Best drone for filming, DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Air 2s vs Mavic 3

Some drone users are mainly interested in photography, but the vast majority are into filming.
I will compare the DJI Mini 3 Pro vs the Air 2s and the Mavic 3 focusing only on the features for filming and on the quality of the footage

What impresses me the most is how much the average quality of the current DJI prosumer line has improved compared to the previous ones

  • The Mini 3 Pro, for a lightweight model, offers good video quality and a host of significant features, including vertical footage, which is huge for users active on social media platforms
  • The Air 2s is a favorite of many. But it is by far the oldest of the three and doesn’t offer any extra features compared to the Mini 3 Pro. The competition has improved a lot but it remains a good choice for users very serious about video quality, especially the ones living in windy areas
  • The Mavic 3 is the undiscussed king of the line. The video quality is above the other two models in all departments and it offers some crucial exclusive functionalities

If you are in the market for a lightweight model, check my article Mini 3 vs Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2

If You Prefer To Watch This As a Video

Video Specs

Mini 3 ProAir 2sMavic 3
Sensor size1/1.3″1″4/3″
Aperturef 1.7f 2.8f 2.8 – f 11
Video Resolution4k at 60 fps5.4 at30 fps
4k at 60 fps
5.1k at 50 fps
4k at 120 fps
Color ModesNormal
D Cinelike
D Log
Video specs of the Mini 3 Pro, Air 2s, and Mavic 3, credit: DJI

For those mainly concerned with photography, image quality is the primary consideration when selecting a model. However, for videography, the range of features offered by each model is another essential factor

Front view of the Mini 3 Pro, Air 2s, and Mavic 3

I have compared these three models in terms of Photography in this article and for Hyperlapses in this other one

Main Features for Videography

Examples of footage with the three models

Obstacle Sensors

The Mini 3 Pro has sensors for obstacle detection at the front, back, and downward, while the Air 2s has also a pair of sensors facing up, which makes it slightly safer. But both models lack lateral sensors, a lot of care is therefore needed when flying around obstacles. The Mavic 3 has an omnidirectional sensors system, which makes it the only model suited to close-range tracking

Mini 3 Pro

The Mini 3 Pro is a proper workhouse for a lightweight drone, it has practically all the features of the Air 2s, including the three intelligent flight modes of Focus Track, all sorts of tracking capabilities, Mastershots, and an excellent Hyperlapse mode

The Mini 3 is the only one of the three models with the ability to rotate the camera to shoot portrait video and photos, a feature extremely useful for users involved on social media platforms

It has also the advantage of weight below the critical threshold of 250 grams for more relaxing regulations

The Mini 3 Pro has an array of functionalities

Mini 3

DJI has recently added a cheaper version of the Mini 3 Pro, named simply Mini 3. The new basic Mini 3 has the same camera as the 3 Pro and therefore the same video and photo quality, but lacks many important features like obstacle sensors, intelligent flight modes, tracking capabilities, Hyperlapse, Mastershots, and the 10-bit color mode D Cinelike

Most of the features missing are not relevant to photography, therefore the basic, more affordable Mini 3 is very good value for users focusing only on still images. But for users involved in video, I would certainly suggest the Mini 3 Pro, in spite of the difference in price

The basic Mini 3 lacks many features for video

Air 2s

The Air 2s is the oldest of the three models and doesn’t bring any extra features to the table compared to the Mini 3 Pro, so it has to rely on the quality of footage and photos to justify the higher price tag. But it is more powerful, therefore it is a better choice for users living in very windy areas 

For more info about Video quality with the Air 2s, watch my specific article 

Example of footage shot with the Air 2s

Mavic 3

The Mavic 3 is the flagship model, the king of DJI prosumer drones, and some critical features are strictly reserved for it. Each one of these features may justify the difference in price for a professional or semi-professional user, even if the quality of footage and photos was the same

The most important exclusive features of the Mavic 3 are

I have done an in-depth article about Video quality with the Mavic 3 and 3 Classic

Exclusive features of the Mavic 3

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Air 2s vs Mavic 3 Video Quality

Top Down Footage

Let’s start with some top-down clips, to take the sky out of the equation and concentrate on detail and color rendition. During the clip shot with the Air 2s, the sun broke out of the clouds, so the luminosity differs from the others.

