DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2 Photo Image Quality

Many users have asked me if it is worth upgrading from the Mini 2 or the Mini SE to the new Mini 3 Pro, and also which of the two models to buy as a first drone

There is a big difference in terms of functionalities between the two drones, but here I will put them face to face focusing only on the quality of the photos in all different light conditions

Even though the Mini 2 performs decently in easy light, I would only recommend it to users on a budget. The Mini 3 Pro not only offers a lot of useful functions, like vertical photos, 48MP mode, and hyperlpse but it is also a big step up in terms of photo quality, especially in low light

Recently DJI has lowered the price of the Mini 3 and added the 48 MP mode. My analysis in the article: Mini 3 vs 3 Pro, which lightweight drone to buy?

Other article you may find interesting:

Mini 3 Pro and Mini 2 face to face
Mini 3 Pro and Mini 2 face to face

If You Prefer To Watch This As a Video

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2 Photo Specs

Mini 3 ProMini 2
Sensor size1/1.3″1/2.3″
Aperturef 1.7f 2.8
Field of view82.1° (24mm equivalent)83° (24mm equivalent)
Photo resolution12 MP (48MP mode available)12 MP
Photo formatJPEG + RAWJPEG + RAW
Photo specs

The Mini 2 was released in November 2020, more than two here ago, which in terms of drone technology is a very long time. The sensor is very small by today’s standards. Due to sensor size and aperture, we should expect much better performance in low light and in high dynamic range situations from the Mini 3 Pro

Mini 3 Pro and Mini 2 side by side
Mini 3 Pro and Mini 2 side by side

In the specs, the photo resolution of the Mini 3 Pro is often stated as 48 MP, but that is misleading. The QuadBeyer sensor is capable of splitting each pixel into four smaller ones, therefore creating a sort of 48 MP resolution, but the size of each pixel is so small that the benefits are limited to an increase in detail in easy light conditions

Mini 3 Pro single image vs 48MP
Mini 3 Pro single image vs 48MP

In low light and high dynamic range situations, better results are obtained with the regular 12 MP resolution. For more information please refer to my article about photography with the Mini 3 Pro, or to the one about the 48MP mode of the Mini 3 Pro

The Mini 3 has the added benefit of shooting vertical photos and video. It is a feature that I really appreciate for extra creativity in photography. It will also be very interesting to try panoramas using vertical images

Mini 3 Pro vertical image
Mini 3 Pro vertical image

Both models have the ability to shoot photos in automatic exposure bracketing. The mini 3 Pro in this mode can take 5 shots like the bigger models in DJI prosumer line, while the Mini 2 can only take 3, which somehow reduces the use of this functionality

I tend to shoot always in AEB to avoid the risk of a slightly wrong exposure. In situations of high dynamic range with both models merging several photos to HDR often get better results compared to single shots. In this article, there are plenty of examples of AEB photos with the Mini 3 Pro

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2 Photo Quality in Easy Light Conditions

Let’s start by watching some images taken with both models in friendly light conditions

The RAW images taken with the Mini 2 look a bit hazy, probably due to the lens. In my opinion, DJI and Hasselblad have recently put a lot of effort into the design of the lens, and the ones that equip the Air 2S, Mavic 3 and Mini 3 Pro are much better compared to previous models. But the RAW files are not meant to be used out of the camera and in post-processing in most cases we can get rid of the haze. In a few images though we notice a severe loss of detail, like in this one

In most cases, the rendition of the two models is very similar, with just a touch of extra noise in the Mini 2. We also notice that there is no degradation in the edges of the images with any of the two models

For editing and color grading I have used the excellent Luminar Neo, click on the link for an in-depth analysis

By turning the camera down the sky is taken out of the equation to focus on detail and color rendition

The Mini 3 Pro and the Mini 2 have a similar amount of detail. At 200% magnification, the Mini 3 Pro shows just a touch of extra detail. The major difference between the two models is in color rendition: the Mini 3 Pro shows a much richer color space  

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2 Photos Against the Sun

Shots in the direction of the sun with extreme dynamic range are the real stress test for drone photography. These conditions put under pressure not only the sensor but also the quality of the lens and the resistance to flare

Against the sun, the Mini 3 performs much better than the Mini 2: the sky looks more natural, there is more detail in the shadows, and much richer colors. The tiny sensor of the Mini 2 shows its limits: there is little detail in the shadows, loss of contrast, some color banding in the sky, and a limited range of colors

Both models benefit from shooting several images and merging them to HDR, especially the Mini 2. Therefore here, all images are taken using this technique

With the Mini 3, I would recommend getting a set of ND filters. Due to the very large aperture, in shots against the direction of the sun, we often reach the limits of exposure: even when using the base ISO and the faster shutter speed, too much light enters the sensor and the image is still overexposed 

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2 Low Light Photos

Low-light photography is a strong point of the Mini 3 Pro. The relatively big sensor paired with the very wide aperture gathers plenty of light while keeping the ISO value down. The noise is contained, the shadows are good and the color rendition is excellent. More examples of low-light photography with the Mini 3 Pro are in this article

In low-light photography, the Mini 2 shows its age and the extremely small size of the sensor. There is a noticeable amount of luminance noise in the sky, very little detail, and plenty of chromatic noise in the shadows. The color rendition is poor. For low-light photography, this model is not up to today’s standards

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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