DJI Air 3 Drone Review: Serious Video Chops

DJI, the undisputed leader in the drone market, continues its dominance with the DJI Air 3, bridging the gap between the professional-grade Mavic series and the compact Mini range. Released as the first new Air model since 2021’s Air 2S, DJI once again demonstrates its prowess by delivering enhanced video performance and a seamlessly stress-free flying experience.

Having extensively tested the DJI Air 3 over the past several months, pitting it against a variety of drones including its main competitor, the exceptional Air 2S, I can attest to its remarkable improvements over its predecessor. The standout enhancement lies in its dual-camera setup, previously reserved for the higher-end Mavic models, complemented by noteworthy advancements in battery longevity and flight safety measures.

At the forefront of the DJI Air 3’s features are its two front-mounted cameras on a gimbal. The setup comprises a “standard” wide-angle camera with a 24-mm-equivalent field of view, akin to that of the Air 2S, and a medium-telephoto camera offering a 70-mm-equivalent field of view. This dual-camera configuration introduces a fresh creative dimension, empowering users to capture subjects with a narrower framing, lending a dramatic touch by isolating them against the background—a significant upgrade in practicality and versatility.

Both cameras boast a 1/1.3-inch Quad Bayer CMOS sensor with a resolution of 48 megapixels, ensuring uniform video quality across captures, facilitating seamless editing and post-production adjustments.

While the Air 3’s sensors are smaller compared to the Air 2S’s single 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor, the resulting image quality is commendable, exhibiting wider dynamic range and reduced noise. Despite the downgrade in maximum video resolution to 4K on both cameras, the difference is negligible for most users, given the ample detail provided by 4K resolution.

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Video capabilities include 4K capture at up to 60 frames per second in standard mode, 100 fps in slow-motion mode, and 30 fps in the newly introduced night mode, designed to extract finer details in low-light conditions. Additionally, the inclusion of the flat D Log M color profile facilitates personalized color grading and correction during post-production, offering users greater control over the final output.

In the realm of photography, the Air 3 delivers impressive results in both JPEG and DNG RAW formats. Although it falls short of matching the acclaimed Mavic 3’s Four Thirds Hasselblad camera, it comes remarkably close while maintaining a smaller form factor and a more affordable price point.

Enhanced safety and prolonged flight times characterize the DJI Air 3’s performance. With an extended battery life of 46 minutes compared to the Air 2S’s 31 minutes, coupled with a comprehensive omnidirectional anti-collision sensor system, flying the Air 3 is an even more forgiving and enjoyable experience. The sensors, positioned to detect obstacles in all directions, significantly reduce the likelihood of collisions, providing peace of mind during flights. Despite diminished reliability in low-light conditions, these sensors remain a crucial feature, capable of preventing costly mishaps.

Similar to its predecessors, the Air 3 boasts intuitive flight controls and a plethora of practical automated functions. Users can initiate takeoff and landing with the tap of a button, define waypoints for automated flight, and enable subject tracking for seamless camera focus adjustments—all contributing to an unparalleled flying experience.

In conclusion, the DJI Air 3 sets a new standard for consumer drones, combining advanced video capabilities, enhanced safety features, and user-friendly controls. As DJI continues to innovate, the Air 3 emerges as a compelling choice for both enthusiasts and professionals seeking cutting-edge drone technology.