Review: DJI Air 3 has a new dual-camera system that helps you capture the world

    DJI recently announced their latest drone, the Air 3. After having flow it for a couple of weeks now, it’s time for a full review.

    With the Air 3, DJI has delivered a drone that fits perfectly in their line. The foldable design makes its portability great (like the Mini 3 Pro), while the new dual-camera system allows you to capture the world in amazing quality while leveraging optical zoom (like the Mavic 3 Pro).

    The Air series is a more affordable range, as compared with the flagship Mavic series, while still offering many of the same features like obstacle avoidance, ActiveTrack 5.0, and O3+ transmission as well as a great new controller.

    There’s a lot to love about the Air 3, so let’s dive in.


    The DJI Air 3 is offered in just 1 colour, the now very familiar matte grey which extends over the whole body, broken only bt eh props, camera system and the cameras and sensors.

    The drone arms are foldable when not in use, making this easy to transport, slotting in nicely in the well-appointed travel bag, along with the controller and spare batteries.

    Having reviewed DJI drones for more than a decade, I’ve noticed they are constantly iterating on the design and this time they’ve used yet another new battery size. While being a similar style to the Mavic battery, I can confirm a Mavic battery is not interchangeable with the Air 3.

    Having played with different versions of the GoPro Hero series, there’s a start contrast in design decisions between these two tech products. GoPro offers the ability to use the same battery across multiple generations of the product and while the lens system and features grow year-to-year, they don’t re-invent the battery every time. There are some big revision years in which this has changed, but that’s rare and frankly, I’d love to see DJI do the same thing.

    To protect the camera system during transport, we’ve also seen DJI go through a number of cover systems. The Mavic 3 range offers a fabric strap that wraps around the body, connected to a rubberised cover for the camera(s). The Air 3 uses a hard plastic shell that clips over the top of the camera. While I certainly prefer the Mavic strap, the Air 3 camera cover works in that it aims to secure the camera while being moved around.

    The DJI Air 3 weighs 720 grams which is a growth over the Air 2S which tipped the scale at 595g, but considerably lighter than the 958g of the Mavic 3 Pro. I found travelling with the drone, it’s light enough to move around easily and that weight is most important when applied to flight time impacts, another good story for the Air 3.

    The drone is made from durable materials and is resistant to water and dust. When flying an early Winter morning, I had a chance to put this to the test, flying through the fog that resulted in condensation accumulating on the drone surfaces but simply wiped off and the drone was fine.


    The Air 3 is packed full of great features that really help make it a seriously compelling choice.

    FocusTrack for both cameras
    With the drone in the air, you can select objects like people and cars, by dragging a selection on the touchscreen. Smart modes include Spotlight 2.0, ActiveTrack 5.0 and Point of Interest 3.0.

    While many DJI pilots will be familiar with ActiveTrack and POI, the FocusTrack option keeps the subject in the centre of the frame and when you use the 3x medium tele camera, it creates a unique sense of spatial compression, highlighting the subject matter.

    2.7K Vertical Shooting
    The DJI Air 3 supports dual-camera 2.7K vertical video shooting. The wide-angle camera can include rich image information, while the 3x medium tele camera can portrait the pilot or others as the subject, facilitating more eye-catching vertical aerial photography.

    The 2.7K vertical video is in the now standard 9:16 aspect ratio, making it readily shareable on social media like TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels without post-cropping.

    Master Shots
    The feature allows the drone to automatically perform a range of movements while tracking a subject. This shoots multiple clips, then edits the clips together and adds music to generate a video that’s ready to share on social media.

    I had a chance to try this at a lookout and while it was a wide open space, it was surrounded by trees. While the drone is moving to capture these shots, I did get nervous and bailed from the pre-programmed panning, it may have been fine, but I didn’t want to change it.

    This feature is probably best used in an open environment.

    Quick Shots
    This filming option allows creators to send the drone on a range of preset flight routes, performing creative camera movements like Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, Boomerang, and Asteroid which lets you capture great, smooth, engaging shots.

    As discussed with MasterShots, you should still monitor the drone and take over if you are not confident the obstacle avoidance will protect the drone. It certainly does well with large solid objects like structures, but finer tree branches and cables may still be risky to fly near. If you can find your way to the top of a hill, that would be a great place to try these.

    Night Mode
    Thanks to the noise reduction algorithm, the DJI Air 3 can capture up to 4K/30fps clean footage in low-light environments. Due to CASA regulations in Australia that prevent flying after dark, I couldn’t put this to the test.

    With hyper-lapse, you can select from 4 different sub-modes, Free, Circle, Course Lock, and Waypoint. Thanks to the lengthy flight time, you can capture hyper lapses for around 40 minutes, which result in great footage of events that happen over time, like sunrises. sunsets, weather systems and more. You can shoot time-lapses in 4K resolution when shooting in horizontal mode, or 2.7K when shooting vertical.

    Slow Motion
    Speeding up footage is one use case, but another is slowing it down. The Air 3 allows filming options from 4K/100fps to 1080p/100fps to directly record a 4x slow-motion video.

    SmartPhoto 3.0
    In single-shot mode, the DJI Air 3 uses SmartPhoto 3.0 by default, which can automatically select among HDR, hyperlight, and scene recognition according to the scenario for better imaging results. In HDR DNG format, the camera can record a larger dynamic range with built-in contrast enhancement.

    The image file can achieve JPG-level quality in post-editing software, reducing the difficulty of post-production.

    Quickly download photos and videos from the aircraft to your smartphone through a wireless connection, saving time and effort. Personally, I found myself still popping out the microSD card and transferring to my dock to download footage from the PC. This workflow is something I like to do, as editing clips together, adding music etc, is often best done on larger displays, rather than on your phone, but it is good that it’s possible in a pinch.

