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DJI Mini 3 Pro 10-bit video: What you need to know

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The clip above compares ungraded and graded 10-bit video captured using the Mini 3 Pro’s D-Cinelike color profile.

In early May, DJI released the third iteration of its sub-250g drone, the Mini 3 Pro. While we rated it highly for being the first drone in its class to offer up to 4K/60p footage and how it ably handled high winds, it was missing the ability to capture 10-bit video footage.

DJI listened to customer feedback, and one week after the May 10th announcement (and after our review was published), a firmware update was released to Mini 3 Pro owners. One of the significant improvements included is the ability to record 10-bit footage with the flat D-Cinelike video profile.

IMG 8462
The Mini 3 will tell you when it’s recording in 10-bit D-Cinelike mode on the remote.

Why would you want to record in D-Cinelike mode? With 8-bit color, RGB is confined to 256 levels per channel, while 10-bit color gives you 1,024. If you don’t plan to edit your footage extensively or plan to do a bare minimum of color grading, shooting in 8-bit will suffice. However, if you want to make significant tonal or color grading changes or lift shadows, 10-bit helps keep your options open. Because more information is retained in the scene, you’re less likely to expose gaps in the captured tonal data when manipulating exposure or adjusting color in post.

Let’s take a look at some ungraded, straight-out-of-camera 8-bit footage for comparison:

8-bit footage shot with the DJI Mini 3 Pro shows much less shadow detail and has less flexibility for editing.

Additional brightness levels in each channel are also useful when applying LUTs, or lookup tables. LUTs take footage and apply a specific look by enhancing the brightness, darkness or colors in your video footage, like a preset for photos. Color banding can occur with lower-bit footage if these changes are too dramatic, so 10-bit, with its wider gamut of tones, can produce smoother results and tolerate more adjustment when color grading, LUT or otherwise.

D-Cinelike isn’t as flat as the D-Log system used in DJI’s Mavic series, which is specifically designed to maximize how much editing flexibility is preserved. However, it gives the Mini 3 Pro much more flexibility in post-processing than it used to have, and overall the 10-bit D-Cinelike profile is a handy addition.

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