I’m a complete drone novice and tech lover who spent the past few days testing out the DJI Mavic 3 Pro.
Since it has “pro” in the name, I was quite worried that I’d never get the hang of it. I assumed it would be way too advanced for a newbie like me….turned out it was and it wasn’t.
While this drone certainly has all the bells and whistles a professional needs, I was shocked at how fun and intuitive it was (after a few small bumps in the road).
Here’s my honest experience and review of the Mavic 3 Pro as a 1st time pilot.
Who is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro For?
Overall, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is ideal for professional photographers, videographers, or experienced drone enthusiasts.
That being said, it’s certainly not too shabby for a drone newbie like me. I’m a brand-new drone pilot without any drone experience. And while there’s a learning curve to flying any drone, this one had some features that certainly helped keep me from destroying it.
It’s packed with plenty of pro photography features that can be overwhelming for beginners. That said, there are also helpful features for inexperienced drone pilots like me. Specifically, the easy buttons for “launch” and “return to home/land” were incredibly helpful. Whenever I lost sight of the drone (which was often considering my experience level), I just hit the button for “return to home” and it came back. It would have gotten lost in the woods without this feature!
For brand-new drone pilots like myself, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro takes a bit of getting used to. There are several controls for the drone and camera position, as well as a wealth of professional video and camera features. Despite the abundance and challenge of high-end features, it was still incredibly fun to fly.
My Experience Flying the DJI Mavic 3 Pro for the First Time
I had an absolute blast flying this bad boy. It definitely made me want to continue practicing and learning how to fly.
As advanced as the features were, a few made it accessible for drone beginners. It was extremely easy to take off and land, especially with the return to home feature.
When it comes to capturing photos and videos, this drone is simply immaculate. The Panoramic photos and 360 videos are absolutely stunning. I was amazed at their quality, as they made me (with 0 experience) look like I kinda knew what I was doing (even though I didn’t). Despite my wobbly control and the windy conditions, the video footage was stabilized well. The videos I took could be b-roll for a professional movie.
It was also very quick to transfer photos and videos using the phone app. I do wish I could connect it to my laptop wirelessly, though.
While night flights are possible with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, as it’s equipped with lights, I haven’t quite graduated to that level yet. Largely because the obstacle detection doesn’t worry well in the dark. I’ll need to wait until I get a bit more confident with my pilot skills before heading out for sunless flights.
As much fun as I had with this drone, there were certainly some hiccups getting it off the ground (literally and figuratively). The setup guide is quite confusing because it has tiny photos and no text. The intro video included a ton of acronyms that I’m sure advanced drone users know, but we beginners don’t.
Because of this, it took me over 10 minutes just to figure out where to plug in the charger. You need to flip the compartment open with a screwdriver, by the way. I also had to hunt for information to learn that to power on/off you have to single-press the power button once and then hold it. And that you have to hold down the “return to the home” button, not just single-press. It also took me a while to get a hold of unfolding the arms correctly.
Basically, I’d love it if some of these features were more intuitive, or, at the very least, if the set-up guide was more detailed. That would make this drone even more accessible for all types of drone operators.
I’m no vlogger, but I wanted to take you along on my very first drone flight. Check out the video below to get a detailed look into the unboxing, launch, features, and landing process.
- High Quality: Takes amazing, professional quality video footage and photos with 3 different zoom lenses. Watch my video to see this in action.
- Stable Image: The drone is shockingly stable while filming, even in high winds or with a shaky hand the video is of professional quality.
- Follow Feature: The Active Track mode (follow me) is an awesome feature, albeit a little unintuitive to figure out the first time. You can pick an object or person and the camera follows them wherever you fly the drone. I did a quick demo of this in my video.
- Takeoff/Landing Feature: Automated takeoff and landing process make it easy to avoid crashes. There’s a button for both and no need for manual landings unless you want to.
- Comes Back: The return-to-home feature is sweet and I definitely would have lost the drone without it.
- Panoramic Photos: It’s crazy to watch the drone take Panoramic photos and 360 videos and the results are excellent.
- Learning Curve: Excellent drone for professional photography, but may not be the best choice for new drone pilots. Here are some alternatives that might be a better option for beginners.
- Storage: Limited built-in video storage recorded only about 7 minutes of 4k video for me.
- Battery: I experienced poor battery capacity of around 23 minutes of flight time while filming and the battery only charges to 85% after being plugged in overnight. I believe I may have received a faulty battery and have opened a repair ticket.
- Protection: Doesn’t include a case, which is really necessary otherwise you’re carrying around some really expensive, loose parts.
- Meters vs Feet: Shows altitude in meters, but FAA drone laws are in feet. That said, it does prevent you from going above the FAA regulation of 400 feet.
- Setup Instructions: Confusing quick setup guide with small images and no text. The videos in the app were helpful but filmed in Chinese and most were dubbed in English (some advanced videos were not dubbed at all and even the registration email was written in Chinese). That said, this is one of the most popular drones on the market and there are plenty of YouTube tutorials.
|Feature||DJI Mavic 3 Pro Manufacturer Specs||My Experience|
|Storage||8 GB (7.9 GB available)||7 minutes of 4K video|
|Battery/ Flight Time||43 minutes of flight time||23-minute flight|
|Max Flight Distance||28 km|
|Charging Time||1 hour 36 minutes (17.6 V charging voltage)||Never gets above 85% charge after being plugged in all night. Likely a faulty battery and I’ve opened up a ticket.|
|Max Speed||21 m/s (around 47 mph)|
|Wind Resistance||12 m/s|
|Camera||Hasselblad: 20 MPMedium Tele: 48 MPTele: 12 MP||Stunning professional quality photos despite my lack of expertise|
Registering My Drone with the FAA
Federal drone laws and drone laws in Pennsylvania (where I live) require you to register any drone weighing over .55 lbs with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Fortunately, registering my drone was a breeze, as the FAA provides a helpful guide for how to register your drone.
