Gnicely lifted off. We are traveling in the country, only forest and meadows all around. There is a village at a greater distance. Now we are sending the new professional drone from DJI into the sky, where it quickly stabilizes in spite of the strong winds. We want to know how good the Mavic 3’s camera is. For the first time, like the smartphone, a double lens is used. The main camera with a focal length of 24 mm and a 4/3-inch CMOS sensor is supplemented by a telephoto camera with 162 mm, which offers a 28x hybrid zoom.
The latter arouses our interest. We are a few hundred meters away from the next town and can now zoom in as closely with our flying eye as if we were only a few meters away from the object we are aiming for. It’s more than just spectacular, it’s almost unsettling. We take a closer look at the photos on the computer: Admittedly, the quality suffers at maximum zoom. But you can see, for example, a craftsman on the construction site or which car is where in front of the house. All of this without the people being photographed being able to hear or see the drone. In the cross-check we fly towards a meadow with cows. The animals are easy to see, they cannot hear the drone either.
What is all this for? Photographing or filming animals in the wild is an application scenario. You can also control entire areas from the air, such as power lines, without approaching them dangerously. So there are new opportunities for photography and film.
In the second attempt we test the Hasselblad optics of the main camera with normal zoom. Once again, the results are astonishing. What the large sensor detects, especially when there is little light and a cloudy autumn mood, is spectacular. The image noise remains minimal, contrasts and dynamics are convincing. With just a tiny amount of tonal correction in Photoshop, 20.8 megapixel images of overwhelming beauty can be created. Not only the sensor is based on the compact system cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, the image quality also keeps up.
Videos succeed with 5.1K and 50 frames per second or 4K and 120 recordings per second. Once again you go into raptures, and if you want to increase the video quality further, take the special version Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo, which supports Apple’s ProRes format. Then so large amounts of data accumulate that conventional memory cards are overwhelmed. This is why the Cine model variant has a 1 terabyte SSD built in.
Beyond the photo and film skills, the Chinese manufacturer has also invested in flying talent. With a starting weight of 900 grams, the Mavic 3 is slightly lighter than its predecessor, the Mavic 2 Pro, and measures 22 × 9.7 × 9 centimeters when folded. A drone has never flown that long, up to 46 minutes, says the manufacturer. Their maximum range is 15 kilometers from the pilot. However, depending on the landscape, compromises have to be expected. We received the first warning messages after a distance of 600 meters.
The propeller tips are now made of resilient rubber, which reduces damage if they come into contact with other objects. The battery can now be conveniently charged in the device with USB-C. The professional drone is controlled either with the included remote control and your own smartphone or, in the Cine model variant, with a remote control with built-in software, the mobile phone is dispensable here. The motorized gimbal for compensating for movements supports three axes.
The security system has been fundamentally redesigned with sensors, LEDs shining downwards as landing lights and, above all, omnidirectional wide-angle cameras that are used to detect obstacles. They capture the environment and danger spots up to 200 meters in advance.
New firmware will add ActiveTrack functionality in January. This allows you to follow moving subjects, such as cars or cyclists, and circle them. The improved software should be able to find an object again, even if it is temporarily out of sight of the drone. The automated return flight has also been improved. A short, battery-saving route is now chosen.
The Mavic 3 costs 2100 euros with one battery, the Fly More Combo comes with three batteries, additional accessories and a smartly designed carrying case for 2800 euros. The cine model with its own remote control and three batteries costs 4800 euros. DJI has once again made strong gains with its new top-of-the-range drone. There is no comparable alternative because DJI is the monopoly in this segment.