September 28, 2023

Exploring Florida
with the DJI Mini 3 Pro

From the end of August 2023, I was able to spend several days in Florida. This time, I had the DJI Mini 3 Pro drone with me. I chose this drone because it falls under the 250-gram limit, which is the threshold in both Germany and the USA where you need a license to fly. In Germany and the EU, I have this certificate, but it does not apply in the USA. To avoid organizational and legal problems, I decided to go with a drone that is under this 250-gram limit. The DJI Mini series is perfect for this purpose. There is now a brand new DJI Mini 4 Pro, but it was not on the market at the time of my trip. So, I opted for the latest model at that time, the DJI Mini 3 Pro. I was able to thoroughly test this drone in two weeks, and you can gain insight into my experience here.

DJI Mini 3 Pro photography of Cape Florida Lighthouse Drones USA Travel

The Cape Florida Lighthouse near Key Biscayne, FL

DJI Mini 3 Pro photography of Miami Beach Drones USA

South Pointe Park, Miami Beach at sunset

DJI Mini 3 Pro photography of the Ocean Drive, Miami Beach Drones USA Travel

The famous Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, during sunset

First and foremost, I want to address the positive points of this drone. In my opinion, there are not many negatives.

Weight: The most obvious feature is, of course, the size and weight of the drone. Unlike the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, which I usually use and weighs almost 1 kg, the Mini 3 Pro is a true lightweight. Its compact size is also a game-changer. You can practically put it in your jacket pocket or throw it into your camera backpack without the weight being noticeable. This is a real relief, especially when you already have a lot of camera equipment with you, which, as most probably know and have felt themselves, can quickly become a burden, especially when you’re on foot for a long time.

Battery Life: Considering its small and lightweight design, the drone can fly surprisingly long. The manufacturer claims 31 minutes of flight time, and in my experience, this aligns with the actual flight time. Of course, I don’t fly the drone until the battery is completely drained, but with 20-25 minutes of usable flight time, it’s entirely sufficient, and I never felt the need to stay in the air longer. Additionally, there’s an option to install an extra-large battery, which extends the flight time to up to 50 minutes. This is quite remarkable for such a small device. However, it’s worth noting that the battery, in terms of capacity, is relatively small. In this case, it’s an advantage because it can be quickly charged via USB Type-C using a power bank when you’re on the go and there are no electrical outlets nearby.

Flight Stability: Especially on the Florida coast, where thunderstorms are common and the air can be turbulent and windy, the drone handled these conditions well and could fly calmly and safely even in relatively strong winds. In case of doubt, you’ll receive a warning message about high wind speeds and a request to land. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the stability of this small drone.

Camera: Again, when it comes to the camera, you always need to consider the size and weight of this drone, and for such a compact size, the camera quality is truly impressive. It can capture 4K videos at 60fps, 48-megapixel raw photos, and has a super stable gimbal, allowing for impressive images and videos. Unlike the larger DJI drones that offer recordings in DJI D-Log color profile, the Mini 3 Pro can record „only“ in the so-called D-Cinelike profile. There is a difference, especially when it comes to color grading afterward, but I wouldn’t consider it a negative point since you can still achieve beautiful results with D-Cinelike, and the DJI Mini 3 Pro is primarily aimed at beginners or amateurs, not professionals. I also really liked the True Vertical mode, where the entire camera element rotates 90 degrees, allowing you to capture in full resolution, in 4K 60 FPS or 48-megapixel raw, in a vertical position, which is very useful for social media optimization. At the end of the day, the result is what matters, and the DJI Mini 3 Pro can deliver impressive results.

 

Before I get to the very few negative points, which, as I mentioned, are always judged in the context of this drone weighing only 249 grams, I’d like to show some sample videos.

Now, onto the negative points, which, as I said, are always considered with the understanding that this drone weighs only 249 grams.

Low Light Performance: Even though the DJI’s optics have a wide aperture of 1.7, a wide aperture alone can’t compensate for a small sensor. This becomes noticeable when the lighting situation is less than optimal. While the drone still captures sharp and low-noise shots during sunset and the minutes after sunset, it struggles in complete darkness or when only the city lights are visible. This is reflected in the quality of the footage it produces.

Range: I controlled the Mini 3 Pro with the DJI RC, and the remote controller is great. The display is bright and sharp, the touchscreen is responsive, and overall, I’m very satisfied with the remote controller. However, it’s not exclusive to the Mini 3 Pro but is also compatible with other drones. What bothered me at times was the relatively limited range of this drone. Even with a direct line of sight to the drone, I found that I couldn’t go much farther than 600-700 meters in the city. In rural areas, I reached a maximum of 1 km before experiencing the first signs of connection loss. While this range is sufficient for most purposes, I was accustomed to greater range with larger drones.

Conclusion: All in all, I am more than satisfied with this little powerhouse of a drone. It surprised and impressed me on (almost) all fronts. Whether it’s worth buying depends, in my opinion, on the price difference compared to the newer DJI Mini 4 Pro.

For beginners, amateurs, and even experienced drone pilots who travel a lot and want to avoid the hassle of constantly changing and obtaining new licenses, this device is well-suited.

At this point, I would like to thank you for reading and hope that you found something valuable in this. Thank you.

-Dominik

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