Skip to Content

DJI Air 3 Review – Is This the Drone for You?

The Air 3, released in July 2023, has been dubbed by many as the near-perfect drone.

Hobbyists, content creators, and professionals all seem to agree on this.

DJI is known for improving each iteration of their drones and the Air 3 is no exception.

As the immediate successor to the Air 2S, the Air 3 is indeed an upgrade in many areas and needs slight improvement in others.

This review will look at what’s new with the Air 3, technical specs, and improvements.

We will also discuss whether Air 2S owners will want to upgrade, from the perspective of someone who loves the Air 2S and considers it a professional-level workhorse.

Best Drone Courses for Beginners (Part 107 & More)

To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.

See Course List Editor's Choice
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

New Stand-Out Features on the Air 3

DJI Air 3 Review - Is This the Drone for You?
DJI Air 3 Review – Is This the Drone for You?

Sitting squarely between the Mavic 3 series and the Mini 3 line is the Air 3.

As the next generation of the middle-tiered Air system, preceded by the OG Air, Mavic Air 2, and the Air 2S, the Air 3 has quite a few new features, not present in previous Air versions.

Dual-Cameras

The new dual-camera setup, while not sporting any 1-inch CMOS camera sensors, utilizes dual back-lit, stacked 1/1.3″ sensors.

The focal lengths on these 2 cameras are equivalent to 24mm and 70mm.

The 24mm camera has an f1.7 aperture, while the 70mm has an f2.8 aperture.

» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $2,000

10-Bit All-Around

For many, 10-bit is a big deal when recording video, as it allows for a fair bit of flexibility when color grading.

The main 24mm lens of the Air 3 can record in 10-bit D-Log M.

Likewise, for fans of optical zoom lens’ drones’ and color grading, the 70mm tele lens on the Air 3 can record video in 10-bit D-Log M, something the original Mavic 3 was unable to do.

This puts the Air 3’s tele lens on equal footing with the Mavic 3 Pros 70mm lens.

Increased Gimbal Range

The previous Air 2S camera could rotate upwards close to 30 degrees (24 actual degrees) to get a view from below objects, adding to really interesting photos and videos.

The gimbal on the Air 3 now rotates a full 60 degrees upward, offering even more interesting perspectives.

» MORE: Best Budget Drones with 3-Axis Gimbal

“Vertical” Shooting

While the Air 3 doesn’t physically rotate 90 degrees to take portrait shots, there is in-camera cropping that produces vertical images that require no additional editing after the fact.

While not a complete solution like the vertical shooting on the Mini 3 Pro, the Air 3s version works for immediately posting to social media in portrait mode.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 vs. Air 2S vs. Mini 3 Pro: Which One is Right for You?

Waypoints

Previously reserved only for the Mavic 3 line, waypoints are now part of the Air 3’s repertoire.

Waypoints allow the Air 3 to set and repeat various flight patterns that have been saved within the DJI Fly app.

The waypoints on the Air 3 aren’t just a series of drop pins only useful in Hyperlapse mode.

No, the Air 3 waypoints are available to fly repeatable missions, as you would with a 3rd party application, like Litchi.

The Air 3 waypoints can either be set manually by flying to each marker and dropping a point, or conversely, dropping the pins on the map, while in the DI fly app.

» MORE: DJI Waypoints (Explained for Beginners)

Increased Flight Time

The previous Air 2S, while being an excellent drone, suffered from the mediocre, 31 minute flight times of its day.

The Air 3 increases the maximum flight time from 31 minutes to a claimed 46 minutes.

Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance

Taking yet another queue from the Mavic 3 lines playbook is the obstacle avoidance system.

Upgrading from the Air 2S’ 4-way obstacle avoidance, the Air 3 now has complete 360-degree or omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, perfect for intelligent flight modes, including Active Track.

Upgraded Transmission System (O4/Ocusync 4)

The upgraded Ocusync 4 transmission system enables the Air 3 to stream video from the Air 3 to the remote controller at 1080p/60fps, whereas previously this was 1080p/30fps on the Air 2S.

Additionally, due to the upgraded O4 transmission system, the Air 3 can fly up to 12.4 miles (20 km) on a much improved and stronger signal.

» MORE: Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

Battery Power Transfer Function

New to the Air 3, using the 3 battery charging hub, is the ability to transfer power from the 2 weakest batteries to the one with the most power, filling that battery up.

This allows you to have one full battery instead of three partially spent batteries.

Pricing

The Air 3 is actually pretty reasonably priced, considering it is the newest drone in the DJI Air line, with so many new features and upgrades.

Like DJI’s other lines of new drones, the Air 3 likewise has various Fly More combos that give buyers flexible purchasing options.

