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FAILED LAUNCH OF THE MAVIC 3 CINE TOWARDS THE PROS PILOTS

Mavic 3 Ciné en vol_1166188

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TRIBUNE
(originally published in french)

As a French professional drone operator, Drone-Pictures reviews the Mavic 3 Cine, without compromise but in a positive way, and questions its manufacturer DJI on the many missing features and settings, essential to any audiovisual drone pilot.

DID DJI FAILED THE LAUNCH OF THE MAVIC 3 CINE TO THE PROS, BY DELIVERING A BETA VERSION?

As a French professional drone operator, this Mavic 3 Cine was eagerly awaited to succeed our 3 year old Mavic 2 Pro, and also to complement our fleet of aging Inspire 2 Prores/Raw.

Against all expectations, the handling of this drone resulted in some unpleasant surprises, leading to disappointment, frustration, dismay and a lot of misunderstanding.

How can a manufacturer as prestigious as Dji be so ignorant of the needs of a professional telepilot? 

First of all, the Dji Fly App, which is clearly intended for the consumer market, is too simple and lacks many customizable parameters. It is a big step backwards compared to the Dji GO4 application.

Here is the complete feedback of a professional end-user, which we share today with DJI ( in order to understand) and with you, professional pilots hesitating to invest in this bird announced as a pure wonder. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, we are far from it, and that’s the problem.

In many ways, this M3C is a regression compared to the Mavic 2 pro it is supposed to succeed. It is paradoxical, to say the least.

 

First question to DJI, which we would like to get a reaction to this article:
(see below all our questions sent to DJI)
“Dji, why have launched on the market an unfinished drone, 
when at this high price it is primarily aimed at professionals, who are necessarily demanding?”

 

 

REVIEW OF THE MAVIC 3 CINE, AND A WHOLE SERIES OF DISAPPOINTMENTS

Marseille, November 9, 2021: we received our Mavic 3 Cine ordered in France, on the very first day of its release, i.e. the 5th of this month.

Given the consensus and all the fantastic comments about this new drone so eagerly awaited from DJI, we were hyper-excited to finally be able to handle it and enter its insides for ourselves! We had seen nothing but great images, heard promising specs, and read excellent praise. 

Too much, maybe?

Indeed, very few people said that this drone would be released in a Beta version…and that it would be sort of limited, until January 22, 2022.

Yes, you read correctly, this drone sold 4800 € tax incl. is not finalized the day of its release!

We’ll tell you exactly where we stand, without any tongue in cheek, nor any conflict of interest, because we bought it, in-store, and we’re not linked to DJI in any way: our word is free, independent, and of course, necessarily subjective since it comes from experienced professionals, both in the field of image (40 years of experience) and in drone piloting (10 years of background, especially with DJI drones).

But we are not giving up hope, we will contact DJI to get answers to these lacking and minimalist choices. We will post them here on the HOsiHO Drone Pilot Network Blog for maximum visibility.

But let’s get back to the machine: once activated, set up and updated with the latest firmware (1.5 for the app, 1.00.0300 for the drone and the RC), we are finally facing the M3C. 

The moment of truth has come, let’s see what’s on the list!


For your information, here at Drone-Pictures Marseillewe know and love the DJI drones that we have owned – or still own – such as the first F450/550, the famous S800/1000, the magnificent Inspire 1 & 2, the modular Matrice 200, the amazing Phantom 3 & 4, the amazing Mavic 1 & Mavic 2 pro, the small Air 2S. 

Our demands are high and we are going to look without concessions at the functions, settings and image quality that this Mavic 3 Cine is supposed to provide to its professional owner who has paid a whopping 4800 euros!

 

Mavic 3 Ciné au sol_1166190


Let’s start with the positive points and the great assets of this newcomer, which would need very little for its manufacturer, DJI, to make a real revolution, far ahead of its competitors and predecessors!

WHAT WE LIKE A LOT (Bravo DJI!)

One must appreciate the great advances that this Mavic 3 Cine brings! Here is a small, non-exhaustive list:

Good quality of manufacture and materials: whether it is the drone or the radio control, one feels that it is a robust professional equipment

The large 4/3 sensor, almost double the size of the 1 inch sensor of the Mavic 2 pro and Phantom 4 pro! A size that considerably increases the dynamic range and drastically reduces noise at high ISO levels (i.e. > 800 iso), especially in video. In photography, night images taken at 3200 iso are very low noise as you can see in the 100% photo composite at the end of the page.

