DJI Air 3 review: the most powerful new addition to Air Series yet

The DJI Air series of drones has always been small but mighty — and the newest addition to the DJI Air Family is by far the most powerful yet. DJI today released the Air 3 drone, which primarily stands out for its dual primary cameras. Scroll on for my DJI Air 3 review, a comparison of this drone versus other top contenders, and the official Drone Girl take on whether the new DJI Air 3 drone is worth it.

Watch me unbox the DJI Air 3 here:

The DJI Air 3 drone, in a nutshell

The two cameras on the new DJI Air 3 drone are a wide-angle camera and a 3x medium tele camera, both of which are capable of delivering 48MP photos and 4K/60fps HDR videos. And it’s not just the camera that a big deal, but the build of the drone itself, capable of offering critical enhancements to flight, such as:

  • Up to 46 minutes flight time
  • Omnidirectional obstacle sensing
  • O4 HD Video Transmission System

The DJI Air 3 extends a history of DJI Air products that started with the original Mavic Air (which launched in 2018), and since involved to offer the improved Air 2 and later the impressive DJI Air 2S. The Air lineup offers a sort of middle price point for camera drones, providing the best-of-both-worlds in terms of cost versus quality.

And now, the DJI Air 3 marks the first drone in DJI’s Air series to offer professional features like dual primary cameras and omnidirectional obstacle sensing, while at the same time retaining its lightweight capabilities with a weight of just 720g for more freedom and flexibility.

Given its price point (it starts at just $1,099), the DJI Air 3 is an accessible option for a serious photographer who doesn’t want all the bells and whistles of something like the DJI Mavic 3 Pro (and its high price point at $2,200) but wants a higher-end, more durable and more powerful pick than something on DJI’s more-affordable end (like the $759 Mini 3 Pro).

With all that (and more), it’s unsurprising that the new DJI Air 3 has steadily climbed into the top spot of best drones for photographers of 2023 seeking a high-quality camera. So with that, this DJI Air 3 review offers a deeper dive into all the features, benefits and tradeoffs:

DJI Air 3 review: the dual primary cameras

(I’ll upload photos shot in camera shortly! Please bear with me as I just got my hands on this drone, but wanted to get a review up as soon as possible!)

DJI doesn’t want to settle for one when it can offer two. Following the lead of much higher-end drones like the DJI Mavic 3, the DJI Air 3 takes on a dual-primary camera system, meaning one drone has two cameras integrated with it. This makes the DJI Air 3 the first of the Air series to offer such a feature.

The specs on those two cameras are:

  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS wide-angle camera
    • 24mm format equivalent
    • F1.7 aperture
  • A 1/1.3-inch CMOS 3x medium tele camera (can achieve 3x optical zoom)
    • 70mm format equivalent
    • F2.8 aperture

Both cameras offer the same specs in terms of:

  • 2.4μm pixel size
  • 48MP photos
  • 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensors
  • Post-cropping support for easy secondary composition. 
  • Support for dual native ISO for direct output of 4K/60fps HDR video at high frame rates and up to 4K/100fps max
  • Support for 10-bit D-Log M and 10-bit HLG color modes

The two cameras have the same sensor size (across two different sensors) but different focal lengths, which is not only efficient in terms of size and cost savings, but could also be viewed as a plus for photographers as it offers a consistent image quality across both cameras.

Why are two cameras important? The easy answer is that you don’t have to choose between the aesthetic you want for that shot. That medium tele camera can put a single subject, like a person, ito the center of the frame, creating a strong sense of spatial compression. With a wide-angle camera, you can better capture the whole landscape.

Typically someone wanting both a wide shot AND a tele shot would need to land their drone and manually change the lenses. Having two lenses is also more expensive.

The camera, besides the obvious two sensors, is also a huge standout over its predecessor, the DJI Air 2S, for a few other reasons. They offer video specification now even without FOV cropping compared to its predecessor, the DJI Air 2S. Also, the DJI Air 3 is the first drone of the Air Series to support 2.7K vertical video shooting (9:16), which means the shots you film can easily and be immediately shared across horizontal formats as is the case on most social media sites like Instagram Reels and TikTok.

DJI also separately sells a set of ND8/16/32/64 filters, which is particularly useful in generating smoother footage at slower shutter speeds.

Smart shooting modes

Like most DJI drones, this one comes with what DJI calls “Intelligent Features.” These are automatic film modes where the drone either flies a preset route or follows a designated object through its route, while also executing certain video styles automatically, like time lapse style videos. Among the standout video modes are:

  • FocusTrack (Tracks the subject in the center of the frame)
  • MasterShots (Automatically perform diverse camera movements, shoots multiple clips, edits the clips, and adds music)
  • Night mode
  • Hyperlapse (Films 4K horizontal or 2.7K vertical timelapse footage)
  • Slow Motion (Select 4K/100fps or 1080p/100fps to directly record a 4x slow-motion video)

And that’s just some of the flight modes. There are many more with albeit goofy names like Rocket, Droie, Helix and Boomerang that execute various flights automatically for more precise footage, too.

DJI Air 3 review: the drone itself

The two cameras are powerful, but the drone itself is a powerhouse.

Battery life has been improved by 48%, now offering 46 minutes of flight time.

Battery life

DJI Air 3 stands out especially since it offers up to 46 minutes flight time. That’s 48% more than the DJI Air 2.

Along with improved battery life comes a new and improved charging hub with a really smart feature: a power accumulation function. You can press and hold a button on the charging hub, which then transfers the remaining power from multiple batteries to one single battery with the highest remaining power. That’s convenient if you have three batteries on you each with, say, 15% battery life left. If you were unable to actually charge your battery into a power outlet (perhaps you were out in the field) but you had the hub with you, you could then theoretically transfer three batteries worth of 15% juice to a single battery with enough power to take another flight.

