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DJI Air 3 vs. Mavic 3 (Here’s my Choice)

DJI has released yet another drone, the Air 3. This comes after the Mavic 3, Mavic 3 Classic, and, more recently, the Mavic 3 Pro, a whole new game changer.

With even more drones to consider, people are getting more confused about which to get.

So, between the new DJI Air 3, Mavic 3 Pro, Classic, and Cine, which is better?

  • DJI Air 3 is versatile and affordable.
  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro is overall the best drone based on the features. These include three cameras, advanced imaging capabilities, and a Cine version for professional filmmakers.
  • DJI Mavic 3 Classic perfectly balances cost and functionality.

Keep reading to learn more about these drone models and which would suit you.

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DJI Air 3 overview

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.

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03/06/2024 03:46 pm GMT

The Air 3 is the most recent consumer drone release from DJI. It’s an upgrade to the DJI Air 2S in several aspects, but it also has some features that place it in the Mavic 3’s league.

The main features of the Air 3 include:

  • Two cameras – Just like the OG Mavic 3, the Air 3 features a dual camera system with different apertures, albeit fixed.

    These include the f/1.7, 24MM, 1/1.3-inch CMOS wide-angle camera and the f2.8, 70MM 1/1.3-inch CMOS medium tele camera.
  • Extra flight time – The Air 3 features a larger and more advanced battery that offers a flight time of up to 46 minutes.
  • More flight modes – Compared to its predecessor, the Air 2S, the Air 3 features extra flight modes such as course lock, waypoints, and an advanced ActiveTrack feature that now films the subject in more directions.
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance – You can fully utilize the various flight modes or fly the drone manually in areas with obstacles since this drone will detect them regardless of its orientation.
  • O4 transmission – The Air 3 features the newest OcuSync 4.0 transmission system that promises a range of up to 12 miles and better performance in areas with interference.
  • New controllers – This drone also comes with the new DJI RC 2 and the RC-N2, which now support the new OcuSync 4.0.
  • 4K 100 fps – This is a step down from the Air 2 S’s 5.4K maximum video resolution, but it still holds up well compared to drones like the Mavic 3 Classic.
  • Vertical shooting mode – Though not as functional as the Mini 3 Pro’s vertical shooting mode, the Air 3’s vertical shooting mode is good enough for creating and posting social media content on the go.
  • 12 MP and 48 MP image quality- The Air 3 can shoot from both cameras in 12 MP and 48 MP image quality.

    However, the 48 MP is not pure 48 MP quality but a resolution achieved through the Quadbayer technology.

    The debate on which resolution is better has existed for a while since DJI sometimes makes drones that can take stills in both resolutions, but it’s a good thing you can choose.

    For some users, the 12 MP version had fewer aberrations, but the 48 MP resolution also gives you more detail, so it comes down to what you are looking for in an image.
  • Zoom – The Air 3 includes a 3X optical zoom that can help you zoom into the subject without losing much quality. It also has a 9X digital zoom, which lowers the image quality and only works well for scouting an area.

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

✅ Pros

  • Good 4K video quality with 100 fps capability
  • Vertical shooting mode for easy social media content creation
  • The choice between 12 MP and 48 MP stills
  • It’s the lightest among the models, making it suitable for casual users and travelers
  • Extended transmission range and dual-camera setup
  • Good low-light performance and night mode
  • Offers 360-degree obstacle avoidance for complex shots

❌ Cons

  • It’s not the best for professional filmmakers due to less advanced camera options
  • Limited vertical shooting mode capabilities
  • 48 MP resolution achieved through Quadbayer technology, which may result in compromises in image quality

DJI Mavic 3 Pro overview

Our Pick
DJI Mavic 3 Pro (Fly More Combo)
$2,999.00

Flagship Triple-Camera Drone with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera, 15km Video Transmission, three Batteries, Charging Hub, and more.

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03/07/2024 03:12 am GMT

Released in May 2023, the Mavic 3 Pro is also recent. It’s the same as the original Mavic 3; the only difference is that it has three cameras instead of two.

It costs almost the same as the OG Mavic 3, so there would be no reason to consider the OG Mavic 3 at this point.

Below are the main features of the Mavic 3 Pro:

  • Triple camera system – As mentioned earlier, the Mavic 3 Pro features a three-camera system, the first in DJI drones, except for the multispectral ones.