    If you are editing footage on the go, the DJI Air 3 can connect wirelessly to the LightCut app on your phone and can intelligently recognise highlights from your clips to make video editing on the go quicker and easier than ever.

    Waypoint Flight
    For the first time ever, DJI has added the waypoint feature to the Air series, something typically reserved for the more expensive Mavic range.

    This allows you to plot regular routes and shooting actions and achieve a difficult series of movements in one take.

    This helps you save time and there are plenty of use cases. Imagine you regularly capture drone footage at a wedding venue. Given the trees and garden don’t move, you could plot a common flight path and have it repeated each time you capture a wedding. This could also be used for crop management as well, or surveying commercial assets.

    Charging hub
    This feature is obvious, but it’s a really great one. I noticed when I first saw the charger that I was different from the one included in the FlyMore pack for the Mavic 3. At the base of the hub, there is a button for each battery that you need to press to be able to release the battery.

    Given there’s already the press-to-release mechanism at the top, used for the drone as well, I didn’t really understand why there was another release mechanism until I read up on it.

    The new battery charging hub supports an innovative power transfer function. This works by pressing and holding the function button to transfer the remaining power from multiple batteries to the battery with the highest remaining power. This is delightfully smart.

    If you’ve travelled somewhere to fly the drone and need 10-20 minutes of flight time, but all your batteries are down to 1 LED remaining, you could use this feature to transfer the charge and get all the remaining Watts into a single battery, then go flying. What a great feature that wasn’t something I’d ever thought to ask for, but here we are, the engineers at DJI thought of this as well.


    There are a number of ways to measure the performance of the drone, from its speed, to camera quality, flight time and more, so let’s break it down.

    The DJI Air 3 is one of the faster drones from DJI, outside their FPV which is crazy fast. I will say that outright speed on a drone like this is not always a priority, given the best visuals typically come with slow movements, rather than ones at full blast.

    Where speed is important is getting back home when the battery runs out. As you reach the end fo the available battery, DJI monitors how far away from home you are and understands how much battery it’ll take to return home. While some will simply let the return-to-home function kick in, I often prefer to take control and get the drone home quickly.

    The Air 3 has a max horizontal speed of 21m/s and can ascent and descent at a rapid pace, moving vertically at 10m/s.

    What’s impressive about that new controller, the DJI RC2, is the ability to control the drone from up to 20km away. To achieve this, the RC2 features 2 foldable antennas at the top of the controller, something the Mavic 3 doesn’t have, just the Mavic 3 Pro.

    Technically CASA rules in Australia say you need to maintain a line of sight to the drone, so hope you have great eyesight. Depending on how you fly, it is still possible to lose signal, but I only ever experienced that when really pushing the limits, I was pleasantly surprised that even over the top of a hill that the drone maintained a connection to the controller for way longer than I expected. When it finally gave up, the drone auto-activated return to home and when it was back in range a few seconds later, I was able to take over again.

    This is really an issue of physics with the radio technology being used, about the only way to overcome this would be to add 5G connectivity to the drone and controller and allow them to speak over the internet. Obviously, latency would be a concern, but this is one of the great selling points of the latest mobile networks. That kind of connectivity does come with increased power requirements which would decrease flight time, but when you’re playing with 40mins+ it would be a nice option to have.

    Speaking of battery life, I am constantly impressed by how different it feels to pilot a drone with substantial battery life. Often I complete my mission, capture what I intended, then look at the remaining battery and I’d still have 20mins+ of flight time. Perhaps I need to be more ambitious or do more time-lapses, but this is seriously generous at up to 46 minutes on a single battery charge.


    Having spent plenty of time with the drone, I was able to capture some amazing footage, images, and panoramas with the Air 3. Below is a small sample, with more videos to come soon through social. Make sure you’re following on for more and consider subscribing for $3 per month for behind-the-scenes content.


    There is a lot to love about the Air 3, but one complaint I do have is Sport mode. When switching the drone into Sport mode, you still lose the collision avoidance smarts and I had hoped that by now, DJI were able to offer this at higher speeds.

    Perhaps this is down to their ability to do on-board processing of the images coming through the lens, identify potential issues and avoid them within the necessary time. Unlike a car, the drone doesn’t have contact with the ground, so avoidance manoeuvres take time to implement, sometimes up to a second, so detection of a potential collision needs to happen in advance of that, to allow the drone’s path to be altered so as to avoid.

    Price & Availability

    The DJI Air 3 is available to order from DJI’s Store and authorised retail partners.

    It is available in a number of configurations for a fairly affordable price, given the amount of technology on board and the quality of visuals you can capture with it:

    • DJI Air 3 (DJI RC-N2) for the retail price of $1,699
    • DJI Air 3 Fly More Combo (DJI RC-N2) for the retail price of $2,049
    • DJI Air 3 Fly More Combo (DJI RC 2) for the retail price of $2,349

    You can get more information on the DJI Air 3 at


    The DJI Air 3 is a fantastically capable drone for photographers and videographers who want a versatile and powerful drone, that is portable and ready to go with you wherever your next adventure. It features 2 great cameras, advanced features, and a long flight time.

    While certainly not the cheapest drone on the market, I think the DJI Air 3 represents great value for what’s on offer.

    The drone is really easy to fly, and the experience which is significantly enhanced by the RC 2 controller, something I’d definitely recommend you consider. With a dedicated controller for your drone, there’s no fumbling around with your phone, just power on the controller, power on the drone, unfold the legs, spread the rotors and you’re flying in under a minute.

    I’ve been seriously impressed with what I’ve been able to capture using the Air 3, so much so, I’m not wondering how many people would opt for the Mavic 3 Pro, given this is such a geat offering at a much lower price point.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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