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Holy Stone HS900 review: should DJI be looking over its shoulder?
12:00 pm | May 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Computers Drones Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Holy Stone HS900: one-minute review

I’ve reviewed almost every Holy Stone drone available and its latest model, the Holy Stone HS900, represents a significant improvement across the board which makes it the Chinese drone manufacturer’s best drone to date. So much so, that what’s on offer competes directly with the DJI Mini 3 and the Potensic Atom – two impressive mid-range sub-250g drones that come in at two price points.

In terms of price, the HS900 single battery kit costs $330 making it marginally more expensive than the Potensic Atom and significantly less expensive than the DJI Mini 3. Is it better than the Mini 3? No, but if you’re on a budget, it offers an enticing alternative to the Potensic Atom and also provides additional features that could be a deciding factor on which drone to choose, and firmly cements it as one of the best beginner drones available.

Holy Stone HS900 specs

Camera: Sony 1/2.3 in 48MP CMOS sensor / fixed focus f/2.6 lens
Video resolution: Up to 4K
Frame rates: 4K 30 fps / 1080p up to 60 fpsVideo transmission range: 1.86 miles / 3 kmFlight modes: Stable, Normal, Sport
Battery: 2250 mAh Li-ion / up to 30 minutes
Charger type: USB-C cable
Weight: 8.7oz / 249g
Dimensions: 5.63x3.26x2.44in / 143×82.8×62mm folded / 6.59x 8.57x2.44in / 167.4x217.8x62mm unfolded

We’ll go into much more detail later, but some of the features and functionality you can enjoy with the HS900 include a camera with a Sony 1/2.3 in 48MP CMOS sensor and a fixed focus f/2.6 lens, up to 4K 30fps video, subject tracking, time-lapse capture, cruise control, automated flight patterns and much more. Image quality is also very good, not perfect, but the minor issues here could be resolved with a future firmware update.

All-in-all, the HS900 slips into a burgeoning sub-250g drone category which is fiercely competitive, where less expensive options are now hacking at the heels of the DJI. It’s unlikely that they’ll succeed in catching up or overtaking the market leader – although DJI is facing a potential ban in the US – but with the trickle-down of features and improvements in flight performance and image quality with budget drones, it’s pilots who are ultimately benefitting from greater choice.

Holy Stone HS900: Release date and price

  • Released May 2024
  • Only available in the US at launch
  • Available in other regions soon

At launch in May 2024, the Holy Stone HS900 was initially only available in the US. The drone will become available in the UK and other regions shortly. At the time of writing, US residents can purchase the HS900 single battery kit from Amazon for $369.99 after applying a $100 voucher, although the price regularly fluctuates. For UK-based and Australian pilots, this converts to £280 / AU$550 respectively, but official pricing for these regions is yet to be announced so this price could vary.

The single-battery HS900 kit includes the HS900 drone, a controller, one smart battery, phone connection cables, a USB-C charging cable, a set of spare propellers, spare screws, a screwdriver and a carry bag. 

Dual and triple battery kits are suggested on the Holy Stone website, so we could see additional battery kits becoming available in the future. We have been told that a battery charging hub is also due to be released, allowing multiple batteries to be charged at once rather than one at a time in the drone via USB-C.

We'll update this page with any price and availability updates. 

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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 unfolded viewed from above

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 folded showing the top of the airframe

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 folded showing the bottom of the airframe

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 battery being slotted into the battery bay

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 battery

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 carry case

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Holy Stone HS900: Design and controller

  • Lightweight folding design
  • New controller
  • Great build quality

Most drones these days feature a folding design to reduce size for transportation and storage, and the HS900 is no exception in this regard. It’s a tried, tested and ultimately successful approach to drone design, so it makes perfect sense in every way. The dark gray drone is just 5.63x3.26x2.44in / 143×82.8×62mm when folded, with an unfolded size of 6.59x8.57x2.44in / 167.4x217.8x62mm and a weight of 8.7oz / 249g. So, all pretty standard for a drone of this type.

Build quality is very good, and there’s nothing to indicate the relatively low cost of the HS900. In fact, it looks more expensive than it actually is, even if looks don't ultimately impact performance. The drone is made of lightweight plastic so it doesn’t feel substantial in the hand, but to be fair this is the case with even the most expensive sub-250g models – it’s just a way of keeping weight down. Durability certainly isn’t an issue.

