Earlier this year we reviewed DJI's Mini 3 Pro, a more accessible way to get excellent video footage from a lightweight drone that didn't require too much to either control or get permission to fly. So let's say you've been bitten by the bug, and you might want a more natural next step on the ladder to more professional production. Well, DJI has just launched exactly what you're looking for - meet the Mavic 3 Classic.
The Mavic has always been DJI's core "prosumer" line of drones. The bigger, heavier, more rugged and generally more intimidating beast, and the price increases quite significantly from the Mini to the Mavic to put it bluntly. However, the standard Mavic 3 is around 20% more expensive than the Mavic 3 Classic, and that's a bit of a saving, so while there are of course key sacrifices, it now positions the Mavic 3 Classic as a natural successor to the Mini series.
But the difference is immediate; the Mavic 3 Classic weighs 895 grams, its battery feels heavier and more substantial in the hand, the deployable wings have more resistance in the hinges, the noise from the rotor blades on launch is instantly more noticeable - this is just a more "serious" drone, and for happy hobbyists who don't need wide, sharp 4K/60fps shots for work as such, there's not much point in investing the extra in a Mavic. You can get a Mini 3 Pro with a Fly More kit (which remains an essential accessory if you ask us) and still have money to spare.
So the Mavic 3 Classic is about camera shots, it's about camera shots that must be better than average. Okay, so what kind of camera is it. Yes, one of the key sacrifices here is the dual camera lens, as the Classic variant has a single 20 megapixel 24 millimetre f./2.8 CMOS sensor that uses Hasselblad HNCS as colour tuning. This lens can record 10-bit HDR at 5.1K/50fps, 4K/120fps or 1080p/200fps in H.264 or H.265 formats. That's a lot of numbers and values, and the long and short of it is that whether you're shooting more directional action-oriented footage, or more static shots like we do in our EV Hour videos, for example, the Mavic 3 Classic is a clear step-up. The larger sensor pulls in more light, there's better stabilization overall, and colour calibration and dynamic range are miles superior. There's just no real basis for comparison here.
There are also a number of advantages to the slightly larger chassis. Each battery gives you 46 minutes of flight time, an estimate I would point out is slightly optimistic, but I still got about 35 minutes out of each battery. There's the same Cruise Control feature, the same omnidirectional sensors that stop the drone from crashing into various objects, the same ActiveTrack 5.0 - it's a classic DJI drone, and that's certainly a compliment.
It's very clever that the Mavic 3 Classic is compatible with the existing RC controller, but it then has similar issues, especially in terms of maintaining a strong signal at range. I experienced this a bit on a trip to Norway with the Mini 3 Pro, and it's a shame to see that problem return in a more expensive product, although of course it's great that DJI supports their legacy stuff.
But overall the Mavic 3 Classic is a triumph, and further proof that DJI are the undisputed champions. It will play a crucial role for us going forward, and can easily be recommended to anyone looking to make more of their videos.