Something to note about the Air 3 is that the Fly More combos are actually worth purchasing.

For instance, if buying just, say, the Air and standard RC-N2 controller and then adding 2 extra batteries at a future time, you will be spending approximately USD 320 for just the two batteries.

For just $29 more than that, you can purchase the RC-N2 Fly More combo and also get the shoulder bag and 3 battery charging hub, as the charging hub also costs about $70 at the writing of this article.

» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $5,000

Air 3 Standard RC-N2 Combo

DJI Air 3 (RC-N2)
$1,099.00
  • Tele & Wide-Angle Dual Primary Cameras
  • 46-Min Max Flight Time
  • Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing
  • 48MP Photos, 4K/60fps HDR, up to 20Km Video Transmission
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/27/2024 01:27 am GMT

Includes:

  • DJI Air 3
  • DJI RC-N2 Remote Controller
  • 1 x Intelligent Flight Battery
  • USB-C Cable
  • Front Sensor and Gimbal guard
  • 2 Spare Props
  • Connection Cables

Air 3 RC-N2 Fly More Combo

DJI Air 3 RC-N2 (Fly More Combo)
$1,349.00

DJI Air 3 Fly More Combo with DJI RC-N2 Remote Controller, Drone with Camera for Adults 4K HDR, Medium Tele & Wide-Angle Dual Primary Cameras, 46-Min Max Flight Time, 48MP, Two Extra Batteries

Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/27/2024 01:32 am GMT

Includes:

  • DJI Air 3
  • DJI RC-N2 Remote Controller
  • 3 x Intelligent Flight Battery
  • 3-Battery Charging Hub
  • Shoulder Bag
  • USB-C Cable
  • Front Sensor and Gimbal guard
  • 8 Spare Props
  • Connection Cables

Air 3 DJI RC2 Fly More Combo

Editor's Choice
DJI Air 3 RC 2 (Fly More Combo)
$1,549.00

DJI Air 3 Fly More Combo with DJI RC 2 (screen remote controller), Drone with Medium Tele & Wide-Angle Dual Primary Cameras for Adults 4K HDR, 46-Min Max Flight Time, 48MP, Two Extra Batteries.

Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/27/2024 03:32 am GMT

Includes:

  • DJI Air 3
  • DJI RC2 Remote Controller
  • 3 x Intelligent Flight Battery
  • 3-Battery Charging Hub
  • Shoulder Bag
  • USB-C Cable
  • Front Sensor and Gimbal guard
  • 8 Spare Props
  • Connection Cables

Technical Specs

No review would be complete without a list of technical specifications. For those looking for precise specs, see below:

SPECSDJI Air 3
Weight:720 g
Dimensions:Folded (without propellers): 207×100.5×91.1 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (without propellers): 258.8×326×105.8 mm (L×W×H)
Maximum Speed:46.9mph
Ascent/Descent Speed:22.3mph
Wind Resistance:26.8mph
Battery Capacity:4241 mAh
Maximum Flight Time:46 Minutes
Sensing Type:Omnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft
Remote Controllers Compatibility:DJI RC2, RC-N2
CameraDJI Air 3
Wide-Angle Camera:1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP
Formats: H.264/H.265
Resolution:
4K: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
100fps – Only supported in H.265
FHD: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
100/200fps – Only supported in H.265
2.7K Vertical Shooting: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
FHD Vertical Shooting: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
Normal: 8-bit 4:2:0 (H.264/H.265)
HLG/D-Log M: 10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)
Photography resolution: 8064x6048px
Medium Tele Camera:1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP
Formats: H.264/H.265
Resolution:
4K: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
100fps – Only supported in H.265
FHD: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
100/200fps – Only supported in H.265
2.7K Vertical Shooting: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
FHD Vertical Shooting: 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
Normal: 8-bit 4:2:0 (H.264/H.265)
HLG/D-Log M: 10-bit 4:2:0 (H.265)
Photography resolution: 8064x6048px

 » MORE: 21 Best Long-Range Drones (2023-2024)

Air 3 & RC2 Hardware

Air 3 Hardware Overview

The Air 3 sports a completely overhauled and Mavic 3-like aggressive design. The Air 3 looks like it really means business.

Flying the Air 3 is a nice experience, as it is not only quick, but it is also very deliberate and controlled in its flight.

Because of this, it is easy for a beginner to pick up and fly, but also fun for seasoned drone operators as well.

An area where the Air 3’s overhaul is felt is in how fast it flies. As seen in the tech specs, the Air 3 can get up to speeds of 46 miles per hour, when in sport mode.