The new battery charging hub has a power accumulation function where you can press and hold the function button to transfer remaining power from multiple batteries to just one.

DJI also separately sells a DJI 100W USB-C Power Adapter which can charge the battery and remote controller simultaneously, or mobile devices through the USB-C ports. There’s also a DJI 65W Car Charger which uses a universal port to charge not only the battery and remote controller, but your other devices like your smartphone and laptop.

The bottom of the Air 3 is equipped with binocular lenses and a 3D TOF.

Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing

The DJI Air 3 is the first drone in the Air Series to include omnidirectional obstacle sensing. Its most recent predecessor, the Air 2S, offers four-way directional obstacle sensors. But, this drone offers even greater awareness — in all directions beyond just four.

That’s thanks to a pair of fisheye lenses mounted to the front and the back of the drone which detect obstacles in all directions. Those offer up that standard forward, backward, left, right and upward sensing. Meanwhile, the bottom is equipped with binocular lenses and a 3D TOF, which are what contribute to the full, omnidirectional obstacle sensing.

But it’s not enough to just see the objects. It has to then avoid objects in its way. The DJI Air 3 achieves this via APAS 5.0, which is technology to actively avoid and smoothly bypass obstacles by automatically coming up with a new, better route.

In line with that is also Advanced RTH (return to home), which automatically sends the drone home (all the while avoiding obstacles) when you engage it or if it otherwise detects a problem.

O4 Video Transmission

New to the DJI Air line is also O4 Video Transmission, the next-generation O4 video transmission system that offers a transmission distance of up to 20 km.

Other upgrades with this version include more transmission stability to avoid stuttered live view for safer flight. It supports up to 1080p/60fps live feeds.

DJI Air 3 controller

When you purchase the Air 3, you have a couple options of which controller you get, either the cheaper DJI RC-N2 or the pricier DJI RC 2.

The kit with the DJI RC-N2 is cheapest, getting you the drone and controller for $1,099. If you want the DJI RC 2 (the higher-end controller), you’ll pay $1,549 for that under the even-upgraded Fly More Combo. You can opt to also purchase the DJI RC 2 separately for $369, which you might do if you start with the lower-end controller and decide to upgrade in the future.

How does the DJI Air 3 compare to other drones?

Each of DJI’s drone families — the Mini, the Mavic and now the Air — are on their third generation. Within those generations are subtypes of drones, of sorts (like the Mini 3 Pro versus the Mini 3).

For this comparison, I’ve pitted one representative from each third-generation DJI family against each other (selecting the specific subtype based on which had the closet price point to the DJI Air 3. So with that, here’s a rundown of how the newest of these new DJI drones compare to each other:

DJI Mavic 3 Classic DJI Air 3 DJI Mini 3 Pro
Starting Price $1,599 $1,099 $759
Takeoff Weight 895 grams 720 grams <249 grams
Onboard camera(s) Hasselblad camera Wide-angle camera
Medium tele camera
DJI camera
Max Photo Resolution 20 MP 48 MP 48 MP
Video Resolution 5.1K: 5120×2700 @ 24/25/30/48/50 fps
4K: 3840×2160 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/120 fps
4K/60fps HDR videos 4K/30 fps HDR videos
Sensor 4/3″ CMOS 1/1.3″ CMOS (wide-angle)
1/1.3″ CMOS (medium tele)
1/1.3″ CMOS
Aperture f/2.8 to f/11 f/1.7 (wide-angle)
f/2.8 (medium tele)
Obstacle Avoidance Tech APAS 5.0 APAS 5.0 APAS 4.0
Obstacle sensors Omnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft Omnidirectional binocular vision system, supplemented with an infrared sensor at the bottom of the aircraft Forward, backward & downward obstacle
Max Flight Time 46 minutes 46 minutes 34 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery), 47 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus)
Transmission System O3+ O4 O3+

Is the DJI Air 3 worth it?

Given its small size, long flight time, impressive features and lower cost than something like a Mavic 3 or Inspire, this drone is ideal for someone looking for something better and more durable than the Mini line, but who still wants something easy to care that won’t break the bank.

Which comes to the key figure in deciding whether the DJI Air 3 is worth buying, and that’s the price tag itself. The DJI Air 3 is sold in three configurations based on the controller you opt for, a well as whether you opt for the Fly More Combo (which throws in all sorts of extra accessories). The DJI Air 3 configurations and their prices are:

DJI also sells some accessories separately. They include:

Who is the Air 3 best for?

The DJI Air 3 drone is ideal for someone who is constantly on-the-go, pursuing outdoor adventures or participating in sports. It’s also a nice sweet spot drone for professional photographers who might not necessarily need the highest-end cameras, and especially those who value versatility. That includes folks like wedding photographers, who need to quickly alternate between wide shots and zoom shots — and who can especially benefit from zoom cameras (such as being able to film a bride and groom at the alter without getting the drone too close to disrupt the ceremony).

The Air 3 is also just that perfect happy medium between the Mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3. It’s cheaper than the Mavic 3, perhaps unsurprising given the image quality more closely aligns with the even-cheaper Mini 3 Pro.

But it is overall a far more powerful drone than the Mini 3 Pro, given a battery life that matches the Mavic 3, plus smarter tech inside like that omnidirectional binocular vision system. And of course, there are those two cameras, which unlock far more filming options. This drone is portable but versatile, and still pretty powerful.

Once again, DJI has delivered.

What’s your Air 3 review? What features do you think are missing or could be better? What features are you most excited about? And is it worth the price? Leave a comment below!

The post DJI Air 3 review: the most powerful new addition to Air Series yet appeared first on The Drone Girl.

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