DJI Mini 3 Pro feature image
Image courtesy: DJI

It’s been a while since we’ve played with a DJI Mini, and it still blows us away how tiny this drone is. The form factor makes it a handy companion for any filmmaker’s kit. The much-improved video quality makes the Mini 3 Pro quite formidable, even when compared to larger drones such as the DJI Air 2S. With several new features and upgrades, is the Mini 3 Pro the right drone for you? Where does it fit into the drone marketplace? Let’s find out. 

An upgrade or something more?

With the “Pro” moniker painted on its wing, DJI made a clear statement that the Mini 3 Pro is not simply an upgrade to the Mini 2. If that were the case, this drone would most likely be called the Mini 3. DJI also added these subclass badges to the Mavic series, such as the Mavic 3 “Cine.” The Mini 3 Pro comes equipped with D-Cinelike, DJI’s semi-professional flat image shooting profile. We say semi-professional because D-Cinelike fits somewhere between D-Log and the normal shooting profile.

The Mini 3 Pro’s camera can also be adjusted manually. It’s the first miniature drone to offer such control. Everything from ISO to shutter speed and white balance can be adjusted. The only control that can’t be changed is the fixed aperture. At F1.7, the aperture on the Mini 3 Pro is more than a full stop faster than any previous DJI drone we’re aware of. There is also a pro battery option. DJI calls it the “Plus Battery,” but since we’re pointing out professional features, we’ll include it; most other drone models don’t have battery tier options. 

The drone’s form factor means it’s an easy companion to take along on any outdoor adventure or simply to leave in your kit so that you always have a drone on standby at a moment’s notice. We took the Mini 3 Pro on several journeys, including a 6-mile round-trip hike to Chush Falls in Oregon. The lightweight drone and controller added no meaningful weight to our pack. This is huge because you don’t have to debate if you really want to bring your drone along. If you don’t get a chance to use it, you won’t be upset that you carried it the whole time.   

The camera and special features

In our book, the only acceptable reason for a company to release a new drone is that they’ve made improvements to the camera. That is certainly the case with the Mini 3 Pro. The Mini 3 Pro now captures beautiful 4K video at up to 60 frames per second in H.264/H.265. It captures clean-looking footage at a higher bit rate than the Mini 2 or the Air 2: 150 Mbps versus 100 Mbps and 120 Mbps, respectively.

The improved 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor is more than twice the size of the Air 2 sensor, which itself is bigger than the Mini 2 sensor. The sensor on the Mini 3 Pro offers better overall image clarity, more dynamic range and improved low-light performance. The F1.7 aperture also makes more light available to the sensor. This makes it easier to get quality low-light footage and images. Finally, the Mini 3 Pro also has dual native ISO. The low base sits at ISO 100, and the higher base is ISO 500. Thanks to this, the quality of your low-light videos will be greatly improved.

There’s also HDR mode available for both photo and video. However, it’s only supported in Single Shot mode for photo and in 4K up to 30 fps for video. It’s also able to capture 120 fps in 1080p for some buttery slow-mo footage. 

Although the Mini 3 Pro carries the Pro label, DJI sadly left out D-Log. Most likely, the small processor onboard is not capable of handling this. To keep the weight down, they have to sacrifice somewhere. But D-Cinelike does a decent job, and it captures in 10-bit color. The control you have over the image while using D-Cinelike is rather impressive. This provides you with more flexibility when editing and offers richer color possibilities. 

Image

Image quality is of high importance when it comes to a drone’s camera. What DJI has been able to do with tiny cameras is remarkable. Osmo Pocket, Osmo Action and their lineage of drone cameras, dating back to the Phantom series, all build upon each other to consistently improve the quality of the camera. DJI continues to innovate and show its affinity for making quality cameras in a small form factor. 

The footage from the Mini 3 Pro’s camera is very clear and sharp. In fact, it can almost be overly sharp for our taste. It’s got decent dynamic range, good color rendition and can give you a nice image straight out of the camera without any fuss. If you capture footage using D-Cinelike, you can extract even more from this powerful little camera. It also captures stunning 48 MP stills in RAW for those who’re into drone photography.              

The footage looks best while filming in D-Cinelike at 4K 48p and above with an ISO of 1,600 and below. The footage is much less muddy compared to its predecessors and is quite usable considering the price point of this camera. There is some excessive built-in noise reduction processing that takes place at higher ISO settings, so we recommend sticking to the above-suggested parameters. 

DJI Mini 3 Pro design and flight performance

The DJI Mini 3 Pro has seen a complete redesign since the Mini 2. The arms extend out further away from the body and that means the larger props are further out as well. Also, the arms no longer need to be folded and unfolded in any particular order. It’s a small detail but also a pretty nice quality of life improvement. The new facelift features a cutout just above the gimbal, which allows for new low-angle shots. The whole body of the Mini 3 Pro has a more aggressive posture that’s also more aerodynamic, providing better battery life.