The colors are slightly different in the three models, but it is a matter of personal preference. In the zoomed-in clips to my eyes, the Air 2s has more detail, very closely followed by the Mavic 3, while the Mini 3 is a bit behind

Tpo down footage with the three models

Normal Mode

And now some footage including the sky with the 8-bit color mode, Normal, the one meant to be used just out of the camera, even without any editing

Normal mode with the three models

Normal mode in the Mini 3 needs a bit of help from color grading, a bit of contrast, and some saturation. There is a tendency to a yellowish tone, so we move the temperature towards the blue. The dynamic range is not as extended as in the other two modes and at times the shadows are a bit too dark

When it was released, the AIr 2s was a big step forward in terms of video quality, but it has been around for much longer and the competition has improved considerably. In Normal mode, the colors are still nice and organic,  and the dynamic range is more extended than in the Mini 3

The Normal mode in the Mavic 3 is the amazing Hasselblad Natural Color Solution, the true benchmark for ready-to-use color modes. I tend to use the 10-bit flat profile when they are available but Normal in the Mavic 3 is so good that I use it very often

Even just out of the memory disk, without any color grading, the footage is excellent, with beautiful colors, great dynamic range, and plenty of detail, while maintaining a very natural look. We can add a touch of contrast and a bit of warmth to the white balance, but it is the only color mode that really doesn’t need much editing

10-bit Color Modes

Examples of 10-bit color modes with the Mini 3 Pro, Air 2s and Mavic 3

The Mini 3 Pro has its own flat profile, D Cinelike. It has gone through a lot of improvement over the different firmware updates. It was originally an 8-bits mode, but it was turned into a 10-bit one. Considering the price point and the size of the sensor, the performance is quite good. But the dynamic range is slightly limited compared to the other two models

The Air 2s has 2 10-bit flat profiles, D log and HLG, they are both true 10-bit modes. More info about the Color modes of the Air 2s in this article

The Mavic 3 DLOG responds very well to color grading, has rich colors, plenty of detail in the shadows, and no artifacts like color banding in the sky, noise, or chromatic aberrations. When color grading, it is important to use a correct LUT, DJI supplies a very good one to use with its color profile, you can download it here

Another profile, HLG, has been recently added to the Mavic 3 by a firmware update. It is a welcome addition and in certain situations, it works really well, with a very extended dynamic range and plenty of detail

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Air 2s vs Mavic 3 Night Footage

And now, some low-light footage, shot after sunset with the last bit of twilight

Night footage taken with the Mini 3, Air 2s and Mavic 3

The Mini 3 Pro in low light performs extremely well. This is the one department where it really competes against the Mavic 3. The detail and colors are excellent, almost as good as in the bigger model, and there is hardly any noise. The huge aperture of the lens manages to gather plenty of light. Well done!

As usual, the performance of the Mavic 3 is very solid. Thanks to the huge sensor, there is a lot of detail in the shadows and very rich colors. And believe me, it might not look so, but it was very, very dark. There is just a touch of luminance noise in the sky and in the sea. But it is not an issue, as I use Neat Video to get rid of it. More detail about the excellent denoiser Neat Video in my related article

The Mavic 3 and 3 Classic have a specific Night mode, you can check my specific article

With the Air 2s, the colors are as usual very enjoyable and the detail is good, but the shadows are too dark. Low light is a department where the competition has slightly overtaken this model

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I am Vittorio Caramazza, aka Vicvideopic, the founder of this website and author of all the posts. I am a videographer and photographer contributing to several stock agencies. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Lightroom. I have 10 years of experience with dron videography and photography. I was struck by drone syndrome in 2013. I have owned and tested in depth the following drones: Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Air 2, Air 2s, Autel Evo Nano Plus, Mavic 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 3. My home has turned into a breeding ground for drones. I am the owner of two YouTube channels specializing in Videography and Photography, with a focus on drones My main channel is VicVideopic (in English): My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: I am currently based in Sicily (Southern Italy), but I tend to move quite often. After all, this is one of the main benefits of being a digital nomad…

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