The DJI Mavic 3 Pro and the DJI Air 2S are probably the two drones from DJI that I would consider to be among my favorites currently. One of the reasons for that is I have both.
Your favorite drone, after all, I suppose is the one you have.
Both of these systems are used daily in my life most of the time. To decide which one would be my favorite, now, that, well, that’s going to take some work to figure out.
Both are, after all, pretty darn good.
To figure out just which one may be my favorite, I guess we should think about what criteria we should look at.
Maybe a specs comparison, some of those pros and equally some of those cons between the two?
DJI is a company that will make you very uncertain about what to pull off the shelf for yourself. Each and every one of their systems provides the latest in aerial drone technology.
Due to that, choosing any one system over another can be very intimidating, with different choices affecting one’s bank account differently as well.
This is why when looking at each system, you should be looking from your needs perspective. Many of DJI’s models will offer many of the same attributes, while others can be vastly different.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
So, let’s get to it then, shall we!
DJI Mavic 3 Pro
When it comes to the DJI Mavic 3 Pro we have one of the very latest of DJI’s Flagship offerings. This aircraft is a beast.
|DJI Mavic 3 Pro
|3.8 by 3.9 by 9.1 inches
|Integrated with Gimbal
|Dedicated with LCD
|Live Video Feed
- Stabilized, triple-camera array
- Wide-angle Four Thirds camera with Hasselblad color
- Midrange 3x lens shows excellent picture quality
- Up to 5.1K30 or 4K120 video
- All-around obstacle sensors
- Able to be paired with a remote with a built-in screen
- Base model has just 8GB of onboard storage
- Falls shy of the promised 43-minute flight time
- Priced out of reach for most non-professional pilots
DJI Mavic 3 Pro Overview
This drone is equipped with three cameras that keep getting better with every update.
A primary 22mm Hasselblad 20MP adjustable aperture f/2.8 to f/11 4.3 CMOS sensor. A 70mm Telephoto 48MP f/2.8 aperture 1/1.3″CMOS sensor and to top it all off, a 166mm Telephoto 12MP with an f/3.4 1/2″ CMOS sensor.
None of us knew we needed a tri-lens camera drone. That is until DJI brought us this one.
By releasing a Tri-camera configuration, DJI has brought an amazingly versatile system to the marketplace. One we can now not live without.
The Mavic 3 Pro utilizes DJI’s latest 5.0 APAS system with omnidirectional obstacle avoidance.
This system contains eight wide-angle vision sensors that work with the computing engine to precisely sense obstacles in all directions.
This is a first for DJI. You now have access to those multi-directional vision system cameras and are able to view them front, back, left, and right, providing heightened awareness while flying.
A nice feature for sure, one many pilots have been looking for, as you no longer have to be flying blind when going from side to side.
A feature I might add, I hope we get to see, in every DJI system soon.
Hear that DJI? You have some work to do! This is a brand-new feature that has been given to the Mavic 3 systems only at this time through the latest firmware update.
This is a mode that I use myself regularly for job site monitoring, so each consecutive shoot is the same as the first.
Or there’s Cruise Control and the New Advanced Return to Home. Of course, it wouldn’t be a DJI product if it didn’t have Quickshots or Mastershots.
The Mavic 3 Pro also offers Focustrack and Panoramas.
With a 43-minute flight time and just under 1000 grams, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro does offer it all.
DJI Air 2S
The DJI Air 2S is, as DJI put it upon its release, the All-in-One drone.
Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal Camera, 5.4K Video, 1-Inch CMOS Sensor, 4 Directions of Obstacle Sensing, 31-Min Flight Time, Max 7.5-Mile Video Transmission, MasterShots, Gray
|DJI Air 2S
|3.3 by 3.8 by 7.1 inches
|Forward, backward, downward and upward
|Integrated with Gimbal
|Dedicated with App
|Live Video Feed
- 1-inch sensor camera
- Video at up to 5.4K quality
- Robust safety features
- Obstacle detection and avoidance
- Automated camera shots
- HDR, Log, and Standard video profiles
- 8GB internal storage isn’t much
- App-based editing limited to 1080p output
- HDR HLG workflow for pros only
- Raw images don’t transfer to smartphones and tablets automatically
DJI Air 2S overview
The main selling point of the DJI Air 2S is the 1″ CMOS sensor. This sensor allows for a higher dynamic range, higher resolution, and accurate color reproduction.
This is very beneficial as well when in low-light settings. Although it does have a fixed aperture, by using ND filters you can work around that limitation.
It really is all in the camera with this one.
The Air 2S features a quadri-directional obstacle avoidance system and is paired with DJI’s 4.0 APAS system, allowing for an obstacle avoidance system that is able to look forward, backward, up, and down.
The DJI Air 2S also brought us the Mastershots feature for the first time, a new and unique feature that by selecting a subject the drone will record footage while executing ten different maneuvers in a sequence.
The drone will keep the subject center-framed and will generate a short edited cinematic video afterward.
And with Spotlight 2.0 and Activetrack 4.0, the Air 2S is crammed full of that DJI goodness.
Weighing 595 grams, it is larger in size than the Mini line, with enough weight to hold up to windier conditions, like 10.7m/s, than it’s smaller variations.
It offers a 30-minute flight time, and the power of the DJI 03 transmission system provides up to a 12km range.
This is a powerhouse of a drone in a small, easily stowed-away foldable form.
To Be Fair…
Can I be honest here? I don’t think we’re being fair about this. I think we need to define our focus a bit on this one. That and viewing it from my day-to-day perspective.
It seems while comparing these two systems, we need to drop the Telephoto lenses from the list.
They do, after all, give an unfair advantage.
The Air 2S is only a single-camera drone, unlike the Mavic 3 Pro or even the New Air 3.
Also, the primary camera of the Mavic 3 Pro is what you’ll use the most. It’s what I use most, and between us, you will too.
Build & Design
When it comes to any DJI product, you are buying a quality build. You can fly with confidence that the drone you are using is made from top-shelf materials.
That’s one of the aspects that have made DJI the giant of the UAS world that they are.
When it comes to the Mavic 3 Pro or the Air 2S, this is as true as always.
From using both of these aircraft, I don’t question the builds per se, but the folding arm design that everyone’s gone to is a weak point in that design.
It always has been. Now, with the Air 2S, you have a smaller footprint, and as such, the arms don’t have to extend as far out as that of the Mavic 3 Pro.
So, the arms are a bit more robust.
I’ve never had any issue with the arms on the Mavic 3 Pro; they just seem to be a bit narrow for the build and appear as a weak spot.
Weight & Size
As a Part 107 pilot, every aircraft I have is supposed to be registered and, as such, will need to be Remote ID compliant; it’s just how it is.
Due to this, I don’t see much need to worry about the 250-gram limit, and really, you shouldn’t be either if your needs require a larger, heavier aircraft.
Neither the DJI Mavic 3 Pro nor the Air 2S are anywhere near that 250-gram limit anyway.
The Air 2S weighs in at 595 grams, and the Mavic 3 Pro comes in at 958 grams – a difference of 383 grams between them.
Then we have the size.
The Mavic 3 Pro, as I said, is a beast of an aircraft, measuring 11.4 x 4.2 x 13.7″ / 290.8 x 107.7 x 347.5 mm when unfolded and ready to fly.
The Air 2S is a bit smaller, at 7.2 x 3.0 x 10.0″ / 183.0 x 77.0 x 253.0 mm, when unfolded and ready to fly.
That bigger size and weight give the Mavic 3 Pro an impressive top speed, not only when flying horizontally, which is 47mph, but also in its ascent top speed of 17.9 mph and descent speeds of 13.4mph as well.
