Which DJI drone to buy in 2023?

In 2022, DJI has been very busy with new models and firmware updates. The quality has improved a lot compared to the previous generation and the models offer different options at several price points

Here I analyze the main differences between the recent models for video and photography. The aim is not to state if one model is better than the other, as they are all outstanding, but rather to find out which one is the best choice for each type of user and for its budget

  • The Mini 3 Pro is an excellent choice for intermediate users interested in both photos and video, with the exception of those who live in very windy areas. It can also be useful for professionals who already own a Mavic 3 and need a second drone for urban usage, short trips, or hiking
  • The Mini 3 is a cheaper version lacking most of the features. In most cases, I suggest going for the Pro version. But most functionalities are useful only for video, so for users interested strictly in photography, this model is a good value alternative, although they might miss the Hyperlapse mode
  • The Air 2s is a favorite of many for photo and video quality. It is the oldest of the three models and the competition has raised the bar. It is not easy to justify the difference in price compared to the Mini 3 Pro, while professional users are tempted by the exclusive features of the Mavic 3
  • The Mavic 3 is the king of the DJI prosumer line. This model has been constantly improved and it is the reference for video and photo quality. It also offers several exclusive functionalities, each of which is a compelling reason for a professional user to invest in this model
  • The Mavic 3 Classic is a more affordable version of the Mavic 3. The only difference between the two models is the lack of the telephoto lens. It is a marketing move that makes perfect sense, as the Mavic 3 Classic is a state-of-the-art model priced at a point that could tempt many advanced amateur users
A family portrait of DJI 2023 Prosumer line

I will I have done specific comparisons for video quality and photo quality of the three models, please refer to them by clicking on the links

If you are in the market for a lightweight model, check my article Mini 3 vs Mini 3 Pro vs Mini 2

I have also made an article with the expected features of the upcoming DJI Air 3

If You Prefer To Watch This As a Video

Video and Photo Specs of DJI Mini 3 vs Air 2s vs Mavic 3

Mini 3 ProAir 2sMavic 3
Weight249 grams595 grams895 grams
Sensor Size1/1.3″1″4/3″
Field of View82.1° (24 mm)88° (22 mm)84° (24 mm)
ApertureF 1.7F 2.8F 2.8 – F 11
Video Resolution4k at 60 fps5.4k at 30 fps5.1k at 50 fps
Video Bitrate150 Mbps150 Mbps200 Mbps
Photo Resolution12 MP
(48 MP mode)
20 MP20 MP
Color ModesNormal
D Cinelike
D Log
D Log
Obstacle sensorsForward
Battery Life34 minutes
(47 min with Battery +)
31 minutes46 minutes
Source: DJI website

DJI Mini 3 Pro

The DJI Mini 3 Pro

The Mini 3 Pro is a lightweight model, under the critical threshold of 250 grams, with more relaxed regulations in many countries and extremely portable. The downside is that it cannot handle medium to strong winds as well as the bigger models

Example of footage taken with the Mini 3 Pro

The sensor has a respectable size of 1/1.3”, smaller than the other two models but much bigger than the one of the Mini 2, this should translate into better performance in high dynamic range scenes, with more detail preserved in the shadows

The aperture is an extremely wide f1.7 capable of gathering plenty of light. The performance with low light footage is astonishing for such a small drone and in this department, it can even compete with the flagship Mavic 3

The video resolution is 4k with frame rates up to 60 fps, with the possibility of applying some real slow motion, which is very useful

D Cinelike with the Mini 3 Pro

Besides the traditional 8 bits Normal mode, meant to be used straight out of the camera, there is also a 10-bit Profile, D Cinelike, which requires some color grading. D Cinelike has been constantly improved by a series of firmware updates, it is a useful alternative to Normal mode, although not as performing as the two 10-bit modes of the Air 2s and Mavic 3

For such a small drone, the Mini 3 Pro has an astonishing amount of functionalities, practically the same as the Air 2s

It is the first sub 250 grams DJI drone with obstacle sensors, a crucial safety feature not only for beginners. Using drones for professional purposes in all sorts of conditions, the obstacle avoidance system has saved me from crashing on many occasions. In the Mini 3 Pro, it is a tridirectional system, with no lateral sensors, like in the Air 2s, therefore it is not to be used for tracking at close distances

