(Top Settings to Get the Best Footage from Your DJI Mini 3 Pro)
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is a beloved drone model with 4K video resolution, 12MP photos, intelligent flight modes, and a 30-minute flight time. However, you must know which settings are which to use the DJI Mini 3 Pro efficiently.
What are the best settings to get the best footage from your DJI Mini 3 Pro?
The best camera settings for the DJI Mini 3 Pro are shooting at 4K at 30fps, using Bypass mode in Obstacle Avoidance, using the Normal color profile, and switching on the Histogram, Peaking Level, and overexposure warning features. You must also fine-tune the Gain and Expo Tuning for smooth footage.
Keep reading to learn more about how to get the most out of your DJI Mini 3 Pro.
Top settings to get the best footage from your DJI Mini 3 Pro
In a previous article, I highlighted the main features of the DJI Fly App and what they do.
Today, I’ll go deeper into these settings and the values you can set to get the best footage from your drone.
Resolution and FPS
To access the resolution and FPS of the DJI Mini 3 Pro, go to the bottom right section. The drone can shoot in up to 4K and up to 60 fps.
Most devices and streaming platforms can handle 4K, so that’s the video resolution I’d use. However, instead of using 60 fps, I find 30 fps to be the most ideal.
Why? Well, 30 fps will give you the best video footage with the available ISO, aperture, and exposure settings.
Secondly, 30 fps footage is rendered better on social media platforms compared to higher or lower frame rates.
Note: The resolution you set is not carried across the intelligent flight modes. So, make sure every time you switch the mode, you’ll have to adjust the resolution to 4K.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro comes with three-directional obstacle avoidance, allowing it to sense obstacles at the front, downward, and back.
You get three settings to adjust the obstacle avoidance, but the setting you choose will depend on what you are using the drone for. Allow me to explain.
- Bypass – This setting allows the drone to avoid obstacles and keep flying. It’s also the best setting to use when you want to create smooth footage.
For instance, if you are hiking or roller-boarding along a path and need the drone to keep following you while avoiding trees, Bypass will be the best setting to use.
However, be careful since it may miss small twigs and end up entangled or crashing.
- Brake – This is where the drone stops when it senses an obstacle. This mode is not ideal for videography, but you can use this mode to get to the destination fast.
- Off – You obviously don’t want to switch off the obstacle avoidance sensors unless you are in a very open space and the drone’s path is clear with no obstacles.
There is also an option to disable sideways flights. You can switch this on because the DJI Mini 3 Pro lacks sideways obstacle-sensing sensors. However, you may need to control the drone manually, so disabling this feature may be the better option.
Two color profiles are available on the DJI Mini 3 Pro DJI Fly App, Normal and D-Cinelike.
The D-Cinelike color profile is getting quite popular because it gives you millions of colors and more freedom to play around with editing software.
However, the footage you get from the drone is raw, and you will need to do a lot of editing to get the desired footage.
Not everyone has the time or skill to deal with D-Cinelike. If you want to save time, you can still use the Normal profile. You get good enough footage with a healthy degree of saturation that you can use the footage taken directly from the drone, which will take less time to edit.
Auto vs. Manual Mode
Whether to choose Auto or Manual Mode depends on the time you have, your knowledge of the camera settings, and the kind of output you expect.
If you don’t have a lot of time, like when it’s about to rain or snow, and you want to get some good footage quickly, it’s best to go with Auto Mode. The drone will automatically adjust the shutter speed and ISO as you fly in this mode.
If you’re more experienced and want more control over the footage, you can use Manual Mode.
In Auto mode, you can also adjust the exposure value, which allows you to adjust the exposure value of the whole image or at specific parts.
On a typical bright day, you can set the exposure value between -0.3 and 0. Slightly underexposing the image allows you to avoid overexposure along the edges, which happens quite often.
One issue with Auto Mode is that the exposure shifts too much as you fly, which may ruin your footage.
To avoid this, you can lock the exposure value at some point. You can assign one of the customizable buttons (C1 and C2) to lock and unlock the exposure value. You do this by:
- Go to settings at the top right section
- Tap on Control
- Scroll down to button customizations
- Select C2 and assign it AE lock ON/OFF
- As you fly, you can switch the AE lock on or off depending on the lighting available and how the drone camera responds to the lighting available
Manual mode is not all that bad. As I mentioned earlier, it just takes time and requires more experience.
With Manual Mode, achieving the 180-degree rule (shutter speed double the frame rate) and motion blur will be easier since you can adjust the white balance, ISO, and shutter speed.
Since I mentioned that we should film at 30 fps, the best shutter speed should be either 1/60 or 1/50.
A higher ISO can help capture more detail in low-light situations, but it can also introduce noise into the image.
A lower ISO is better for normal to bright day conditions, so it’s best to always keep the ISO at around 100. However, you can also experiment with different ISO settings to see what works best for your situation.
However, achieving the motion blur in Manual Mode is not always possible since the shutter speed, fps, and ISO settings that you think are ideal may lead to overexposure. Adjusting them further would only destroy the footage.
In such a situation, the only way out is to use an ND filter, which reduces the light that gets to the sensor by f-stops. ND filters start from ND2 and can be as powerful as ND10000. The higher the number, the more light it stops.
In most cases, you will need ND2 to ND64. The larger numbers are often only used to add a special effect. Since there’s no formula to know which ND filter to use, you need to test a couple of filters until you get the desired result.
ISO and shutter priority
Recently, DJI released a firmware update that made it possible to adjust the settings of both Manual and Auto Modes.