One curious thing we do find is that the Air 2S shares the same descent speed of 13.4mph with the Mavic 3 Pro.
Of course, the Air 2S is unable to match the horizontal 33.6mph or ascent speed of 13.4mph.
» MORE: Best 4K Drones Under 250 Grams
Much like the Air 2S has a wind resistance advantage over its Mini 4 or Mini 3 counterparts, the Mavic 3 Pro also has a better wind resistance than that of the Air 2S.
The Mavic 3 Pro has a wind resistance of 12m/s over the Air 2S’s 10.7m/s.
As a larger drone system, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro has some advantages over the smaller Air 2S system.
As we find with the size equaling to increased speed, this also equates to better wind resistance.
The Mavic 3 Pro is able to handle wind speeds of up to 26.8mph, whereas the Air 2S comes in at 23.5mph.
This isn’t surprising as the Mavic 3 Pro is heavier and larger than the Air 2S.
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Now, here we find some more significant differences between the two. These differences really separate the two systems from one another.
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is equipped with an omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system.
This system is able to see a full 360-degree view around the drone.
It is also paired with DJI’s latest and updated APAS 5.0 system as well.
The DJI Air 2S falls short here, lacking the left / right and upward protection, which is so important in videography, as there will be many occasions where you will be flying side to side.
The Air 2S is also using the version APAS 4.0 system.
This is the category that will make the best case for the DJI Air 2S, and show it has a place in your gear bag.
The Air 2S has a 1″ 20MP CMOS sensor with an 88-degree field of view, a 35mm Format Equivalent of 22mm and a fixed F/2.8 aperture.
When we look over to the Mavic 3 Pro’s main sensor, we find a 4/3″ Hasselblad 20MP 84-degree field of view with a Format Equivalent 24mm lens with a variable aperture of f/2.8 to f/11.
So, there are some small differences and one very large one: the variable aperture, which allows for adjusting the exposure and depth of field.
This means you will meet with far more success achieving the Bokeh effect with the Mavic 3 Pro over that of the Air 2S.
This is because with the Mavic 3 Pro, you are able to adjust the depth of field, whereas the Air 2S does not have that same ability without the use of a filter.
This isn’t a deal breaker, though.
The images and video footage from both of these systems are still impressive.
The Air 2S even offers a limited digital zoom of 4X when shooting in 4K/60fps. The Mavic 3 Pro only offers 3X in the same format.
Both sensors are capable of 5K video, with the Mavic 3 Pro at 5.1K and able to go to a higher frame rate of 50fps than the Air 2S’s 5.4K at 30fps.
Flight Time/Flight Range
This is another area where we find things to be similar. Both the DJI Mavic 3 Pro and the DJI Air 2S operate using the DJI O3 transmission system.
This gives both of these systems a 12 to 15 km range.
Now, we do see some differences in the flight times of these two systems, with the Mavic 3 Pro having a maximum flight time of 43 minutes and the Air 2S having less flight time of only 31 minutes.
Since both of these systems use the O3 transmission system, they both can use the same multiple selection of controllers.
This allows for any budget and for versatility in controllers that seems to be becoming more commonplace, with many of DJI’s current systems able to work with multiple controller options.
Of course, having and pairing to the RC controller is the best kit choice.
With the built-in screen and its low cost, it’s a great choice of controller for any pilot.
» MORE: Best Drone Controllers
One of the best features of any DJI product, of course, is the Quickshots.
These autonomous flight modes can really come in handy, and since being first introduced, they seem to come standard in DJI systems.
With the Air 2S, we were introduced to the Mastershots feature.
This amazing new feature takes a series of 10 maneuvers in a sequence and then even edits them together into a video, all at the push of a single button.
Although introduced in the Air 2S, this feature is now also part of the Mavic 3 Pro’s repertoire as well.
Then, we have the more standard autonomous flight modes, such as HyperLapse and the Panorama – features we’ve come to also not be able to live without.
