DJI's next flagship consumer drone, the DJI Mavic 3, is now close to lift-off, with a new teaser confirming its launch date – but fresh leaks have tempered enthusiasm about its new telephoto camera. (Looking to tune into the livestream? Check out our how to watch the DJI Mavic 3 launch guide).
DJI has published the event teaser below on Twitter, which reveals that a launch will take place on November 4 at 10pm EDT. For those in the UK and Australia, this works out as 2am GMT / 12pm AEDT on November 5.
There's no explicit mention of the DJI Mavic 3 in the teaser, but some smart detective work from DroneDJ has shown that, with some lifting of the image's shadows, you can see the Mavic 3 name written on the wall.
Imaging Above Everything.Join us November 4th, 10:00 PM EDTLearn More: https://t.co/8WtqfkQ337 pic.twitter.com/L0Q4TrWoKqNovember 1, 2021
Aside from that little Easter egg, the "Imaging above everything" teaser doesn't give a huge amount away, aside from the shape of the windows matching the Hasselblad camera design seen in the many of the drone's leaks.
This window is divided in two because the DJI Mavic 3 is expected to have twin cameras. Leaks have suggested that the main one will have a large 20MP Four Thirds sensor, with a 24mm f/2.8-f/11 lens. That adjustable aperture would be handy for keeping your shutter speed in the right place during changeable lighting conditions.
But sitting above that will be a 12MP telephoto camera with a 1/2in sensor and a 160mm equivalent focal length – and it's this camera that's been the subject of further leaks.
According to a prematurely-published video review of the DJI Mavic 3, picked up by Kanzhaji and Jasper Ellens, that 160mm telephoto lens won't have a 'manual' mode, but will instead only let you shoot 4K/30p video in 'auto' mode.
This means the camera would be in complete control of the exposure, rather than letting you adjust settings – a slight drawback in some scenarios like night time, when you might want to slow down the shutter speed rather than increase the ISO, for example. This would also be a slightly strange restriction for a supposedly 'pro' drone.
Still, a telephoto camera with an auto-only mode would still be better than no telephoto camera at all, and the DJI Mavic 3 is otherwise shaping up to be the aerial equivalent of a mirrorless camera. And we now only have days to find out whether it's going to indeed be over twice the price of the DJI Air 2S.
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Analysis: More leaks, but the proof will be in the testing
The DJI Mavic 3 has been leakier than a colander, which means there's now very little we don't know about the drone's specs ahead of its official launch.
But there are always little nuances, like the suggestion that its telephoto camera won't have a manual mode, that make a big difference to a drone's usability – and it's these little details that we'll only learn about properly when the full reviews land after November 4 (or November 5 in the UK and Australia).
The absence of a manual mode would be a slight drawback for the Mavic 3's telephoto camera, but it's not confirmed – and images show that some included ND (neutral density) filters will cover both lenses for some added exposure control.
It's the main Four Thirds camera, which is expected to be a huge upgrade on the 1-inch camera seen on the DJI Air 2S, that's expected to be the star of the show. But it's also one of the features that could, if the rumors are correct, take the Mavic 3's price tag above $2,000 (around £1,899 / AU$3,699) for the standard bundle.
Will the Mavic 3 be worth that premium? As intriguing as its leaked specs are, that's only something we'll know for sure when we've flown it extensively in the real world.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.