– The very nice Hasselblad lens and the long-awaited 24mm wide-angle focal length (exceptional sharpness between f4 and f5.6), with an adjustable aperture from f2.8 to f11!

– The new SmartController RC Pro: the screen is very bright (like a CrystalSky) and very responsive. The reading of the video is very fluid, it’s a change from other drones like the Mavic 2, the P4P and the Inspire 2. The grip is very pleasant. Nice object, comfortable to hold and use. Mini-hdmi socket for outputting to a second display or a live feed. A microSD slot for transferring photo/video and screenshots. 

– The RC Pro’s Tilt and Zoom wheels are precise and smooth. The buttons are well accessible and arranged.

– The Zoom is quite good at x2 or x7 in video (see the 100% image below) but it should not be used at x4 (second image), nor x14 and x28, which are pixelated and of poor quality because they are digital zoom.

The x2 zoom still comes down to a 48mm focal length on the 4/3 sensor and the x7 zoom comes down to a nice 168mm telephoto lens (7x 24mm) on a smaller 1/2 inch sensor, all in 4K! Another advantage: you can film while zooming (with the right wheel, that’s great), so Vertigo effect is available in hand, but you’ll have to limit yourself to the x2 zoom, otherwise beware of bad surprises on a bigger monitor: a strongly pixelated image. Not easy to hold, especially since there is no limit to the zoom stop. To be considered, then!


Crop 100% - Photo au zoom x7
100% crop – 7x zoom photo

Crop 100% - Photo au zoom x4
100% crop – 4x zoom photo

– The additional 15.5mm lens will allow to switch to super wide angle (optional at 179$/156€ and available in December 2021, here for example)

The Prores codec and the quality of the images thanks to the new 4/3 sensor, but beware, in DLog the ProRes presents some swirls in the deep blacks (night, marked shadows) that will have to be post-processed.


Mode Video 4K-choix Diaph

 – The magnificent rendering of videos in DLog (and unfortunately not with the Normal profile, due to too much contrast and colour saturation, without any possibility to refine)

– The very nice quality of the photos with the 24mm: no noise (thanks to the large 4/3 sensor), a fabulous sharpness thanks to a high-end lens (the main 24mm from Hasselblad). Plenty of detail in the still. The telephoto lens is mediocre at x7 in Photo, and totally useless at x14 or x28 (digital zoom on a 1/2 inch sensor…). To be forgotten, especially since with this tele-lens, it is impossible to shoot in Raw/DNG, only Jpeg. But why ?

– The 50fps framerate in 5.1k & 4K, and a good bitrate (between 130 and 200 Mbp/s depending on the H264/265 codec)

Slow motion at 120p in 4K (soon 200p in HD), but beware, big crop-factor, maybe x2. The choice of this slow motion mode will make you go from 24mm to a much tighter angle (between 35 and 45mm at a guess). We are clearly no longer wide-angle in Slow-Motion, which is strange and rather unwelcome. Too bad.


Mode Ralenti 120p Dlog

 

– The camera is tilted upwards at 35°, which is 5° more than the M2p: in flight, the propellers remain invisible at low speed, but be careful to fly smoothly, otherwise a jerk will end the shot as the gimbal will lower abruptly. We note that the lens is further forward than on the little brother, Mavic 2 pro.

Lightweight, putting it under 900 grams

Increased autonomy: in theory 46 minutes, but we rather bet on 35 minutes, that is to say 15 more than the M2P (there we speak as real users, with a return of the drone with at least 20% battery left)

– In flight, the M3C seems slightly less noisy than the M2P. That said, it does make noise, and the difference is quite subtle.

Mavic 3 Cine + M2pro_1166189
Our Mavic 3 Cine beside the Mavic 2 Pro, during flight tests

 

THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES & SETTINGS THAT PROFESSIONALS SORELY LACK!

A 4800€ drone can’t be considered as a consumer product. So why is it so lacking in settings and functions when it is released on the market? Why did you choose Dji Fly, a notoriously simplified application for the consumer market? And why the lack of fine tuning, to which we were accustomed on the previous drones of the same range: Mavic 2 and Phantom 4?

