With its light weight, incredibly compact body and excellent 4K image quality, DJI’s latest micro drone may surprise you. However, the camera’s ability to flip and capture truly vertical video makes it particularly interesting for social media content creators.
Along with a new vertical camera, the drone features new sensors for automatic obstacle avoidance, boasts a flight time of 34 minutes, and is capable of capturing stunning 4K HDR video. Not bad for a device that weighs just 249 grams including battery. On sale from May 17, it is offered from 739 euros without a controller and 829 euros with it.
The huge rise in vertical videos on TikTok and Instagram Reels means people tend to shoot holding their phone vertically rather than sideways. And that’s okay, but most of the latest DJI drones, like the Air 2S or Mavic 3, have cameras fixed in a horizontal position. So if you want to shoot a video for social media, you’ll have to crop that footage in post and sacrifice more resolution in the process.
However, with a touch of the on-screen button, the Mini 3 Pro can flip the camera, allowing you to shoot videos and photos vertically using the full resolution of the sensor. This is amazing.
The pictures are also very beautiful. You can shoot in 4K at up to 60 frames per second. The DJI Mini 3 Pro has a wide aperture of f1.7 and can use HDR features for maximum dynamic range. The sensor is 1/1.3″ which is smaller than the 1″ Air 2S sensor. I was still able to capture well-exposed footage even in high-contrast scenes. Colors are truer than life, and details are plentiful thanks to 4K resolution.
It can also shoot 48-megapixel photos, including raw DNG, giving photographers a lot more leeway for all sorts of lighting and color adjustments in apps like Adobe Lightroom.
On the left is the raw DNG file output directly from the drone’s camera. On the right is the same image after I applied various exposure and color changes in Adobe Lightroom.
But here the novelty is not only in the rotary chamber. The drone was equipped with additional sensors covering the front, rear and bottom. Thus, it can better avoid obstacles when you are inattentive and fly too close to walls. These sensors also allow you to set up automatic flight modes for when you want to get in the frame and have the drone follow your movements. These modes haven’t been active in my Early Access model yet, but they will be available in the final version and I’ll test them again when my model is updated.
In any case, I like its small size. Weighing just under 250 grams and a little more than a Coke can, it’s easy to slip into your bag and take with you on the go, just in case you want to get great aerial footage wherever you go. This is great if you’re used to making single videos, as it will sit next to your lenses, bodies, and tripods without adding any real weight to your bag.
That weight of 249 grams also means it meets the minimum drone licensing and registration requirements in many regions. However, always try to fly within the rules wherever you go.
It folds and unfolds incredibly quickly, so you’ll be in the air in minutes. Small propellers fold inward for easy storage. This makes them less likely to break if you hit something. Replacing the battery is also very easy. Simply remove it directly from the back of the drone and install a new one.
It supports high-speed microSD cards up to 512GB, which is more than enough for all the great footage your TikTok fans can handle.
Despite its small size, DJI estimates you’ll get up to 34 minutes of battery life on a standard battery. In my own experience, I’d say this is a bit ambitious, especially if you’re flying in windy conditions, as the drone’s light weight makes it struggle even more with the wind to stay in place and not blow away. It also depends on how you fly it: if you activate its fastest sport mode and it reaches a top speed of 16 meters per second, its battery will drain faster.
However, I think you can easily get 25-30 minutes on a single charge. And with the Fly More combo device, which includes three batteries, you can save more than an hour every time you leave the house.
The device uses the same massive controller found in recent DJI drones. Therefore, flying it is identical to flying any other DJI drone. This is good because there will be no training session for those who are already familiar with flight control. In any case, the device is easy to fly, so even beginners will quickly understand how to handle it.
You can also buy it without a controller if you already have one from the previous generation. Otherwise, you can buy a new controller with a built-in display if you don’t want to connect your iPhone or Android smartphone to it to use as a display.
I haven’t spent much time with it yet, but the Mini 3 Pro has already become one of my favorite drones DJI has released in recent years. I love how easy it is to store with the rest of your photography equipment. The ability to shoot vertically is also a real bonus for landscape photographers who sometimes want to shoot in portrait. And of course, it is also a good gadget for kids TikTok.
It may not have the same image quality as DJI’s larger, more expensive models. But if you’re looking for a lightweight model to take on the road to fill your Instagram page, the Mini 3 Pro is a great option to consider.
CNET.com article translated by