    These cameras include Hasselblad, 24MM, 4/3 CMOS camera, a 70mm, 1/1.3-inch, 48 MP (3x) lens, and a 166mm, ½-inch, 12MP lens.
  • Variable aperture – Besides having different cameras, the Mavic 3 Pro also has a variable aperture ranging from f2.8 to f11.

    However, this is only available in the 4/3 sensor. The 1/1.3 sensor has a fixed aperture of f2.8, while the ½ sensor has an f3.4 fixed aperture.
  • Zoom – The zooming capability on the Mavic 3 Pro is one of the features that make it stand out. With zooming capabilities of 3X, 7X, and up to 28X, you can observe your subject from a distance and still take stunning images without getting too close.
  • Maximum video resolution – The Mavic 3 Pro can shoot up to 5.1K at 50 fps or 4K at 120 fps with the 4/3 Hasselblad sensor and 4K at 60 fps with the other sensors.

    However, it can also shoot footage in DCl, UHD, and FHD. You can also use HLG for HDR and switch between 10-bit, D-Log, and D-Log M, depending on the flexibility you want in post-processing.
  • Obstacle avoidance – The Mavic 3 takes obstacle avoidance a notch higher with sensors all around and an APAS 5.0 system that enables the drone to choose the best route when flying in areas with obstacles.
  • Gimbal lock – The Mavic 3 Pro features a gimbal lock mechanism that locks the gimbal from moving on its axes, adding an extra layer of protection to the gimbal when there are too many vibrations.

    This feature is not available in the Mavic 3 Classic.
  • Flight time – DJI advertises the Mavic 3 Pro to have a 43-minute flight time, but we will see how this holds compared to the other drones.
  • Controller – The Mavic 3 Pro is sold with the DJI RC, but there’s an option to get the RC-N1 or the DJI RC Pro.
  • Range – The Mavic 3 Pro features the OcuSync 3+, which promises a range of up to 9 miles.

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

Below is a long-term review of the Mavic 3 Pro and its comparison to the previous OG Mavic 3 and the new Air 3.

DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine overview

The Cine version is similar to the Mavic 3 Pro, and they were released on the same day.

The only difference is that the Cine version supports ProRes 422 HQ and 422 LT and has 1TB of internal storage compared to the Mavic 3 Pro’s 8 GB.

As such, the Mavic 3 Pro Cine’s target market is professional filmmakers and cinematographers.

✅ Pros

  • Triple-camera system with versatile lenses for different perspectives
  • Variable aperture ranging from f2.8 to f11
  • Gimbal lock mechanism for protection against vibrations
  • 12-bit color, HLG, D-Log, HCNS, and D-Log M options for professional-grade footage
  • Advanced camera capabilities are suitable for professional videographers and photographers
  • Compatibility with multiple controller options, including RC-N1 and RC Pro
  • OcuSync 3+ transmission with a range of up to 9 miles
  • Suitable for cinematic projects with ProRes support and ample storage (Cine version)

❌ Cons

  • Heavier weight compared to Air 3 and Mavic 3 Classic
  • Higher pricing, especially for the Mavic 3 Pro Cine version
  • Slightly shorter flight time compared to Air 3 and Mavic 3 Classic

» MORE: What is a Cinelifter? (Explained by a Professional FPV Pilot)

DJI Mavic 3 Classic overview

Released in November 2022, the Mavic 3 Classic is the OG Mavic 3 but with one camera.

It was released as a cheaper version of the OG Mavic 3, making it the perfect drone for anyone looking for a professional drone without the bells and whistles of a dual camera system.

However, now that we have the Air 3, is it still worth upgrading to the newer drone or getting the Mavic 3 Classic version? We will discuss that in detail.

But first, below is a brief overview of the features that stand out in the Mavic 3 Classic.

  • 4/3 Hasselblad sensor – Hasselblad cameras are known for their high-quality imagery, which is what you can expect from the Mavic 3 Classic.

    This sensor allows the Mavic 3 Classic to take stills of up to 20MP and video resolutions of up to 5.1K.
  • Zoom – Since it only features one camera, it supports a zoom of up to 3X, which is still great but not as great as in the Mavic 3 Pro.
  • Adjustable aperture – Besides the professional-grade Hasselblad camera, you can adjust the aperture between f2.8 and f11, giving you a lot of room to adjust the camera settings depending on the lighting conditions.

