DJI’s recent release of the new Mavic 3 has generated a lot of excitement and rightly so. The Mavic 2 was released over 4 years ago, leaving many wondering in the meantime about the future of the Mavic line. This year’s model did not disappoint. It’s a long-awaited milestone in the Mavic line, with a long list of improvements and new features.
But while the Mavic 3 is appealing to cinematographers, what implications does it hold for public safety operators? How relevant is it to the public safety field? In this article, we break down the model’s improvements and potential applications.
The DJI Mavic 3
The first noticeable difference from its predecessor is the absence of “Pro” in the name—there is no “Mavic 3 Pro.” While the DJI Mavic 3 remains in the flagship line, this change is probably an attempt to simplify the naming. Fortunately, the changes don’t stop with the name. A new dual-sensor camera payload is one of those changes.
Boasting a Hasselblad 20MP f/2.8 4/3 CMOS sensor paired with a 1/2-inch Tele Camera, the Mavic 3 provides a new level of imaging quality. The Hasselblad sensor is larger than the Mavic 2 Pro’s 1-inch sensor for better dynamic range and low-light performance. It is capable of shooting video at a maximum resolution of 5.1k up to 50 fps and 4k up to 120 fps. The camera takes impressive 20-megapixel still images.
The Tele Camera offers 28x hybrid zoom capabilities, a focal length equivalent of 162mm at an aperture of f/4.4. Camera resolution is lower than the Hasselblad sensor, shooting 4k video up to 30 fps and 12-megapixel pictures. Stacked on top of each other, both cameras are stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal.
A new transmission system, known as O3+, streams a video feed to the controller at 1080p at 60fps. High-resolution, high-fluidity streams allow pilots to make quicker inputs and more precise movements.
With dual cameras, the Mavic 3 essentially combines the capabilities of the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom into one stabilized payload. The flexibility of hybrid zoom combined with the quality of the Hasselblad sensor means incredible versatility for the Mavic 3.
The camera isn’t the only thing receiving an upgrade. Flight performance has increased significantly. The Mavic 3 has a maximum flight time of 46 minutes, an increase of 15 minutes from the Mavic 2 Pro. This improvement stems from the lighter airframe and a larger 5000 mAh battery.
Range has received a boost with the new model. Whereas the Mavic 2 Pro had a maximum transmission range of 10 km, O3+ increases the range of the Mavic 3 up to 9.3 miles (15 km). This ability, coupled with the 1080p at 60 fps feed mentioned earlier, ensures pilots have greater control over their aircraft.
While the DJI Mavic 3 (43 mph in Sport mode) is slower than the Mavic 2 Pro (45 mph in Sport mode) by only 2 miles per hour, it has faster ascent and descent speeds. An improvement by 6 mph and 7 mph, respectively, makes the aircraft more maneuverable. Pilots can evade obstacles quicker or shoot more dramatic shots, underscoring the powerful cinematic drone the Mavic has become.
DJI also upgraded the obstacle avoidance system on the Mavic 3, using wide-angle cameras on the four corners of the aircraft. This creates what is known as an “omni-directional obstacle-sensing” system. The top and bottom sensors are still present on the aircraft. Better obstacle avoidance means improvements for two features—Return-to-Home (RTH) and ActiveTrack.
An updated RTH function calculates the most efficient route to the home point, smoothly avoiding any obstacles in the process. ActiveTrack 5.0 benefits from the addition of APAS 5.0, an obstacle detection algorithm, to keep the subject in frame even when flying in areas like forests. The parameters of obstacle detection can be manually set and will affect the speed at which ActiveTrack works.
Mavic 3 vs. Mavic 3 Cine
Currently, DJI offers two versions—the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Cine. The main difference between the two is that the Cine has an internal 1 TB SSD and the ability to shoot in an Apple ProRes 422 HQ video codec. Therefore it is 4 grams heavier than the regular model. Cinematographers and content creators may want to purchase the Cine model because of the higher-quality codec. Otherwise, the two models are practically identical.
There is, however, a significant difference in price. The Mavic 3 costs $2,199 USD. The Mavic 3 Cine, on the other hand, costs $4,999 USD.
A Drone for Public Safety?
All of these improvements are exciting, but are they relevant to the public safety sector? After all, this isn’t an Enterprise edition; it’s clearly designed for the consumer market. Should an agency consider buying a Mavic 3? Examine three ways that a Mavic 3 would be advantageous in this application.
- Hybrid Zoom: While an agency may not care about a Hasselblad sensor, the 28x hybrid zoom is certainly an attractive feature. Pilots can get eyes on dangerous situations without damaging the aircraft or blowing their cover if operating discreetly. Considering the age of the Mavic 2 Zoom, this may be the aircraft to get if you need that capability. Also the high-quality sensor this aircraft is an excellent platform for photogrammetry. The low-light capabilities of the camera would be an asset for crime scene documentation, accident reconstruction, or mapping.
- Extended Flight Time: A 46-minute flight time has huge implications for public safety operations. The Mavic 3 can stay in flight to perform overwatch longer than any other DJI aircraft in its class. Operators can provide the advantage of an aerial asset during extended operations, ensuring greater mission success.
- Obstacle Avoidance: Indoor flight is made easier with a better obstacle-avoidance system. The pilot can focus on clearing a building, for example, without worrying about crashing or severely damaging the drone.
The massive improvements in camera quality and flight performance make the Mavic 3 an exceptional addition to the DJI lineup. And yes, those improvements are very relevant to public safety programs. Longer flight time alone makes it a versatile asset to any public safety drone program.