This month marks the 1-year anniversary of the Mini 3 Pro, released in May of 2022.
With its release came the big question: Is it worth the upgrade from the Mini 2? As with any updated DJI drone, many also wondered if the updated Mini drone could live up to all the hype that came associated with it.
One year later, we can say the Mini 3 Pro was not only worth the hype but is also a good drone for beginners, content creators, travelers, and anyone in between.
Would we still recommend it in 2023?
This article and the included YouTube video are a one-year review of the Mini 3 Pro, aimed at those contemplating buying a Mini 3 Pro a while after its initial release. In addition to this high-level review of the Mini 3 Pro, we’ll also give our thoughts on why the Mini 3 Pro is a drone to purchase in 2023.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Made for the Masses
One of the many reasons the Mini 3 Pro is so successful is that it doesn’t focus on just one area of drone owners, while simultaneously omitting others.
We’ll briefly look at a few different types of drone owners that might enjoy using the Mini 3 Pro.
Because of the Mini 3 Pros’ size and weight, new drone owners are sure to find the Mini 3 Pro to be an excellent drone for their needs. The Mini 3 Pro is light and quite agile, something those new to the hobby can and will appreciate.
With its small size and relatively quiet propellers (due to the pitch of the props), the Mini 3 Pro is not intimidating nor assuming whatsoever.
Upon taking it out of the box, one can confidently feel like “I can fly this”, as opposed to the feelings of trepidation many of us Phantom owners might have had at unboxing the Phantom line for the first time and then flying what seemed like an angry hoard of bees.
Moreover, beginners don’t have to deal with the added pressure of registering the drone in the US, as it is under 250g.
The Outdoors Type
Continuing along the lines of size and portability, those that mountain bike, hike, or do any type of outdoor activity and like to film themselves, will find the Mini 3 Pro to be an excellent companion in their gear bag or backpack.
Using a DJI RC, the Mini 3 Pro is able to deploy rather quickly and effortlessly.
This is oftentimes a huge plus, as getting in the air in the least amount of time might mean the difference between getting a great shot or missing it altogether.
Additionally, with there being a tri-directional obstacle avoidance system, the Mini 3 Pro is safer when flying around obstructions than any of its predecessors, although an omnidirectional system would be the absolute safest.
Regarding the avoidance system, the Mini 3 Pro also benefits from subject tracking, something those filming themselves outdoors will benefit from.
Social Media & Content Creators
When you combine the size, weight, sensors, and vertical shooting mode of the Mini 3 Pro, we are left with a drone that is quite capable of tackling many filming opportunities presented by media content creators.
Like the benefits mentioned for the outdoor types, the Mini 3 Pro is well-suited for single-shooting content creators in the exact same ways:
- Lightweight and small footprint, for easy travel
- Tri-directional obstacle sensing, for Focus Track, Spotlight, and Active Track
- Tru vertical shooting allows posting to social media sites without having to crop videos or images
Using the Mini 3 Pro for professional client work may heavily depend on what industry the Mini 3 Pro will be used in.
The Mini 3 Pro can be used in a few situations for client work. However, it seems best suited as a reliable backup to a main drone that might have an image sensor larger than the Mini 3 Pros’ 1/1.3″ CMOS sensor.
For instance, our company has, over the past year, used the Mini 3 Pro for exterior real estate shoots and lakefront imagery and the images were quite good.
These images worked well, because, for our real estate clients and some of our clients in other industries, the images are being viewed on smaller screens, mostly mobile devices.
For projects that require us to enlarge the photos for print, we use drones with 1″ sensors.
If you are expecting a rock-solid, bullet-proof drone, the Mini 3 Pro is not that category of drone.
Instead, the Mini 3 Pro is built from lightweight plastic that, at first touch, may seem to be quite cheap. However, this lightweight material aids in keeping the Mini 3 Pro under the 250g weight threshold.
Although the Mini 3 Pro might initially feel like a toy drone, upon close inspection it is put together really nicely, as one would expect from DJI.
If you twist the drone in hand slightly, while there might be minimal flexing, it is not at all flimsy or cheap feeling.
As a side note, one of the things I really do like about the Mini 3 Pro, which might not seem like a big deal at first, is the fact that unlike most of DJIs foldable drones, you can fold/unfold the Mini 3 Pros arms and legs in any sequence you would like, not just the front first or rears first.
This enables you to get the drone up in the air slightly faster than previous drones, without really thinking too much about it.
Size & Weight
When one hears DJI Mini (insert model number here), it is known immediately that the drone is going to be small and lightweight.
Even with all of the advancements added to this 3rd iteration of the Mini line (larger camera and added sensors), the Mini 3 Pros weight is still under the 250g threshold.
If attachments are planned to be added to the Mini 3 Pro, such as landing gear, propeller guards, or even the larger capacity Plus batteries, the Mini 3 Pro then goes over the 250g mark.
In the US, many Mini owners try to stay under 250g so as avoid having to register the drone, as drones under 250g do not need to be registered here in the US.
There are two distinct situations, however, where the Mini 3 Pro would need to be registered, those being:
- (As mentioned) Adding peripherals and/or Plus sized batteries, pushing the weight above 250g, and/or
- Using the Mini 3 Pro for Commercial work, in which case you’d also need to be Part 107 certified
Because the Mini 3 Pro is a sub 250g drone, it does get pushed around quite a bit in windy conditions. Although the Mini 3 Pro is rated to fly safely in 24mph winds, caution is recommended if doing so.
