DJI Mini 3 Pro Night Footage – How to Shoot Video in Low Light

In low-light situations, the DJI Mini 3 Pro performs very well. The very wide aperture of f1.7 gathers plenty of light, so it is possible to maintain the ISO value below 800 for optimal results. To get the best results it is important to carefully choose the best light conditions

I have tested the Mini 3 Pro for night photography and I was very impressed

In this article we will see if the Mini 3 performs as well with low-light footage, I will also give you a few tips on how to get the best results when filming after sunset or before sunrise

You can check the prices for the different configurations of the Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro through the button below (commission earned)

Other articles about the Mini 3 Pro you may find interesting:

If you prefer to watch it as a video, you will find my YouTube version at the end

Benefits of Using Manual Exposure for Video

It is suggested to always use manual exposure

In low light, It is critical to use the specific ISO values that yield the best results and to apply the 180 degrees rule by using the same relation between frame rate and shutter speed

Frame RateShutter Speed
24 or 25 fps1/50
30 fps1/60
50 fps1/100
60 fps1/120

When using auto exposure it is possible to get occasionally a good clip, but in most instances, there will be some noise due to a high ISO value or stuttering because of the wrong shutter speed

By using auto exposure, beginners surrender control of the exposure

Example of manual exposure (footage by Vicvideopic)

The best way to expose is to set an ISO value between 100 to 400, and then choose the perfect moment after sunset or before sunrise to get the correct light conditions

More detail on How to expose with the Mini 3 Pro in my dedicated article

Normal Mode or D Cinelike

With most drones in low light, I prefer to use Normal color mode, but the opposite is true with the Mini 3

In Normal I find that the shadows are too dark, at least in my unit, while D Cinelike performs very well with ISO values up to 400

ISO 800 is still very usable, but if we choose with care the optimal time to shoot there is no need to push the ISO above 400

In this article are more details about the Color profiles of the Mini 3 and 3 Pro

Normal mode vs D Cinelike in low light (footage by Vicvideopic)

How to Choose the Scene

Very often I see tests of the low light capability of a drone in a big city with very strong artificial lights at night

In certain cases, the results can be pretty spectacular, but these light conditions do little to show how a camera can handle low light

These are rather high dynamic range situations, as there are plenty of powerful artificial lights and the challenge is to avoid burning the highlights, while the areas in the shadow will be black

A good scene to test low-light capabilities (footage by Vicvideopic)

The best scenes for low-light tests contain only a small amount of artificial light with plenty of space occupied by natural elements like the sea, the sky, and vegetation

Best Time for Low-Light Footage

To test the low-light capabilities of a drone we need some sort of main light

The best results are obtained after sunset but before full darkness, using the last twilight as our main source. Moonlight adds to the ambiance of the scene

Here in Sicily, the twilight after sunset lasts for about 45 minutes (we are at the same latitude as North Carolina), while in Northern Europe, New England, or Canada it is much longer

Let’s see what happens at different intervals during the twilight

Clips shot at twilight without artificial lights (footage by Vicvideopic)

These clips were shot 15 minutes after sunset, which is an excellent time for footage and photos, with very soft shadows and nice colors, but it is not yet what I would consider low light

It was very dark, but the Mini 3 with the very wide aperture of the lens and the relatively big sensor can gather plenty of light

Footage with streetlights on (footage by Vicvideopic)

Things become more interesting when some streetlights turn on

We are 30 minutes after sunset, and there is the last bit of twilight, even though with the Mini 3 Pro we can give the impression of much higher luminosity if we so wish

We can use an ISO value of 200 or 400 and the result is excellent

The artificial lights act as the main light giving a tridimensional feel to the scene. In certain cases, they also add some nice geometrical patterns

When filming in low light with a ground-based camera we can often control the position and the strength of the main and the fade light, but often with drones, we have to make the most of what is available and choose a scene according to the pattern of lights it contains

Footage taken at sunrise (footage by Vicvideopic)

The same process works with sunrises. Here we are 30 minutes before sunrise and the light conditions are very similar

Position of the Light Source

Footage with the light in front and at the back (footage by Vicvideopic)

Another factor to consider is the position of the light source: when shooting in the direction of the light it is harder to recover the shadows and it is often better to leave the ground as a silhouette.

With the sun behind the dynamic range is much lower, the shadows are very smooth and the colors very pleasant

I am not overly concerned about noise. I use the excellent denoiser Neat Video to gently reduce luminance, chromatic noise, or flickering without introducing any artifacts

Here you find my article about Neat Video

You will find more info including the price through the button below

If You Prefer To Watch It As a 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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