The DJI Air 2S has been a longstanding member of our guide to the best drones, but several leaks have revealed that its DJI Air 3 successor is imminent – and could well be the new sweet spot in DJI’s drone range.
A combination of rumored DJI Air 3 specs, plus leaked photos and a video, have started to build a picture of what we can expect from the mid-range drone. And the big news is that it’s likely to get a new telephoto lens, similar to the one we saw recently on the DJI Mavic 3 Pro.
The DJI Air 2S currently has just a single camera with a 1-inch 20MP CMOS sensor. But according to regular DJI leaker @Quadro_News, the DJI Air 3 will add either a 1/1.3-inch mid-telephoto lens with an effective 3x zoom (like the one on the Mavic 3 Pro) or a 1/2-inch telephoto lens with an effective 7x zoom.
Neither of these would be ‘zoom’ lenses in the technical sense, but their longer focal lengths would offer a handy way to shoot photos and video of distant subjects, particularly ones that you can’t legally fly near (eg. groups of people).
DJI Air 3 leaks, as you see pic.twitter.com/yS0ZCK6ZAqMay 24, 2023
These rumors appear to be backed up some recently leaked images and video (below), which have just appeared courtesy of Deals Drone and Dronemodelismo.
While not exactly clear or high-resolution, the images show that the drone has a large camera module that has likely been boosted from the one on the Air 2S to make room for that additional lens.
Adding an extra lens to the DJI Air 3 would also make sense in the context of DJI’s current lineup, giving aerial photographers a reason to choose the newer drone over the small and otherwise excellent DJI Mini 3 Pro.
DJI Air 3 in testing. video from Wechat pic.twitter.com/GWrQ5BEdsyMay 24, 2023
The only other specs leak we’ve seen for the DJI Air 3 so far is an apparent 30-minute battery life, which would make its flight time almost identical to the DJI Air 2S. With an expected release in “late June or early July 2023”, according to Quadro_News, we’ll likely see more leaks and details very soon.
The only possible downside to the DJI Air 3’s new lens and boosted specs could be a higher price tag, with the rumors pointing towards a price of around 7,500 yuan (which converts to around $1,060 / £860 / AU$1,625). But anyone looking for a compact, all-rounder drone could still see it as the sweet spot in DJI’s range.
Analysis: Better than the Mini 3 Pro?
We were big fans of the DJI Air 2S when it landed in April 2021, awarding it a five-star review and putting it at the top of our guide to the best drones you can buy. It’s since been pushed down that list by the sub-250g DJI Mini 3 Pro and the DJI Mavic 3, now more polished thanks to some much-needed firmware upgrades.
If the DJI Air 3 brings an extra telephoto lens, alongside other improvements like Ocusync 3.0 Plus transmission and improved high frame-rate video options, it could reclaim that top spot. The Air series has always offered a good middle ground between DJI’s Mini range and its Mavic series, which command price tags that are tricky for most amateurs to justify.
We’d like to have seen an improved battery life on the DJI Air 3, but the rumors so far suggest that’s unlikely – with one of the leaked photos appearing to back up that theory by showing a stash of spare DJI batteries.
It looks like it’ll be well worth waiting until June or July to see what the Air 3 brings, if you’ve been thinking about buying a new flying camera – not least because of the wave of keenly-priced Air 2S drones on the second-hand market.