The tiny and lightweight DJI Mini 3 Pro takes DJI’s popular Mini drone series to new heights. The original DJI Mavic Mini arrived in 2019, and was followed in 2020 by the Mini 2, which upped the video resolution from 2.7K to 4K alongside other improvements; but it’s the Mini Pro 3 that really brings the ‘wow’ factor to the sub-250g Mini series.
What’s most impressive about this beginner drone is that DJI has managed to include a tri-directional obstacle avoidance system inside such a small drone – but that’s far from the only improvement over its predecessor.
The Mini 3 Pro’s sensor is bigger – it’s now a 1/1.3-inch CMOS chip; its lens’s maximum aperture has been increased to a bright f/1.7; its video capabilities have been vastly improved; and the camera can be rotated 90 degrees, enabling you to capture stills and video in both landscape and portrait format.
The list of improvements goes on, justifying that coveted ‘Pro’ moniker. In a nutshell, what you get with the Mini 3 Pro is many of the features and capabilities of higher-spec drones like the DJI Mavic Air 2, in a machine that crucially remains within the sub-250g weight category, which means it doesn’t need to be registered in many regions. This is an impressive feat that has so far only been accomplished by the Autel Evo Nano, which we’re in the process of reviewing.
These welcome new features, along with the new DJI RC Smart Controller that’s available in the priciest of this drone’s three kits, make the Mini 3 Pro a tempting proposition for aerial content creators. One fairly sizable downside, though, is the large leap in price from the DJI Mini 2.
This is to be expected when you consider all of the new features, but a drone that was once affordable enough to appeal to beginners is now priced closer to the DJI Air 2S, a drone that has a 1-inch sensor and is currently top of our list of the best drones you can buy. It’s a tough choice between the two, but the DJI Mini 3 Pro is an excellent option for anyone whose priority is portability, and/or a compact drone that slots into their wider camera kit.
With its folding design and light-gray finish, the Mini 3 Pro has the signature DJI Mavic family looks. But whereas the DJI Mini 2 has sleek, Lamborghini Countach-esque lines like other Mavic models, the Mini 3 Pro is decidedly more rounded.
The inclusion of the obstacle sensors and rounded gimbal mounts further add to this more curvaceous look, while additional design tweaks include propellor arms that have been made more aerodynamic, and propellors that are larger than those used by the Mini 2 to help to increase flight times.
The gimbal attaches to the drone on both sides of the airframe, which helps support the camera and its larger 1/1.3-inch sensor. Handily, this camera can be rotated 90 degrees to shoot stills and video in both portrait and landscape format. It’s a feature that has no doubt been included for social media content creation, thanks to the popularity of TikTok and Instagram Stories, but it’s an extremely useful feature for photographers of all kinds.
In terms of controllers, the standard kit comes with the DJI RC-N1, which is the same controller that you get with the Mavic 3, Air 2S, Mavic Air 2 and Mini 2. This controller features a telescopic phone holder and no screen of any kind.
A significant, but pricier, upgrade on the RC-N1 is the new DJI RC Smart Controller that we used for this review. It offers a large, clear 5.5-inch touchscreen with a 700-nit brightness, and weighs in at 390g. This is only around 5g more than the combination of an RC-N1 Controller and a smartphone, and it offers a faster set-up, as you only need to screw in the thumbsticks in order to start flying.
Thanks to the new 12.1MP 1/1.3-inch sensor, which is capable of capturing 48MP photos, image quality is incredibly good for such a small and lightweight drone.
There is a small loss of sharpness towards the edges of the frame when shooting stills, which is typical of most consumer drones, and lateral chromatic aberrations can be visible along high-contrast subject edges, but this isn’t a major issue.
The Mini 3 Pro’s ISO handling is, without a doubt, excellent. There’s virtually no additional noise visible in raw files in any of the settings above ISO 100, all the way up to the maximum ISO 6400. Natural color reproduction is also maintained, which means you can confidently shoot at any ISO setting.
The Mini 3 Pro’s camera uses dual native ISO capturing technology, and the move has certainly paid off. When this ISO handling is combined with the fast f/1.7 aperture, the Mini 3 Pro is a low-light powerhouse.
In stills mode, you’re able to capture raw files and JPEGs in two resolutions. While the Mini 3 is advertised as having a 50MP resolution, ‘standard’ raw files are 12.1MP. To get larger files you have to shoot in the 48MP mode, which capture files at that resolution. However, when compared to the standard 12.1MP files, images captured in 48MP mode appears less sharp, although this could simply be an illusion because detail naturally looks sharper in smaller images.
Overall, video captured by the Mini 3 Pro is excellent. The videos captured for our tests were shot without ND (neutral density) filters, because these were unavailable at the time. This means the 4K footage is a little choppy, due to the fast shutter speeds required to balance exposure against the fast f/1.7 fixed aperture.
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