Press "Enter" to skip to content

DJI Air 3 Drone Three Month Review

The DJI Air has allowed for shots I would have never been able to capture previously!

TL;DR - I've enjoyed taking still photos with the drone, but I've not enjoyed trying to shoot videos as my piloting skills leave many things to be desired. I've also got several more things to add to my like/dislike list, which I'm sure will continue to grow.

So, the DJI Air 3 drone has been a fun addition to my photography arsenal. A lot of what I liked and/or was concerned about when I got it three months ago has been spot on, but there are a few additional details that I thought would be good to capture.

  • The Return to Home (RTH) functionality is amazing. As I mostly takeoff/land from the same spot (more on that later), it's so cool to fly around wherever I want to go, and then just press a single button to have it end up right where it started, with no input from me. The only thing I don't like about RTH is the incessant beeping out of the controller when the drone is on its way back.
  • I suck at flying. (Because I don't play video games?) Getting the hang of the controls - which require flying in 3D space as well as control of the camera gimbal to keep the subject in view - has been really hard for me. I think part of this is because it's really hard, but part is also because I've never been one who is into 1st-person shooter video games, which use the same sort of control for game play. As such, using the drone for videos is really not something that I can do in any sort of enjoyable - for me or the viewer - way at this point in time. Gives me a whole new respect for those who can drone and drive, and keep the drone shot steady on both the foreground and background at the same time.
  • The DNG files it produces are lackluster. I was really excited that the Air 3 would produce RAW DNG files, because I knew I'd be able to edit them in Adobe Lightroom Classic. The problem is, there doesn't seem to be much detail in the RAW files - at least compared to my Canon R6 - so editing them is a bit like editing a JPEG: a little hit-and-miss. Additionally - and I suppose understandably, since the drone is constantly vibrating as it hovers in the air - the images aren't all that sharp compared to what I'm used to. They're fine for viewing on a screen, but fuzzy - at either the 12MP or 48MP resolution - when zooming in for a look at the details.
  • It takes too long to setup/tear down. I was worried about this at the beginning, but it's turned out to be one of the biggest issues I have with the drone. Setup and teardown involve a ton of steps:
    1. Take drone out of bag
    2. Remove gimbal cover
    3. Remove velcro that keeps propellers stowed against the drone when it's in the bag.
    4. Unfold propeller arms
    5. Insert battery
    6. Turn on drone
    7. Take remote controller out of bag
    8. Turn on remote controller.
    9. Screw joysticks onto remote controller.
    10. Wait for remote controller to boot the DJI Fly app.

    This all takes something on the order of 2-3 minutes on each end of the flight. Not a ton of time, but also a lot longer than just getting out of the truck to shoot a photo with the camera.

    I'm hoping to solve some of this setup/teardown by getting a foam "holder" created that will keep the assembled drone and controller safely stowed by easily accessible. Then I'll just have to wait for the software to boot before I'm ready to go.

    Also, I really dislike forcing anyone travelling with me to wait while I'm setting up/tearing down plus flying around. As such, I've found that I really only use the drone when I'm in camp or when something else is occupying the time of my travelling companions.

  • It's too bulky to take hiking. I picked up a larger fanny pack that I thought would allow me to carry the drone on a hike, but it's about 1" too long to close the zipper on the pack. At this point, since I'm mostly a still-photo-guy anyway, I'm not sure if I'll look for another pack or just continue to use the drone when I'm around the Tacoma.


In this Series


Filed Under

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *