DJI RS 3 Mini review

Can the Ronin stabilizers shrink to suit mirrorless cameras and keep delivering the goods?

DJI RS 3 Mini review
(Image: © Adam Juniper/Digital.Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The compact hand-held stabilizer shares much of the pro appeal of its bigger brothers with a welcome reduction in price and size. Expansion options are impressive, the features comprehensive, and the app adds all kinds of possibilities for cunning creatives. Something about the texture makes balancing a little tricky, but once done there are no complaints.

Pros

  • +

    2.2kg payload allows for pro lenses

  • +

    Touchscreen controls

  • +

    Physical mode switch

  • +

    Bluetooth camera control link

  • +

    Cog-wheel control is slick

Cons

  • -

    Balancing not helped by material texture

  • -

    Vertical mode leaves a spare piece to store

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Gimbals have established themselves as a necessary part of any videographer’s kit bag, with most now asking “Which one suits me?” rather than if they need one at all.  DJI has a long-established pro line of Ronin gimbals, some of the best DSLR gimbals around - plus a smaller set stabilizers in, Osmo, offering smartphone gimbal (opens in new tab) solutions. So DJI has always had a few answers. Atop that, of course, their drones sport gimbals too, but that’s another story.

While plenty of operators uses Ronin gimbals for mirrorless cameras, the RS 3 Mini builds on the smaller camera’s advantage, plugging a gap between its bigger brothers and the Osmo. That means it is smaller and lighter, improving portability. It also uses Bluetooth or wired control to operate the camera (like its siblings). That leaves us with a couple of different questions: “Is this enough to serve the needs of experienced stabilizer users?” and “Will first-time gimbal users want and like the RS 3 Mini?”

DJI RS 3 Mini specifications

The device can be connected to the camera via Bluetooth or cable. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital.Camera World)

Weight: 795g (1.75 lbs) vertical or 850g (1.8 lbs) horizontal

Folded size: 323 x 195 x 98 mm

Payload: 2kg (4.4lbs)

Tilt axis: -10˚ to 210˚

Roll axis: - 95˚ to +240˚

Pan axis: 360˚ (indefinite)

Battery life: 10hrs (2.5h charge)

Build and handling

The RS 3 Mini feels like a premium product, and a professional one at that. Regrettably setting up any gimbal starts with the tiresome process of ‘balancing.’ DJI provides a QuickStart guide and, thankfully, a friendlier 10-minute video. There are four metal clamps which need releasing, sliding into the ideal spot for your camera & lens combination, then locking. Helpfully there are also physical locks to help manage the axes so you can adjust them in sequence and, in time, it’ll become familiar, and the screen provides guidance. The ruler markings are handy, but positioning is tricky – movement of the painted metal when unlocked could be smoother (as it is on the coated carbon fibre RS 3 Pro).

DJI RS 3 Mini review

The RS 3 Mini in Portrait mode and the removed plate next to it. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital.Camera World)

There are two USB-C ports on the body, one near the screen for charging and a second on the tilt axis for USB control connections if needed – the Bluetooth may be enough. DJI include a short lead with an angled jack at one end which is handy.

Switching to vertical mode involves removing the camera’s quick release plate, then sliding off the camera base support. There are mounting points for the quick release plate on the arm (but you’ll need to find somewhere to hold the base-plate).

Once set up, the RS 3 Mini can be held in one hand and operated from below or (in the 360˚ mode) behind. The grip is very similar to the RS 3 save for the loss of the mode slider switch. There is a press-button ‘M’ mode switch though, or the touchscreen.

 

Performance

360˚ mode offers cool rotating shots. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital.Camera World)

First things first, the Ronin’s algorithm does a stand-out job. After balancing comes automatic calibration, which is a good feature. Gimbal operation is a skill in its own right (and worth practicing) but getting a shot with this device is relative simplicity. Making Bluetooth connections and selecting modes is simple, and the extensive options are easily navigated so anyone can work through their shot-list fast.

In 360˚ mode the lens tilts to be in line with the handle, and things are tougher on the motors. In fact it was only at this point that we found our first attempt at balancing hadn’t been up to the job – the motors are powerful enough to overcome some issues in most modes (good news if you tweak focus or zoom) but 360˚ is held like a flashlight and requires what is normally the pan motor to work very hard. We tested with a Sony A7iii and FE 28-70mm, so not the heaviest.

DJI RS 3 Mini review

The app can follow waypoints, offers a virtual joystick, and can be set up to shoot stills for a panorama. It can even act as a go-between with Playstation controller. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital.Camera World)

We loved the extra possibilities brought by the Ronin app. These let you control the gimbal from an extensive phone app (and goes hand-in-hand with the supplied tripod base). Connection was simple and camera controls can now reach as far as the phone. You can even control with a game controller if you choose.

A few clips shot with the DJI RS 3 Mini 

A little tip

Update your camera firmware! An example: While the Sony A7 III (opens in new tab)had Bluetooth, it did not support Bluetooth remote control at launch. If we’d tested with the original firmware it wouldn’t have worked. DJI does also include a USB-C to USB-C control cable (the only way said the camera would offer focus control via the RS 3 Mini’s wheel). It’s well worth checking DJI’s list to see what connections do what.

Shooting in 360˚ mode is like using a flashlight. We found we didn’t want to take off the fold-out tripod base; it has little impact on the overall weight. (Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital.Camera World)

DJI RS 3 Mini: Verdict

(Image credit: DJI)

Gimbal-shot video is much more in evidence these days, and making it possible without adding too much weight or size is a great achievement. We can see real appeal for most professionals – an ideal second camera choice for weddings, for example.

It is impressive that much of the feature set of its bigger brothers is transferred, though if you’ve balanced the RS 3 you’ll definitely miss the knob for refining the tilt-axis. There are not automatic power locks either, but those are less essential. There is still the option of a briefcase handle thanks to the NATO expansion port.

If this is your first (or you’re coming up from the Osmo Mobile 6 or DJI Mini 3 (opens in new tab) drone), then you need to brace for a slower process (switching from portrait to vertical is definitely not as easy as pressing a button). Getting used to all the options might take a while, too, but they’re easily reset and the menu is intuitive (more so than many mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)!)

Ultimately this is a good tool at a very appealing price, and if only the balancing process could be a little more precise it’d earn that 5th star.

You might also like the best camera settings for video (opens in new tab), the best video cameras (opens in new tab) and the best hybrid camera (opens in new tab).

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Adam Waring
Editor

Adam has been the editor of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab) for almost 12 years, and as such is one of Digital Camera World's leading experts when it comes to all things Nikon-related. 


Whether it’s reviews and hands-on tests of the latest Nikon cameras and lenses, sharing his skills using filters, tripods, lighting, L brackets and other photography equipment, or trading tips and techniques on shooting landscapes, wildlife and almost any genre of photography, Adam is always on hand to provide his insights. 


Prior to his tenure on N-Photo, Adam was also a veteran of publications such as PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab), so his wealth of photographic knowledge isn’t solely limited to the Big N.