When I looked at the DJI Mavic 3 last November, I was impressed with almost everything on offer. The flight was solid, the camera was outstanding, and there was little if anything to fault with the Drone other than I wasn’t 100% impressed with the zoom. Since then, I have been a regular user of the Mavic 3, and my opinion of the Drone hasn’t changed; it’s one of the most solid-performing imaging devices you can buy.
However, aside from one or two occasions where I’ve used the Telephoto lens, most of the video and images I capture are shot using the standard 24mm. It’s not that I don’t have a use for the tele, it’s just not usually required, and while the quality is good, it’s not exceptional unlike the standard camera. The DJI Mavic 3 Classic offers everything that the DJI Mavic 3 offers, just without the zoom and at a lower price, making it incredibly affordable, considering what you’re getting.
Essentially, the Mavic 3 was excellent; the Mavic 3 Classic is cheaper and just as excellent without the zoom lens, which, to be honest was the one weakness of the Mavic 3. So there’s no excuse, and if anyone asks, you’re actually saving £300 when you buy the Classic over the Pro.
Outstanding video quality
Solid flight control
DJI Build quality
Zoom lens camera is much lower quality
What is the DJI Mavic 3 Classic?
Perfection? OK, that might be jumping the gun slightly but seeing as how this small Drone is essentially the DJI Mavic 3, just without the Telephoto Zoom lens, which was the one thing I quibbled about with the Mavic 3, then that must mean that this drone is perfect and cheaper. When I reviewed the Mavic 3, aside from the quality of the tele image, the only other issue I had was with the firmware but seeing as how the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 CINE have both now been out for some time, firmware issues have been resolved and what’s left is a drone with very little that I can fault.
This Drone is not so much of an upgrade to the Mavic 3. It’s more of an almost identical alternative. What’s surprising is just how much cheaper the Classic is compared with the standard version. If you are buying the Drone only, it’ll set you back at present £200 less, with the DJI RC £450 less, although I’m not quite sure how that works, I’ll need to check that out once the Mavic 3 Classic hits the DJI store. Either way, it’s one wack of a saving over the tele version.
So as before, you have extended flight times of 46 minutes, long enough to get the shots you need and for your arms and neck to hurt.
Under the Drone suspended from the 3-axis gimbal is the Hasselblad camera. Inside is the same 4/3 sensor fronted by a 24mm lens capable of capturing 5.1k@50fps or 1080p@120fps video and 20mp DNG stills. Essentially it’s quite a package.
Build and Handling
As reviews go, this is something of a cop-out. The Mavic 3 Classic’s build is identical to the Mavic 3. I have the two drones side by side on the desk, and there is nothing to tell the two apart aside from the Pilots number tapped across the top and some mud on the Mavic 3, which I need to remove before the next flight.
A closer look shows that the logo on the arm is different, switching from Mavic 3 to Mavic 3 Classic; aside from that, the camera removes the Zoom lens that was mounted above the 24mm and the harness that holds the drone neatly together when being transported has been slightly remoulded to accommodate the slightly reshaped camera. Still, aside from that, I can’t see any differences.
This is unusual for DJI, who usually like to make one or two tweaks to the design of their drones after user feedback. However, here as there are no real changes, I think that speaks volumes to just how good the design, function and features of the Mavic 3 are.
For a full rundown of the build, check out the Build and Handling section of the Mavic 3 review; here’s a very quick run down.
A quick run-through is as follows.
The Mavic 3 Classic, as with the Mavic 3, features an array of sensors across its body, including two on the front, two underneath, two at the rear, and further upward and downward-facing sensors, giving a total of eight.
Again the small Drone sees the foldable propellers are of the twist fit style, making them easy to swap and change without needing tools. The prop arms fold out the same way as the Mavic 3; the entire form factor is essentially the same.
The battery slots directly into the Drone’s back and is securely in place, which can be released by pushing the two buttons on either side.
The USB charging dock uses DJI’s own 65W USB type-C plug and enables fast charging, as well as charging batteries through any laptop or standard USB Type-C plug, although charging times are slower.
It’s all about the cameras.
The Mavic 3 Classic is the latest Drone from DJI and Hasselblad, and it’s a real crowd-pleaser, essentially the Drone is identical to the more expensive Mavic 3 and the only real change is the camera, or to be more exact part of the camera.
While the Mavic 3 featured an impressive dual camera set-up, one high resolution and the other a zoom lens with 28x magnification, all contained within a single camera unit attached to the 3-axis gimbal, the Mavic 3 Classic features just the standard camera in a more classic set-up!
As with the Mavic 3, the Smart Controller and the DJI Fly app are the final elements that arrived with the Mavic 3 Classic, although there is a drone or standard controller option as well. The Smart Controller is worth the additional investment if you fly the Drone regularly or want to use the extended flight times fully.
The DJI Fly app is well laid out and runs through the basics when you first set up, and it’s a great resource for those just starting. While, the Mavic 3 Classic is quite a step up from the DJI Air 2S or Mini 3 Pro, its flight features and control would still mean that a beginner wouldn’t have too much difficulty flying and taking control of the Drone.