Flight times are respectable, averaging around 22 minutes in moderate to gusty wind before Return to Home was initiated at 20% battery, as opposed to the advertised flight times of up to 30 minutes. However in reality, with lower winds and warmer temperatures, flight times would likely increase. The 2250mAh battery takes just over an hour to charge in the drone via USB-C, which is quite fast, and you can also charge batteries this way using a USB power bank when out in the field.

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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 P2 controller

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 P2 controller with smartphone attached

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Holy Stone Sirius HS900 P2 controller stick storage

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The HS900 uses a new P2 controller which sports a simple yet functional design with all of the direct access controls you need to control the drone, the camera and the gimbal. This includes a small joystick for adjusting specific camera settings and a dual-function Fn button that can be customized with two different functions.

For the review, I set the button to tilt the gimbal between 0-degrees and 90-degrees with a single press, and to initiate Cruise Control with a double press. The build quality of the controller can’t be faulted, and although the bottom-mounted folding phone holder arms have a slightly flimsy feel to them, they securely accommodate smartphones of all sizes, so no worries here.

Holy Stone HS900: Features and flight

  • Smooth flight controls
  • Includes subject tracking
  • Multiple flight modes

Holy Stone drones have always been pretty good flyers, but they have also lacked the finesse of more expensive drones. With the HS900, this has all changed and the flight performance on offer is greatly improved and puts the drone comfortably among its rivals. Flight controls are also smooth and responsive, so it’s possible to perform positive maneuvers when capturing video.

What’s more, the gimbal tilt, which has a range of 30 to -90-degrees, allows you to shoot upwards slightly as well as straight down, and has a smooth so you can confidently incorporate it into maneuvers for more dynamic video shots. Image stabilization is highly effective, using a combination of the 3-axis mechanical gimbal and Electronic Image Stabilization to produce shake-free video footage.

With GPS positioning, provided by GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou systems, hovering is generally stable with drift mostly noticeable at higher altitudes. With GPS, pilots can also take advantage of Return to Home functionality which can be initiated manually by the pilot, or automatically when the battery reaches 20% charge / when the connection between the drone and controller is lost. It can also be cancelled when the battery reaches 20% if you want to increase flight time slightly.

Despite being a small and lightweight drone, the HS900 offers level 5 wind resistance, which equates to wind speeds up to 24 mph. The HS900 was flown in wind gusts of 22mph during testing and showed no signs of struggling in any of the three main flight modes/speeds, so this claim appears to be correct. The flight modes include Stable with a top speed of 11mph, Normal with a top speed of 22mph and Sport which offers the maximum flight speed of 31mph.

Being a mid-range sub-250g drone, like its direct competitors, the HS900 doesn’t offer obstacle avoidance, so you do have to take care when flying close to obstacles and when using automated flight patterns. It does, however, have a downward vision system that’s used to determine the ground in situations when a GPS signal is unavailable, such as when flying indoors.

Holy Stone HS900 Time-lapse

The automated flight patterns on offer include Point of Interest, Spiral up, Tap Fly (waypoints), Gesture Selfie, One-key Ascension and Catapult, which work as intended. Plus, there’s subject tracking where you draw a box around the subject to be followed and the drone will do just that. This works well for the most part, but there are times when the HS900 loses the subject so it’s not perfect.

A fun and easy to use feature is Time-lapse, with manual control over the interval and video length, plus exposure and shutter speed to maintain consistency in your videos. Unlike DJI's Time-lapse feature, the HS900's version works independently from flight and you simply hover instead. If you wish to create a moving sequence, also known as a hyper-lapse, you have to judge flight distance and speed yourself, which is extremely tricky. It’s much easier to simply select a composition and shoot with the drone in a hover.

Cruise Control is another useful feature and one that, as the name suggests, allows you to set the drone on a course and maintain it without having to hold the control sticks. This provides greater consistency for videos thanks to a consistent speed. I did try to use Cruise Control when shooting a Time-lapse, but each time it adjusted the gimbal tilt making it unusable in this situation, unfortunately.

