We’ve been waiting for three years, and it looks like we’ve been waiting for a reason – DJI has turned the market upside down again with the release of the 3rd generation Mavic. But when you look at its price, you involuntarily think: maybe the Mavic 2 Pro is not so outdated? What’s new in Mavic 3 and whether it’s worth paying twice for the Cine version – we figure it out together.
Mavic 3 vs Mavic 2 Pro: Size and Design
Outwardly, it may seem that the new Mavic is much larger than the previous generation models. But if you put them side by side when folded, it becomes clear that in fact the sizes are not too different. The body dimensions of the DJI Mavic 3 are 221x96x90mm, while the Mavic 2 Pro is 214x91x84mm, so the difference is minimal.
What really makes them different is the size of the “arms” that the propellers attach to – the Mavic 3’s are longer and thinner, making for a larger “wingspan”. The propellers themselves have also become larger.
At the same time, the new Mavic is slightly lighter than the old flagship – 895 grams (899 grams in the Cine version, more on that later) versus 907 grams.
But how did these changes affect the flight characteristics of the copter? Let’s see.
Flight characteristics of DJI Mavic
The flight speed of the Mavic 3 has not changed much. According to DJI, in “Sport” (maximum speed) mode, the novelty reaches speeds of up to 21 m/s, while the highest speed of the Mavic 2 Pro is 20 m/s. However, in real flight conditions with wind and other restrictions, you are unlikely to notice a difference.
But in the takeoff/landing speed, the changes are also noticeable to the naked eye: 6 m/s on takeoff, 8 m/s on landing for the Mavic 3 versus 3 m/s and 5 m/s, respectively, for the Mavic 2 Pro.
At the same time, the propellers in the new quadcopter began to work quieter, although the previous generation of Maviks was not too noisy.
Flight time and distance
And here we turn to one of the most useful innovations – flight time. In ideal windless conditions, the Mavic 3 can fly 46 minutes on a single battery charge, while the Mavic 2 Pro’s 31 minutes. In place, the new drone can hover for 40 minutes versus 29 minutes for the old model.
Of course, in reality, the duration of the flight for both models will be less – on average, by 10-15 minutes (do not forget that you still need time to land). But in any case, an addition of almost 15 minutes is very good.
Additional flight time is also supported by an increased operating range – 15 km versus 10 km. Improvements are made possible thanks to the new OcuSync 3.0 system, which uses 4 antennas instead of two.
The frame rate of the picture that is transmitted to the remote control during the flight has also increased – from 1080p / 30p to 1080p / 60p.
More than three years have passed since the release of the Mavic 2 Pro, and during this time, DJI has done a good job on the obstacle avoidance system. The new drone will have a fifth generation APAS pilot assistance system (intermediate generation systems are used on DJI Air 2s and other models released after 2018), while the previous version uses a second generation system. The system more effectively recognizes and “dodges” obstacles on all sides of the drone. However, it will be possible to feel the advantages of the new APAS 5.0 only after the firmware update, which is promised in January 2022.
Improvements provide new sensors. The drone uses wider-angle fisheye cameras (“eyes” are sensors on the front of the body), which can “see” much more of the area around the drone. So, the front system has a 103-degree vertical and 90-degree horizontal viewing angle, while the Mavic 2 Pro has only 70 and 40 degrees, respectively.
Mavic 3 Camera
The next big change was the new camera. The third generation of Mavics received an “adult” camera from Hasselblad with a Micro 4: 3 format matrix. This is a big progress not only for the series, but for the entire drone industry. The Mavic 2 Pro’s 1-inch sensor was already a big achievement, but it’s still a point-and-shoot format, so it wasn’t expected to perform well in low light conditions. Micro 4:3 is already the format of a “serious” camera, like, for example, the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 II, a favorite of videographers.
Aside from the obvious benefits for shooting in low light (and poor lighting for a small drone camera is not limited to night, it can be early evening or gloomy overcast weather) and noise reduction, a larger sensor has other benefits for aerial photography. The larger sensor allows for a wider angle without distortion – no wonder the new Mavic also has a wider 24mm lens (versus the 28mm on the Mavic 2 Pro).
But DJI didn’t stop at just one camera and added another 12-megapixel 1/2-inch camera on top with a 162mm telephoto lens. The second camera is built specifically for zooming – it’s not a zoom lens, but its focal length provides 6.75x magnification compared to the main 24mm lens. In addition, there is also a 4x digital zoom, so you get a total of 28x zoom, albeit with a loss in picture quality.
The Mavic 2 Pro only has a 4x digital zoom, unlike the other version of the second generation Mavic, the Mavic 2 Zoom. This version is equipped with a true zoom lens with 2x optical (24mm – 48mm) zoom and 4x digital zoom for a total of 8x magnification.
All in all, the Mavic 3’s dual-camera system looks like an interesting compromise that keeps the quality of the main camera great while still capturing very distant subjects, making it more versatile.
As for video shooting, everything has also changed for the better. First, the maximum resolution has increased from 4K to 5.1K (by 50 fps). The Mavic 2 Pro maxed out at 30fps in 4K, and 120fps slow motion was only available in Full HD. In the new Mavic 3, 120 fps slow motion can be shot already in 4K, and 200 fps is available for Full HD.
The bitrate (which is the main quantitative indicator for a video picture) has also increased from 100 Mbps to 200 (with the H.264 codec) and 140 Mbps (with the H.265 codec).
Even higher bitrates are available when shooting in Apple ProRes 422HQ format, but this format is only open to the Mavic 3 Cine version. The fact is that ProRes video with a high bitrate cannot be recorded on the internal memory of the drone or SD card, so a separate SSD disk with 1 terabyte of memory is attached to the Cine version of the drone. But such an upgrade is not cheap, which we’ll talk about now.
|DJI Mavic 3/Cine||Mavic 2 Pro|
|Camera||20MP, Micro 4:3 CMOS sensor, 24mm equiv. f/2.8-11||20MP, 1″ sensor, 28mm equiv. f/2.8-11|
|zoom||Hybrid: 1-4x digital zoom on main camera, up to 28x digital zoom on second camera||4x digital + 2x optical in Mavic 2 Zoom|
|Video transmission||OcuSync 3.0 (O3), 4 antennas, 15 km, 1080p/60p||OcuSync 2.0 Dual Antenna 10km 1080p/30p|
|Video resolution||5.1K/50p, DCI or UHD 4K/120p||4K/30p|
|Video bitrate||200 Mbps (H.264) / 140 Mbps (H.265)||100 Mbps|
|Obstacle avoidance system||APAS 5.0||APAS 1.0|
|Flight time||46 minutes||31 minutes|
Of course, the new Mavic 3 has become a major upgrade of the flagship of the previous generation. The most useful innovations were an increase in flight time by as much as 15 minutes and a new large matrix with improved video recording.
Now the third Mavic can definitely be called the most versatile professional video drone, and in this it easily pushed the Mavic 2 Pro off the pedestal.
However, when comparing two generations, the main issue is not in absolute advantages, but in relative advantages – advantages relative to the current price. And here the answer is not so obvious.
Even at the start of sales (in 2018), the price of the Mavic 2 Pro with the Fly More kit was $1,000 lower, and today with the release of the new version, you can expect even better offers. Comparing the price of the Cine version with the previous generation Mavic is almost indecent – for a new model with an SSD drive, you will have to pay twice as much.
Whether 15 extra minutes of flight and an improved picture of such an overpayment are worth it is up to you. In any case, the Mavic 2 Pro remains a very high quality professional video camera drone that has virtually no competitors on the market.