Why I couldn’t buy the DJI Mavic 3 (despite selling my DJI Mavic 2 Pro)
The DJI Mavic 3 has gone from rumor to virtual certainty in recent days, with a huge leak detected by TechnikNews and DroneXL showing the likely design of the drone from most angles.
This means that the launch, which will most likely take place on the November 5 date announced by DJI himself on social media, is almost here. But despite the recent sale of my DJI Mavic 2 Pro (below) in anticipation of the arrival of its successor, I’m still hesitant to buy a DJI Mavic 3 at launch, for several reasons.
It’s not that the DJI Mavic 3 doesn’t look like an exciting drone on paper. A escape manual points to an impressive dual camera, the main one offering a 20 MP four-thirds sensor with an adjustable f / 2.8-f / 11 aperture. This second camera will also apparently be a useful 7x optical zoom telephoto lens with a 12MP 1/2 inch sensor.
Then there’s a maximum possible flight time of over 40 minutes, thanks to the rumor of the 5,000mAh battery. But with a possible takeoff weight of 920g and a hefty advertised price, parting with my hard earned cash on launch day is far from guaranteed. As a European resident, there are also looming concerns about classification laws – not to mention the possibility of Black Friday drone deals on the horizon …
I have been the proud owner of a DJI Mavic 2 Pro for several years, but recently sold the drone for several reasons.
First, I was anticipating the launch of the DJI Mavic 3, so I wanted to get the best possible price for it. Second, new drone regulations from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) come into effect on January 1, 2023, creating possible complications for older drones (more on that later). .
And finally, I’ve been using the Mavic 2 Pro less and less over the past year, simply because carrying its 907g weight has become a real burden alongside my usual photographic equipment.
As a primarily outdoor photographer, alongside the portrait work I do, the weight of my gear is always an important consideration.
Rumors about the specs of the DJI Mavic 3 are very tempting, but the size of the Mavic 3 will likely be similar to its predecessor, while the aircraft’s takeoff weight will likely be slightly higher. If you buy the Cine pack, the controller could also cost 750g.
So even with the amazing rumored specs of the Mavic 3, they may not be enough to alleviate the size and weight issues that were part of my selling of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
A different class
Another big issue facing European drone operators, amateurs and professionals alike, is the new drone regulations from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which come into force on January 1, 2023.
Simply put, these new regulations state that drones must be given one of five class identification labels, depending on the size, weight and safety features of the drone. These will determine where drones can fly and how close they can get to people and buildings.
The problem? Details of these new ID tags have yet to be confirmed, so today’s drones are in a delicate transition period. As of January 1, 2023, all âlegacyâ drones without a âCE Classâ identification tag – which could include the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and the DJI Mavic 3 – will fall into one of two categories: Open category A1 (for drones under 250g) or category A3 (if the drone weighs between 250g and 25kg).
This means we’ll probably have to wait and see if the DJI Mavic 3 is ranked to stay relevant and able to fly in more situations. But even if it’s not at launch, there is potentially light at the end of the tunnel, as well as for other drones like the Mavic 2 Pro.
DJI is currently working with industry bodies and is exploring the possibility of subjecting existing drone models to a process that will verify if they can have a classification applied retroactively. Once this is completed, a list of existing drones and their ranking will be published on the DJI website.
Recent rumors suggested that there would be a European version of the Mavic 3, weighing less than 900g, which would eventually earn it a Cx label. But it has not yet been decided whether or not these drones will need to receive hardware and / or firmware upgrades, and whether these will need to be done by DJI, the authorized dealers or the owners themselves.
Drone operators in the United States need not worry about this new European legislation, although there is one thing that American drone operators will have to do from 2023. From 2022, all New drones weighing more than 250g / 0.55lbs will need to be equipped with equipment to broadcast the location of the drone and the operator. While from 2023 when the new law comes into effect, older drones will need to be fitted with a broadcast module, otherwise it will be illegal to fly in the vast majority of situations.
I love drone photography and video, but I’m starting to think that a model that’s more compact and lighter than the Mavic 2 Pro, like the DJI Air 2S, could be a solid alternative.
Thanks to its 20MP 1in sensor, the Air 2S can certainly take great photos and videos in good light (see my review images below), and that’s almost half the supposed weight of the Mavic 3 at 595g. The only significant downgrade of the Mavic 2 Pro would be the loss of an adjustable aperture, which is admittedly incredibly useful when shooting video.
Then there is the DJI Mini 2, which could be considered the ultimate portable drone thanks to its incredibly small size and weight of just 249g. You’ll hardly notice it in your kit bag, and the ability to shoot 4K videos and 12MP photos thanks to the 1 / 2.3-inch sensor is certainly appealing. Of course, that’s quite a steep drop off compared to a 1-inch sensor, and the inability to shoot D-Cinelike or D-Log videos is another big downgrade.
All of this shows that there is no perfect solution. Solving a problem with an alternative drone model results in another degradation or concession. So while these two relatively new DJI drones solve the size and weight problem, they’re nowhere near as feature rich as the DJI Mavic 3.
Air of uncertainty
Like the recent Sony A7 IV camera, it also looks like the DJI Mavic 3 could go up a price bracket as well, if the rumors are correct.
While this may prove to be incorrect, speculation by Drone Media Technology suggests that the basic DJI Mavic 3 package will cost â¬ 2,150, with the Mavic 3 Fly More Combo costing â¬ 2,900. This means the DJI Mavic 3 will likely start at around $ 2,049 / Â£ 1,899 / AU $ 3,499 – if so, that would be a jump from the introductory price of $ 1,599 / Â£ 1,349 / $ 2,499 for the Mavic 2 Pro.
One final factor in my procrastination is that the DJI Mavic 3 launches so close to Black Friday sales, which officially start on November 26th. We’re extremely unlikely to see any discounts on the Mavic 3 itself, assuming it arrives on November 5th, but price drops on other drones I’m considering are entirely possible.
Last year, DJI’s âBlack Friday Saleâ ran from November 20-30, so if it follows the same format this time around, we can expect to know what Black Friday drone deals it has in store from November 19, just a few weeks. after the launch of Mavic 3. Sure, that might be enough to get the first Mavic 3 pre-orders to sell out, but it’s a risk I’m probably willing to take.
The Mavic 3 looks like an incredible drone – the best prosumer drone DJI has produced to date – but that the attractive specs and features are worth carrying that weight, from my perspective is a really difficult decision. And without knowing yet whether the drone will have a CE Class ID to comply with upcoming regulations, the air of uncertainty will likely keep my wallet well buried in my pocket – for now.