Holy Stone HS900: image quality

  • Sony 1/2.3 in CMOS sensor
  • Up to 48MP photos
  • 4K 30 fps & 1080p 60 fps video

Holy Stone Sirius HS900 close-up of the camera and gimbal

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Once again, like overall performance, the image quality produced by the HS900 beats all other Holy Stone drones hands down. The camera features a Sony 1/2.3-inch 48MP CMOS sensor with a fixed focus f/2.6 lens providing a 100-degree field of view, and sharp video and photo quality. 

Fixed focus may sound like a step down from autofocus, which it is in a way, but it uses the principle of hyperfocal distance to provide the maximum depth-of-field possible for the combination of focal length and aperture – meaning much of the scene will be in sharp focus.

Overall image quality is very good for both photos and videos, which can be captured with the camera set to auto or manual exposure. Image quality is best in brighter conditions, like all drones with a small image sensor, but white balance is a little quirky and could benefit from adjustments in a future firmware update. The white balance presets are a little off what you would expect, with Auto providing the best, yet not always perfect results.

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Photo of a pier taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a coastal town taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a beach and groyne from above taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a circus from above taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a cirus tent in a field taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a bridge from above taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of an industrial area taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a town taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a water treatment facility taken with the Holy Stone Sirius HS900

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Photos can be captured in 4K resolution  (3840x2160 pixels) and 48MP with image dimensions of 8192x4608 pixels – these are in 16:9 format rather than the more common 4:3 format used for drone photos. 

Photo capture is currently only available in JPEG format, but raw capture will be added in a future firmware update. Video can be captured in 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 60 fps in a Normal/Standard color profile for straight-out-of-camera use, and is saved in MP4 format. A flat color profile for increased dynamic range and color grading is, unsurprisingly, unavailable.

My short wish list for a firmware update would be to build on the well-featured camera control by including a histogram and Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB). The former is invaluable for assessing exposure, while the latter makes shooting in high-contrast situations, such as around sunrise and sunset, much easier because you can capture bracketed exposures for HDR photography.

Holy Stone HS900 video in 4K / 30 fps

Should I buy the Holy Stone HS900?

Holy Stone Sirius HS900 unfolded on concrete

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Holy Stone HS900

  • Several days and flights
  • Used in mixed weather, including moderate wind
  • Various flight modes and video and photo settings

The Holy Stone HS900 was tested over several days of flying in a range of locations, environments and weather conditions (excluding rain) to test flight performance, flight features, overall handling and image quality for both photo and video capture. All testing is conducted in a way that meets local aviation laws and restrictions to ensure that all flights are safe and legal.

Drones are always tested using manual flight patterns for video that are typical of professional aerial video capture to shoot visually interesting footage. This also provides the opportunity to test aspects such as the connection between the drone and controller, latency between the two and the accuracy of the controls and flight in general.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been covering drones in terms of shooting and editing techniques, alongside writing drone reviews for a number of years. As well as flying most consumer and prosumer models, I’ve previously held a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, and now fly under an A2 CofC (A2 Certificate of Competency).

First reviewed May 2024

DJI launches Osmo Action 4 camera with larger sensor and better stabilization
3:19 pm | August 3, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Less than a year after the DJI Osmo Action 3 was unveiled comes version 4. This action camera promises improved performance in low light, better stabilization options and more durability. The DJI Osmo Action 4 arrives with a significantly larger sensor – 1/1.3”, up from 1/1.7” on version 3. This increases the pixel size from 1.6µm to 2.4µm. The lens is the same as before, 155° FoV and an f/2.8 aperture. Like its predecessor, the Action 4 can record 4K video at 120fps and up to 130Mbps. To get the best quality out of it, you can shoot in 10-bit D-Log M format. The camera supports...

DJI Air 3 review: a nifty dual-camera drone
4:00 pm | July 25, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Thanks to its dual cameras the DJI Air 3 has the potential to open up new creative avenues, making it an exciting drone to play with. While the 3x zoom may not be obviously useful at first – after all why not just fly closer? – what it offers is the ability to shoot or film what a drone this size can’t get close to, such as people and crowds. It could therefore be useful to event photographers as a way to shoot safely and  legally. I can see it being a useful for landscape photographers, too – perhaps even to shoot active volcanos without your drone being turned into a lump of melted plastic.