Likewise, with an ascent and descent speed of 22 miles per hour, the Air 3 is able to quickly get out of the way of most airborne hazards, such as birds (fly straight up to get away from them) or manned aircraft (descend to avoid them).

New to the Air 3 is the addition of an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system.

Prior, the Air 2S had four-way directional sensing: front, back, upward, and downward.

With the new 360-degree protection, the Air 3 can even fly safely sideways.

With the Air 3 being able to fly sideways while remaining protected, the upgraded Active Track functions allow the Air 3 to track from all four sides of an object, yes, including the sides.

We will touch on this more in the tracking section of the review.

The Air 3 has received an upgraded image transmission system, Ocusync 4. This system is effective up to 12.4 miles.

Now, of course, we do not advocate flying BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight), as this is illegal in many countries.

However, with such a strong transmission system the connection between the Air 3 and RC is very strong and is not overly affected by varying interference.

Doing a lot of flying in urban and downtown areas, the Air 3 handled these various locations quite well.

Even when flying amongst very tall and crowded buildings, the signal never ever faltered. I felt in control at all times.

In addition to the transmission system holding a strong signal, the image streamed to the controller has increased from 30fps to 60fps.

This might not seem like a lot, but when you view it, especially on the DJI RC2, the upgraded video stream is impressively crisp, clear, and fluid.

Being slightly larger than the Air 2S and heavier as well, the Air 3 fairs well in higher wind gusts than any of the smaller drones from DJI.

The Air 3 is rated to withstand 26mph winds. Although I never flew it in gusts above 20mph, I have no doubt it would still fare well in the high winds it is rated for.

When flying it in gusts, the Air 3 did move around a little, however, due to the gimbal being so solid, none of the footage taken with it was affected in the slightest.

Last but not least, I’d like to mention the sound of the Air 3.

Because of its redesign and the angle and size of the propellers, the Air 3 is a fairly quiet drone, considering its size.

Soundwise, it literally sits between the Mini 3 Pro and Air 2S.

Flying in crowded downtown area parks and lakes, the Air 3 didn’t seem to raise any concerns from those passing by, as many barely even acknowledged the Air 3.

Once in the air, no one in the vicinity even looked its way. As someone who does a lot of commercial work downtown, the Air 3 gets my approval.

» MORE: Best Drones with Obstacle Avoidance

Remote Controller

With the new Ocusync 4.0 transmission system comes new hardware.

To be able to accommodate and use the new O4 system, there are an additional 2 antennas added to the Air 3 remote controllers, these being the:

  • RC-N2 (internal antennas)
  • DJI RC2 (external flip forward antennas)

This is where a little irritation comes in.

Because the Air 3’s controllers were made specifically for the Ocusync 4.0 transmission system, it is not compatible with any other remote controller that DJI currently has, specifically the DJI RC, RC-N1, or DJI RC Pro.

Likewise, none of DJI’s other drones are currently compatible with the new DJI RC 2 or RC-N2.

What does this mean? If you have an Air 2S, Mini 3, or Mavic 3 line, and purchase an Air 3 and would like to fly it also when you go out, you will have to bring and use the Air 3-specific controller.

This adds bulk to any bag, bulk and inconvenience some do not want to bother with.

It will be interesting to see if DJI opens compatibility between either the new RCs and the older drones, or visa versa, the older RCs and the Air 3 and subsequent drones.

Like the DJI RC, the DJI RC2 has an integrated 700-nit sustained brightness smart-screen which is fairly easy to see, even when flying in the bright Central Florida sun that we have here.

At a few hundred dollars more than the RC-N2, the RC2 may be well worth the money spent, for the convenience of a bright screen with android built in.

Regarding the RC-N2, it looks almost exactly like the RC-N1 and runs the DJI Fly app in the same manner on compatible Android and iOS devices.

One of the benefits of owning and using the RC-N2 controller is that if you have a high-brightness smart device (perhaps using it for the Air 2S, Mini 3, or Mavic 3), you can continue to use it with the RC-N2.

» MORE: Is the DJI RC Controller Worth it?

Batteries & Charging Hub

Because of the 46-minute flight times, flying with the 3 batteries found in the Fly More Combo, the Air 3 flies for a very long time.

Of course, when flying the Air 3 outside of DJI’s controlled test environment, if flying down to about 25% battery, the Air 3 can easily get about 32/33 minutes of usage.

When flying the first battery down to 25%, the batteries lasted so long that I was ready to pack up and switch locations.

I was then able to fly at 3 or 4 more locations by the time all three batteries were at 25%.

Using the charging hub’s power transfer feature (more on that shortly), I was able to nearly fill up the first battery, and fly some more.

