Good day, folks! Shawn here from Air Photography. One question I get asked repeatedly is, “Which DJI drone should I buy as we head into 2023?” In this video, I will be comparing the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, the DJI Mini 3, and the DJI Avata?
There's quite a bit of choice on the market. DJI has a pretty incredible lineup right now, and if you're new to drones, it can be a little bit overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. Many of these drones can range from a couple of hundred dollars up to several thousand. Then, when you factor in trying to figure out what features you need, the camera specs, it can be a little bit complicated and overwhelming.
Now, for me to answer that question of which DJI drone is right for you is not really an easy question to answer because everybody's needs and wants are a little bit different. On top of that, we all have different budgets, what we're able to spend or what we want to spend, so it's not really a cut-and-dry answer. What I do hope to accomplish in this video, however, is to go over each DJI drone and talk about its capabilities and strengths. Then, on top of that, I'll give my recommendation on who I think it is geared for.
Which DJI Drone Should You Buy in 2023?
Now, I'm not going to go over the specs of every DJI drone because, as a new pilot, a lot of that probably wouldn't make any sense. We're just going to go over some of the main features, some of the important ones, and hopefully, by the end of this video, you'll have a better idea of which drone is right for you.
3 Important questions before buying a DJI drone
Now, when it comes to purchasing a DJI drone, I think there are three important questions you need to ask yourself first. These are things you should consider before deciding what drone is right for you.
The price of the DJI drone
The first is the price; we all have a budget of what we're able to spend on a DJI drone. You may not be able to afford one of the higher-end drones or perhaps you just don't want to spend that kind of money if you're not even sure if you're going to enjoy the hobby.
Drone rules and regulations in your country
The next thing you need to consider are rules and regulations in your country. Every country has different regulations when it comes to weight class, and that can be a very important deciding factor.
I'll just use Canada as an example. In Canada, if you want to fly one of the larger drones that weigh over 250 grams, you do have to get a pilot certificate and register it with Transport Canada.
However, if you go with one of the mini drones that are under 250 grams, you don't need a pilot certificate and you don't have to register it. On top of that, there are very few regulations around it compared to a larger drone. So, for many people in Canada, just to save all that hassle, they choose to go with a DJI Mini drone. That is something you will have to research: the rules and regulations of the country in which you live.
The features and capabilities of each DJI drone
Finally, the third thing is the features and capabilities of each DJI drone. What are you looking to accomplish with your drone? Do you plan on doing a lot of night flying, night photography, or videography? Is flight time more important to you than video quality? Or, do you want to fly with a set of goggles, like with something like the Avata here? These are all important things you need to ask yourself, and these are things we're going to talk about in this video.
The DJI Mini drones, including the DJI Mini 3 Pro and DJI Mini 3
So, let's go ahead and talk about the DJI mini drones first. These ones are under 250 grams, so in many Countries, that is very appealing. DJI actually sells a few different models. This here is the DJI Mini 3 Series. The Mini 3 Pro, which is this one here, was launched back in the early spring, and this one here, just the regular Mini 3, was launched about a month ago.
Now, of course, they do have a couple of other mini drones that are still available for purchase: the Mini SE and the Mini 2, and the Mini 2 SE but I'm going to keep this video focused on the more recent drones that are available.
The DJI Mini series is a great choice, as mentioned, because you don't have to worry about regulations in some countries. They're not as heavily regulated, of course, that's going to depend on where you live. They're small, they're lightweight, they're compact, so they're easy to travel with, and for the most part, they are affordable for most people.
The price of them is quite a bit cheaper than some of the larger drones here on the table. Now, the prices I'm going to give you here are based on the RCN1 controller. I'm going to do that across the board just to keep things fair.
Basically, the Mini 3 here comes in at $559, and the Mini 3 Pro here comes in at $759. So, there's about a $200 price difference between these two models.
DJI Mini 3 Pro and Mini 3 features
Now, I've made a whole video going over the differences between the Mini 3 Pro and the Mini 3. Basically, it's all to do with the features that are included.