 

Why DJI Fly? The DJI Fly app replaces DJI GO 4: in our opinion it is really a step backwards for a professional, because it is too simple, yet it looks amateurish as many features and settings have been removed. We knew that because it is the same on our Dji Air 2S, but we had hoped for a more professional update with the release of the Mavic 3 Cine. For example the inability to disable only the Vision Systems so that you can grab it by hand without it coming up (useful on a boat), or the inability to use the right hand dial (or 5D pad) on the RC-Pro to vary aperture, shutter speed, EV, … as it is not clickable and only goes one way or the other on a short range, as opposed to a freewheel adjustment like on the Phantom 4 Pro or Inspire 2.
 

DJI FLY MAVIC 3 CINE


Flight Modes: Cine/Normal/Sport: to fine-tune one of these flight modes, an access via the Control Menu/Advanced Gimbal Settings, offers to adjust the yaw rate but neither the Horizontal nor the Vertical speed as it is for the Tripod Mode on the Mavic 2 pro. This is essential to obtain the most appropriate flight for the filmmaker. Another lack, a setback. Why is this so?

Menu Contrôle - Paramétres Nacelle Avancés

In flight, with the sensors activated (Bypass or Braking), we found the M3C to be quite rough in its reactions and not very stable in hovering flight (see the video), compared to the very smooth and stable behaviour of our M2p. And this is immediately noticeable in the image by jerks or unwanted movements. If you want to fly very low, you must deactivate the obstacle avoidance.

 In flight, with the sensors activated (Bypass or Braking), we found the M3C to be quite rough in its reactions and not very stable in hovering flight (see the video), compared to the very smooth and stable behaviour of our M2p. And this is immediately noticeable in the image by jerks or unwanted movements. If you want to fly very low, you must deactivate the obstacle avoidance.

 




Menu Sécurité - Contournement

 

Joysticks of the RC-Pro remote control are too short: this leads to a lack of precision when flying. We need longer joysticks!
Batteries (information): no information about the total flight time, just the remaining flight time and the percentage left. The battery page lacks the ability to set critical alert or forced landing thresholds, or to set the number of days before slow discharge.
Batteries (recharging): 1h30 to recharge the batteries, one by one with the supplied hub, that makes 4h30 for the 3 batteries of the Combo pack! The additional DJI chargers or others not being available yet, it is very limiting when you go on a shoot requiring 6 or 7 full batteries. Note that there is no Car charger included in the Combo pack. Optional accessory at 79€ttc
Impossible to lock the zoom at x4 
No stop for the zoom, nor a fixable limit not to use it beyond x4. In fact, when zooming smoothly from x1 to x4, it jumps suddenly from x4 to x7, which of course stops the shot! What were you think about, DJI?…
The Zoom quality drops dramatically at x4.
At x2, the image is clean and still sharp and detailed, as at x7, but at x4, on our model, the image is unusable because it is very pixelated. Strange again.

Mode Explore Zoom x4

 

Using Zoom requires switching to Explore mode and imposes the framerate at 30p/No Dlog/No Prores/No 5,1K: resolution is then limited to 4K or HD1080. The Normal colour profile is still imposed and only with H264/265 codecs. No D-log or ProRes! Very inconvenient when you are shooting a whole production in D-log and/or ProRes at 25/50p…
DJI, why have you forgotten Europe: we film in multiples of 25 frames/sec. here!
Yet the Air 2S also has a x2 zoom, usable in 4K at 25p, ditto on the M2p ancestor with the HQ mode in UHD! (could you put an HQ mode ont he M3C, please?)

 

Video Color Profiles : same as on M2P still no Cinelike profile, just DLog or Normal. A real shame, this is one of our favourite profiles, in place on the P4pro and the Mavic 1. Why have abandoned this profile? CineLike is the perfect one : soft, low color saturation, low contrast. Ideal to use the dailies directly in editing and still show them to the client without having to apply a LUT (like for the DLog) and with much more nuance and detail than that atrocious Normal profile, GoPro type saturated and unusable by a pro. DJI, where did you get the idea to remove the CineLike-D since the M2p, we would love to see it again, please!