Both cameras shoot 12MP or 48MP JPEG and/or raw files on two 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensors, the same sensor used on the DJI Mini 3 Pro. Video is up to 100fps at 4K with the ability to shoot 2.7K at 60fps in vertical mode, a feature that's very useful if you share videos on social media. Video can be recorded with both cameras offering 10-bit D-Log M and 10-bit HLG color modes; 10-bit D-Log M mode offers more flexibility in post production with respect to detail available in highlights and shadows, as well as color grading.

DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with arms and propellors in flight position

(Image credit: Future)

The 24mm equivalent lens has a fixed aperture of f/1.7, while the 70mm equivalent is an f/2.8 lens. 

The DJI Air 3 also offers excellent flight and safety features which never fail to impress – it makes total sense for DJI to focus on drone safety if it's to continue existing in a world of increasingly tough, varied and inconsistent drone regulations. Safety features include Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing, APAS 5.0 anti-collision, and Advanced Return to Home, all of which, when enabled, combine to make it pretty difficult to crash.

Deciding if this is the right drone for you ultimately boils down to your needs as a pilot and as a photographer/filmmaker. The Air 3 is positioned between the more affordable and feature-packed Mini 3 Pro, and the much more expensive but highly capable C2-category Mavic 3 Pro. Although the Air 3 is missing the 'Pro' moniker, its size, features and dual cameras provide a good middle ground for those struggling to make a decision. It's a perfectly suitable drone for beginners wanting to push their creative potential, while equally appealing to more professional pilots on a budget.

The DJI Air 3 is also a more versatile offering than the DJI Air 2S and a shoo-in for our best drones guide. 

DJI Air 3: release date and price

  • Available from July 25 2023
  • Starts at $1,099 / £962 / AU$1,699
  • Two controller options

The much anticipated DJI Air 3 was available immediately after being announced on July 25 2023. Positioned between the Mini 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Pro, it's available either as a standard package (drone and remote) or as the Fly More Combo with additional batteries, a bag, and other accessories. There's a choice of two controllers: the DJI RC-N2 (which replaces the DJI RC-N1) and the DJI RC 2, an upgrade from the DJI RC that sports two antennas to improve its range and performance.

Price-wise, the Air 3 drone with the RC-N2 remote and a battery will cost $1,099 / £962 / AU$1,699. That's an increase over the Air 2S, which was priced at $999 / £899 / AU$1,549 with battery and remote when it launched in 2021, but arguably a modest one given that you’re getting lots more features and upgraded remote.

Kit options include the Air 3 with the DJI RC-N2 for $1,099 / £962 / $1,099, the DJI RC-N2 Fly More Combo for $1,349 / £1,199 / AU$2,049, and the DJI RC 2 Fly More Bundle for $1,549 / £1,379 / AU$ 2,349. The DJI RC 2 will retail for $369 / £323 / AU$549 and a single additional battery will cost $159 / £129 / AU$359. Fly More combos come with two additional batteries, a carry bag, a charging hub and other useful accessories, and offer value if you see yourself requiring extra batteries anyway.

DJI Air 3: Design and controller

  • In line with recent foldable DJI designs
  • Imposing dual camera
  • 720g – European C1 rating

The Air 3 sports a look very much in line with other foldable DJI products, in particular previous Mavics with their folding arms. What makes it stand out is its dual camera, which is large in size and protrudes from the main body. Without propellers the drone measures folded: 207 x 100.5 x 91.1mm and unfolded: 258.8 x 326 x 105.8mm.

Weighing 720g, in the UK the DJI Air 3 is classed as a C1 category drone (up to 900g), meaning it's considered a lower risk to third parties than drones like its heavier brother, the Mavic 3 Pro. This classification allows for more freedom in how and where you can fly; refer to the CAA website and our own UK drone laws explainer for more information on drone laws.

The Air 3 uses a 4,241mAh battery which is responsible for a third of the drone’s weight at 267g. It takes 60 minutes to charge, and provides a very generous 46 minutes of advertised flight time, 48% more than its predecessor, the DJI Air 2S. During my testing that figure has proven to be fairly accurate, provided you're cruising slowly on a windless day. A more 'sporty' flight or windy day will increase battery use, therefore shortening your flights. You might ask who, at this point,  needs more than that sort of flight time, although with longer batteries come new applications.