DJI Mini 3 Pro folded
Image courtesy: DJI

The battery is also redesigned. It feels very nice and secure when putting it in and out of the chassis. Being a 249 g drone means some of the materials feel a bit toy-like. However, that’s partly due to DJI keeping the weight down. That said, the drone doesn’t exactly feel cheap to us, and being lightweight is the whole point of the design. There has to be a trade-off somewhere. One benefit of the lower weight and smaller size of the Mini 3 Pro is that it’s quieter than larger drones. This can be useful if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself when flying. 

The size does come with a slight drawback when it comes to dealing with the wind. However, the Mini 3 Pro has come a long way since the original Mini when it comes to fighting high wind speed. That said, this drone doesn’t have the power of the bigger ones and, therefore, could struggle in stronger wind. One thing to consider when using the drone is that the processor requires the props to move air around the drone in order to cool it down. Leaving a fan out helps to reduce the weight, but be careful of leaving your drone on without flying it; it really heats up.           

ActiveTrack and added sensors

The Mini 3 Pro features Tri-Directional Obstacle Sensing. This is a big step up for the Mini. It’s equipped with forward, rear and downward-facing sensors. Having all those sensors means that the Mini 3 Pro can intelligently utilize features such as APAS and ActiveTrack. However, the lack of side sensors still makes us apprehensive when using such features fully autonomously. Unless you intend on a simple shot in an open area or you’re not making horizontal movements, we’d stick to mostly manual flight operations for optimal safety. APAS and Active Track do work well. Just be aware that if the sensors are set to bypass, or you’re using a QuickShot of some kind, the drone could be directed sideways into an obstacle. 

DJI Mini 3 Pro bottom
Image courtesy: DJI

Spotlight is possibly our favorite feature ever introduced on DJI drones. It’s our favorite way to use the APAS system. We find ourselves using Spotlight quite often — that is, after we’ve made sure our flight path is safe. It’s effortless to highlight your subject on the display and allow the drone to track and maintain the subject in the frame. The flight operations remain manually controlled during Spotlight, so you can create any type of shot you want. It’s almost like having a second drone operator specifically operating the gimbal. This allows the pilot to focus more on their flight movement and flight safety rather than maintaining the subject in the frame. It’s easy to create highly skilled-looking shots with minimal effort using Spotlight. 

The sensors are a very nice feature if you’re new to drones. They will prevent you from crashing into objects in front or behind you.  However, as experienced aerial cinematographers, we tend to prefer flying close to subjects in order to create interesting shots. The sensors also go a long way when it comes to the return to home (RTH) feature. Without any sensors, your drone would crash into the first obstacle on its journey back to its home point. Although it lacks side-facing sensors, the sensors it does have make RTH much more likely to be successful. 

Introduction vertical shooting mode on the Mini 3 Pro

True vertical shooting is now a thing. The gimbal rotates to give you native vertical photos and video. We imagine this is great for social media influencers or anybody who wants quality aerial footage for their Stories, Tik Toks or Shorts without cropping most of the shot out.  Natively shooting in portrait mode can prevent quality loss when producing content for a vertical format. With more content being consumed this way, we might expect to see all future drones have this feature included.  

Unique low-angle shooting

Another neat feature we haven’t seen on other drones up to the Mini 3 Pro is a gimbal that can tilt 60 degrees upward. The redesigned front end with a cutout above the gimbal makes this possible. Even at this insane tilt angle, the props still aren’t in the shot when flying at high speed. Other drones like the Air 2S or the Mavic 3 can tilt up to just 24 and 35 degrees, respectively. That means the Mini 3 Pro can capture unique low-angle shots that up until now have not been possible with a DJI consumer drone. 

We hope DJI’s future drones will have a similar capability because we really like this feature. It allows us to capture reveal shots that tilt down instead of the same old reveals that tilt up to reveal the scene. Anytime we can add a new shot type to our tool kit, that’s a positive thing.

No Tripod mode — still

We would very much like to see Tripod mode reinstated on DJI drones, and we will continue to gripe about this until DJI adds it back.  Especially on what some would consider a beginner drone, having a flight mode that greatly reduces flight speed and therefore limits potential flight safety risk seems like a no-brainer. For those who don’t know, Tripod mode was a flight mode where the top speed was 2.2 mph for Mavic drones. Not only did it greatly increase flight safety, but it also allowed us to get cinematic footage most often while flying super close to objects while still having precise control due to the lower top speed. Please, DJI, add Tripod mode back to your drones — we know a lot of pilots who would love to have it back.       

