With the release of DJI's Air 3, we now have all the video (non-FPV) drones that DJI offers in their third generation. So, which drone is best for you? The answer is no longer as simple as it once was.
Before the release of the Mini 3 Pro in 2022, choosing a drone was pretty simple. If you were doing professional work, you would choose the Mavic 3. Are you on a budget or just want a high-quality photography drone? Air 2S. And if you were just starting out or just wanted to fly for fun, Mini 2 or FPV.
Then the Mini 3 Pro arrived and shook everything up. While it couldn't compete with the Mavic 3 in terms of video quality, it did well enough and at a low enough price that it wouldn't be questioned by those who use it for small jobs. For now, here is a list of camera drones that DJI offers: Let us answer the question of which drone you should buy.
- Mini 2 SE
- Mini 3
- Mini 3 Pro
- Air 3
- Mavic 3 Classic
- Mavic 3 Pro (and Cine)
- Inspire 3
What are your intentions with the drone?
I'll clear this doubt right away because if I wait until the end to say it, you'll hate me. With DJI's current range of drones, in my opinion, you can't go wrong if you just want a drone with good photo and video quality. The choice must be made based on the type of work or use made of it.
All of DJI's consumer products offer Quickshots, rated flight time of 30+ minutes, and (except the Mini 2 SE) 4K video. So, if you are just looking for a drone to capture your vacations and trips, get the one that best fits your budget. The quality will not disappoint you. If you don't do professional work, my suggestion is don't go beyond the Air 3. After that, you start paying for features. After that, you'll start paying for features or specs you'll probably never need.
However, among all the DJI drones, we have divided those to buy into three categories. While each group will have some redundant drones, it's easier, at least for me, to split them up this way.
One drone we won't include is Avata. The extremely fun and capable CineWhoop style drone and a great price for Avata Explorer Combo. For those just looking for a fun drone to fly, you can't go wrong. With the Motion 2 controller, you'll be FPV proficient in minutes. Those looking for advice on a more advanced offering should turn to a source with more experience in this field.
Novice pilots and social media
I put these two topics into one group, which will cover three drones, because they are quite close in scale of budget and specifications required. The line Mini from DJI has always been the focus of novice pilots, but now includes a rather advanced variant that is just as easy to fly for beginners.
If you're looking to experience the world of drone flying for the first time or are looking to buy someone their first drone, DJI's Mini line is the place to start. The current line is made up of three drones: Mini 2 SE, Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro. The models to take into consideration are the Mini 2 SE and the Mini 3.
The Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 are DJI's entry-level and entry-level options for those who want to start flying drones. Priced at 359 Euros, the Mini 2 SE is DJI's cheapest option and comes with everything you need to get started with your flying experience. While the 1/2.3″ 12MP camera isn't anything to write home about, it flies very well and is capable of capturing amazing shots once you get the hang of it.
If you're looking for something a little more powerful, the Mini 3 for 110 Euros more will give you a larger and more powerful camera, similar to that of the Air 3 and the Mavic 3 Pro. Also, if you don't mind exceed the 250 g threshold, the Intelligent Plus battery will guarantee you up to 50 minutes of flight.
Both the Mini 2 SE and Mini 3 are great options for those looking for an entry-level, affordable DJI product. You'll just have to decide whether you want more photo and video performance or a lower price.
Social media content creators
While both drones work well for creating content for social media, the 3 series is the better option. This is where the Mini 3 Pro comes in; despite being much more expensive than its non-Pro counterpart, both this and the non-Pro version offer true vertical photos and videos – physically rotating the camera so you don't lose quality.
With the Mini 3 Pro, you also get a primitive obstacle avoidance system (front, back and below), 4K 60 video and MasterShots. This drone offers everything you need to start creating epic content for your followers without getting too specific about what you can post on social media.
Entry level hobbyists and professionals
For those who want to get a lot more out of their drones or start making some money with real estate photography or small budget productions, these drones are the best choice.
In this group, however, things start to get complicated in figuring out what you need, because DJI has started reusing cameras across drones. Take the Air 3 for example: the 1/1.3-inch cameras come from the Mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3 Pro. So camera specs aren't enough to determine which drone is best for you.
Let's go back to the Mini 3 Pro for example. Its small size, low noise and ease of use make it ideal for creators on the go or for those who don't want to create a scene. The Mini 3 Pro is widely used in the world of real estate photography for its ease of use and ability to not create too much of a scene while flying.
The Mavic 3 family, however, offers a much larger Hasselblad micro 4/3 5.1K wide-angle camera, one of the best cameras on a DJI drone affordable for most buyers. With a variable aperture from f2.8 to f11, it's the closest DJI has come to offering a complete flying camera.
The question therefore arises whether it is better to buy the Mavic 3 Classic (1609 Euro) or the Mavic 3 Pro (2119 Euros). The Classic model offers only the Hasselblad camera, while the Pro model combines it with a 1/1.3-inch 3x zoom (70mm equivalent) camera and a 1/2-inch 7x zoom (166mm equivalent) camera thumb. Personally, I love the capability these zoom cameras give me, especially in drone photography or shooting in crowded spaces like cities.
However, the need for these additional cameras may vary, as they may be specific to your style and use cases.
Finally, the Air 3 is a drone that sits in the middle of DJI's range; you can guess that it will be a pretty good complete drone. The Air 3 features a dual-camera system that takes the wide-angle camera of the Mini 3 Pro and pairs it with the 3x zoom camera of the Mavic 3 Pro. Both are 1/1.3-inch cameras that shoot 4K 60 video and photos from 48MP.
It's not very exciting, but if you combine it with the new O4 drive system, the Mavic's APAS 5.0 and the price, which starts at 1099 Euros, it becomes a little more interesting. It's truly a mid-range drone, perfect for most jobs. If I didn't have any drones and wanted something to start with, this is what I would get.
With a version of the D-Log and DNG formats on each of these drones, you can get great footage and photos from these systems with enough practice and a bit of skill. Personally, I wouldn't suggest purchasing more than you need, especially if you're starting a drone business.
For hobbyists, see what you can afford and then choose the one you want most. Aside from vertical photos/videos and the O4, there are no other features on a lower class drone that don't exist on higher class ones.
You do it for work
This group is the easiest to explain, since it's in the name. If you are not a professional actively running a successful production company, you should not purchase these drones.
Both the Mavic 3 Pro Cine and the Inspire 3 bring Apple ProRes, an extremely powerful video codec that, in the hands of professionals, can help create stunning cinematic productions. But the price to pay is that of the license or the time needed to manage the filming.
I will not explain the difference in functions and what you get for the price of 4649 Euros of the Mavic 3 Pro Cine and 15119 Euros (excluding lenses) of the Inspire 3. This is because not all features are important for those who buy this drone. The most important question when purchasing one of these drones is not only “Do you need it?”, but also “What is the return on investment?”.
Based on flying experiences with the Inspire 3, it's not what you might think. It's a completely new system, designed to be used in specific cases and it's not just a scale Mavic 3. Sure, you can do everything a regular quadcopter can do and get some truly breathtaking shots, but that's not what it was designed for.
So, if either of these two prices startled you a little, it's safe to assume that this is probably not the level for you.