The DJI Mavic 3 drone is an imaging platform that offers cutting-edge technologies. The 4/3 Hasselblad CMSOS sensor is a class-leading feature that can capture 20MP RAW photos at 12.8 stops dynamic range. It comes with a 24-mm equivalent primary lens that has a variable aperture from f/2.8 to 11 and a focal length of 24mm.
A tele-camera is also included in the DJI Mavic 3 with a 1/2 inch CMOS sensor, and a 162mm zoom lens. The tele-camera can provide 28x hybrid zoom, which is ideal for creating beautiful panoramic landscape photos.
This guide will discuss two amazing creative possibilities offered by the dual camera system on DJI Mavic 3. This guide will show you how to manually capture panoramic HDR photos using the primary Hasselblad camera. We’ll also discuss how to set the tele-camera up to create unique panoramic landscape images.
What are Panoramic photos and why should you learn to take them?
Panoramic photos allow drone photographers to capture images that are impossible with any other method. Panoramic photos can be created by taking multiple images that overlap, and then stitching them together in post. This results in a final image with a much wider field of view than the original.
These are typical wide-angle drone photos taken with 24mm lenses. These lenses have a deep field of view and very little foreground compression. The unique combination of foreground compression with a wide-angle field can be achieved by using long telephoto zoom lenses to create panoramic landscape images.
How to set up the Hasselblad camera for HDR Panoramas
You can control the DJI Mavic 3 cameras using the DJI Fly App, available for iOS or Android mobile devices. You can also use the DJI RC Pro remote control. The DJI Fly App will eventually allow the Mavic 3 to support automatic panoramic photo modes, but they are not available in the DJI Fly App at the moment. It’s easy to set up the DJI Mavic 3 manually for HDR panoramic photos.
Before you take the photos, there are some settings that you will need to make.
- Change the photo mode from one to AEB (3 or 5, depending on the scene’s dynamic range)
- Set the file type to RAW or J+RAW
- You can change the exposure mode from automatic to manual, giving you full control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO
- To dampen the Mavic 3’s movements, set your Mavic 3 controller into Cine mode
How to Manually Capture HDR Panos on the DJI Mavic 3
Start by flying to the middle of your desired composition. This will be your starting image. It will serve as the foundation of the other images that you will need to capture. Make sure that you have all the setups mentioned above. Start by placing a single, 3 or 5-shot AEB bracket of images at the center of your composition.
The Mavic 3 needs to be given enough time to finish each set of images. A blurry image will be created if the drone is moved before the set has been completed. After you have captured the foundational frame, rotate the drone slowly to the right. Then overlap your images by a margin between 30-50%.
Move as far to your right as your field of view will allow. Next, go back to the center of the composition and shoot 30-50% overlap AEB image sets. Once you have completed your desired composition, you will need a series bracketed images sets for post-production. You will then need to combine them to create an HDR panoramic photo.
How to merge HDR panoramas in Lightroom
After you have imported your images from DJI Mavic 3, merging your HDR panorama into Adobe Lightroom will be a simple task. This example shows 5 sets of 5-image AEB exposures that I took across the entire frame. These images were imported into Adobe Lightroom and then separated into separate collections for easier management. After I had completed the basic exposure and color adjustments, I selected all 25 images. To access the secondary menu options, I right-clicked on the series and selected Photo Merge followed HDR Panorama.
Lightroom performed its calculations and gave me the options to finalize my panorama. Below is the finalized HDR panorama of 25 images. I have also included a non-HDR reference frame in the middle of my composition. These images were taken with the DJI Mavic’s 24mm 4/3 Hasselblad sensor. These images show the differences in tonality and the field of view between a single nonHDR image and a panoramic HDR one.
Single image – Mavic 3 Hasselblad 24mm Lens
25-image HDR panorama – Mavic 3, Hasselblad 24mm lens
Create a wide-angle panoramic photo using the Telephoto Zoom Lens
The DJI Mavic 3 is capable of creating unique panoramic images that aren’t possible using any other prosumer drone. The equivalent 162mm tele-camera can produce stunning panoramic images that are rarely seen in typical compositions.
The process for taking the sequence of images necessary to create a panoramic drone photo is exactly the same as that described above. The DJI tele-camera has some limitations so there are only a few adjustments. The smaller tele-camera does not shoot photos in RAW, unlike the Mavic 3’s flagship 4/3 Hasselblad sensor. The tele-camera does not have manual exposure or RAW capabilities. To get the best possible photo output from your DJI Mavic 3 tele-lens, make sure you have adjusted the following settings.
- Select the right white balance to match the lighting conditions of your scene
- For the duration of the image capture, lock the camera to the manual focus you have selected
- Tap to measure the exposure of your scene. Use exposure compensation to adjust the auto-exposure settings of the tele-camera.
- Take your preferred series of images and use 30-50% overlap images to capture your panoramic composition.
These are the finalized samples from a single frame as well as the aerial panorama created with the DJI Mavic 162mm Tele-camera.
Single image – Mavic 3 162mm Tele-lens
20-image panorama – Mavic 3, 162mm tele-lens
It can be rewarding to learn how to create stunning panoramic photos with non-conventional lenses and cameras. Many of today’s mobile phones, cameras, and drones offer automated panoramic photo modes. You can use the techniques in this guide with any non-aerial camera you have at your disposal. Remember the important rule that no matter where you are, you should have fun and create.