The DJI RC

DJI Mini 3 Pro RC
Image courtesy: DJI

The controller plays a big part in the user experience, and the DJI RC ups the overall operational enjoyment and user experience substantially. Its 5.5-inch FHD screen lasts seemingly forever, but DJI claims it lasts four hours on a full charge. The DJI RC pumps out 700 nits of brightness and is more than enough to comfortably view even outdoors on a bright sunny day. It supports O3+ video transmission, just like the Mavic 3. There are two custom function buttons as well as a zoom wheel, all of which start to add up to a big win when compared to the RC-N1, DJI’s basic controller. The antenna no longer needs to be folded and unfolded as now it is integrated into the controller — another nice quality of life improvement. With a 15 km range and 1080/60 fps feed, the RC is a true pleasure to use while flying.    

Something we instantly noticed about the controller was the drastic size difference between it and the drone itself. While the drone is tiny, the controller seems massive. If only the controller could have a smaller footprint to match the small scale of the drone. Knowing DJI, they’re probably already hard at work on this.    

The screen on the DJI RC is essentially the same size as our iPhone 13 Pro. Plus, while in Auto mode, you can tap the screen to set exposure and make adjustments just like you would on an iPhone. This makes it very intuitive to use. We are accustomed to having the phone be our screen and it typically sits above the controls, so we were wondering how it would feel to have the screen now below the controls. Quite frankly, it didn’t seem to make any impact. We quickly adapted to the ergonomics and didn’t think twice about it. When setting up the old controller, we always felt like we were going to drop our phone, so having the built-in display brings us some peace of mind.

Like all the other DJI controllers, we would like an alternative way to toggle between Cine, Normal and Sport modes. If you get the DJI RC controller, it has two custom function buttons on the underside that are easily accessed without removing a single finger from critical controls. These buttons can change several features such as +/- EV, Follow/FPV mode, recenter gimbal and camera settings. Why not allow the function buttons to change between Cine, Normal and Sport mode?  However, this isn’t a deal breaker by any means.     

All things considered, we feel as if we’re more likely to fly the Mini 3 Pro if we have the DJI RC. It makes the entire experience more enjoyable with less hassle. For only $309 more, we feel as if this is a no-brainer decision. If you don’t have the budget, then the standard RC-N1 controller is still a good option and is better than previous Mini series controllers.

Battery

The standard battery lasts 34 minutes. As always, this is under ideal circumstances. You’ll likely get slightly less flight time based on your flight conditions, but even if that means around 30 minutes, that’s still not bad. The battery itself is redesigned — it feels robust and secure when inserted into the drone or the charging hub. Speaking of which, we love the charging hub and wish this could be a feature on the Air series as well. That charging system seems much less sophisticated compared to this. 

The Mini 3 Pro also includes a “Plus Battery” option. This is a pretty neat option to have for any drone. The Plus Battery gives you around 47 minutes of flight time. Now that’s insane. It’s on par with even the DJI Mavic 3. One consideration, however, is that if you use the Plus Battery, it ups the weight past the 249 g threshold, which could then pose an issue depending on where you live. The one drawback we could point out is the lack of a battery indicator on the battery itself, but you can still check the level with the battery plugged into the drone or the charging hub. 

Evolution of the DJI Mini lineup

The DJI Mini series essentially exists because of the weight restrictions built into drone regulations. 249 grams is a key and strategic weight for a drone. In some countries, you cannot fly a drone even for fun without a license if it weighs more than 250 grams. Here in America, it means you don’t have to register this drone with the FAA.

That isn’t that big of a deal, though. It doesn’t mean you can fly anywhere you want. You still need to abide by FAA regulations regarding airspace. If you plan on using this drone to make money, then you also are required to become FAA certified. That said, this drone is great for domestic and international traveling for hobby use. If you’re a video producer, it’s nice to leave it in your camera bag so you’re never without a drone. Plus, now that it’s more capable than ever, there isn’t a real sacrifice to having this be your go-to drone when in a pinch. 

The original Mini was simple. It had lackluster video, low-resolution image, no obstacle detection, weak range and absolutely dismal Wi-Fi image transmission. But it was tiny and lightweight; it found its niche. The Mini 2 was a nice improvement with 4K video and the much improved Ocusync transmission — but still no obstacle sensors. 

The Mini 3 Pro is a giant leap forward in features and ability. However, it comes at a price. Along with the ever-evolving list of features, comes an ever-evolving price tag, and the Mini 3 Pro takes a giant leap forward in price as well. The “Fly More Kit Plus” with DJI RC will run you $1,158 plus tax. Last we checked, this combo doesn’t include ND filters either, which will end up costing you another $55. All told, the Mini 3 Pro with all the fixin’s will cost you over $1,200. For comparison, the Air 2S combo costs $1,499 and comes with the more advanced DJI Smart Controller and ND filters. Plus, we still believe the Air 2S has the leg up on the Mini 3 Pro for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a superior camera. 

