DJI Mavic 3 and 3 Classic video quality

When the Mavic 3 was released, several video features were missing. But the flagship DJI model has been constantly improved by a myriad of firmware updates and has now astonishing video capabilities. The Mavic 3 and 3 Classic open up unchartered territories for drone footage, getting close to the quality of full-frame cameras

The flagship model of DJI prosumer line

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Video Settings

The color modes available are

  • Normal
  • D Log
  • HLG
Autumn colors with Normal mode

Normal mode has been developed by Hasselblad with the name Natural Color Solution. It is an 8-bit mode meant to be used straight out of the camera. In several other models, Normal mode needs some tweaking as it generally lacks contrast and saturation This is not the case with the Mavic 3: the footage out of the camera looks excellent and it is very good news for users who need to quickly upload their masterpieces to the web

D Log needs serious computer post-processing

D Log is a 10- bit flatter profile to be used for serious computer post-processing with increased dynamic range. In the Mavic 3, this mode is flatter compared to other models. It is so flat that it makes it difficult to monitor the scene and expose it correctly, as the histogram is fooled by the lack of contrast and there is a tendency to overexpose

A Color Display Assist option has been recently added. This feature helps to enhance the visibility of the display by adjusting the contrast and saturation

HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) has been added recently. It is another 10-bit mode designed to provide a wider dynamic range for more accurate color reproduction, especially in scenes with high contrast or difficult light conditions

A very important feature of the Mavic 3 is the dual lens system, not available in the Mavic 3 Classic. I have done a specific article about how to get the most from the telephoto lens and the zoom capabilities of the Mavic 3

Mavic 3 with the gimbal in FPV mode

It is possible to set the gimbal to FPV mode and this function works really well now with the excellent new gimbal. At first, I didn’t take it very seriously but I can see some interesting ways to use it

Slow motion

Another major upgrade of the Mavic 3 is the availability of higher frame rates at different resolutions. Here you can see the same scene shot at a resolution of 4k, first at 24fps, which is the frame rate of my timeline and therefore is at normal speed, and then shot at 60 fps and interpreted at 24 fps, therefore 2.5x slow motion. And finally shot at 120 fps for 5x extreme slow motion

More details about Frame rate and slow motion in this article

Another new feature is the increased maximum ISO value for the two 10 bits mods: DLog and HLG. Previously in these two modes, the only ISO values available were 400 and 800, while now it is possible to push it to 1600

Video Quality in the Three Color Modes


Examples of Normal mode

Many potential buyers of the Mavic 3 are mostly interested in the 10-bit modes D Log and HLG but Normal mode can be further improved with a touch of color grading, and the files respond really well

With other models of the DJI line, I tend to choose the 10-bit modes most of the time, but with the Mavic 3 Normal is so good that I use it very often

D Log

In previous DJ models, D Log often lacks detail, especially in overcast conditions. With both the Air 2s and the Mavic 2 Pro in most cases I use HLG mode

Examples of D Log mode with the Mavic 3

With the Mavic 3, D Log works match better. I have experimented with several different LUTs and detail and color rendition are always excellent. The files in 10-bit color with a bitrate of 200 Mbps are the most solid I have seen in any prosumer drone. I was able to tweak very heavily individual colors or add a good deal of contrast without any artifacts or banding

D Log footage slightly overexposed

In this clip with the sun on the border of the frame, I was fooled by the ungraded image on the screen and I ended up overexposing it, but the result is still acceptable

In the rain

Here it started to rain, but I kept shooting without any drop of water sitting on the lens. This can be very useful, good job Hasselblad!


