if you are filming on bright days, always have an ND32 or an ND64.
But if you are shooting during sunrise or sunset, avoid using ND filters since there will be enough or insufficient lighting, and filters would only make it worse.
Learn more about what ND filters to choose for your Mini 3 in our article below.
» MORE: Best ND Filters for DJI Mini 3
Use a 24fps frame rate #
The frame rates you should use depend on the results you want to achieve and your preference.
24 FPS might be a good choice if you want a more cinematic look. It will give the footage a slightly slower and more deliberate pace, which can add a sense of drama and tension.
If you’re looking for a smoother and more fluid motion, like in videos made for TV, 30 FPS might be a better choice.
This will provide a more fluid and stable video, which can be particularly important when shooting with a drone, where stability and smooth motion are key.