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DJI RS 3 Mini hands-on and first impressions

Today, DJI announced their latest gimbal to stabilize your video: the RS 3 Mini. It joins the RS 3 and RS 3 Pro, but enters as a lower-cost and lighter-weight alternative made for use with mirrorless cameras like the Canon R5. I’ve had the RS 3 for a few days now, and I already have a few things that I like and a few that I don’t about DJI’s latest product.

Video: Hands-on with DJI’s RS 3 Mini

DJI RS 3 Mini specs

  • Weight: 1.7 lb.
  • Maximum load: 4.4 lb.
  • Charging: USB-C, full charge ~2.5 hours
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours
  • Native vertical and horizontal shooting

DJI RS 3 Mini camera compatibility

With a focus on remaining lightweight for mobile creators, the camera compatibility list focuses on mirrorless cameras. It supports top models from several manufacturers, such as Canon’s R5, which is capable of 8k raw video, Sony’s A7S III, and Fuji’s X-H2S. These can be accompanied by a range of fast glass, with DJI specifically calling out their respective 24-70mm F2.8 lenses. You can see a more complete list of compatible gear over on DJI’s website, but I must admit I was a tad disappointed when I attempted to attach the quick-release plate to my Z-Cam E2 M4 cinema camera and it wouldn’t fit due to the curved placement guide.

The Z Cam is a small, boxy video camera that I use for most of my shooting, and it would be well within the gimbal’s 4.4-pound weight limit were it not for the inability to connect the plate. The E2 line of cameras is listed as compatible with DJI’s larger RS 3 gimbal though. But with the focus on mirrorless cameras, that addition of the placement guide makes sense. Most stills cameras only have one threaded mount on the bottom to attach to a tripod, which could become an issue if you are mounting your camera vertically. The guide helps prevent your camera from turning at all when mounted vertically – and the RS 3 Mini makes it incredibly easy to mount your camera either vertically or horizontally so you can shoot in whatever format is right for your content.

iOS and Android app integration

DJI has plenty of experience with app control thanks to their numerous drones and gimbals to come before this. While I haven’t made extensive use of the software yet, its app is the most seamless experience I’ve had with a gimbal thus far. Through the app, you can use a virtual joystick to aim the gimbal, set up time lapses, program a track for the gimbal to follow, capture panoramas, and even pass through a gaming controller to use physical controls that are isolated from the gimbal itself. That’s in addition to all the user customization options.

The only downside is that using the gimbal requires you to connect it to the app at least once. When you power on the gimbal for the first time, you are prompted to download the DJI’s Ronin app and activate the device. You are able to skip the screen a total of five times before it doesn’t let you skip it any more, and you have to connect it to your DJI account to continue to use it. While I like all the mobile features, I wish the activation wasn’t a requirement to just use the RS 3 Mini as a simple gimbal.

Good for day trips

The RS 3 Mini’s internal battery takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge, but depending on your camera, that charge can last for up to 10 hours of use. I’ve only charged up the RS 3 Mini once in the time that I’ve had it, and I was impressed with the battery life for such a small gimbal. It really is quite small. You can realistically fit one hand on the gimbal itself, and need to use the folding legs to hold on with a second hand to get more stabilization. While DJI touts the ability to use it with just one hand – and I did quite a bit of that while trying to film my own use of the gimbal – I think a two-handed grip is a far better option whenever possible.

To give the RS 3 Mini a try, I rode on my bike to a few relatively natural places. I just turned off the RS 3 Mini, locked the motors in place, and then tossed the whole assembly into my backpack. Whenever I got somewhere I wanted to get a shot, it was as simple as unlocking the motors and turning back on the gimbal – which booted up quickly and was almost immediately ready to use. I loaded and unloaded it out of bag at least 10 times, so I really see how a small, light gimbal can be more practical in many use cases.

Balancing and motors

Balancing gimbals can be a pain. If you don’t have it just right, the motors constantly have to work just to hold your camera in positions. Conversely, if you have stronger motors, it’s (a bit) less important to get your balancing just right. I did a fairly crude job balancing my DSLR on the RS 3 Mini, spending just a few seconds on each axis. Nonetheless, the gimbal handled it well. To go back and perfect the balancing, the app lets you test your balance by holding the gimbal at a slight angle and then it moves each of the motors. While not strictly necessary to run the test to know you have the gimbal properly balanced, it provided some extra peace of mind. Not that I really needed it. The RS 3 Mini’s motors are meant to be able to keep the camera steady even as you change the focus of the lens or even zoom in and out. Doing so will change the balance of the camera, but the motors were able to compensate for the change just find.

DJI RS 3 Mini: Initial takeaways

While I had my gripes with the gimbal’s requirement for activation and incompatibility with my Z-Cam, the RS 3 Mini seems like an excellent addition to DJI’s lineup. It slots in perfectly below the RS 3 Pro and RS 3 to offer an option that’s light in the hand without lightening your wallet. I will certainly need some more time with it to try out all the features (with more cameras) and formulate my full opinion, but the fact that I’m looking forward to spending more time with DJI’s RS 3 Mini should speak for itself.

You can purchase the RS 3 Mini today for $369.

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