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Mavic 3 Review: Is This the Best Camera Drone? (Find Out Here)

18 mins
Drone Blog
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Mavic 3s, Mavic3s, Mavic 3s ‘O’ Plenty! The DJI Mavic 3 is such an impressive piece of hardware, although it may have had a rocky start, as it was released lacking some major features.

As DJI promised, it has the full complement now and with those features, the Mavic 3 has really come into its own.

We now have a true flagship drone system that DJI can be proud of. Building off of the Mavic 3 platform we now have a fine series of flying masterpieces, with the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine versions leading the way.

We also now have the Mavic 3 Enterprise systems, the Mavic 3T, and the Mavic 3E. If that were all, we would consider ourselves lucky. It’s not, however, as we now have the Mavic 3 Classic as well.

With so many Mavic 3s, it’s hard to decide which one is the best for you and really it depends on your intended use. One thing is for sure – there is a Mavic 3 for you.

As we have discussed many times here at Droneblog, every drone system that comes out has a bit of give and take with it, with one performing better at certain tasks than others. That’s just the nature of drones here in Droneland.

DJI, though has really come a long way since that first Phantom they released all the way back in 2013.

DJI has consistently worked towards adding additional safety and flight features to every system since, and it’s cumulated into the Mavic 3s we see today.

Flight times are increasing with every iteration and the size of the craft all around is getting smaller and smaller.

I mean, just look at the Mini 3!

The Mavic 3 and me #

I’ve had a chance to fully experience what the Mavic 3s have to offer and look forward to what we’ll be able to get done with DJI’s newest and coolest flagship systems.

As a Part 107 commercial and professional pilot, the Mavic 3 is quickly replacing my primary drone, the Phantom 4 Pro. Why did I hold out so long? That’s an easy one to answer.

The Phantom 4 Pro V2 is just exceptional at what it does. That’s not to say that the original Mavic system is not, or even the Mavic 2 systems that came along in 2017.

The introduction of a Hasselblad camera really had me chomping at the bit to have one, as they are known in photography for some of the best cameras and their own signature color grading.

The reason I hesitated though was that the Mavic 2 just wasn’t much better than the good old trusty P4P. So, I held out.

The other issue is the cost.

Although it’s always nice to keep up with the Jeffersons, reality dictates that investing in every new drone system that comes out will leave you broke.

Then the Mavic 3 came along, and it was time to give some serious thought to upgrading what was in the hanger. As the Mavic 3 brought so much to the table, it was impossible to ignore the advancements, its folding compact design, and comparably better flight time.

That equaled out to a Yes! it was time to reinvest in the drone systems I use. Plus, now I have that Hasselblad camera!

The Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine #

Cameras – yes, that’s right, plural! #

With the statement “Imaging Above Everything” we knew that the Mavic 3 was going to show us something different – and it does.

Featuring a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera and an omnidirectional obstacle sensing system, the Mavic 3 came to play. With a 20mp pixel sensor and an adjustable aperture of f/2.8-f/11, and a dynamic range of 12.8 stops, Hasselblad did not disappoint.

The Mavic 3 certainly does deliver exceptional photo and video quality. With that higher dynamic range, one can easily transition between highlights and shadows naturally and makes it a very good system for low-light use.

There are multiple video recording rates to choose from with 5.1K being the max. This makes it a tough choice to choose between the Mavic 3 and its counterpart, the Mavic 3 Cine. Making that choice is really dependent on your intended use.

The Cine version offers a plethora of options for the professional videographer and the nonprofessional alike. The Cine version offers support for Apple ProRes 422HQ, Apple ProRes 422, and Apple ProRes 422LT with a maximum data rate of 3,772Mbps.

The Mavic Cine did need a little help to achieve that with a built-in 1TB SSD and a 10Gbps lightspeed data cable. The Cine variation sure does check many of those boxes a professional would want.

The Mavic 3 also brought something else along, something we had only seen in the Mavic 2 line and some of the Enterprise level camera systems – the Tele camera.

Here again, we have a rather groundbreaking camera with the only comparison being found in the Mavic 2 Zoom system.

When I say comparison, it’s really only due to the Mavic 2 Zoom having a tele lens camera. Beyond that, there really isn’t much else that can be compared, as the Mavic 3’s Tele camera is so much superior to that found in its predecessor.

Featuring a 28x Hybrid Zoom with 162mm, f/4.4, this sort of additional camera system is just a godsend for those of us who conduct tower or roof inspections or any other type of inspections really. It enables us to get a much closer look at critical equipment or areas without the need for moving the aircraft into a riskier, closer position.