When it is that windy out, the winds could drastically change in speed and direction, possibly making it difficult to fly the drone back to your position, or even worse, causing the drone to crash into a person or object.
With this said, in decently windy conditions, although the Mini 3 Pro does get blown around, because of the stability of the 3-axis gimbal, video footage looks very smooth and consistent.
When the Mini 3 Pro was released last May, one of the huge draws was that it had 2 different capacity batteries: a Standard 2453 mAh option and a Plus 3850 mAh option.
The Standard option battery, which also comes in a fly more combo, has flight times of up to 34 minutes, whereas the Plus option, which also comes in a fly more combo, boasts flight times of up to 47 minutes!
While I have never been able to get flight times of 34 minutes on a standard battery, or 47 minutes on the Plus battery, I can confidently say that with the Plus version of batteries, you can indeed get quite a bit of flight time.
As a rule of thumb, for battery health, I generally land between 25% and 30%. The time flying on the Plus battery option is so long, I am genuinely surprised it is not time to land and change the battery.
New to the Mini line of DJI drones are the tri-directional vision sensors found on the Mini 3 Pro: Front, Rear, and Bottom.
With the sensors enabled, you have 2 options for obstacle avoidance: Bypass and Brake.
- Bypass enables the Mini 3 Pro to scan the immediate area and choose the best way around the obstacle.
- Brake stops the Mini 3 Pro from moving forward when it senses an object.
Additionally, you can turn all obstacle avoidance off, allowing one to fly the tiny drone close to and between various obstructions and gaps.
Now that the Mini 3 Pro now has 2 new front and rear sensors, it can enjoy many of the intelligent flight modes the Air 2, Air 2S, Mavic 2, and Mavic 3 lines benefit from, such as:
- Active Track
- POI (Point of Interest)
- Master shots
DJI RC Controller
When the Mini 3 Pro was released, the DJI RC remote controller was also introduced.
Like the original DJI Smart Controller and the subsequent DJI RC Pro, the DJI RC has an integrated 5.5″ screen. Unlike the higher-end DJI smart controllers, with their 1000-nit screens, the DJI RC has a screen brightness rated at 700 nits.
Although not as bright as the higher-end DJI RCs, the screen on the DJI RC, for me in the bright Central Florida sun, has been a much better experience than using any of the iPhones, iPads, or Samsung tablets and phones I own.
Also, the screen brightness is continual, meaning it never ever dims, no matter how hot the RC gets.
Photo & Video Quality
The Mini 3 Pro sports a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, which is not only larger than the sensors in any prior DJI Mini drone but is also close to double the size of the sensor in the Mavic Air 2.
The Mini 3 Pro also has a wide fixed aperture at f1.7, which allows it to take in more light than the f2.8 aperture many drones have, thus taking higher-quality low-light pictures and videos.
With the Mini 3 Pro being out for a year now, there are tons and tons of video footage and social media photos online, taken with the Mini 3 Pro.
Looking at the abundance of footage, one can reasonably say without objection that the Mini 3 Pro not only takes excellent videos but also high-quality photos.
The Mini 3 Pro has a 12MP camera, similar to many cell phones on the market today, and takes excellent photos.
What hobbyists and professionals alike will appreciate is that the Mini 3 Pro takes both JPEG and RAW images simultaneously.
For those new to photography, RAW image files are specifically useful as they capture way more image information than JPEGs, allowing the end user the ability to really edit the photos to their liking.
There is also an option to shoot 48MP photos. This is done through some ingenious tricks with the pixels in the Mini 3 Pros camera. There are those that love it and those that hate it. I’ve used this option in the past on real estate jobs and produced great results.
The Mini 3 Pro is also able to shoot in vertical mode, meaning that the Mini 3 Pros camera rotates 90 degrees to take portrait-orientated photos and videos. This is well suited for content creators and those that post regularly to social media sites like Tik Tok and Instagram.
When shooting vertically, images no longer have to be cropped physically, meaning that the image is in the frame and taken with no quality lost due to in-post cropping.
When shooting vertically, the entire Mini 3 Pros sensor is used, rendering the highest quality photos and videos.
The Mini 3 Pro can shoot video in the following resolutions and frames per second (FPS):
- 4K 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 48fps, 50fps, and 60fps
- 2.7K 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 48fps, 50fps, and 60fps
- 1080p 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 48fps, 50fps, and 60fps
- Slow Motion – 1080p 120fps
The Mini 3 Pro has two color profiles: Normal and D-Cinelike.
D-Cinelike is a DJI-specific, fairly flat video color profile that, when chosen, the footage is recorded in 10-bit. 10-bit D-Cinelike is useful for those wanting the most flexibility when color-grading their footage.
The Normal profile is useful for those that are content with the in-camera color and either do not want to color grade their footage or just want to make minimal exposure and color adjustments.
With a few models of DJI drones coming out since the release of the Mini 3 Pro, namely the Mini 3, Mavic 3 Classic, and Mavic 3 Pro, is the Mini 3 Pro still a viable purchase in 2023?
With the Mini 3 Pro being at a decent price-point, along with having many high-tiered specs, the Mini 3 Pro is a great drone for beginners, seasoned hobbyists, and even professionals looking for a great backup drone.
Also, since the Mini 3 Pro is a year old at the time of this article, there are many “close to new condition” used Mini 3 Pros for hundreds of dollars less than new pricing, making them an even better buy in 2023.