The way the DJI drone flies is very similar; it all boils down to some of the intelligent flight features and some camera features as well.
The Mini 3 Pro at $559 is a pretty good choice; it's very affordable and it flies just as well as some of their larger drones.
Now, the Mini series is not as capable in the wind. They actually do handle the wind pretty well. But if you are going to be flying a lot in windy conditions, then one of the DJI larger drones like the DJI Mavic 3 or the Air 2S over here is probably a better choice.
But unlike before, when going with a mini drone, you no longer have to sacrifice the quality of video or features. In the past, if you needed a DJI mini drone, you didn't have a lot of the intelligent flight features such as tracking, point of interest, master shots, or hyperlapses.
But with the Mini 3 Pro here, you get all those features, you get obstacle avoidance, all in a sub-250 gram drone. The regular Mini 3 over here, however, does not have those intelligent flight features and it does not have optical avoidance.
Now, as a beginner pilot, that obstacle avoidance can be very beneficial, especially when you're learning to fly. So again, that's something to keep in mind if you're choosing what DJI drone is right for you, especially if you are a first-time drone pilot.
Now, I'd probably have to say, out of all the DJI drones on this table, the Mini 3 or the Mini 3 Pro here is the best choice for most consumers. It's affordable, it does a great job at capturing video, and when you move up to something like the Mini 3 Pro here, as mentioned, you get all the intelligent flight features. The flight characteristics of both drones are just phenomenal.
Now, if your primary purpose for purchasing a DJI drone is for capturing content for social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, or even YouTube Shorts, definitely the Mini 3 is a drone you may want to consider.
The reason is that the camera on the Mini 3 can turn vertical, allowing you to capture full-resolution vertical video without having to crop it in post-production, which can save you a lot of time. It also makes it easier to make sure the content is framed correctly because you can film it in vertical mode and see what you're filming as it's being filmed.
Of course, you can film in your traditional 16×9 if that's what you choose, but it is nice to have the choice. It doesn't matter if you go with the Mini 3 here or the Mini 3 Pro; both are capable of shooting vertical video. In fact, in DJI's current lineup, this is the only DJI drone that is capable of doing that.
The DJI Air 2S
Now, moving along here, another option that is a good choice is the DJI Air 2S. This DJI drone comes in at $999 for the base kit. Although this drone is aging, it's been out for about two years now, when you compare it to other drones on the market, it's still very capable.
Now, the biggest benefit of going to a DJi drone like this over something like the DJI Mini 3 is the camera. The Mini 3 series comes with a fairly good sensor; it has a 1.7 aperture, which is really good. But with the DJI Air 2S here, you actually get a one-inch sensor with it, so your images and videos are going to be a little bit better.
But don't let that sway you; even though it is a little bit better, it's not really something that is super noticeable for most people.
The other benefit of going to a DJI drone like the Air 2S is that it does handle a little bit better in the wind, due to the drone having a little bit more heft to it, a little bit more weight. It can cut through the wind a little bit better, and it's not going to be blown around quite as much.
So again, if you live in an area where you get a lot of windy days, something like the Air 2S is probably a better choice; you'll be able to fly it quite a bit more.
Now, unfortunately, if you do go with the Air 2S, when you're comparing it to something like the Mini 3 Series, you will take a bit of a cut when it comes to flight time.
The Air 2S is rated for 31 minutes of flight time. Now, that's rated minutes; you're not going to get that fully. But when you compare it to something like the Mini 3 Series, the Mini 3 Series does have quite a bit more flight time.
There are actually two different batteries that you can get for the Mini 3 Series; the larger battery will put it over that 250 grams weight limit, so that is something to keep in mind.
But when using that plus battery with the Mini 3 Pro, you can get 47 minutes of flight time, and with the Mini 3 here, you can get up to 51 minutes of flight time. So that is something to keep in mind if flight time is a top priority for you.
Now, touching back on weight, the Air 2S is over 250 grams, so depending on what country you live in, again, that could be a deciding factor.