Regarding the new charging hub, it charges batteries sequentially and not simultaneously, as with DJI’s other charging hubs.

However, there is an option that allows you to press and hold the black function button (while the hub is unplugged) and transfer the remaining power from multiple batteries to the battery with the highest remaining power.

Instead of having 3 partially powered batteries, you can now have one fully, or close to a fully charged battery for your next flight.

» MORE: Drone Battery Care (All You Need to Know)

Photo & Video

As mentioned earlier, the Air 3 has dual cameras, not unlike the Mavic 3 Pro, although these are a bit smaller at 1/1.3″ sensors.

The main camera is equivalent to 24mm with an f1.7 aperture.

Whereas the tele-lens camera is equivalent to 70mm with an f2.8 aperture. Both of these cameras take the same resolution photos and videos.

As will be seen below in the examples, I am a fan of the 70mm camera, especially since its quality is the exact same as the 24mm camera.

The 70mm camera is perfect for getting great shot perspectives while maintaining a good distance away from your subject.

This, of course, adds an extra layer of protection against those who might show irritation at the sight of drones.

Something many have scratched their heads over was DJI’s decision to use 1/1.3″ sensors instead of either a 1-inch sensor and a 1/1.3″ sensor or dual 1-inch sensors.

To the average eye, and even to many professionals, the back-lit stacked image sensor on both cameras produces very clear and detailed images.

The images below were taken with the Air 3 and Air 2S, at different times of the year and edited months apart.

However, even so, the Air 3’s 1/1.3″ sensor did well compared with the Air 2S’ 1-inch sensor.

Air 3 (70mm)
Air 2S (22mm)
Air 3 (70mm)
Air 2S (22mm)

With the f1.7 aperture 1/1.3″ sensor, the Air 3 also takes excellent mixed-light images.

Here we have an example of the sensor working well just prior to golden hour.

Air 3 (70mm)

If you are one that likes shooting vertically and posting to social media, the Air 3 has a vertical shooting mode (for both cameras), although vertical shooting is done by cropping the horizontal image, in-camera.

While it does look nice, it is not true vertical shooting, as the entire camera does not rotate 90 degrees and the entire sensor is not being used.

With the wide f1.7 aperture, the Air 3 shoots great-looking nighttime video using Night Mode, which was introduced with the Mavic 3.

In Night Mode, the ISO threshold is increased from 6400 max to 12800, while also applying a bit of noise reduction in camera.

The Air 3 shoots video at 4k up to 100fps and slow-motion in 1080p at 200fps, all of which can be done in 10-bit using the D-Log M color profile, which is easier to color-grade than the previous D-Log color profile.

The Air 3 also offers 10-bit HLG (HDR) filming for increased dynamic range.

Tracking

With each successive iteration of DJI drones lately, there is an increasing interest in Focus Track, more specifically, Active Track, which is part of the Focus Track mode.

For the uninformed, Active Track provides fully autonomous flight tracking of subjects: people, land vehicles, watercraft, etc.

With the Air 3’s addition of an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system, full Active Track capabilities are finally open to the Air series.

With this system, the Air 3 can track a person or subject from any angle, whereas this could be problematic in the Air 2S.

While the system is improved, the Air 3 occasionally has problems anticipating where a subject will end up if falling out of the frame of view.

This happened to me once or twice when riding my mountain bike behind a group of palm trees.

However, the Air 3 did impress me when it followed me through a canopy of trees and perfectly navigated its way through, over, and under overhangs and branches, all in dimmer light, all while never losing sight of me.

Air 3 Active Track – Success

I never liked having to use intelligent flight modes, or Active Track, as I did not like letting go of the control sticks.

However, having the added security of the sideways obstacle sensing has made me a little bolder in my Active Track shooting and I find myself using it even on client shoots when possible.

Should You Upgrade

As an Air 2S owner and someone who has been flying the Air 3 for a while now, the Air 3 is a worthy upgrade to the Air 2S.

If you are looking for dual cameras (24mm and 70mm), extended battery life, faster all-around speed, and full 360-degree obstacle protection, then the Air 3 is for you.

However, if the 1/1.3″ sensor is a no-go, we’d suggest looking at images online taken with the dual camera system and see if the lack of a 1-inch sensor will really impact your, or your client’s needs (if doing commercial work).

If not needing to enlarge pictures for printing purposes, you just might find the Air 3 will work.

If you already own a Mini 3 Pro and love your true vertical shooting, small footprint, and sub-250g weight, but still are looking to add something larger to your fleet with a better camera, then you might want to skip the Air 3 altogether and get a Mavic 3 classic, which has all of the features of the Air 3, minus the dual cameras.

Additionally, the remote(s) you currently own will work with it.