HLG color mode

HLG is another very high-quality 10-bit color mode. Even though on the Mavic 3 D-Log is the star of the show, HLG offers an interesting alternative to suit the specific color scheme of a project. As we will see later on, it really shines in low-light conditions

Against the sun

Normal mode against the sun

In high dynamic range situations, Normal mode in the Mavic 3 performs much better than any other 8-bits mode in drones of the DJI line. It maintains plenty of color information. Even with the full sun in the frame, there is no flare and the sky has an excellent structure

D Log mode against the sun

But to extract more info in the shadow and increase the dynamic range, D Log is the one to use. When shooting against the sun, the results obtained with the Mavic 3 in D Log are in a different league compared to any other models of the Mavic line

Even with the full sun in the frame, the structure of the sky is astonishing and the shadows retain plenty of information without any noise. The Mavic 3 opens new territories for prosumer drone videography. We can finally get results not too far from a good full-frame camera

Low Light Footage

Only a few years ago, noise was a big issue for drone footage. The Mavic 3 with its big 4/3” sensor is expected to perform very well in low light

Normal mode

Normal mode in low light

In normal mode at ISO 800, the footage looks extremely good: there is plenty of detail in the shadows, the colors are very rich and pleasant and there is not a hint of noise. It looks almost like daylight in cloudy conditions, but believe me, it was very, very dark. Here they are trying to save money on energy as much as possible, so if artificial light is on it must be pitch dark

A few minutes later I increase ISO to 1600 and there is no degradation in the footage: the detail and the colors are still excellent and again, hardly any noise at all, just the first hint, but very hard to notice it

At ISO 3200 we start to see a very slight loss of quality. The detail is not as rich as before, although still more than acceptable, the same goes for the colors. We start to see the first hint of noise, but it is still very well controlled

I would probably prefer to use ISO up to 1600, which is fine on most occasions, but if needed 3200 is still very usable

At ISO 6400 there is no degradation at all compared to 3200, the footage is still excellent. Comparing it to other footage taken a few months before, I have the impression that the quality of Normal mode at high ISO has improved a lot, and this is not a surprise, as with every update of the Mavic 3 I  have noticed increased quality, both for video and photos

Night Mode

Night mode

Night mode was introduced at the release of the Mavic 3 Classic and has also been made available for the Mavic 3. We access this new mode through the main Photo/Video menu above the shutter

We notice that the image punches in, as there is a slightly tighter field of view. We get a message saying that obstacle avoidance is not available, but this is not a big deal, as in low light the sensors do not work anyway

This mode is available only at a resolution of 4k and a frame rate of 30fps. The maximum ISO value is 12800 and there is some noise reduction automatically applied

There is absolutely no noise and this is remarkable at such a high ISO. But part of the detail in the shadows has disappeared. The noise reduction looks very aggressive and there is something fake in the buildings, they look a bit plasticky. The sea looks like a blob of blue, without any waves or reflections from the sky

This night mode might be interesting for users who don’t do any post-processing and need to use some night footage just out of the camera, maybe for social media. But frankly, I am much more impressed by the improvements made in the standard Normal mode, which looks absolutely excellent now, even with high ISO values

After denoising using the excellent Neat Video, I certainly much prefer the results. More details about the denoiser that I use, Neat Video, in my specific article

More details about Night footage with the Mavic 3 in his article

D Log

D Log mode in low light

This is DLOG at ISO 800. I do like DLog in the Mavic 3 in most situations, but I find it a bit lacking in low-light conditions. Compared to Normal mode there is certainly more noise, the colors are not as exciting and there is less detail in the shadows. At ISO 1600 with the same light conditions, I find that DLog behaves a bit better, although a good dose of denoising is needed


But the best surprise comes with the 10 bits mode HLG

HLG mode at night

At ISO 400 the footage shot in this mode is a joy to watch: the detail is mesmerizing, the colors are wonderful and the structure of the sky is simply magic. Noise is nowhere to be seen. The scene looks perfectly natural and organic

This is probably the best low-light rendition I have ever seen with any drone. Let me reiterate one more time that it was very dark, although it might not seem so. The 4/3 sensor is able to make the most of the tiniest amount of light

At 800 ISO the footage is still very good, but part of the magic has gone. There is some nose both in the sky and in the dark areas, the detail and the colors have lost part of the magic powers

At ISO 1600 there is no real degradation compared to 800

In low light, my suggestion is to use HLG at ISO 400 which does a sensational job in most low-light situations.  If a higher ISO should be needed, the choice is between Normal and HLG, according to personal preferences

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More Info and Examples in This Video


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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