 


Menu Caméra - Dlog H265

 

Photo mode: no colour profile offered and still 20 mpix in resolution. Not better than drones with 1 inch sensors, but this has an advantage: bigger pixels for a greater dynamic range. We are looking forward to the Panorama mode at 100M°, which will allow us to take better defined aerial pictures.

The Normal Profile gives an image with too much contrast and saturated colours, without the possibility of softening them via the old Style setting of the Mavic 2 pro or Phantom.4 pro. Why deprive ourselves of this?

Inconvenient access to Aperture/Iso/Shutter, and EV settings, which are touchscreen only, unlike the M2p’s wheel or Pad settings.

Difficult to set the Distance or Altitude limits as this is done by on-screen slider only (imprecise, expect a nervous breakdown at each change as it is impossible to use the keyboard to enter the number, especially for the distance limit! Not understandable. DJI, please allow the use of the keyboard!
 

Menu Sécurité - Curseur Limites

 

in Dlog, two Iso ranges are available, at 400 or 800 only, against 100 to 6400 in Normal profile, and on M2p in Dlog, from 100 to 1600 Iso. Why this limit when at night going up to 1600 or 3200 iso in Dlog ProRes HQ could have been very useful and would have made sense with a 4/3 sensor, no?

 

Mode Video DLOG Iso 400-800

 

in Dlog: no Color Display on the monitor of the SmartController RC-Pro, contrary to what was announced. One has to just view without real colours!

No choice of the indexing mode of the files, e.g. in Continuous like on Dji GO4, so convenient though! The file numbers are reset to zero each time the card is changed or formatted. A source of confusion with identical file names at the end. Again, impractical, please restore!

In ProRes recording on the 1T° SSD: no zoom usable and no proxy files recorded in parallel as H265/264 on the SD card… (too bad it is not like on the Inspire 2)

– For the moment, no Intelligent Modes like Active Track, nor Hyperlapse, or even Panorama Photo. We’ll have to wait 2.5 months after its launch, until January 22, 2022. The evidence that this drone has been released prematurely, in a certain haste, something to which DJI had not yet accustomed us!


Mode Video - Fonctionalités à venir

 

Camera panning range (possible by sliding your finger on the Touchscreen) limited to a mere 5°, compared to +/- 75° on the M2p, and +/- 80° on the Air 2S, which allowed for panoramic camera movement. On the M3, it is so short that it is almost useless. A serious drawback.

Mode Vidéo - pan Nacelle 5° max

 

C1/C2 and Pad 5D key customisation not possible to save: does not retain choices when restarting the RC. Bug to be fixed.

No Waypoints function in Intelligent modes (as sources are contradictory)? Maybe third party apps like Litchi will offer it, but it will certainly not be before 6 months/1 year and depending on DJI’s good will. Why deprive us of it?

No customizable Fn button on the RC-Pro remote. Why not?

No Duo control mode with a second RC like for the M2p. Too bad, even if it doesn’t replace a real drone with a 3-axis gimbal that can be operated by two pilots.

No CE marking with class mention yet, so no certainty that DJI will do it retroactively and that it will therefore be possible to fly it as a professional drone under the new European scenarios. Nevertheless, for professional pilots operating in France, until 3/12/2023 for a new operator and until 2/12/2025 for a declared pilot following the national scenarios before 3/12/2023, it will be allowed to fly with a Mavic 3 in the French national scenarios, S1 and S3 (dates subject to possible changes).

– Finally, a disappointed hope, more than a lack: no Raw/Dng video recording possible. Let’s hope it will be in the future, as DNG is offered in Photo and the bit rate supported by the internal SSD for ProRes HQ in 5.1K is at least 2,55 G°bit/s anyway. So there is no technical reason to lock this drone to the DNG codec, unless it is a commercial decision?

 

CONCLUSION: A BEAUTIFUL DRONE FOR HOBBYIST BUT SERIOUSLY UNFINISHED FOR PROFESSIONAL USERS

At the moment and in our humble opinion, considering all the essential limited features or missing settings, the Mavic 3 is not really usable for a professional drone pilot. 

We will have to wait for the arrival of the important January 2022 update with all the promised features and who knows, access to the many settings we used to get on DJI GO 4 with a Mavic 2 pro or Phantom 4 pro.

