The Mavic 3 is one of the newest drones from DJI and is considered a prosumer drone. It spans the gap between the consumer market and the professional market expertly.
Does the drone include optical zoom?
The DJI Mavic 3 has Hybrid Zoom, which is digital and not optical zoom. The 162-millimeter telephoto lens has the impressive capability to zoom in up to 28x!
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the zoom features of the Mavic 3 and how to use them so you can see the inspiring capabilities of this latest DJI creation.
Camera Drone with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera, 5.1K Video, Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, 46-Min Flight, Apple ProRes 422 HQ, Max 15km Video Transmission.
Keep reading, as there’s lots of great info to come!
What Is Optical Zoom Anyway, And How Is It Different Than Digital Zoom?
Before I can explain the awesomeness that is the Mavic 3’s Hybrid Zoom in detail, I want to be sure we’re on the same page when I talk about optical and digital zoom.
This section will explain the differences.
After all, when purchasing a camera, one of the most important considerations is the zoom capabilities!
Optical zoom needs space to move the lens farther from the sensor and magnify the subject. The lens will physically move according to how much you zoom in or out, changing the focal length along the way.
Digital zoom simply chooses a space on the photo, usually the center, and enhances it. This method increases the size of the focus area by cropping the sides and enlarging one point.
It’s a form of digital processing inside the camera which causes the loss of megapixels and image quality.
Most phones, drones, computers, and numerous other electronics, not specifically designed to take pictures, use digital zoom because there is no physical space to add optical zoom.
DSLR and mirrorless cameras are used for the purpose of photography and therefore have the lens space to add optical zoom.
Though there is a stigma on digital zoom, its quality has made leaps and bounds in the last few years. An image taken with digital zoom may not look perfect, but it can be used for lower-grade photography and surveillance.
Drones must take any payload they have into the air. When most companies are striving to shrink machine size, integrating larger cameras with optical zoom becomes increasingly difficult.
However, that does not mean the cameras are getting worse.
So, Does the Mavic 3 Have Optical Zoom or Digital Zoom?
Like most consumer drones, the Mavic 3 does not have optical zoom because of the limited size of the camera.
There are two cameras the drone uses. The main camera has a 4/3-inch sensor and up to 4x digital zoom.
The second camera features a telephoto lens equipped with a ½-inch sensor and is locked in 7x magnification.
The Mavic 3 uses Hybrid Zoom which allows these two cameras to work together for a stunning 28x digital zoom.
Zoom, whether digital or optical, is an essential characteristic of a drone. This is because there are numerous subjects at various distances which need to be captured.
However, these subjects may be obstructed by trees, buildings, wires, or other obstacles. Zooming in and past these blocks and simply having the option to stay farther away can be helpful and is sometimes necessary for a specific photo.
Luckily, digital zoom captures more than it ever has, and in my experience, there is little to no difference in quality when zooming in from 1x to 4x zoom using the primary camera.
This is made possible due to the large sensor in the camera. More light enters the lens, and a quality image becomes a reality.
Using the telephoto camera, 7x magnification continues to shoot quality photos because the camera is designed to capture that specific magnification.
Anything beyond 7x becomes grainy and noise increases.
Noise is a type of visual distortion and undesired color fluctuation which is caused by three main things: heat, electricity, and sensor illumination levels.
Using Mavic Zoom: A Step-by-Step Guide
Using the zoom features on the Mavic 3 is a lot like it was for previous Mavic models.
That said, the Mavic 3 does have a few key differences, so allow me to explain how to zoom with this drone specifically.
The Mavic 3 offers three ways to adjust the zoom when in Explore mode.
Explore mode is a new mode added in this generation of Mavic, and is required to use the zoom on the telecamera.
To enter Explore mode, you simply need to tap the mode options on the right side of your phone screen and then tap the binocular icon. When the setting is enabled, the icon will be highlighted yellow.
The three ways to use the zoom function are simple from here.
First, you can tap the icon near the binoculars that shows your magnification (1x).
There are six options for this icon, ranging from 1x to 28x, allowing the Mavic 3 to zoom in to preset lengths.
These lengths are 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, and 28; the first three options use the primary camera and the latter three use the telephoto camera.
This mode allows you to change smoothly between zooming lengths.
The disadvantage of using this method is that there are only the six options. If you want to zoom in past 28x, you can’t.
The next feature is accessed by touching the magnification button on the right side of the phone screen which shows the zoom length.
The button changes to a slider and can be adjusted to any zoom length between 1 and 28.
This method allows for more options and is completely adjustable. The slider is useful, but having it on your phone screen is slightly inconvenient.
The final zoom feature is my personal favorite, the Function (fn) button.
When pressed (the button is on the top left of the controller), the wheel on the front left of the controller changes from controlling the pitch of the camera to the zoom of the camera.
This allows for a smooth transition from any zoom level on both cameras. In other words, the zoom function has a jump in the middle that will switch cameras.
The switch occurs between 4x and 7x zoom. This should be noted since, if unanticipated, this can ruin a shot.
Apart from the skip in the middle of the zoom, this method is the best because it is convenient to use and allows for a more varied zoom.
In closing, I would highly recommend the DJI Mavic 3 even if it only has a digital and not optical zoom.
The zoom capabilities are incredible nevertheless, and I’m also very fond of its other revolutionary improvements.
This is the first DJI drone that has a 360-degree obstacle avoidance system and offers a new option to bypass obstacles rather than stop in front of them.
This allows you to capture shots in tight spaces without ruining them with a spontaneous brake due to an unfortunate tree branch.
The Mavic 3 also has a flight time of 46 minutes, which allows for more time to create the best videos and capture the perfect moments.
I always recommend flying a drone before purchasing whenever possible, but there are numerous features on this drone that make it one of the best options on the market.
Understanding Image Noise in Your Film and Video Projects (link)