The features of the Mini 3 Pro includes the three intelligent flight modes grouped under the name Focus Track: Active Track, Spotlight, and Point of Interest (click on the links to access my specific articles). These modes offer different ways to track moving targets. Spotlight and Point of Interest can also be used to maintain a static target in the same position in the frame while performing all sorts of moves for smooth cinematic footage. Other intelligent functionalities for footage are Mastershots and Quickshots

Examples of photos in 12 MP and 48 MP

The Mini 3 Pro also performs very well for photography with a Beyer Quad sensor with a real photo resolution of 12 MP and the ability to split each pixel into four smaller ones, therefore obtaining a sort of 48 MP

This feature is useful for large prints and to increase the detail, but only in easy light conditions, as the resulting pixels are extremely small, so this 48MP mode is better avoided in high dynamic range situations and in low light. Other features include panorama photography and an excellent Hyperlapse mode

More details in my specific article about the 48 MP photo mode of the Mini 3 Pro

Examples of photos in portrait format

A strong selling point of the Mini 3 Pro is the ability to rotate the lens to a vertical position for video and photos in portrait mode, very interesting for users involved on social media platforms

Thanks to the new design of the fuselage and of the area around the gimbal, this model has better aerodynamics compared to the Mini 2, it feels a bit more powerful and doesn’t have the very annoying jumps of the camera when coming to a halt after a move

Battery life is much longer than in the Mini 2 and in the Air 2s, and it is possible to purchase a special battery with extremely long flying time, extremely useful for shooting hyperlapses

The only weak point of is the signal transmission, which is below DJI standards, probably due to the position of the antennas, housed inside the front arms

I have done an in-depth article about Photography with the Mini 3 Pro

DJI Mini 3

DJI has recently released a cheaper version, named simply Mini 3. It has the same body and camera as the Mini 3 Pro, but it lacks most of the functionalities. It doesn’t have obstacle sensors, tracking capabilities, intelligent flight modes, Mastershots and hyper-lapse

The only intelligent functionality is a simpler version of Quickshots. The only color mode is Normal, as the 10 bits mode D Cinelike is not available

In the Mini 3, the antennas have been moved to a different position

On the Plus side, the basic Mini 3 has an even longer battery life, since some energy is saved by the absence of the obstacle avoidance system. The signal transmission is also improved, as the antennas have been moved to a different position

DJI Air 2s

The Air 2s was released in April 2021, it is therefore much older than the other two models. At the time of its release, it was a big step ahead of the competition for video and photo quality even compared to the more expensive Mavic 2 Pro

Air 2s: example of footage, photo, and hyperlapse

It has a larger 1” sensor with a video resolution of 5.4k and a real photo resolution of 20MP.  It is a favorite of many users for its wonderful organic colors and excellent detail. It remains an excellent choice for enthusiasts who prioritize photo and video quality

The only weakness of this model is battery time which is now much lower than the other two models and particularly penalizing for hyper lapses

More details in my articles Video Quality of the Air 2s, Air 2s Photography Review, and DJI Air 2s Hyperlapse Tutorial

DJI Mavic 3

The Mavic 3 is the flagship model, the king of the DJI prosumer line. It has a bigger 4/3” sensor supplied with a sensational Hasselblad lens. This model has been constantly improved by countless firmware updates and has now video and photo quality not too far from a traditional full-frame camera

The Mavic 3 is the king of DJI prosumer line

Even more importantly, the Mavic 3 has some crucial exclusive features

  • The variable aperture of the shutter simplifies the process of achieving the correct exposure and maintaining the correct shutter speed for the ideal amount of motion blur in footage and in hyperlapses eliminating the need to constantly swap ND filters
  • Thanks to the omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system, the Mavic 3 is the only model suitable for safe close-range tracking
  • Waypoints mode for video is the most efficient tool for producing precise, smooth cinematic footage even in the case of complex moves
  • The much longer battery life is another very handy feature, and it is crucial for hyperlapses
  • The dual lens system includes a telephoto lens with a field of view equivalent to 162 mm (with a zoom factor of approximately 7 times)
The telephoto lens of the Mavic 3

Even though the quality of footage and photos obtained with the telephoto lens is not comparable to the one of the main camera, this lens opens up new creative possibilities for parallax effect, for close views, for accessing subjects that could not be otherwise reached, or simply to scout an unknown location

More details in my articles Mavic 3 Video Quality, Mavic 3 Photography Review, Mavic 3 Hyperlapse Tutorial, and Mavic 3 Telephoto Lens

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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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