Over the years, I’ve reviewed a lot of drones and there is no debate, DJI is the leader in the space. They are relentlessly iterating on their own products to make newer, better models each year. The latest flagship is the DJI Mavic 3 drone and that comes in two varieties, the core Mavic 3 model, but also the CINE edition.
As with most versions of the Mavic, you can buy just the drone and the controller, or get it in a bundle and I’m taking a look at the top tier package, known as the DJI Mavic 3 CINE Premium Combo.
This combo includes the Mavic 3 itself, the brand new RC Pro controller, a set of ND filters, 3x batteries, a charger, and a premium fabric bag to ensure you have everything with you more often, ready to capture the amazing world around us. The combo also includes a high-bandwidth USB-C cable for transferring the footage which is up to 5.1k in quality.
After flying the drone over the past couple of weeks, it’s time to detail my first impressions, ahead of a full review.
The visuals coming out of this drone are nothing short of amazing. While the footage looks great on the controller display it’s only 1080p, so it’s really when playback on a large 4K TV, or high resolution displays you’re familiar with, that you really get to appreciate just how amazing the quality of the footage really is.
The Mavic 3 CINE shoots with a Hasselblad designed professional-grade 4/3 CMOS sensor. When you pair this with the ability to switch from Autofocus to manual focus, it is possible to capture environments amazing footage with depth of field, offering a seriously professional result.
The CINE edition also includes a 1TB SSD which ensures you can shoot video or photos with freedom. If you’ve ever arrived at a shoot location only to realise you’ve left an SD card at home, you’ll understand how frustrating that can be and know you’ll never be in this situation again with the CINE.
When it comes to photos, you can capture up to 20MP in quality which allows for great quality, even after some cropping. To be honest, I have created plenty of wallpapers from still frames off the 5.1k footage, but if you want to go to the next level, switching to photo mode is just a button away. If you want to get more advanced control, that is definitely offered with bracketing providing the ability to shoot HDR-style photos, merging the different exposures for that perfect shot.
With the latest software update, there’s now even more options to explore, but anyone who’s used a recent DJI Mavic will understand generally what’s on offer here. There’s tracking that allows you to draw over a subject (person, car etc) and have the drone follow it, while you play director and move around the subject as it moves through a scene.
There are also some handy modes that help those shooting alone, MasterShots, where the drone flies a set of predefined movements that combine to create a great little clip, made up of multiple shots which focus on a point of interest.
With the newest firmware, you’ll now have access to QuickShots including Dronie, Rocket, Circle, Helix, Boomerang, and Asteroid. These are fun shots that can make shooting common paths, much faster. One of my favourites is the Waypoints feature. This allows you to fly the drone to multiple locations and capture that point in 3D space, then start recording and the drone will fly to those waypoints, including the angle of the camera.
Many of you have will have used a drone controller that requires you to clip in your phone or tablet to the top of it, so you can see the video feed from the drone, all run through the DJI Fly mobile app.
The DJI RC Pro controller comes with a built-in display offering a 1920×1080p resolution at 5.5″ in size. While this sounds very similar to the standard controller, having the display position below the control, provides far better weight distribution and feels great in the hands. Hidden in the battery grips, is 5000 mAh of battery, ensuring your controller will last, many hours between charges.
It also features a MicroSD card slot, allowing you to have the peace of mind of capturing footage locally, in case anything happened to the drone, as unlikely as it that is.
There’s great portability on offer here too, with the removable thumbsticks, able to be stored conveniently in the back of the controller, and the antennas at the top also being foldable, this can easily slide into the bag between flight locations.
The controller also features 3 flight modes, N, or Normal is your starting point, which allows for standard flight operation and all the obstacle detections enabled, but not at the highest speed. If you shift up to S mode, you’ll be flying in Sport mode. This allows the drone to fly at the highest speed possible, as much as 70km/hr. If you engage this, you’ll see a prompt warning you that obstacle avoidance is not going to help you, so fly safe.
The final mode is C for CINE, which slows the movement of the drone to its lowest speed setting, smoothing out all the turns and deceleration, resulting in the ultra-smooth video.
For those who already own the DJI Smart Controller, you may be wondering if you can use that with the Mavic 3, instead of paying for the RC Pro controller, unfortunately, the answer is no.
What’s crazy about this drone, is that the flight range (a combination of battery and communication technology), is a staggering 15 km. Now nobody in Australia can test that theory, given the restrictions in place from CASA for drone operators that require you to maintain a line of sight to the drone. The drone is also capable of flying at 500 metres above the ground, but again we’re restricted to just 120m in Australia.
During one of my flights, I received an alert about a piloted aircraft in the area, in which I landed immediately as required. About 30 seconds later I seen a light plane fly past in the distance, so it was great to see this safety technology working as expected and it’s important to know, this is only available in advanced drones like this, something not available in cheaper drones.
As you go about capturing video with the Mavic 3 CINE, you’ll be comforted by the fact this is also one of the smartest drones on the market. Thanks to Active Track version 5 and an array of cameras all over the drone, allowing it to track obstacles and fly around them in almost a self-preservation.
While plenty of earlier models have offered collision avoidance in front and below the drone, this one offers it in virtually 360 degrees. While I’m not keen to test this in the extreme, I have tested by flying at a tree and the drone successfully navigates around it, dodging any branches as it goes. This is really impressive and helps protect your investment if you choose this model over others.
This drone has amazing capabilities, like a generous 46 minute flight time. Having a really generous flight time like this enables you to set up shots like never before. What’s great about buying the combo is that you get 3 batteries, which could provide between 120 -130 minutes of flight time. If you can’t capture what you need to in that length of time, something is really wrong.
What’s also great about having longer flight times is a feature like Timelapse will allow you to capture sunsets and condense that footage to seconds. (the attention span of most audiences).
The final thing around flight time is that it provides new opportunities. Given some more complicated shoots may involve flying some distance to a location, let’s say an island, you can easily fly there, capture what you need, then return home safely.
Something included in the CINE Premium combo is this really great travel bag. This allows you to slip in the drone (with its included lens cover on), into a dedicated pocket, along with the 3 batteries and controller. There’s also space for additional cables, filters, storage cards and more.
This is really great quality and is perfect for protecting the drone during transit. I loved being able to load this in the frunk of the Tesla Model 3 and know that it’s safe.