DJI RS3 mini review – Small but mighty
I have used the DJI RS3 on a few shoots. It is, by far, the most convenient, feature-rich, and intuitive gimbal I’ve ever used. So when DJI announced that they are coming out with a small, more budget-friendly ($359.00) version, I got excited. The DJI RS3 mini gimbal is, as expected, not a robust tool like its big brothers, but I found it to be useful in quite a bit of situations.
I am going to share my impressions below and would love to hear if you will opt for the DJI RS3 mini, or the DJI RS3 when you get a gimbal.
DJI RS3 mini – Presentation
Usually, DJI has two packages for their gear: a standard package that is pretty minimal and a more “spoiled” package if you want to add a few extra bucks. The Ronin RS3 has the RS3 combo, the Mavic has the fly more or the cine combo, and so on. For the RS3 mini, DJI only has two options: a very spartan DJI RS 3 Mini for $359, or a Creator package with a microphone for $310 more. With both options, you get a pretty basic package:
- A DJI RS3 gimbal
- A small baseplate
- a small tripod extender
- a couple of USB-c cables
- and some screws
Sadly, there is no option with a case for the RS3. Then again, if you are going for the budget option, maybe you prefer to save a few bucks instead of getting a case. Mine stores almost perfectly in an F-stop cube.
As the name suggests, the DJI RS 3 mini is… well…. smaller. This obviously affects the power of the motors, and the cameras it can handle, but even before testing the capacity, you will find that the mini is a perfect gimbal id you have smaller hands. For my hands (I would stay medium-largish), the handle and extender were a bit too short. Nothing that interrupts with the operation of the gimbal, but I would have appreciated a centimeter or two more to hold on to.
DJI RS3 mini – weight vs. capacity
On the flip side, the RS3 mini only weighs 795g vs. the 1.3kg of the RS3. This is about half a kilo that your back will learn to appreciate very fast, especially if you are coupling the gimbal with a smaller mirrorless camera.
After using both the DJI RS3 and the DJI RS3 mini with an FX3 and an A7III, I really wish that all gimbals were under 800 grams.
I had no issues using either of those cameras on the gimbal. Both the squarish FX3 and the more traditional A7III balanced well with a variety of lenses. My only caveat is that I needed to take the cage off the FX3 to balance it well. I did not try any behemoth lens, and I would be hesitant to do so as the gimbal is only rated for 2 kg.
To conclude this part, I would say that you have a choice here: wide lenses on bigger cameras, or tele-lenses on smaller cameras. With wide gimbal shots lacing that cinematic feeling, I would recommend the latter.
There is a lot to uncover here in terms of usability, but if you are asking about the prime function, does it stabilize a camera? The answer is yes, and it does so very well. As long as you don’t push the gimbal too much, it works great. But since most gimbals today do a great job at this core function, the question is, what else does the RS3 mini gives aside from stabilization? Read on…
Balancing the DJI RS3
I found the RS 3 a bit harder to balance than other gimbals. Maybe it’s because of its lower self-weight. Or maybe not, It was taking a bit more time than other gimbals. Just like other modern gimbals, the mini has three locks that you can use to lock the axis while balancing, or just for transport. (No auto-lock like in the RS3, though)
It also has five levers for balancing your camera: one for each one of the axis: pan, roll, and til, plus a lock to shift the camera left and right, and one to move the camera up and down. The DJI app has a very good tutorial on how to handle all the levels and locks to balance the gimbal. Actually, it’s four videos totaling five minutes. If you are starting out, make sure to watch them on the app.
Once you think you have the DJI RS3 mini balanced, you can do one of three things:
- Be a BOSS and start shooting
- Use the app of the LCD to perform a balance test
- Use auto-tune to refine the balance. (expect some noise and shakes).
I love the balance test because it lets you know if you need to calibrate the gimbal further, or if aced it like a pro. One thing is missing from the app, (DJI, are you listening?). The app tells you which axis is uncalibrated but it does not tell you which actions you need to perform to calibrate it. I wish the app would say something like: “Move the base plate about 3mm to the right“. Or even “Move the base plate to the right“. This would save so much time balancing. On the other hand, being able to quickly balance a gimbal is still what separates the pros from the rest ;). Maybe this is why no other brands has this feature as well.
The last balancing function that the gimbal has is Balance Horizon. I did not need ot use this function yet, but its good to know that DJI made this feature accessible in case the gimbal skews the horizon.