For now, therefore, and subject to any encouraging response from DJI, we advise you to wait before buying a Mavic 3, whatever version it is.

In fact, we think DJI has made a big mistake in porting such a promising drone to a consumer App like DJI Fly.

It is also very strange to have launched a professional drone with such basic functions and settings for an experienced drone pilot.

The disappointment is even greater, but we want to believe that the Chinese manufacturer will listen to the feedback of its customers and that we can quickly rejoice.

Of course, this opinion is only binding on us, but it is given in all honesty and with no ulterior motive. 

All we want is for the Mavic 3 Cine to become the benchmark for professional light audiovisual drones.

It’s up to DJI to make it happen, and we’re counting on it!

 

Article written on 11 November 2021 by Sami Sarkis,
filmmaker, photographer, cameraman, telepilot,
Founder of Drone-Pictures and HOsiHO

 

The author would like to thank his fellow telepilots of the HOsiHO Drone Pilot Network
and especially
 Bertrand Debeuret, from AIRbuzz, and
Jean-Philippe Dollet from D Com Drone

ATTACHEMENTS

1/ Our questions to DJI :

 

Questions to DJI about the Mavic 3 Cine

(as of Nov. 12th, 2021)

 

  • For DJI, is the Mavic 3 Cine a consumer or a professional drone?
  • At this price, why did you release the M3C too early without all the features? 

 

  • Why do we have to wait more than 2.5 months to get the essential functionalities like Panorama Photos, Hyperlapse, Active Track, etc? 

 

  • The Dji Fly App is too simple for a professional pilot: why did you drop Dji GO 4? Are there any plans for a Dji Fly Pro?

 

  • Why is it impossible to install Dji Fly on your CrystalSky monitors?

 

  • We have listed the shortcomings of the version to be released in early November 2021: can you tell us what is likely to be added in terms of features, settings, etc.?


Let’s go through the most important shortcomings of the M3C in our opinion:  

 

 

    1. We would like a real Tripod Mode with the possibility to adjust the Horizontal and Vertical speed as well: is this envisaged?
    2. Rough and aggressive behaviour of the M3C in flight even in Cine mode: could we access and modify the parameters to adapt them to each pilot?
    3. Should there be a stop when zooming with the 24mm from x& to x4 in order to avoid going to x7 with a jump of images? 
    4. Zoom only at 30p: no 25p for Europe? No ProRes? No Dlog in Expolre mode?
    5. Normal Profile is too excessive (colours and contrast): would a CineLike Profile be possible, as well as a set of Style settings like the Mavic 2 pro or Phantom.4 pro? 
    6. Bring back a HQ/FOV mode like on the Mavic 2 pro please!
    7. Iso at 400 or 800 in DLog Profile: why not from 100 to 1600 Iso like M2p? 
    8. Bring back the choice of file indexing mode, e.g. Continuous as on Dji GO 4? 
    9. ProRes recording on the 1T° SSD: why not also record  on a microSD card a H265/264 file like on the Inspire 2? 
    10. Will there be Waypoints? 
    11. Are there any plans to offer the Raw/Dng codec in video? 
    12. Can you allow keyboard input of Distance or Altitude limits?
    13. Allow the pilot to enter the battery warning thresholds like on Dji GO 4? 
    14. With the x7 telephoto lens, we need to be able to shoot in ProRes and photograph in Raw/Dng: is this possible? 
    15. Last but not least: why not add a direct access to the shutter and aperture adjustment on the 5D button instead of a knob like on all other good drones (or cameras)? One move up/down for the aperture, one move left/right for the shutter. It is very important to be able to change these values while flying.

 

2/ 100% composite image, made with photographs taken with the M3C and M2P, from 800 to 6400 iso, in Jpeg at f2.8, i.e. the maximum aperture, and at the minimum focal lengths: 24mm for the M3C and 28mm for the M2P (to appreciate the subtle differences, drag and drop the image onto your computer and open it with Photoshop for example).

Composite Mavic 3 Night 100% from 800 to 6400 iso

3/ Checklist of available and unavailable features of the Mavic 3, published by Dcrainmaker on nov. 9th, 2021.

DJI-Mavic3-Fonctions Absentes au 9-Nov-2021

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