DJI Air 3 Drone Review: Serious Video Chops

DJI’s drones dominate the market to such an extent that you just barely hear some other manufacturers talked about. They’re not fairly competing with themselves, however the DJI Air 3 does fill a spot between the professional-grade Mavic collection and the pocket-size Mini vary. It’s the primary new Air mannequin since 2021’s Air 2S, and DJI has finished it once more, with a drone that provides enhanced video efficiency and mercifully stress-free flying.

I’ve been flying the DJI Air 3 for the previous few months, evaluating it with a spread of different drones, together with its fundamental competitor, the excellent Air 2S. The greatest enchancment over its older cousin is a multi-camera setup beforehand unique to the a lot pricier Mavic fashions, however there are notable boosts to battery life and flight security too.

Twice as Nice

The headline characteristic for the DJI Air 3 is the 2 cameras mounted on its entrance gimbal. There’s a “normal” wide-angle digital camera providing a 24-mm-equivalent subject of view (broadly much like the digital camera on the Air 2S) and a medium-telephoto digital camera providing a 70-mm-equivalent subject of view. The latter offers the drone a brand-new artistic choice, with the angle permitting for a narrower framing of smaller topics and the flexibility to isolate them in opposition to the background in an all-new, dramatic manner. A tighter subject of view won’t sound all that thrilling, however in apply it’s a big improve.

Photograph: DJI

Both cameras use a 1/1.3-inch Quad Bayer CMOS sensor with 48-megapixel decision. What I like about these sensors is that they each seize video on the similar high quality, making it simpler to offer footage a unified, harmonious look when modifying, regardless of which components have been captured by which digital camera.

The DJI Air 2S had a single 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor, which could make the Air 3’s smaller 1/1.3-inch sensors sound a little bit disappointing. But it doesn’t really feel like an excessive amount of of a loss. I perceive DJI’s justification; two bigger sensors would add weight and take up house. But all advised, I feel the picture high quality is healthier on the Air 3, with wider dynamic vary and fewer noise.

The Air 3 does lose the flexibility to file video at a 5.7K decision, being restricted to 4K on each cameras, however in all honesty, I don’t suppose anyone will thoughts all that a lot. For the vast majority of informal customers, 4K will probably be greater than sufficient element.

4K could be captured at as much as 60 frames per second in the usual video mode, 100 fps in slow-motion mode, and 30 fps within the new evening mode, which ekes out further element after the solar goes down. I discovered the flat D Log M shade profile a pleasure too, because it let me do my very own shade grading and correction in postproduction and obtain the outcomes I needed.

Photos (which could be captured in JPEG or DNG RAW) look wonderful too, and whereas the Air 3 can’t match the WIRED-recommended Mavic 3’s Four Thirds Hasselblad digital camera, it’s not far off, whereas being smaller and considerably cheaper.

Fly Safer for Longer

Buzzing across the seashores and headlands of Britain’s southeast coast, I discovered the Air 3 to be much more forgiving and pleasing to fly than its (already forgiving and pleasing) predecessor. This is due to a much bigger battery (46 minutes versus the Air 2S’s 31—though real-world use numbers are marginally decrease for each drones) and a full omnidirectional anti-collision sensor setup that makes crashes impossible. The Air 3 now has sensors dealing with forwards, backwards, upwards, downwards, and laterally on each the left and proper sides, and in good mild these will spot hazards and cease your drone from careering into them. These sensors change into much less dependable the darker the situations are, however it’s a useful characteristic that would save your blushes and financial institution stability.

Like all DJI drones, the Air 3’s flight controls are splendidly intuitive and loaded with sensible automated features. For occasion, you possibly can faucet a button on the controller to take off, and one other to carry the drone again from wherever it’s and land. You can even outline waypoints for totally automated flight, and set the Air 3 to trace a static or shifting topic, holding its cameras skilled on it always.

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