Here in Canada, if you do purchase one, you will have to register it with Transport Canada, and you will need a drone pilot certificate in order to fly it.
So, to me, the main differences of going from something like the Mini Series, the Mini 3 Series here, up to the Air 2S, is basically you're getting a little bit better of a camera, and you'll have a DJi drone that does fly a little bit better in the wind.
DJI Mavic 3
Now, the next drone you may want to consider is the flagship DJI drone, and this is the DJI Mavic 3. Now, this comes in a few different variations, and the price does fluctuate quite a bit.
Now, this one here is called the Mavic 3, but they recently launched one called the DJI Mavic 3 Classic. Basically, it is identical to this one, except it doesn't have that extra tele-lens.
Now, other than missing that extra tele-camera, both the DJI drones are pretty well identical. So if you decide that you do want a DJI Mavic 3, you're just going to have to decide whether that extra zoom camera is worth the extra price.
Myself, I don't really use the zoom camera all that much; I use it once in a while to get a little bit creative with a couple of shots. 99% of the time, when I'm filming with my Mavic 3, I'm using the Hasselblad camera, the main camera in the system. It has a four-thirds sensor, a variable aperture, whether you go with the Classic or the regular Mavic 3, it's going to have that same Hasselblad camera.
So, when you take a look at a DJI drone like this and compare it to stepping up from the Air 2S, basically, you're getting a couple of different things.
First of all, you're getting more flight time; the DJI Mavic 3 is rated for 46 minutes of flight time. It's not quite as much as the Mini 3 Series here but quite a bit more than the Air 2S.
Of course, as mentioned, you're getting that Hasselblad camera, a much bigger sensor, it has a variable aperture, and just all-around a much better camera. If you're going to be filming a lot at night, definitely, this is the camera you want to choose.
The Mini 3 actually does a pretty good job because it does have a 1.7 aperture, but the Mavic 3, with its large sensor, in my opinion, just does a nicer job.
The Mavic 3 also got a recent firmware upgrade that added some new features, including a new night mode, which makes the job of capturing video at night a little bit easier if you don't have a lot of experience with that.
However, there is a new feature that was recently added, and that is Waypoint missions. As of right now, out of all these drones, this is the only DJI drone that supports Waypoint missions, where you can make a pre-planned flight, send the drone up, and it will fly that mission autonomously.
Now, that feature may come to some of their other drones later on. That's really kind of unclear right now. But at this point in time, at the filming of this video, this is the only DJI drone that supports that.
Now, that feature is not important to everybody, but for some people, that might be a really intriguing feature. Again, another upgrade of this drone compared to the Air 2S is that it will perform even better than the Air 2S when it comes to high winds. Although the Air 2S does a great job in high winds, the Mavic 3 here handles it just that much better.
Now, another feature of the Mavic 3, compared to any of the drones here on the table, including the Air 2S (the DJI Air 2S does have optical avoidance), is that it has frontward, slight upward, and rear obstacle avoidance, but it doesn't have any optical avoidance on the sides.
Whereas the Mavic 3, due to these fisheye sensors, can sense to the side as well. That can be important in some scenarios, especially when you are flying autonomous flights, or flying sideways, as it can just give you that extra layer of protection.
So, in my opinion, you would choose the DJI Mavic 3 if you want the ultimate performance in a DJI drone. If you want a drone that has superior video and photo capabilities, then it's really a good choice.
So, if you're going to be using it for commercial purposes like real estate or photography, although most of these drones are fully capable of that, you'll get that much better performance out of the Mavic 3. But as mentioned earlier, that performance is going to come at a very high price tag.
Lastly, let's take a look at this DJI drone here; this is the DJI Avata. It was released earlier last summer, and it's quite a bit different from these camera platforms here. This is considered an FPV (First Person View) drone, which means you fly it with goggles instead of using the screen built into the controller or a screen on your phone.
You're seeing what you're filming through the goggles, which gives you a really nice immersive flight feeling, and it also helps you be a little bit more precise if you're trying to get through small openings.