The Smart Controller or App, if you’re using a phone, gives you a clear visual interface of the Drone’s parameters and settings and a crystal clear live feed from the Drone. The Smart Controller also has direct control buttons such as the camera tilt, immediate start and stop recording and RTH.
The AirSense system is a great addition to the app. It picks up ADS-B signals from nearby aeroplanes and helicopters and alerts you to ensure that you land the Drone and move to a safer location. This feature works incredibly well, and you can track aircraft through the interface as a backup to your line of sight.
The video transmission is also excellent, with the 1080p feed transmitting at 60fps. Taking the Mavic 3 Classic out for a test flight is a great experience and identical in the air to the Mavic 3; they don’t just look identical in the air, they fly in the same way too.
Taking a bit of a risk with the review sample, I took the Mavic 3 Classic on a quick woodland flight, and the Drone’s object detection and flight features did an incredible job after some adjustments. The sensors can be slightly oversensitive and restrict flight to a slow walking pace if objects are sensed which essentially means that drones stop mid-air beeping wildly at you.
Overall, the Mavic 3 Classic is the same fantastic Drone as the Mavic 3; a year may have passed, but there is still nothing to fault, and I’m not missing the addition of that zoom lens. In-flight, the Mavic 3 Classic is easy to use, has great flight features and has an amazing camera.
As I’ve already stated, the flight performance of the Mavic 3 Classic is identical to the Mavic 3. Checking the Drone over, setting it down on a flat surface and powering it up; and after a few seconds, the boot sequence has completed, and satalights are located.
The flight stability, which is especially important for imaging, is due to the Drone’s use of three different satellite systems, GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou. This means that while there is a wait to connect to satellites, that wait is minimal. In this test, I was up to 25 in around a minute.
Satellites connected, and it’s time for take off. While the app and the smart controller offer auto take-off, I still prefer to do this manually by drawing the sticks into the lower middle. A nice precise whirr as the props fire into life and then left stick up to raise the Drone. After full flight checks and then a couple of landings to make sure it’s time to test out the flight and video transmission.
Since testing the Mavic 3, I’ve tested a few other drones and not all DJI. While some were excellent such as the Autel, there are others that are not so great, so much so that those other drones have made me a little more cautious about diligently running through the full flight tests every time I fly.
As ever, the first flight is in Normal Flight mode, which is accessed, along with the other flight modes, using the physical switch on the controller. The flight in Normal, Sport and CINE are identical to Mavic 3; there is no difference.
The only real difference between the Mavic 3 drones is with the camera; while the Mavic 3 enables you to switch to the Zoom lens, the Mavic 3 Classic is fixed to that standard lens, and that’s no bad thing. For more on the flight features and modes, check out the flight Modes section of the Mavic 3 review.
Regarding the camera, you have the same amount of control over the settings and use. A quick tap on the right of the screen, in App or Smart Controller, and the settings are there and ready to use.
The two dials on top of the controller enable you to adjust the exposure or tilt of the camera, and this is again all very intuitive and identical to the Mavic 3.
After a few days with the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Classic side-by-side, my preference is with the Mavic 3 due to the zoom and the unlikely event that I’ll want to use it at some point, and the fact that I already have it. Maybe if I’m doing a roof survey or something like that; otherwise, if I were to go out today, I’d buy the Mavic 3 Classic.
The camera on the Mavic 3 Classic appears to be the same as the one on the Mavic 3, just without that additional lens and sensor that enables the zoom. At the core, it’s a £200 saving on the same Drone with all the features you use and not the one feature you’ll only use once or twice.
As with the Mavic 3, the video transmission system is outstanding and fully compatible with DJI’s ever-increasing transmission gear range. The image is clear and crisp, and the speed of transmission is, to the eye, instant.
As I pointed out in the Mavic 3 review, the step-up to the Smart Controller is a good idea for several reasons. Primarily the small smartphone screen is adjusted for use as a phone, whereas the Smart Controller gives a far better representation and is, for the most part, larger than most phones.
I first saw the Mavic 3 in a pub in the heart of London; it was a pre-production model, but it was probably the most exciting Drone I have ever seen, aside from the Inspire and maybe the first Phantom when it landed on my desk. The Mavic 3 Classic, being the tricky second album, shouldn’t impress me quite so much, but it does. Of the two drones, the Mavic 3 and the Mavic 3 Classic, if I was to choose as a purchase I would go for the Classic.
It’s not even that it’s the newer model or more refined, DJI has stripped back just one of the features, but everything else is the same; it’s simply a great drone and £200 cheaper.
Obstacle avoidance is excellent and adjustable, flight speeds, both fast and slow, are amazing, video and stills footage is excellent, and there is little to fault.
If you have been hung up on whether to buy a drone, or have been waiting for the drone certificates to be rolled out, then the Mavic 3 Classic, or for that matter, any Mavic 3 drone, has now been certified with the first C1 Drone Certificate.
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