The FAA certification for recreational use took me 8 minutes and cost only $5. I simply filled out the necessary information with the FAA and paid the fee. I also had to take the TRUST (The Recreational UAS Safety Test) exam and obtain the completion certificate. That took me around 15 minutes and was very simple.
After just a few test drives with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, it became incredibly clear that a few accessories would dramatically improve the overall experience. Here are the top drone accessories I recommend:
The internal storage for the DJI Mavic 3 Pro can only hold about 7 minutes of video. Any professional photographer/videographer will certainly need more than this. Even as a rookie hobbyist, I found myself wanting more.
Fortunately, it’s quick and easy to expand the storage with an SD card. You can add up to 2TB of storage this way!
SanDisk SD cards have a great reputation and get the job done for a reasonable price. A casual, beginner drone operator like me finds the SanDisk Extreme 256 GB MicroSD card (holding 1280 minutes of video) to be plenty. However, commercial drone pilots should opt for the SanDisk Extreme PRO 1TB Micro SD card, as it holds around 5,376 minutes of video or 857,143 photos.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s certainly true when you’re flying the DJI Mavic 3 Pro. DJI says you can get 40 minutes of flight time, but I only got 23 minutes while filming the video. This felt way too short, even for me as a recreational drone flyer.
Extra battery packs give you a quick way to increase flight time without waiting for a full charge. Just swap out the dead battery with a fresh one and jump right back into flying. This two pack of batteries is a great option, and I also recommend a 3-battery charging hub to easily charge all of your batteries at once before/after your flight.
A carrying case is an absolute must for this drone. It’s the best way to keep everything organized and safe. I have this soft case, which works well for a new drone pilot. However, for professional photographers/videographers, I’d recommend this hard case instead. If you want to hike or backpack with this drone, then opt for this dual-carrier.
As I learn more about how to use the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, I can’t help but wish I had some drone goggles. Drone goggles provide a first-person view of the flight experience, and some even allow you to control the camera or drone via head movements. I’m definitely adding these drone goggles to my wishlist.
My Top Mistakes as a Beginner Drone Pilot
As a new drone operator, my first take flying a drone was far from perfect. Whether you’re new at flying drones or just new to the Mavic Pro 3, here are some mistakes I made that you can avoid:
- Need Eye Protection: You need to wear eye protection when starting up in the sky and sun. Of course, it’s pretty tough to see the drone and controller with sunglasses. That’s part of the reason why I want drone goggles.
- “Home” Positioning: I made the rookie mistake of allowing the auto land feature to pick the home spot. It was my deck, but when returning it tried to land a few feet away. To save yourself a heart rate spike, set the spot for take-off and landing more than 6 feet away from any obstacles (like the side of the house). If it’s too close, obstacle detection gives it problems returning to home
- Remove the Packing Cushion: After storage, I was so eager to fly that I forgot to take the packing cushion off from above the camera lens/gimbal. I launched it up in the air without realizing it was still on. I got a nerve-wracking message, “gimbal overheating.” Lesson learned: always remove the packing cushion!
Is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro Worth It for Beginners?
Maybe. There’s absolutely no denying the quality and camera functionality of the Mavic 3 Pro. At the same time, the $2,100 price tag and abundance of features can be a bit much for many drone pilot beginners.
I found it incredibly enjoyable to fly, and I’m beyond excited to experiment more with this drone. It’s certainly something I’ll continue to use for fun. Based on my experience with it, here are indications that it could be great for you as a novice drone operator:
- You want a quality drone that’s made to last
- Camera quality and capability are major priorities for you
- You want a drone you can grow into and continue to enjoy as you gain experience
- You have long-term plans to eventually use the drone for photography/videography
- Cost is not a deterrent
DJI Mavic 3 Pro Alternative
Even though the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is one of the top drones available, it may still not be worth it for some beginners. If you’re looking for a cheaper or simpler drone option, I highly recommend the DJI Mini 4 Pro. It’s highly regarded as the best premium beginner drone, offering stellar video quality and a lightweight build.
Final Thoughts on the DJI Mavic 3 Pro
From an impeccable camera to advanced features, there’s tons to love about the Mavic 3 Pro, even for a beginner. It’s definitely a top-tier drone that’s a blast to fly. I’m excited to sharpen my drone flying skills so I can really enjoy the full capabilities of this high-end drone.
If you’re looking for a quality drone with professional photography and videography capabilities, this is the one. Getting additional batteries and adding an SD card for extra storage are ideal for getting the most out of this drone.
However, this drone may not be right for every beginner pilot because of its complexity and price point. Evaluate your drone priorities and budget to determine if it’s the best drone for you.
When it comes down to it, I’m stoked to have the DJI Mavic 3 Pro and can’t wait to take it on more adventures.