    This feature also allows you to get creative with your shots.
  • Intelligent flight modes – The Mavic 3 Classic includes modes like ActiveTrack, Night Mode, Hyperlapse, Panorama, Waypoints, QuickShots, and MasterShots, allowing you to create cinematic footage easily.
  • Extended flight time – With a flight time of up to 46 minutes, you will have enough time to record your footage, and with three batteries and a 96-minute charging time, you can fly without running out of juice.
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance – The Mavic 3 Classic senses obstacles in all directions, allowing you to pull off complex shots in areas with several obstacles.
  • Range – Thanks to the OcuSync 3.0, the Mavic 3 Classic can achieve a range of up to 9 miles.

» MORE: DJI Mavic 3 vs. Mavic 3 Classic: Which Drone Should You Buy?

Below is a brief overview of how the MAVIC 3 Classic compares to the Air 3.

✅ Pros

  • Hasselblad 4/3 CMOS sensor for high-quality imagery
  • Adjustable aperture for creative control over shots
  • Suitable balance between weight and functionality
  • Longer flight time compared to Mavic 3 Pro and Cine versions
  • Variable aperture for flexibility in different lighting conditions

❌ Cons

  • Lacks the triple-camera setup and advanced camera options of the Mavic 3 Pro

DJI Air 3 vs. Mavic 3 (Pro/Classic/Cine) – The comparison

Let’s see how these drones compare in various aspects.

Pricing and availability

Pricing is one of the most important factors to consider when getting a drone. With that in mind, below are the prices of these drones:

  • DJI Air 3 – $1,039 with RC-N2, $1,349 with the DJI RC 2, and $1,549 for the Fly More Combo with the DJI RC 2.
  • DJI Mavic 3 Classic – $1,599 with the DJI RC-N1 and $1,749 with the DJI RC controller. The Fly More kit is sold separately and costs $649. This kit includes two more batteries, a charging hub, a car charger, extra propellers, and a carrying bag.
  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro – $2,199 with the DJI RC, $2,999 for the Fly More Combo with the DJI RC, and $3,889 for the Fly More Combo that includes the DJI RC Pro.
  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine – $3,715 with the DJI RC Pro and $4,799 for the Fly More Combo, including the DJI RC Pro.

When comparing these DJI drones based on pricing, the Air 3 and Mavic 3 Classic provide affordable options for consumers looking to access advanced features and high-quality imaging.

The Mavic 3 Pro models, including the Pro Cine variant, cater to professionals and filmmakers who prioritize exceptional camera capabilities and are willing to invest in a premium drone experience.

The choice between these models depends on your specific needs, budget, and desired level of camera performance.

» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $2,000

Photo and video recording

Based on the overviews above, all these drones have excellent camera capabilities, so it will come down to what you’re looking for.

The Mavic 3 Pro is a superior choice for professional videographers and photographers who demand top-notch video quality.

Its 5.1K video resolution, several zooming options, and variable aperture settings provide unparalleled flexibility in capturing footage under varying lighting conditions.

The triple-camera system, including the Hasselblad 4/3 camera, also empowers creators to explore diverse perspectives.

Some users have claimed the only drone that would match the Mavic 3 Pro’s video and photo quality is the Inspire 3, which goes for $17,000, so the Mavic 3 Pro is currently the best drone you can get if you want the highest quality footage without spending several thousand dollars.

On the other hand, the Air 3 offers an extended transmission range of up to 12 miles, making it ideal for aerial enthusiasts who prioritize remote exploration and long-distance flights.

Its dual-camera setup and advanced flight modes also cater to hobbyists seeking a versatile yet user-friendly experience.

The vertical shooting mode is also an excellent addition for people who want to shoot and post content on their social media channels on the go with minimal edits.

However, the vertical shooting on the Air 3 is limited to 2.7K at 60 fps and doesn’t work as well as in the Mini 3 Pro. That’s because the camera doesn’t change to portrait mode.

Instead, the drone automatically crops the footage, but in a comparison between the Air 3 and the Mavic 3 drones that lack this feature, the Air 3 has the upper hand.

Since it has a fixed aperture, you will need to budget for ND filters to compensate for when there’s too much light. But some ND filters are included in the Fly More Combo.

The Mavic 3 Pro Cine caters specifically to professional filmmakers, offering ProRes support and ample storage for extensive cinematic projects.