Now, one important thing to keep in mind when flying a DJI drone like this, compared to one of the Mavics here, is that this doesn't have stabilized footage per se, like these camera drones.
These have a three-axis gimbal that keeps your footage nice, stable, and smooth. You'll also notice that the horizon does not stay level, but that's kind of part of the FPV flight. That moving horizon can make the footage look a little bit more dynamic, in my opinion, and just kind of helps mimic that sense of flight.
Now, I think for most people, if you're just starting out, a camera drone like the DJI Mini 3 here or even the Air 2S is probably your better choice.
Flying with an FPV drone and goggles does require a spotter; most countries, by law, require you to have a spotter if you're going to be wearing goggles, so that can be a little bit inconvenient for some people.
Now, with that said, personally, the DJI Avata drone is my absolute favorite DJI drone out of every drone I've ever flown. This has definitely been the most fun, and I really like the footage that I can capture from it.
Now, unlike these drones here, this drone is very durable. That means it can take a crash – you can crash this into a tree or into the ground, and chances are, it's not going to break.
These types of drones here, if you clip a tree or fly into a building and it falls to the ground, chances are the drone will be destroyed, and it'll have to be sent in to be repaired. The DJI Avata drone is designed to be crashed, so it just allows you to get some more interesting shots – shots that you're not really able to capture on a camera drone.
And for me, that's why I really like it. I like getting really interesting proximity shots, flying through little openings and through forests, and for me, the DJI Avata drone is the perfect choice for that.
A couple of other important things to keep in mind with the DJI Avata drone: it doesn't have the greatest flight time, as it's only rated at 18 minutes, and you're definitely not going to get anywhere close to that.
Just in my testing, when I'm flying it, I usually get anywhere from 10 to 14 minutes. It also weighs more than 249 grams, so you will have to register it, depending on which country you live in.
Also, due to the fact that you do need a set of goggles to fly it, most likely, if you're brand new, you're not going to have a set, so it can get a little bit costly to get up and running with a kit like this, whereas these DJI drones here don't require goggles, so you don't have that extra expense.
DJI remote controllers
Now, lastly, before I go, I just want to touch base on controllers. When purchasing most of these drones, other than the DJI Air 2S, you can purchase it with either the standard controller, called the RC-N1, or you can get it with their Smart Style controller, called the DJI RC.
As you can see here, the main difference is that this one has a built-in screen, whereas with this one, you have to mount your smartphone.
It's going to cost you a little bit more to go with the Smart Style controller, but if I can make one recommendation, it's definitely something worthwhile investing in. It's just so much more convenient.
It has a really nice screen on it that's much brighter, and it usually stays much brighter than something like an iPhone. iPhones can get very dim on hot days and it can be very difficult to see the screen, whereas this has 700 nits, so it stays fairly bright even for continuous flying.
It's compatible with the DJI Mavic 3 Series, both the DJI Mini 3 and the DJI Mini 3 Pro, and even the Air 2S. However, with the Air 2S, you do have to purchase it separately, as there's not a kit available that it comes with.
Now, the other nice thing about going with a controller like this is that you don't have to worry about whether your phone is compatible. Usually, compatibility comes down to the DJI Fly App, the app that runs on your phone that powers the drone.
If you're running something like an iPhone, you don't have to worry about it, as most iPhones are compatible. But when you get into Android phones, there are so many different manufacturers, models, and versions that sometimes you can run into compatibility issues.
So, by getting a controller with a built-in screen, you just don't have to worry about it. You don't have to worry about whether your phone is powerful enough or compatible; you just power this on and away you go.
So, yeah, folks, that's it for this video. It's just some basic information to hopefully help you choose which DJI drone is right for you. As mentioned, for most people, I would probably recommend the DJI Mini 3 or the DJI Mini 3 Pro here. I think they're excellent drones for the price, and for most casual hobbyists, it's going to be all the drone you need.
I want to thank you for taking the time to watch this video. If you enjoyed it, give it a thumbs up, as it's always greatly appreciated. Don't forget to subscribe to my channel, so you don't miss any of our upcoming videos, and we'll see you in the next one.
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