DJI Mini 3 Pro Color Profiles: 10-bit D Cinelike vs 8-bit Normal

The Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro have an 8-bit color profile named Normal. It is a pre-processed color mode ready to use that doesn’t need intensive color grading. The Pro model also offers a 10-bit flat profile, D-Cinelike, able to stand heavier post-processing

I will analyze the two modes and show how and when to use them. For more details, it can be useful to watch my article about the best camera settings for video with the Mini 3 and 3 Pro

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8-bit Normal Mode in the Mini 3 and 3 Pro

Normal mode is the one meant to be used right out of the box, very interesting for users who don’t have access to a computer or need to post immediately their work on social media platforms

As an 8-bit color mode, it is able to display 16Ml colors against more than 1bn for a 10-bit profile

The 8-bit Normal mode can display 16ml colors

I know some people will ask, 16Ml colors are plenty, why would we need more than that?  Well, things are not that easy. A wider color palette renders a better structure in the sky and avoids color banding in uniform areas and other artifacts, especially when heavier color grading is needed

Normal mode is exactly the same in the Mini 3 and in the 3 Pro, although the Pro model has a bitrate of 150 Mbps vs 100 for the Mini 3. A higher bitrate means less compression of the file, which in theory results in better performances in post-processing, but the difference, in this case, is subtle. Footage shot in Normal is pre-processed in order to be ready to use

Normal mode in the Mini 3 and 3 Pro has been constantly improved via a series of firmware updates, as often is the case with DJI models. After the release of the Mini 3 Pro, I found that the shadows were a bit too dark and that the footage was not exactly ready for use out of the camera, but needed a generous dose of contrast and saturation

Here is some ungraded footage shot in easy light conditions in orange plantations on the East coast of Sicily, near Mount Etna. More details about exposure settings of the Mini 3 and 3 Pro are in this article

Footage shot in Normal mode is excellent even without color grading

The footage is excellent and can be used without any grading, although things improve slightly by adding a touch of contrast and saturation

Vertical footage in Normal mode with the Mini 3 and 3 Pro

This is excellent news for users involved on social media, considering also the possibility to shoot video in portrait mode. The quality of vertical footage taken in Normal mode is exactly the same as for horizontal format

By tuning the camera down towards the ground we can concentrate on detail and color rendition. It is not easy to reproduce properly the detail in foliage and vegetation, but the Mini 3 Pro does an excellent job

High Dynamic Range scenes in Normal mode

Scenes with a large difference between the darkest areas and the brightest ones, also known as high dynamic range situations, are the ones where 8-bit color modes tend to struggle. Under these conditions, a more intense color grading is needed and this is not the strong point of Normal mode. Being an already processed profile, it does not respond as well as a flat 10-bits one to post-processing

An area where the Mini 3 and 3 Pro really shine (forgiving the pun) is night footage. Thanks to the very wide aperture of f1.7, the sensor is capable of gathering plenty of light and the results are excellent, practically at the same level as DJI flagship model, the Mavic 3

By looking at the footage you might think that it is not night footage, but believe me, it was really pitch dark and the rendition of the Mini 3 is sensational, with not a hint of noise. More details about night footage with the two models in this article

I don’t worry too much about noise, as I use the excellent denoiser Neat Video, you can read here my dedicated article

10-bit D Cinelike in the Mini 3 and 3 Pro

D Cinelike is the 10-bit flat profile available only in the Mini 3 Pro model. It is not meant to be used out of the camera and requires a good amount of post-processing

The availability of the 10-bit profile is one of the differences between the two models, you will find details about the other differences in this article. More examples of the video quality of the Mini 3 and 3 Pro are here

D Cinelike is a flat profile and needs serious post-processing

It is called a flat profile because the contrast is reduced to protect the highlight, although it is not nearly as flat as other 10-bit profiles like D Log. Since 10-bit profiles can stand heavy editing, they are used in high dynamic range situations or to adapt a clip to the color range of a specific project

Using LUTs to color grade with D Cinelike

When editing 10-bit profiles, LUTs are frequently used. LUT stands for Look Up Table, it is an image file mapping the colors to modify the appearance of the footage

Above you can see variations of the same clip by using different LUT and different editing values, they can all work well according to the color theme of a specific project

Compared to the Normal profile, with D Cinelike the colors are generally richer and the structure of the sky is more dramatic. With a flat profile, the ability of the person doing the editing is crucial to achieving the best results

I suggest always using D Cinelike for footage taken in the direction of the sun and in high dynamic range situations, as a flat profile reduces the contrast and makes it possible to protect the highlights while maintaining some information in the shadows. It is then possible to fine-tune them in post-processing

High Dynamic Range scenes using D Cinelike

In this case, I find the footage overexposed to my taste, but this is what was required by the client, and using D Cinelike I manage to deliver exactly what I was asked

When the Mini 3 Pro was released D Cinelike was an 8-bit mode and it was quite disappointing, as the shadows were way too dark. But like the Normal profile, D Cinelike has been constantly improved by DJI and it is now a true 10-bit mode delivering good results with the correct editing 

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More Info and Examples in this Video

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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