An impressive new upgrade has been rolled out to the DJI Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro drones — and customers who already own those drones don’t even need to purchase a new model to get it. DJI recently rolled out Vision Assist, which is a firmware allowing you to see live views from the drone’s front, back and side directions.
Up until now (as is the case on most drones), you could only see what the drone’s main camera sees. That’s about to change once you accept the firmware update, which simply entails connecting your drone to the accompany app, powering it on, tapping “Update” and letting it load (which typically takes about 10 minutes).
Once you have the new firmware update installed, you can use the Vision Assist tool by tapping the screen, which allows you to switch the Vision Assist view and see obstacles from various directions on the flight.
Why Vision Assist matters
Vision Assist is set to be a game-changing feature for many drone pilots. With it comes the ability to take more advanced, automatic shots where drones can twist and turn in all sort of directions. Particularly in places where it can be difficult to track the drone, such as flying between trees, it’s generally risk to yaw the drone for fear of losing the drone’s direction. Obstacle avoidance can only go so far in protecting the drone from a crash.
With the ability to, see what’s on, say, the side of the drone, you can now have the drone fly sideways while ensuring with your own eyes that there’s nothing in its way.
The proof is here, as some drone pilots have already had access to it. That’s because the same exact Vision Assist tool was already rolled out in a firmware update for the higher-end Mavic 3 drone, which was offered back in September 2023.
This latest software update also further solidifies why the DJI Mini 4 Pro and DJI Air 3 have the top spots in my guide to the best camera drones of 2024. In particular, many pilots have wondered about the differences between the DJI Mini 4 Pro vs. Mini 3 Pro, and this firmware update is among the clearest differentiators
Heck, Vision Assist is a reason that someone might argue that the DJI Mini 4 Pro and DJI Air 3 are even better than some of DJI’s highest-end drones, like the Inspire 3 or Matrice line. Of course, these are just a fraction of the cost. The DJI Inspire 3 starts at more than $16,000, whereas the DJI Mini 4 Pro goes for just $759 and the Air 3 is $1,099 (of course, the DJI Inspire 3 does have far other, better features so it’s not entirely a fair comparison).
Expect this technology to appear in future DJI product launches.
- Order the DJI Air 3 drone from Amazon now, starting at $1,099.
- Order the DJI Air 3 drone from B&H Photo now, starting at $1,099.
Other changes with the December firmware update
Firmware updates are a somewhat common occurrence to keep products up-to-date with minimal bugs. But this is among the most substantial firmware updates, with it bringing significant changes to both the DJI Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro drones. Besides Vision assist, other new additions with this release include:
- Auto mode for ActiveShots 360°
- Vision Positioning and Obstacle Sensing switch
- Digital zoom for 12MP photo mode
- Sphere Panorama for the medium tele camera (on DJI air 3 only)
To get those new features, you’ll need DJI Fly v1.12.4 or later (which means you might have to run a software update in addition to the firmware update). See the full DJI Mini 4 Pro and DJI Air 3 December release notes.
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