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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump packed away in carry case with remote controller

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with arms and propellors folded away

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with arms and propellors folded away and seen directly from above

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump arms folded away

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with arms and propellors folded away

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with closeup of its dual cameras

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with arms and propellors in flight position

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone remote controller with built-in screen, on a tree stump

(Image credit: Future)

The two controllers available are the DJI RC 2 and DJI RC-N2, both upgrades of their respective predecessors, the DJI RC and the DJI RC-N1.  

The DJI RC 2 is a particularly welcome upgrade for anyone who's used the DJI RC, specifically in terms of range and signal. The DJI RC 2 features external antennas, which vastly improves the poor signal range DJI RC users have reported across many online drone forums. I flew the Air 3 with the DJI RC 2 in thick woodland with far better signal and range than I’d normally experience with the DJI RC.

DJI Air 3: Features and flight

  • Omnidirectional collision avoidance
  • ActiveTrack 5.0 subject tracking
  • Advanced Return to Home

If you're used to DJI drones, you'll be instantly at home with the DJI Air 3. It flies very well straight out of the box, and if you're concerned about drawing unwanted attention, while it's understandably noisier than the Mini 3 Pro due to its size, the Air 3 does not produce unreasonable noise levels. As usual, to the untrained ear it may sound like a swarm of bees, but it's in no way screeching, as perhaps the DJI FPV is.

As with previous DJI drones, three flight modes are available: Sport mode provides a top speed of 42.5mph with collision avoidance switched off, which is useful if you're chasing a fast-moving subject; Normal mode is slower, with collision avoidance on, while Cine mode provides the slowest flight speed with reduced control sensitivity, for more precise maneuvering and capturing less hectic and more cinematic footage. 

The Air 3's wind-speed resistance is impressive. It's advertised at just under 27mph, and I've flown it in 35mph winds and captured stable footage, although I did get a warning telling me that due to high wind speeds Return to Home may not function as expected. This is possibly its greatest advantage over a cheaper sub-250g drone such as the Mini 3 Pro, which itself offers impressive wind resistance for such a small drone.

As is now the case with all DJI drones, GPS positioning linked to nearly two dozen satellites enables precise hovering. Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing (a first in the Air series) combined with DJI’s Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 5.0 makes flying in tricky environments worry-free. With collision avoidance turned on, the Air 3 can either brake or bypass obstacles when they’re detected. The bypass setting offers a 'Nifty' option designed to provide smoother flight when obstacles are detected in more complex environments; however the downside of this smoother setting is a greater risk of collision.

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Close up of DJI Air 3 drone arm with model name

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump next to battery charger pack

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump view of the back

(Image credit: Future)

I tested the Air 3 in thick woodland, and made my way through branches and treetops without collision, greatly helped by the large screen on the RC 2 remote offering a much clearer image than a smartphone.

For extra safety the Air 3’s Advanced Return to Home scans up to 200m to calculate the safest route to its take-off point, while AirSense ADS-B provides notifications of nearby planes and helicopters. The Air 3 uses the next-generation DJI 04 transmission system, which can transmit a 1080p/60fps live feed at a distance up to 20km (in the US, up to 10km in other regions including Europe). For European users a 5.1Ghz frequency band has been added to improve transmission performance; does this hint at the release later this year of an O4 Air Unit for FPV quadcopters to replace the current O3 Air Unit? 

Flight features include Focus Track for both cameras, which keeps the subject at the centre of the frame, Quickshots (a set of creative camera movements), while video modes include 2.7K vertical shooting convenient for social media, Mastershots (generates fast effortless cinematic footage), Night Mode for low-light environments, Hyperlapse (4K horizontal / 2.7K vertical), Slow Motion up to 100fps at 4K, Smartphoto 3.0, QuickTransfer, Lightcut (one-tap video editing), and Waypoint Flights, available on the Air series for the first time.

DJI Air 3: Image and video quality

  • Dual camera (wide-angle and medium tele)
  • Two 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensors
  • Up to 4K 100fps video

The DJI Air 3 sports two cameras, each based on a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor. One is a wide-angle 24mm equivalent, and the other is a medium-telephoto 70mm equivalent, essentially offering 3x zoom. To some this may seem of little use; after all, why would you need a zoom lens if you can simply fly the drone closer to the subject? This is a valid question for which there are a couple of simple answers.

