We Got Our Hands on the Just-Announced DJI Air 3

We Got Our Hands on the Just-Announced DJI Air 3

The gimbal and drone giant DJI has just announced their next-generation mid-level drone set to replace the Air 2. The new DJI Air 3 brings many new and interesting features, and we managed to play with one for a few days before the announcement. So, what does it bring? Is it any good?

Designed To Fly Effortlessly

Compared to the original DJI Air 2, the Air 3 seems to bring a ton of new features. First and foremost, the new battery is capable of keeping the drone up for up to 46 minutes. This feature alone is truly incredible, but we’re just getting started. The obstacle detection has been improved significantly bringing omnidirectional sensors to be able to avoid any hazards in any direction, unlike the limited capabilities of the previous generation. The obstacle detection can, of course, be disabled for a faster and more agile flight.

The drone is equipped with the standard GPS capabilities we’ve come to enjoy in many previous DJI UAVs, helping the drone stay in the same spot even during some serious winds. Piloting the DJI Air 3 is a joy. It is truly simple, and even an inexperienced amateur can do so easily after a few minutes of learning the controls. The drone is charged via USB Type-C, allowing for fast charging. With a powerful enough power brick, you can be up in the air within hours. 

DJI Air 3 Dual camera system

The last few improvements are some of the speeds and the noise. The drone now emits 81 dB of buzz, which becomes near silent when up in the air. I often had to count on the compass alone to actually know where exactly my drone was, as I could not tell by ear. It is beautifully silent when up in the air. You can even hold a conversation right next to the drone in flight.

Getting up in the air is faster now than the older Air 2 or even Mavic 3 Pro. The speed of ascending and descending has been increased to 10 m/s from the previous 6 and 8, respectively. It may not seem as much, but getting to your height faster saves you precious battery life, which can be used to being more productive.

All the bells and whistles we have come to love from DJI drones are back, including Mastershots, Activetrack 5.0, Point-of-Interest 2.0, and a reasonably powerful spotlight to aid your landing at night.

DJI Air 3 omnidirectional sensors

24-70mm f/2.8? Even Better!

The camera system has been overhauled, bringing a dual-camera system with identical sensors behind different lenses. Both cameras use 48-megapixel 1/1.3” CMOS sensors. The first one is looking at the world through a 24mm lens with a bright f/1.7 aperture, whereas the second camera uses a 70mm f/2.8 lens. 

Both cameras are capable of capturing 4K video up to either 10-bit HDR or HLG 60 fps in D-Log M, or if you’re ok with shooting only 8-bit, up to 100 fps. 1080p video can be shot up to 200 fps. The 10-bit D-Log files are easy to grade and offer a decent dynamic range considering the sensor size. The “baked-in” 8-bit files still offer very nice image quality, pleasing colors, plenty of sharp detail, and a good enough dynamic range for immediate use if you’re not planning on grading your footage after.

Unlike the Mini 3 or the Mini 3 Pro, the gimbal cannot rotate the camera vertically. You can, however, record vertical 2.7 K video right in the drone with both cameras using a crop.

DJI Air 3 low noise propellers

Improved Transmission

DJI Air 3 comes with a new transmission standard called O4, promising 1080p video at 60 fps and up to 20 kilometers of range. That is a slight improvement from the recently released Mavic 3 Pro, which was capable of reaching the same video transmission “only” up to 15 kilometers. During my testing of some impressive ranges and even past obstacles, I was still getting smooth video footage streamed into the new DJI RC2 controller. The new external antennas must be clearly helping. 

The new RC2 controller still offers a great viewing experience, even on a bright sunny day on its 5.5” 1080p screen. Including screens in their controllers has been one of the best decisions DJI has made in recent years. The annoying hassle of using your phone is gone, and I know I’m never going back, especially considering the official way of getting the app on an Android phone is far from ideal. 

DJI Air 3 with a 24mm f/1.7 and a 70mm f/2.8 lenses

Perfect for the Enthusiastic Noob

It is truly incredible how far drones have come since the days of the original Phantom. The image quality is not even comparable, the video capabilities are simply incredible, and the ease of use is letting anyone capture beautiful footage. Not to mention the fact we do not need a separate backpack just to carry a drone with us anymore. True, the DJI Air 3 is larger than the Air 2. Its size is closer to the Mavic 3. But that is the cost of such a large battery with the incredible flight time. I was never much of a drone fan or an active drone pilot, but using the Air 3 for the last few days has made me want one. The Mavic 3 is a bit too much for me, while the Mini 3 lacks dual cameras and omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. This seems like the perfect sweet spot for the enthusiastic hobbyist or a starting pro, especially considering the decent price. I'm curious though if we're getting a larger sensor in an Air 2S successor, if there ever is one.


Video Samples


You can buy the new DJI Air 3 drone here.

Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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