The DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise is DJI’s latest entry into its Enterprise line, redefining the industry standards for small commercial drones.
Optimised for drone mapping, the Mavic 3E will be replacing the beloved and now discontinued, Phantom 4 RTK.
In this blog, we will look at the differences between the Mavic 3E and P4R, and establish whether you should look to upgrade your current solution.
Disclaimer: If you’re looking for a solution with an integrated thermal sensor, make sure to check out the DJI Mavic 3 Thermal.
Design & Performance
One of the biggest benefits of moving to the Mavic 3E from the P4R is the size difference. Not only is the Mavic 3E nearly half a kilogram lighter than the P4R (915g down from 1391g), but it is also more compact and storage friendly due to its foldable functionality. This means that the drone will take up far less room in your car, van, or office, and can also be removed from its hard case and placed in a backpack.
Both drones have fixed cameras, however the Mavic 3 Enterprise has a modular bay on the top of the airframe, providing the ability to use a variety of payloads including an RTK module. On the other hand, the Phantom 4 RTK has its RTK module integrated on the top and doesn’t have the ability to integrate any other payloads.
If you’re currently using an RTK-enabled drone but don’t have an RTK license, then you’re not getting the most out of your drone. Click here to get your RTK license today.
Using the Mavic 3 Enterprise, surveyors will also be able to capture data in a larger variety of environments. A more rugged design allows the Mavic 3E to tackle wind speeds of up to 12m/s, compared to the P4R’s 10 m/s. But that’s not all.
The Mavic 3E is also better suited to operating in cold weather, with an operational envelope of -10°C to 40°C, permitting flights in sub-zero temperatures. On the other hand, the Phantom 4 RTK is only operational between 0°C to 40°C.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for a portable drone with an IP-rated design, the DJI Matrice 30(T) is still your best bet, but you will lose centimetre-level accuracy.
Full design and performance specification can be seen here:
Despite its smaller airframe, the Mavic 3 Enterprise still manages to take the edge in this category. The Phantom 4 RTK set a new standard with its 20 MP 1” CMOS sensor. But as we said, the Mavic 3 Enterprise is redefining standards. With the new model you’ll benefit from a 4/3 CMOS 20MP wide sensor, and an additional ½” CMOS 12MP telephoto sensor.
Combining the two sensors provides the Mavic 3E with up to 56x hybrid zoom, allowing you to get up close and personal with your assets from a safe distance. This simply was not possible with the Phantom 4 RTK’s lack of zoom capabilities. So if you’re looking for a drone that is for more than just 3D mapping, the Mavic 3E is a no brainer.
Another notable improvement is the Mavic 3E’s 3.3um pixel size, bettering the 2.4um on the P4 RTK. Due to this, you’ll experience better low-light performance, better dynamic range, reduced noise, which in turn, provides you with more interpretable data that shows finer details in shadows and highlights.
While both drones benefit from mechanical shutters, DJI have made massive strides to decrease the shutter speed interval by over 250% on the Mavic 3E, dropping it from 2.5 seconds to 0.7 seconds (in JPEG). This means that you’ll be able to capture more images per flight, reducing the number of passes you need to complete jobs, and reducing time on-site. DJI have also introduced the ability to shoot in RAW format, elevating the data quality that you’re collecting.
Shooting in raw will allow you more manoeuvrability to correct exposure, colour data, noise, and white balance.
It is worth noting that shooting RAW will increase your shutter interval to 2 seconds, and increase the amount of data that you will need to process in post due to larger file sizes per image.
The Phantom 4 RTK has been the staple of entry level drone technology within the survey sector, capable of capturing extremely accurate data. Now, with the advancements made with the Mavic 3E, the Phantom 4 RTK is firmly a thing of the past.
Several factors play into this. Firstly, the Mavic 3E has an enhanced flight time of 45 minutes (42 min with RTK module), compared to the P4R’s 30 minutes. Combining this with a larger sensor size, and shorter shutter interval, DJI quote that the Mavic 3E is up to 8 times more efficient than the P4R at a GSD of 1cm.
To put this into perspective, when using multiple batteries and operating the 0.7s shutter interval at a flight speed of 15 m/s, you will now be able to cover 16km2 in a single day’s work.
With a GSD of 5cm, the orthophoto efficiency of the Mavic 3E can reach 2.25km, which is 1.9 times that of P4R and 70% of that of DJI Zenmuse P1.
The Mavic 3 Enterprise also benefits from several smart functions, thanks to its compatibility with DJI Flighthub 2. Most notable of these features is the Smart Oblique Capture (SOC). If you’re already a user of the DJI Matrice 300 RTK & Zenmuse P1, you’ll already be familiar with this functionality.
Oblique photography is a technique that has seen a large amount of success within drone surveying. Traditionally, oblique camera systems employ a mechanical rig with five cameras in fixed positions in a cross configuration; one camera in the centre is surrounded by four other cameras, equally spaced at 90-degree intervals in front, behind, left, and right. This system positions the central camera at an oblique angle such that the nadir angle (the point directly below the camera at ground level) is located at a known, fixed point in the image.
SOC is an alternative process that, like on the P1 and M300, uses a single camera mounted on a gimbal to function as all five cameras in an oblique camera system. The sensor on the DJI Mavic 3E is a “traditional” camera (not an oblique camera) with a single lens, but thanks to sophisticated software, it can produce the same results.
Utilising SOC will provide a better perspective of the appearance of features that rise from the ground, such as buildings, topography, and foliage in relation to the ground and horizon. Consequently, the Mavic 3E will require two flights over the survey area to collect the necessary oblique data, whereas the P4 RTK will require five flights in various flight grid patterns to collect the same data.
DJI say that this functionality will be fully operational by the end of 2022.
TimeSync is used on the Mavic 3E and Phantom 4 RTK. TimeSync ensures that each captured image uses the most precise metadata and fixes the positioning data to the optical centre of the lens, thereby optimising your data and achieving centimetre-level precision (when using the RTK module).
Additional features worth noting are live annotations, cloud mapping, route management, livestreaming, and real-time terrain following.
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