First of all, it gives you the ability to shoot events where crowds gather. It's illegal to fly over crowds (defined as a group of people unable to disperse quickly in case of an accident), and therefore a zoom lens could offer the ability to capture events (festivals, weddings, and so on) without having to get too close, and without posing a risk. Another benefit is when you need to capture anything at sea, perhaps a yacht, the zoom lens allows you to stay a little higher above the waves and still get the close-up footage you need.

A zoom lens also offers the potential to compress the perspective of a scene by bringing elements at different distances closer together, opening up new creative possibilities.

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DJI Air 3 photo of a field  on a sunny day with the 24mm wide camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 photo of a field  on a sunny day with the 70mm telephoto camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 aerial photo of rural farmland on a sunny day with the 24mm wide camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 aerial photo of rural farmland on a sunny day with the 70mm telephoto camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 aerial photo of a rural home on a sunny day with the 24mm wide camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 aerial photo of a rural home on a sunny day with the 70mm telephoto camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 aerial photo of village houses on a sunny day with the 24mm wide camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 aerial photo of village houses on a sunny day with the 70mm telephoto camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 photo of a large garden and allotment  on a sunny day with the 24mm wide camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Air 3 photo of a large garden and allotment  on a sunny day with the 70mm telephoto camera

(Image credit: Future)

I really like the ability to tilt the camera from 90 degrees downwards to 60 degrees upwards; it's another great tool for capturing footage that stands out, and a feature that Mini 3 Pro users will be familiar with.

One important consideration is that both lenses have a fixed aperture: f/1.7 in the case of the wide-angle, and f/2.8 for the medium telephoto. If you only take photos, it’ll be just fine; but if your focus is videography, because you have no option to adjust your aperture you'll need to be prepared to change ND filters as often as the light changes, and landing more often than necessary can very quickly become annoying, and negates the usefulness of a 46-minute battery life.

As an example, I often shoot videos at sunrise. With a fixed aperture, the fast-increasing light levels mean I take off with no ND filter, then five minutes later as the sun rises I have to land to add an ND8, then another 10 minutes later I have to change to ND16.

The sensors are the same as on the Mini 3 Pro, so expect similarly good image quality. Both cameras capture 12MP or 48MP photos in raw and/or JPEG, and offer all the standard photography modes, including Single Shot, Burst Shooting, AEB and Timed. In terms of video both cameras can capture video in 4K up to 100fps, FHD up to 200fps, 2.7K vertical up to 60fps and FHD vertical up to 60fps.

Should I buy the DJI Air 3?

DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with closeup of its dual cameras

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the DJI Mavic 3 Pro

I tested the DJI AIR 3 over the course of a couple of weeks. It was very windy with up to 35mph winds, except for one calmer day. This allowed me to test its performance with high wind both in terms of flying and the stills and video I was able to capture in these less than ideal conditions.

I flew it with and without obstacle avoidance, in a multitude of environments, from open fields to thick woodland. Wooded areas are a great environment in which to test a drone and its remote. How does the drone perform sensing and avoiding those trees? How good is the camera’s dynamic range; i.e. how does it deal with the contrast between dark shaded areas and bright light-wells, and how well does it perform in these sometimes low-light conditions. And how well does the signal penetrate through thick vegetation?

DJI Air 3 drone on a tree stump with closeup of its dual cameras

(Image credit: Future)

I tend to fly drones manually, with minimal assistance from either collision sensors or automatic flight features. This allows me to test their responsiveness and overall latency drops between the drone and the remote, depending on the surroundings.

All testing is carried out on private property, away from people and buildings, and in accordance with local aviation laws and restrictions to ensure that all flights are safe and legal.

I've been flying camera drones since 2014, and in the past year I've been flying FPV quadcopters, which has been both exciting and very challenging. I fly a multitude of different drones, from tinywhoops to carbon fiber freestyle drones and camera drones, for the variety of creative avenues they offer. I fly four different leading brands of drones, and have no affiliation to any of them.

First reviewed July 2023