After all, who doesn’t get a little hyper, here and there?
Next, though, we do find a place where these two systems differ, although they do both offer these features, such as the Activetrack and Focustrack.
As the Mavic 3 Pro has a full omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system, it will perform better when engaging these Flight modes than the Air 2S will.
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When we look at the price difference between the DJI Mavic 3 Pro and the Air 2S, it may just sway you towards the Air 2S after all.
The DJI Air 2S is currently at a starting price of $999.
With the recent release of the Air 3, the Air 2S is seeing some amazing deals right now.
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro starts at $2,199 – a difference of $1,200.
The DJI Air 2S comes with a full complement of smart features and abilities similar to that of the Mavic 3 Pro. It leaves a tough choice for the consumer all right.
» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $2,000
Ease of use
As camera drones have become more popular and even more advanced, learning to fly these systems has also gotten easier over time, with such advancements in GPS signals and transmission connections as well as obstacle avoidance systems.
Just about anyone can pick up a controller and, with some minimal instruction, fly the machine.
There is more to it than that, though.
The nervousness you feel while just starting out will be different between a $1,000 dollar system and a $2,100 dollar system.
This, of course, is only overcome by flying and does get easier over time.
For some, though, getting comfortable with flying may be easier if there’s not as much on the line in the event of a crash.
It could also be just that your budget may allow for one over the other.
Both offer many of the same features, and it really just comes down to the camera each carries, so you may decide that the Air 2S is more appealing to you than the Mavic 3 Pro.
When it comes to work use, I’ve found both to perform very well.
Here’s how it usually plays out.
If I have a long day of shooting and I happen to use up all of my time with the Mavic 3 Pro, I will then finish my day out with the Air 2S, as the results from both can be somewhat interchangeable.
Or better put, my clients can’t tell the difference.
In other cases, I may find myself in a location that seems risky for the big guy, the Mavic 3 Pro.
As the cost of replacement is much lower for the Air 2S, it’s my go-to for those areas. You know the ones – lots of trees, wires, other obstacles.
The smaller size of the Air 2S in these cases may be more alluring, as it is smaller and lighter than the Mavic 3 Pro.
That price factor can play a part here as well. As your activity may be too risky for a more expensive aircraft.
What’s better: the DJI Mavic 3 Pro or the DJI Air 2S?
At the end of the day, that loaded question fires off loudly. Of course, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is a superior system to that of the DJI Air 2S.
But those superior advancements seen in the Mavic 3 Pro come at a steep cost.
The DJI Air 2S holds its own in the price-to-benefit category. From a photography standpoint the DJI Air 2S will provide great photos the same as the Mavic 3 Pro.
If you tend to record video more often, then the Mavic 3 Pro is a clear choice with the two additional sensor options and its more advanced obstacle avoidance. It’s well worth the added investment.
As to which one is my favorite, well, it’s actually the DJI Mavic 3 Pro. Naturally!
Although I do enjoy flying the Air 2S and love the footage and stills I get from it.
The DJI Mavic 3 Pro has become the mainstay system for my day-to-day operations as a commercial drone pilot.
However, that one will stay in the case more often than not when I’m just flying as a hobbyist.
Best SD Cards for DJI Mavic 3 Pro
For the Mavic 3 Pro, the best SD cards would have to be the Sandisk Extreme Micro SD Card 256GB or Samsung EVO Select 256GB.
But the choices are many, so we recommend you check the below article.
- 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
- Superfast U3, class 10 rated transfer speeds of up to 130MB/s¹,²and UHS-I Interface
- Available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
- Complete with water⁴, temperature⁵, X-ray⁶, ⁷magnet, drop⁸, and wears⁹ out protection; Backed by a 10-year limited warranty
Best SD Cards for DJI Air 2S
For the Air 2S, the best SD cards would have to be the Sandisk Extreme Micro SD Card in either 128GB or 64GB.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!