Meanwhile, the Mavic 3 Classic provides a cost-effective solution for those who value high-quality imaging and Intelligent Flight Modes without the complexity of a triple-camera system.

That’s because you get all of the other features that are in the Mavic 3 Pro, except for the triple camera system.

The flight modes, flight time, aerodynamics, 4/3-inch Hasselblad camera, adjustable aperture, and 5.1k resolution are all useful for professional or high-end content creation.

» MORE: What Is Drone Photography? (Explained for Beginners)

Design and weight

These drones feature a folding design, making them easier to pack in a smaller bag. However, they have some weight differences.

The Air 3 is the lightest, weighing 720 grams, followed by the Mavic 3 Classic, which weighs 895 grams, and the Mavic 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Pro Cine, weighing 958 grams and 963 grams, respectively.

As such, the Air 3 makes the perfect choice for casual users and travelers who prefer a lighter drone since they move around a lot.

The Mavic 3 Classic balances weight and functionality, making it an ideal choice for most people.

The Mavic 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Cine are for professionals who don’t mind the extra weight since they will be getting excellent camera functionality that they might not get from any other drone within this price range.

It’s also important to note that these drones will require FAA registration since they weigh more than 250 grams, but that shouldn’t be an issue considering what you will be getting from them.

In the UK, however, the rules are quite different. These drones are categorized from C0 to C4 depending on their weight.

Drones weighing less than 900 grams, such as the Air 3 and Mavic 3 Classic, are in the C1 category and can fly in more areas compared to drones weighing more than 900 grams (C2), such as the Mavic 3 Pro and the Mavic 3 Pro Cine.

» MORE: Best 4K Drones Under 250 Grams

Range

The Mavic 3 drones use the O3+ transmission that offers a range of up to 9 miles, while the Air 3 features the newest transmission technology, the OcuSync 4, which promises a range of up to 12 miles.

However, in most filming applications, you may never have to fly that far from the controller, but the Air 3 would perform better in cases where you have to.

The newer O4 system also promises better performance in areas with interference, but the 03+ is not that far behind.

In this case, the range in any of these drones should not be a deal breaker.

» MORE: Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

Controllers

The Mavic 3 drones are compatible with the DJI RC N1, DJI RC, and DJI RC Pro.

The DJI RC and DJI RC Pro have built-in screens, eliminating the need for a smartphone, but the DJI RC Pro is brighter and more versatile.

On the other hand, since the Air 3 comes with a more advanced transmission system, it also has new controllers: the DJI RC 2, an upgrade to the DJI RC, and the RC-N2, an upgrade from the RC-N1.

These newer controllers have more antennas and improved overall performance, making them better than the previous versions.

However, they look similar and feel similar to the older models, so you will not be compromising on comfort or ergonomics by choosing either.

However, there’s one issue: controllers that feature the O3+–the DJI RC, RC Pro, and RC-N1–are incompatible with the O4, so if you get the Air 3, you can’t use its controllers with other drones, or vice-versa.

DJI did state that they might make these newer controllers more compatible with other drones. If you’re looking for a drone whose controller is compatible with other DJI drones, currently, the Air 3 would not be an ideal choice.

» MORE: DJI RC vs DJI RC-N1 (All You Need to Know)

Flight time

The Air 3 and the Mavic 3 Classic have a flight time of about 46 minutes, though, in actual flying, you may get around 35 to 40 minutes, which is still a long time for a camera drone.

However, due to the extra weight and cameras, the Mavic 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Pro Cine last 43 minutes on paper and about 30 to 40 minutes in an actual flight.

Considering the high-end features you get from the Mavic 3 Pro and the Cine version, the shorter flight time should not be an issue.

Just make sure you buy extra batteries by getting the Fly More Combo.

» MORE: Top 5 Drones with the Longest Flight Time

Flight features

The Air 3 stands out for its advanced transmission range and dual-camera setup, ideal for aerial enthusiasts and those seeking versatile shooting capabilities.

It also has the highest ascending and descending speed (10m/s), which may come in handy when you need to get yourself out of emergencies.

The Mavic 3 Pro models excel in professional imaging with triple-camera systems, variable apertures, and enhanced obstacle avoidance, catering to photographers, filmmakers, and professionals.

The Mavic 3 Classic balances quality and features, making it a cost-effective choice for those who value intelligent flight modes and high-quality imaging.