So, a definite win-win. Later in this article will cover what’s available if you don’t have a need for that amazing Tele camera.

Obstacle Avoidance #

We’re all aware of obstacle avoidance systems. They’ve been around for a while now. DJI first introduced us to it with the Phantom 4 in 2016.

These obstacle-avoidance systems have come a long way since then, with the sensors improving and with more of them being added. This, in addition to the latest in the vision computing engine, there is a whole lot going on.

The Mavic 3s offer the full complement of vision sensors and provide true omnidirectional protection. It sure has made things harder to fly into, I can say that. It’s still not foolproof, though; I can still manage it from time to time though.

Let’s pop the hood on these Mavic 3 babies and see what they’ve got going on.

Just visually looking at the Mavic 3, we can see it has Horizontal Omnidirectional sensors front and back, downward and upward. What we don’t see are the side sensors. That’s because the omnidirectional sensors in the front and back are able to compensate for side sensors as if they were there.

That’s a huge advancement with these types of vision systems. That’s on the outside, though, and I said we were going to look inside. It’s here that the biggest advancement has been made, and that’s APAS 5.0.

This is one of DJI’s very best iterations yet of the vision computing engine and it is far removed from the 4.0 version. I can attest to that after having flown nearly everything DJI has offered, old and new.

The new 5.0 APAS is superior in every way to its predecessors. Is it faultless? No. You can still crash even with this advanced system. That being said, it’s usually pilot error now instead of the aircraft being able to be blamed.

I mean, after all, if you’re humming along at full speed and come across a small wire, this drone will hit it. Heck, all drones will hit it. Even the vaulted Skydio 2, one of the most advance autonomous flyers out there, still struggles with those issues.

Will we ever reach a point where our aircraft will avoid those small wires or branches? I hope so. As of today, though, they are still threats to any flight. Just because we have these really advanced systems in place, nothing can take the place of having human eyes on the aircraft while during a flight.

Prove me wrong manufacturers. I triple-dog dare you. Don’t worry, I have a cup of hot water nearby, so we can get your tongue off that pole.

Transmission System #

One of the other things that separates the Mavic 3 from its predecessors is the new O3+ transmission system.

If you own any of DJI’s newest offerings, from the Mini 3 to the Air 2S, you will know this newest system is quite impressive, providing better range and further distances, but most importantly, better and higher frame rates.

This makes the Mavic 3 capable of reaching out to 15km or nearly 9.3 miles in optimal low-interference areas.

Of course, this depends on whether you’re flying around the boonies, which is where I actually spend most of my time flying due to where I live and the areas I provide service to.

I cannot speak to the fact of whether nearly 10 miles is actually achievable, as that is well beyond one’s line of sight. What I can say is I have yet to have any of the transmission issues that I have had in the same areas with other drones.

What if you’re in a more Suburban area? In those areas which would be considered medium interference areas, that range is lower to around 3-9km or around 2 to 6 miles.

Of course, if you’re flying in urban areas, for me, places like downtown Nashville, that range is reduced even more. Something like 1.5 to 3km or 1 to 2 miles. In any case, this is more than suitable for most pilots’ needs in these areas.

The biggest advantage, though, is the higher framerate the 03+ system provides, which is 1080p/60fps. This means that you’re a lot closer to what the recording image looks like than any other system available, allowing you to react better to obstacles or for those of us who do professional videography.

This gives us a much better idea of what we’re actually shooting may look like. Remember that the image you receive through the view screen (phone or tablet) is not the same as what the camera is actually recording.

The imaging being recorded will always be of better quality than the one viewed during the flight. That is, if you’re shooting at anything higher than 1080p/60fps.

Flight Time #

One of the largest benefits of the Mavic 3 systems is the flight time. DJI states 46 minutes, which of course, is the best time they got while testing under optimal conditions.

In reality, it is just over 40 minutes, depending on how you fly. Coming from the days of 12 to 18-minute flights, that is a staggering amount of flight time. You just won’t have to be bringing it in for battery swaps nearly as often.

Even my poor, aging Phantom 4 Pro can’t come close to that. It only gets 25 to 26 minutes on a new battery as opposed to one that has several, several dozen cycles on it. These extended flight times we’re seeing now with newer DJI systems is so impressive.

Kudos to you, DJI. Really, I mean that. I have seen these much better flight times across the board with the Mini 3 and the Air 2S.