Should you buy?

The price tag on the Mini 3 Pro puts buyers in a tough position in our opinion. If you’re making money using your drone, then perhaps it’s worth paying up for the Air 2S. If you aren’t making money with your drone, then the Mini 2 could be a better bang for your buck at half the cost. This drone is simply nice to have around. Leave it in your camera kit, your travel bag or what have you, and you’ll always have a drone ready at a moment’s notice.

Summary

DJI

$759 (drone only)

Strengths

  • Improved 249-gram design
  • 4K/60 fps video
  • D-Cinelike
  • Excellent flight time

Weaknesses

  • Lacks side-facing sensors
  • Price tag
  • Less stability in wind
  • No Tripod mode

Bottom line

The Mini 3 Pro is an excellent drone with a lightweight design, 4K video recording and excellent flight time, but its price tag is quite high for it to be a must-buy drone.

Tech specs

Maximum horizontal speed35.8 mph / 16 m/s (S Mode)
22.4 mph / 10 m/s (N Mode)
13.4 mph / 6 m/s (C Mode)
Maximum ascent speed11.2 mph / 5 m/s
Maximum descent Speed11.2 mph / 5 m/s
Maximum wind resistance23.9 mph / 10.7 m/s
Flight ceiling2.5 miles / 4000 m
Maximum flight time34 minutes
Maximum hover time30 minutes
Maximum tilt angle40 degrees
Hovering accuracy±1.0′ / 0.3 m horizontal with vision positioning
±0.3′ / 0.1 m vertical with vision positioning
±1.6′ / 0.5 m vertical with GPS
Maximum angular velocity250°/s (Pitch)
Sensor type1/1.3-inch-type CMOS sensor
Sensor resolutionEffective: 48 megapixel
Focal length24 mm (35 mm equivalent)
Field of view
82.1 degrees
Maximum apertureF1.7
Minimum focus distance3.3′ / 1 m
ISO sensitivityPhoto/Video
– 100 to 6400 in Manual, Auto Mode
Shutter speedElectronic shutter
2 to 1/8000 seconds
Video format3840 x 2160p at 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps (150 Mb/s MOV/MP4 via H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC)
2720 x 1530p at 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps (150 Mb/s MOV/MP4 via H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC)
1920 x 1080p at 24/25/30/48/50/60/120 fps (150 Mb/s MOV/MP4 via H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC)
Broadcast resolutionNone
Still image supportDNG / JPEG / RAW
– 48 MP (8064 x 6048)
– 12 MP (4032 x 3024)
– 12 MP (4032 x 2268)
Media/memory card slotSingle slot: microSD/microSDHC/microSDXC (UHS-I) [512 GB maximum / U3/V30 or faster recommended]
Photo modesAuto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), Interval, Single Shot
Number of axes (gimbal)3 (Pitch, Roll, Yaw)
Control range (gimbal)Pitch: -135 to 80 degrees
Roll: -135 to 45 degrees
Yaw: -30 to 30 degrees
Angular speed (gimbal)Pitch: 100 degrees/s
Control accuracy (gimbal)±0.01 degrees
GNSS supportGPS, BeiDou, Galileo
Vision systemDownward, forward, backward
Obstacle sensory range1.3 to 82.0′ / 0.4 to 25.0 m
Forward field of view106 degrees (horizontal)
90 degrees (vertical)
Backward field of view58 degrees (horizontal)
73 degrees (vertical)
Operating environmentSurface with clear patterns at > 15 lux
Operating frequency (remote controller)2.4 GHz (2.400 to 2.483)
5.8 GHz (5.725 to 5.850)
Maximum operating distance (remote controller)7.5 miles / 12 km
Transmitter power26 dBm (2.4 G)
26 dBm (5.8 G)
Model (Battery)Intelligent Flight Battery
Battery chemistryLithium-ion polymer (LiPo)
Battery capacity2,453 mAh / 18.1 Wh
Battery configuration2 S / 7.38 V
Maximum charging power37 W
Charging temperature41 to 104 degrees F / 5 to 40 degrees C
Weight2.8 oz / 80.5 g
Rotor configuration4
Operating temperature32 to 104 degrees F / 0 to 40 degrees C
Diagonal size9.7 inches / 247 mm
Overall dimensions3.5 x 2.4 x 5.7″ / 90.0 x 62.0 x 145.0 mm (folded)
14.3 x 2.8 x 9.9″ / 362.0 x 70.0 x 251.0 mm (unfolded)

Devin Hujdic is a self-employed video producer with experience across the U.S. and internationally.