DJI Air 3 Video Review – Is It worth it for Footage Quality?

In my review of the Air 3 for photography, I was impressed by the versatility of this drone

The DJI Air 3 has excellent video quality, especially in Normal mode, the one that can be used without any editing. Even though the sensor is the same as the Mini 3 Pro, the processing of the footage has been greatly improved. The 70 mm moderate telephoto lens is a true game-changer

Other articles about the Air 3 you may find interesting:

DJI Air 3: Front view of the dual lens system
DJI Air 3: Front view of the dual lens system

If You Prefer To Watch This As a Video

Video Specs of the Air 3

The wide/angle lens of the Air 3 is the same as the Mini 3 Pro and Mini 4 Pro

Wide-angleTelephoto
Sensor Size1/1.3″1/1.3″
Field of View24 mm70 mm
Aperturef 1.7f 2.8
Video Resolution4k at up to 100 fps4k at up to 100 fps
Bitrate150 Mbps150 Mbps

Video Functionalities

Intelligent Modes

This model has an array of intelligent modes. They are all available with both lenses:

  • Active Track
  • Spotlight
  • Point of Interest
  • Mastershots
  • Quickshots

When using the 70mm moderate telephoto lens, every abrupt move is magnified, so Spotlight or Point Of Interest are very useful for smoother footage

When scouting a new location, it is very convenient to use Mastershots and Quickshots with both lenses to quickly gather a good amount of interesting clips

Waypoints

Waypoints is a very sought-after feature, previously only available in the flagship models of DJI prosumer drones

It creates missions with two or more points. At each point, the position, the elevation of the aircraft, and the orientation of the camera are recorded

The drone will then handle the transition between the points for smooth cinematic footage

Each mission can be named and stored in memory to repeat the same itinerary in different light conditions, other times of the day, different seasons, or alternating the two lenses

Waypoints is a precious, unexpected addition to this model

Cruise Control

Cruise control is another useful new feature for the Air series. It is possible to set one of the two function buttons of the remote controller to Cruise Control in the Control tab of the settings

DJI Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro, button customization for Cruise Control
DJI Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro, button customization for Cruise Control

While flying we can press the button so that the aircraft will keep the same speed and direction of flight so that we can focus on adding extra movement with the stick of the remote control and the tilt of the gimbal

Just press the button again to exit Cruise Control

Other Features

The Air 3 offers the most solid signal transmission I have experienced so far in any DJI prosumer drone, a very long battery life, excellent wind resistance, and good speed

This drone offers all sorts of features to make shooting videos an enjoyable experience without any stress

70mm Telephoto Lens of the Air 3

The winning point of this model is the second camera, the mighty 70mm telephoto lens

Footage taken with this lens is excellent with maybe a touch of extra contrast and detail compared to the wide-angle lens

The video made with the two lenses is otherwise very similar, so it is easy to integrate footage into the same project

Color Modes

8-bit Normal Mode

Normal is an 8-bit mode meant to be used with little or no color grading, widely used for social media

In the Air 3, this mode is a thing of beauty with very rich and pleasant colors and excellent detail, despite the relatively small sensor

DJI has seriously improved the processing of the files compared to the Mini 3 Pro, as the sensor is the same, but the detail and the colors here are in a different league

Even though the camera cannot rotate like in the Mini models, The Air 3 is also able to shoot vertical video in 2.7k, by cropping a vertical slice from the full resolution of the sensor

Users active on social media platforms will be very happy!

10-bit Modes

The Air 3 can also shoot video in two 10-bit modes: D Log M and HLG

The 10-bit modes can show over 1 bl colors, vs 16 ml for an 8-bit mode, thus avoiding color banding in uniform areas and other artifacts

D LOG M

D Log M is the most used, it is a sort of simplified version of the D Log mode in the Mavic 3

It is a flat profile, although not as flat as the true D LOG, able to deal with high dynamic range situations and to stand heavier color grading to adapt the footage to the color scheme of specific projects

In good light conditions, it is quite easy to color grade using the correct LUT. DJI has released a free LUT for this mode, you can download it here

The colors are pleasant, and the detail is good although it cannot compete with the true DLog of the Mavic 3 Pro and this is understandable, given the big difference in price and sensor size

HLG

HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) is a pleasant alternative to DLog M, easier to color grade, and probably the one I prefer, but it still needs some work

It tends to overexpose. On my first day of shooting, all the footage I shot using my usual exposing techniques was unusable. After a few tests, I realized that good results can be obtained with exposure values about 1.5 stops lower than usual

However, the main issue is that this mode is extremely demanding in terms of computer resources, so at the moment it is difficult to integrate HLG clips in a video timeline and the encoding times are extremely long

I trust DJI will fix these issues soon, as HLG is otherwise an excellent color mode

Top-Down Footage

Let’s now turn the camera down for top-down views

Normal mode works again extremely well with excellent detail and contrast and very nice colors

In Settings, it is possible to increase the Sharpness, but in my opinion, it is not needed, so the value here is the default one

The results obtained with the telephoto lens are even more impressive

High Dynamic Range Footage

The hardest test for any camera is the shots in the direction of the sun

Both lenses handle the extreme dynamic range very well, without any loss of detail and saturation near the sun or chromatic aberrations

When the sun is in the frame, the amount of information in the shadows is decent, but I was expecting a bit more from DLog M

In this case, the performance of the 10-bit mode is not that different from the one of Normal mode

Low-Light Footage

An area where the Air 3 really shines (forgiving the pun) is low-light footage

For night footage the Air 3 can compete with the mighty Mavic 3, and this is a great accomplishment, partly due to the extreme aperture of the primary lens

There is also a Night Mode with Auto-exposure

In the first iteration of this mode, in the Mavic 3, I found it disappointing, with a fake, plasticky look

In the Air 3 the night mode has improved, but I still largely prefer to use manual exposure for better shadows and more detail. This way I can control the individual exposure values, which is crucial

VicVideoPic

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): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgaBlrFDONJ4BSEUHa2cLKg My other channel is Drone Mitico, the Italian version.: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkeoY8rPPj-fypUKHckTtwQ 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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