Can the DJI RS3 mini shoot vertically?
Well, yes and no. Unlike its bigger brothers, the DJI RS3 mini can not rotate full way on the roll axis to get to a full vertical position. If you want to shoot stories, you’ll have to put in the time.
The way that it works is quite cumbersome, and unless you know you are going to be in that mode for a while, It is not worth the effort. You would need to go through the following steps:
- Remove the camera, base mount and baseplate
- Remove the bar that supports the camera
- Insert the base mount into the side arm (where the bar used to be)
- Slide the camera
Now, for going back to “standard” horizontal shooting, you need to do everything in reverse. So… One the one hand, KUDOS to DJI for figuring our how to support vertical mode on a gimbal as small as the DJI RS 3 mini. On the other hand, this is not a fun ritual to go through, and if you often shoot vertically, I would recommend getting another gimbal.
Connectivity and ports
There are two physical ports on the DJI RS3 Mini: a 1/4-20 thread on the bottom to connect to the extender/tripod, and a nato rail that can take accessories. One could be a Briefcase Handle (similar to the RS3), and another can be a phone bracket. If you’ve used a DJI gimbal before, you will be familiar with both.
To charge the RS 3 mini, there is a small port on the side of the handle. As appropriate in 2023, it is a USB-C port and needs a “standard” five-volt, two-amp phone charger. You probably have millions of those lying around the house.
The more interesting port is the RSS port. This port is located near the tilt motor and connects to a camera. Once you connect this cable to the camera, you gain all kinds of power-ups. The funniest of them all is the mobile force mode where you can use your phone to control the movement of the gimbal. But depending on the configuration that you use (USBC/Siny multi), you may also gain the ability to pull focus and control aperture, shutter and ISO via the front roller.
You can use the RS mini 3 Bluetooth function in two ways: connect to your camera and connect to a phone. Connecting to a compatible camera will let you start and stop the camera, refocus, and “click” the shutter. I had great results connecting the camera to my Vivo phone. It also connected pretty well to the Sony FX3.
The Sony A7III was a different story. First, I needed to update the Sony’s firmware from 3.0 to 4.01. But even after the update, I could not connect. No matter how many restarts and reboots. The gimbal “saw” the camera, but not the other way around. It was only after a night’s rest that the two agreed to talk.
DJI RS3 Mini Control and function
The RS3 mini comes with two control functions: onboard buttons, rollers and sticks, and an app. I guess for most videographers, the onboard controls matter more, so let me start with those.
DJI did a fantastic job here. The hack has the usual stick, a mode button, and a red button to control the camera.
Most configurations and settings can be controlled from the touch screen or the app which is super convenient. Another thing I liked here, is that DJI moved away from the PF/PTF/FPV convention into Mode 1/2/3 setting. You can still select between those three follow modes, but it gets better. You can select between three modes, and each mode can have its own complete array of settings. For example, M1 can be a slow-responding PF, while M2 can be a super-aggressive FTP.
This feature is not new to the DJI RS3 mini, but I thought it’s worth mentioning as it makes life so much easier.
On the front, you have your usual index-inger-roller and trigger. You can assign a function to the roller, like tilt, or with the right cable, shutter, iso, focus, and other camera controls. The trigger controls lock, re-center, and selfie modes.
DJI also has a great app that connects to the gimbal with Bluetooth. Sadly, I could not find it on the google store and had to download the APK from DJI directly. If you can get over the security concerns, you will be rewarded with a wonderful app.
Connecting to the gimbal was very fast. Everything you can do from the onboard controls, you can do from the app. (and you can also see some stats and update the firmware). All in a very intuitive way. I guess it would come in handy if the gimbal is located far on a mount or hanging outside a car.
One mode that I talked about before is the mobile force mode. In this mode, the gimbal mimics the movement of the phone, which provides another way of controlling the gimbal.
I’m impressed. The DJI RS3 mini shares a lot of features and convenience with its bigger brothers, the RS3 and RS3 pro, only in a smaller form factor, lighter weight, and lower budget. My only real caveat with it is the lack of convenient vertical mode. If you are looking for a good vlogging gimbal or an entry gimbal for a mirrorless camera, for $359.00, it’s a great addition to your toolkit.
We were sent the DSI RS3 mini by vlogsfan.com for this review, though vlogsfun was not involved or had any say in creating the review.
Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.