These drones feature similar intelligent flight modes like Cruise Control, ActiveTrack, Waypoints, Night Mode, and MasterShots, and they also all have 360-degree obstacle avoidance, so you will be getting very few new features by choosing either.

» MORE: Best Follow Me Drones (Ultimate Guide)

DJI Air 3 vs. Mavic 3 (Pro/Classic/Cine) – Which drone is better?

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is the best drone thanks to the triple camera system, advanced imaging capabilities, and a Cine version that supports ProRes and added storage for professional filmmakers.

Without the triple camera system, many other features are not that different from the other drones in this comparison.

The flight time, even though shorter than that of the Air 3 or Mavic 3 Classic, is still enough to accomplish your tasks, and there’s always an option to get extra batteries.

However, choosing the best drone for you will depend on your needs.

The Air 3 presents a more versatile, affordable, and portable option for casual users, with the added advantage of dual camera capabilities.

The Mavic 3 Classic is a cost-effective option with advanced imaging capabilities, excellent flight time, and great overall performance without the complexities of a dual or triple-camera system.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 vs. Air 2S (Here’s My Choice)

Best SD cards

As you will realize, these drones don’t come with sufficient internal storage, so you will need to get external storage, also known as SD cards.

» MORE: How to Format SD Cards in DJI Drones (Quick Steps with Photos)

When getting an SD card, look for the following factors:

Memory size

You should consider the size of footage you will be recording before getting an SD card.

If you will be shooting in 4K or 5.1K most of the time, it’s ideal to get at least 64 GB, but I prefer the 128 GB or 256 GB. It’s always better to get pairs of SD cards.

For instance, when you want a 256 GB SD card, get two 128 GB SD cards and back up the footage so that you don’t lose all the footage when you lose the drone.

Write speed class

This is the speed at which the SD card stores the footage.

The higher the speed, the better.

An SD card labeled U1 or C10 means the SD card can write at speeds of up to 10MB/s.

An SD card labeled U3 can write at speeds up to 30MB/s. The Air 3 reportedly has a maximum video bitrate of 150 Mbps, translating to about 18MB/s.

On the other hand, the Mavic 3 series drones have a maximum bitrate of about 24MB/s (200 Mbps). As you can see, a U3 card will be sufficient for all the drones in this comparison.

» MORE: Best SD Cards for Mavic 3

Video speed class

This metric is also used to show the minimum speed at which an SD card can write footage and is shown by a capital V.

An SD card with a V6 label means it can write at 6 MB/s, V10 is 10 MB/s, and so on.

Since all the drones in this comparison have a bitrate of 18 MB/s or more, an SD card labeled V30, V60, or V90 will be ideal.

Based on these factors, the best SD cards for these drones are below.

Best SD cards for the DJI Air 3

Kingston Canvas Go!Plus 128GB V30 A2 microSDXC
$17.18
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03/06/2024 04:22 pm GMT
Lexar 1066x Professional 128GB A2 V30
$18.99 $14.99
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03/07/2024 08:56 am GMT
Lexar Professional 1066x 64GB
$14.99 $11.99
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03/06/2024 08:52 pm GMT

» MORE: Best SD Cards for DJI Air 3

Best SD cards for the DJI Mavic 3 Classic

SanDisk Extreme 128GB V30 A2 microSDXC
$20.99 $17.99
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03/06/2024 03:16 pm GMT
Lexar 1066x Professional 128GB A2 V30
$18.99 $14.99
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03/07/2024 08:56 am GMT
SAMSUNG EVO Plus (With Adaptor) 128GB Micro SDXC
$15.38 $11.50

Up to 130MB/s, Expanded Storage for Gaming Devices, Android Tablets and Smart Phones, Memory Card, MB-MC128KA/AM, 2021

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03/06/2024 05:36 pm GMT

Best SD cards for the DJI Mavic 3 Pro and 3 Pro Cine

SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO microSD
$18.95
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03/06/2024 06:41 pm GMT
Lexar High-Performance 633x 128GB microSDXC
$10.16
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03/06/2024 06:46 pm GMT
Our Pick
SanDisk Extreme 256GB V30 A2 microSDXC
$26.75
  • Up to 130MB/s write speeds for fast shooting
  • 4K and 5K UHD-ready with UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) and Video Speed Class 30 (V30)
  • Rated A2 for faster loading and in-app performance
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03/06/2024 04:06 pm GMT