This feature is applicable in cases where you may want to set a fixed aperture and the drone selects the ISO or vice-versa, especially when flying in areas where the light available changes dramatically.
In such a situation, you must lock one of these values at your ideal setting, and the drone will automatically adjust the other value.
You can do this by clicking on the Manual settings at the bottom right section and tapping the AUTO icon next to the shutter speed or ISO. Orange means it’s on, and gray means it’s off.
Histogram, peaking level, and overexposure warning
I prefer to keep these features on, and you should too if you want the best footage possible. Below is an overview of how they work.
The Histogram included with the DJI Mini 3 Pro is displayed as a bar graph, with the horizontal axis representing the tonal range from black to white and the vertical axis representing the number of pixels at each tonal level.
The left side of the graph represents the dark tones, while the right side represents the light tones.
One of the key benefits of using the Histogram is that it allows you to quickly see if an image is exposed correctly. If the graph is heavily weighted towards the left or right side, the image is either under or over-exposed, respectively.
You can adjust the camera settings (such as the ISO, shutter speed, or aperture) to get better exposure.
Another benefit of the Histogram is that it can help you avoid clipping, which is when the highlights or shadows in an image are lost due to excessive exposure.
If the graph is heavily weighted towards the left or right side, and there is no data at the extreme ends of the graph, it indicates that the highlights or shadows are being clipped.
In this case, you can adjust the camera settings to avoid this and preserve the full tonal range of the image.
The peaking level feature on the DJI Mini 3 Pro is a visual indication on the live view display to help photographers and videographers focus on a specific area of the image. This can be useful for capturing sharp, clear images with a high level of detail.
The peaking level feature within the DJI Mini 3 Pro allows you to adjust the level of sensitivity, which determines how much of the image is highlighted by the peaking indicator.
A higher sensitivity setting will highlight more of the image, making it easier to see which areas are in focus. A lower sensitivity setting will be less noticeable, but can still be helpful for fine-tuning your focus.
The overexposure warning feature on the DJI Mini 3 Pro is a visual indication that appears when the camera detects that an image is being overexposed.
Overexposure occurs when an image is too bright and can result in lost detail in the highlights of the image.
The overexposure warning on the DJI Mini 3 Pro appears as a blinking highlight on the live view display, indicating which areas of the image are being overexposed. This can be useful for photographers and videographers who want to avoid overexposing their images and preserve detail in the highlights.
The gridlines feature in the DJI Mini 3 Pro allows you to choose from a few different grid styles depending on your preference and the type of shot you are trying to capture.
For example, you can choose a standard grid with evenly-spaced lines, or a rule-of-thirds grid, which divides the frame into nine equal parts and is commonly used to create balanced compositions.
Normal, Cine, and Sport Modes
These are the modes you switch to using the button on the controller.
- Normal Mode is the most common mode that you will use all the time. It allows the drone to move at a moderate speed, smoothing out the shorts.
- Cine Mode is a super-slow mode that gives even more cinematic shots, but it doesn’t work well when you have to fly at higher altitudes. For low-altitude shots, you can switch to it or experiment and see if it’s better than Normal Mode.
- Sport Mode is not ideal for photos and videos and works best when you need to get to the destination faster. You can also use it to add fast motion to your footage, like in FPV videos.
Gain and Expo Tuning
In a recent update, DJI eliminated the Advanced Gimbal Settings and combined them with Expo settings, resulting in the Gain and Expo Tuning feature in the Control Tab.
This is where you now adjust how the drone and gimbal respond to your controller inputs. Below are the various settings in this tab and what to do with them.
- Max angular velocity – The max angular velocity feature on the DJI Mini 3 Pro is a safety setting that limits the maximum rotational speed of the drone’s motors.
This can be useful for preventing the drone from spinning out of control, which can be dangerous for the drone and its surroundings.
A value of 60 to 65 works best in Normal Mode, but you can go as low as 15 in Cine Mode and up to 150 in Sport Mode.
- Yaw smoothness – This setting controls how fast the drone yaws (left/right movements).
This can be useful for capturing smooth, fluid footage, especially when shooting fast-moving subjects or scenes with a lot of motion. A value of 20 to 30 would be great in all modes.
- Expo – This setting allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the drone’s gimbal and camera controls.
This can be useful for finetuning the responsiveness of the gimbal and camera during pitch and roll, yaw, and up and down movements, and ensuring that you can smoothly and accurately control the camera’s movements.
Keep the pitch, roll, and yaw as low as 0.15 to 0.2 in Normal Mode and 0.3 to 0.4 in Sport Mode, but increase the up and down to 0.5 since you will need the drone to move faster when taking off and landing.
- Max control speed (Tilt) – This setting allows you to limit the maximum speed at which the gimbal can move or tilt.
This can be useful for preventing the gimbal from moving too quickly, resulting in unwanted vibrations or jerky movements.
A slower value (15 to 20) is ideal in Normal Mode, down up to 10 in Cine Mode, and as high as 50 in Sport Mode.
- Tilt smoothness – This mode controls how fast the gimbal tilts as you use the gimbal dial. The higher the value, the smoother the tilt. 20 is great for Normal Mode, 25 in Cine, and 10 in Sport Mode.
Here you can select between Follow Mode, where the horizon stays level, and FPOV Mode, where the horizon banks with the drone.
Photo format and size
You can choose to either take photos in JPEG or J+RAW. It’s best always to use J+RAW since you have more room for editing.
When it comes to size, have the 4:3 and the 14:9.
16:9 is great for videos since most devices use the 16:9 ratio, but for photos, you can set it to 4:3.