It’s been a long ten years waiting for the batteries to get to this point, and it has always been a struggle for all drone manufacturers. After all, Lithium Ion can only go so far, and after 6 solid months of flying with the three batteries from my Fly More package, I have yet to see any diminished capacity.

» MORE: How to Charge Mavic 3 Battery (Explained)

With these batteries and the Mavic 3, you can expect to have plenty of time to set that shot up and get the footage just right without the need to rush and take extra risks.

I can’t imagine what we’ll see in another ten years with battery technology, but if it’s anything like we’ve seen so far, maybe two-to-three-hour flight times may just be possible.

There is the new nano diamond battery technology that is being developed as we speak. Of course, with that technology, we may not ever be able to have it in our drone systems since they are based on nuclear waste material.

Who knows. What one can say, though, is the future sure does look bright. Too much! OK.

Speed and Agility #

When it comes to the Mavic 3, it is a very nimble flyer. So much so that it takes a bit of getting used to. The Mavic 3 is not only nimble, but it has impressive speed.

The DJI Mavic 3 can reach a speed of 75 km/h (47 mph) in sport mode and 54 km/h (34 mph) in normal mode and comes with a max ascent speed of 29 km/h (18 mph) in sport mode and a max descent speed of 22 km/h (14mph).

I will tell you, be prepared for that descent speed while in sport mode because it is fast. Just to give you the proper perspective, the Mavic 3’s older brother, the Mavic 2, only had a descent speed of 11km/h (7 mph).

So, that’s twice what its predecessor was able to do.

Since we’re on descent speed, you can achieve a slightly higher rate of descent if flying forward while descending, and this can be found to be true with any quadcopter you’re flying. Definitely, something to watch out for, as it’ll surprise you.

Size and Weight #

When we look at the size and weight of the Mavic 3, there is a bit of difference between the models.

As an example, the Mavic 3 weighs 895g while the Mavic 3 Cine weighs 899g. It’s that built-in 1TB SSD. So, there’s some added hardware there to account for the added 4g.

Now the Enterprise Mavic 3s do come in a bit heavier, with the Mavic 3E weighing 915g and the Mavic 3T coming in at 920g. This, again, is due to the change in camera hardware each of these systems has.

What is surprising is that the Mavic 3 Classic weighs the same as the Mavic 3 itself. Odd right? But it is true. Here I would have to say that DJI probably compensated a few grams, as we know they removed some hardware in the form of the Tele camera.

When it comes to the size of the Mavic 3s, there is no difference between the variations. They are all the same in that regard.

  • Folded size: 221 x 96.3 x 90.3mm
  • Unfolded size: 347.5 × 283 x 107.7mm

What this means is that even the Mavic 3 is a larger drone dwarfing some of the other most popular models, such as the diminutive Mini 3 or the Air 2S. It is easy to carry around and, due to its folding capacity, doesn’t even take up too much space in your backpack or case.

We have just a bit more to cover, so maintain that Hover for just a bit longer.

The Enterprise Mavic 3s #

So, as pointed out earlier, when it comes to the Mavic 3 systems, there are a few to choose from. Knowing which one will fly the furthest for you is something you have to decide. As with the Mavic 2 lineup, DJI has introduced two Enterprise level Mavic 3s.

The Mavic 3E and the Mavic 3T.

Mavic 3E #

When looking at the Mavic 3E, you’ll notice it doesn’t really look any different than the Mavic 3. It’s easy to overlook the differences, although they are there.

The Mavic 3E offers an even better zoom camera than its Mavic 3 counterpart with a 56x hybrid zoom camera. But the real difference is that it is able to run with an RTK module.

For surveying purposes, the RTK addition is a must and is able to be attached and detached, much like we saw with the Mavic 2 line of Enterprise systems.

What it does, though, is simply amazing, allowing for better than pinpoint accuracy. With the RTK module, the Mavic 3E is capable of centimeter-level accuracy.

The Mavic 3E also has an available loudspeaker that can be employed to broadcast a message during search and rescue operations or for spreading emergency messages to crowds.

One of the funniest things to do is to scare your fellow drone pilots as they won’t be expecting that Mavic 3 to talk to them. Seriously, you’ve never seen your fellow pilots jump more than when you come up to them and start broadcasting a message. It’s some good fun.

Another added benefit of jumping to an Enterprise level system is the software suite that comes along with it, such as the DJI’s Pilot App, FlightHub 2, and DJI Terra. These added software features open a whole new world of flying your Mavic 3E system.

