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Dji mini 3 pro review: This pocket-sized drone packs a 4K punch

·8-min read
We took this gadget on a trip to Hvar and it have us some great footage   (The Independent)
We took this gadget on a trip to Hvar and it have us some great footage (The Independent)

Arriving in the summer of 2022, the mini 3 pro is Dji’s latest drone. It fits into the company’s more affordable mini range, but is significantly more expensive than the mini 2, owing to an improved camera and the inclusion of an obstacle avoidance system.

The mini 3 pro fits below Dji’s larger and more expensive air and mavic ranges. And because it weighs (fractionally) under 250g, it can legally be flown almost anywhere, apart from sensitive locations like airports, which are flagged by Dji’s phone app and the company’s new RC controller, but more on that later.

Although drones like this are fun to fly in their own right, the main feature here is the camera, which is attached to a motorised gimbal that keeps it stable, and can shoot 4K video and 48-megapixel images. Essentially, this is a flying camera, and one that can create cinematic shots quickly and easily.

New for the mini 3 pro is how the camera can rotate 90 degrees to shoot in portrait– perfect for TikTok and Instagram story content.

Add all this together – plus the new RC controller with integrated display – and you have what promises to be a hugely capable drone. But how good is it really, and is it worth the price? Read on to find out.

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How we tested

Drones of this calibre can’t just be tested in your back garden. And, while a few minutes of flying over the beaches of Whitstable on a grey and drizzly day made for a decent start, we felt the Dji mini 3 pro deserved more. So, we took it to Croatia and captured 4K footage and photos, over land and at sea.

The drone was entirely unfazed by the summer heat, and we captured what we hope you will agree is some remarkable footage. We used the drone in all three of its flight modes, and flew using Dji’s new RC controller with integrated display. While we have flown several models of Dji over the years, we also let a complete amateur take control for their first flight, to demonstrate how approachable these flying machines can be.

Dji mini 3 pro: £859, Dji.com

 (Alistair Charlton)
(Alistair Charlton)

Rating: 9/10

Drone stats:

  • Dimensions (folded): 145mm x 90mm x 62mm

  • Dimensions (unfolded): 171mm x 245mm x 62mm

  • Weight:

  • Flight time: Up to 34 minutes

  • Max speed: 16 metres per second

  • Max ascent/descent speed: Five metres per second

  • Max wind speed resistance: 10.7 metres per second

Camera stats:

  • Sensor: 1/1.3in CMOS

  • Resolution: 48MP

  • Field of view: 82.1 degrees

  • Aperture: f/1.7

  • Video: Up to 4K at 60 frames per second (HDR supported up to 30fps)

Design

Dji’s folding design never ceases to amaze. Simple but perfectly executed, four hinges see two rotor arms fold inwards against the main body, while the other two rotate around into a similar position. Once folded up, the mini 3 pro lives up to its name – it is properly tiny.

It’s so small in fact, that we were able to slip the drone and its controller into a rucksack, along with four days’ worth of clothes, on a budget airline flight with only under-seat baggage. If we were wearing a coat, the drone could even slip into a pocket with space to spare.

The 4K camera is attached to a delicate motorised gimbal which works against gravity to ensure the camera is always perfectly level. It is truly remarkable how quickly the gimbal adjusts, so that even when the drone is pitching steeply forwards or backwards, the camera stays pointing exactly where you want it.

 (Alistair Charlton)
(Alistair Charlton)

One battery pack is included, slotting into the rear of the body. This is also where you will find a USB-C port for charging and a miroSD card slot.

Being under 250g, this drone is exempt from pretty much all recreational flying rules. In short, it is deemed that quadcopters of such low weight can be flown over people without cause for concern should the motors fail. This means you can fly the Dji mini 3 pro just about anywhere, and it takes only a few seconds to unfold, switch on, connect the controller and take off.

Control

Our review unit came with DjiI’s new RC controller. Unlike the standard controller, which attaches to a smartphone that then acts as its display and camera viewfinder, the RC has its own 5.5in Full HD screen and a useful four hours of battery life. It automatically pairs to the drone when both are switched on, and then you’re ready to fly.

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The RC has broadly the same interface as is offered by a smartphone connected to the standard controller, but this solution means your flights won’t be interrupted by a phone call, or dependant on your phone having adequate battery life. It’s a pricey extra – the mini 3 pro costs £709 without and £859 with the RC – but we think it’s worth it.

On that note, the drone can be bought on its own if you already have a Dji controller, for £639, and the RC controller on its own will set you back £255.

 (Alistair Charlton)
(Alistair Charlton)

Flying the mini 3 pro is just like any other Dji drone, with the two sticks used for direction, speed, altitude and panning, while a scroll wheel on the rear tilts the camera up and down, and there are triggers for taking photos and shooting video. Taking off and landing is done by tapping icons on the display, and there are various menus for initiating special flight sequences to shoot pre-programmed video effects.

Performance

There are three flying modes, called normal, cinematic and sport, with the latter turning off the drone’s obstacle detection and avoidance system (which works much like a car’s parking sensors), and upping the speed to 16 metres per second, which is about 35mph.

As ever with Dji drones, flying the mini 3 pro quickly shifts from daunting to second nature. Despite its compact size, the drone is remarkably stable, and responds instantly to pilot input. Its stability is hugely confidence-inspiring, and even a drone rookie will have switched to sport mode after a few exploratory minutes in the air.

All of the controls are nicely damped, providing enough tactile resistance to be precise with your inputs, but without causing fatigue on longer flights. On that note, the mini 3 pro can fly for up to 34 minutes per battery, with plenty of warnings to let you know it’s running low, and it’ll even land itself if things are getting critical.

Being so small, the mini 3 pro can’t fly in high winds. Dji recommends it should only be flown when wind speeds are under 10.7 metres per second, which is just over 20 mph. We didn’t encounter bad weather during our time with the drone, but were more aware of gusting winds than we would be with larger models of Dji.

Camera

Despite its size, the mini 3 pro takes superb photos and video. It has a large CMOS imaging sensor with a 48MP resolution, 4K video capabilities and HDR (high dynamic range) for balancing highlights and pulling more detail out of the shadows.

There’s also an option to shoot slow-motion Full HD video at 120 frames per second (double that of 4K footage), and 48MP images can be shot in the RAW file format, preserving data and making them easier to edit in applications like Photoshop and Lightroom.

 (Alistair Charlton)
(Alistair Charlton)

We were really impressed with the footage and images captured by the mini 3 pro, and although it’s a fairly niche feature, the option to turn the camera sideways for vertical video recording will be a great option for Instagram and TikTok content creators.

Looking back at our footage, the colours pop impressively without looking artificial, while exposure and white balance are both nicely controlled when left on automatic. For those who want to take full control of the camera, the option is there to do so. This is a real strength of Dji’s consumer drones; how they are entirely approachable for amateurs and keen hobby photographers and videographers alike.

The verdict: Dji mini 3 pro

It’s hard to overstate just how impressive the Dji mini 3 pro is, given how compact the drone and its camera system are. Yes, at around £850 for the quadcopter and new RC controller it isn’t cheap. But for a camera capable of flying for half an hour, at up to 35mph, while recording 4K footage with HDR, and shooting RAW 48MP images, while packing smart tech like obstacle avoidance and object tracking, it actually feels like great value.

Add impressive portability into the mix, along with the extra freedom a sub-250g drone brings, and for most amateur content creators the Dji mini 3 pro really is the complete package.

Dji mini 3 pro

Buy now £859.00, Dji.com

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