Mavic 3T #

By far, DJI really outdid themselves with the Thermal camera they put into the Mavic 3T. As a certified Thermographer, the Mavic 3T really got my attention.

In the industry, there are certain requirements that a thermal camera needs to hit to be viable for, say, roof inspections. Or any inspections, really, and that is having a 640 x 512 resolution. For Search and Rescue, it’s not as high of a concern, but it is nice.

For doing inspections, though, every company you speak with will want that resolution in the thermograms you take for them. Having this type of resolution on such a small Enterprise drone is unheard of.

In my day-to-day operations, I generally use the Zenmuse XT2, just due to having that 640 x 512 resolution.

The secondary camera on the Mavic 3E is also impressive, featuring the same Tele camera as the Mavic 3E. Oh yeah, that’s right – the Mavic 3T has the same 58x tele camera as its counterpart, the Mavic 3E. This means it is quite a few steps ahead of that XT2.

As a small operation, this is the go-to, giving you all the benefits of the larger systems in a much smaller package.

Thanks, DJI. This thermographer was left very impressed. Once again, before we get into the pricing of these and the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Cine, DJI has left us with one other option, and for those of you just unsure about the cost of a Mavic 3 for yourself, this might be the one for you.

This, of course, leads us to the very newest version of the Mavic 3 systems, the Mavic 3 Classic.

Mavic 3 Classic #

Most recently, DJI has released this Mavic 3 variation, the Mavic 3 Classic. It is a scaled-back version of the Mavic 3 itself, minus the zoom camera.

So, you get all of the advantages that the Mavic 3 offers. The Hasselblad camera, with its exceptional color quality and mechanical shutter. The impressive 03+ Transmission System and that shocking good flight time as well as the omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system.

What you don’t get is the Tele Lens camera. This is wonderful if you don’t have a need for that Tele lens and the added cost it brings with it.

It is very reminiscent of the Mavic 2 line. With the Mavic 2 line, we had the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom as separate drone systems. It made sense for DJI to combine these two into one, which they did with the Mavic 3.

It also made it so those who did not need the two cameras also didn’t need to balk at the price and hesitate to jump on purchasing the Mavic 3 system, as they could not justify the cost.

Whether DJI had the intention of bringing the Mavic 3 Classic along is hard to say. Most likely not, or we probably would have seen it sooner than a year after the release of the Mavic 3. No, it would seem they realized that they were missing a large part of the marketplace, as there just are not too many hobbyist pilots that got on board with the Mavic 3.

So, bringing a Mavic 3 Classic to bear was them just trying to capture that missing market share. Either way, it’s here now, and if you just don’t have a need for the Tele camera, then this is a fantastic option for you, as you will get all the benefits the Mavic 3 line holds without paying for more than you need or want.

Are you here? Did you make it here with me? I know we sure have covered a lot!

Wrap Up! #

We’ve covered a lot of airspace in this flight, but it’s time to return those trays to their upright position and fasten those seatbelts as we’re about to land.

There’s a whole cornucopia of Mavic 3s to choose from, and making that choice is really up to you. One thing is for sure – there is now a Mavic 3 for everyone.

Whether it’s the newest Mavic 3 Classic with its scaled-down variation – but it’s not scaled down where it matters – making it a very good option for the non-professional or professional alike. It all depends on your intended usage.

The Mavic 3 or the Mavic 3 Cine are both excellent platforms, and you certainly couldn’t go wrong with having that 1TB SSD on board if you are seriously into videography. Although the Mavic 3 takes great video footage as well, that storage though could easily be a deciding factor for you.

One could get by with the Mavic 3 in that industry as well, for while, anyway. Tough choices, for sure.

The Enterprise Mavic 3s now, that’s a bit of a surprise, really, as most Enterprise-level drones are usually at a premium. DJI managed to shove an excellent thermal camera into the Mavic 3T, and it is of such high quality that if you’re into Infrared Thermography, this is the system for you.

At the price point it stands at, and with the quality of the camera, it really is the only thing on the market available without paying that premium rate.

The Mavic 3E is quite an impressive system, containing everything the Mavic 3 has and then some. With the addition of the RTK module, it’s a great choice for those of us out there that require that centimeter-level accuracy.

No matter which one suits you best, DJI has brought us a full complement of fantastic flying machines in the Mavic 3 series of drones. You’re sure to find one suitable for you.

Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!


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