The Parrot Anafi ($699) is a unique drone and the only real competition we have seen to DJI’s compact Mavic Air. The Anafi sports a 4K camera with a full 180-degrees of travel as well as a 21 MP sensor that is capable of 2.8X digital zoom. With these features, the Anafi is a really compelling little consumer drone. Right now you can get the Anafi and two batteries for $700. Does that make the Anafi($699) a better deal than the DJI Mavic Air ($799)?
What is the Parrot Anafi?
The Anafi is a small, incredibly lightweight drone built by the French company Parrot. It is a foldable drone that is quick and easy to set up and get into the air. It is surprisingly quiet and has a plethora of impressive flight modes.
The Anafi has a range of 2.5 miles (4000 m) and a 25 minute flight time that beats the Mavic Air. It has a unique zoom camera on a one-of-a-kind full range gimbal. Let’s take a closer look.
You can pick up an Anafi from Parrot, or get it from Amazon with an additional battery for free.
Anafi Camera and Gimbal
The camera on the Anafi is on par with what you would expect from a $699 drone. It is capable of shooting 4K at 30 fps and can snap 21 MP stills. The Anafi has a bitrate of 100 Mbps like that of the DJI Mavic Air. Overall, the camera is good, but the video I get does look a little grainy compared to the Mavic Air.
The gimbal setup on the Anafi is unlike any other drone I have flown. Like most drones, the gimbal can look straight down, but on the Anafi, you can also look straight up. I’ve used this to create some interesting reverse reveal shots. It also adds perspective flying under bridges or tall trees. There are some practical inspection applications for under structures like bridges that might be interesting to some buyers. The DJI Matrice series is more typically used for applications like this, but that’s a huge drone that will set you back 1000s of dollars.
The unique 180-degree gimbal does have some limitations. The video is 3-axis stabilized, however only pitch and roll are stabilized mechanically. The yaw stabilization is done electronically. This isn’t a new concept, as the DJI Spark ($399) operates this way. Parrot isn’t new to the electronic image stabilization. The Parrot Bebop has some of the best and most sophisticated EIS I have ever tested. They have put that into play with the Anafi. Paired with the 21 MP camera, the stabilization is pretty solid. The only time I have noticed an issue is when I spin (yaw) the drone quickly. However, that kind of shot rarely makes for good video anyway.
What sets the Anafi apart from the Mavic Air is that it is capable of 2.8x zoom. The Anafi was the first compact consumer drone with zoom capability. DJI followed shortly with the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, but with a price tag of $1249, it is substantially more expensive.
The zoom feature on the Anafi works well and is an excellent tool to have in your photography repertoire. While the Anafi does have 21 MP to allow for this zoom, keep in mind that it does have a small sensor, so the video quality does degrade as you zoom in. This is not an issue with the Mavic 2 Zoom, which has optical, not digital, 2X zoom.
While initially, I thought zoom would be gimmicky, I find myself using it a lot. Having zoom allows me to keep a good distance from trees and other obstacles while still getting the shots I want. It is helpful in shooting wildlife, as you can keep the drone at a distance and still zoom in on the shot you want.
Anafi also has an automatic Dolly zoom feature. This was made famous by Alfred Hitchcock and creates what is known as “the vertigo effect.” Unlike the Mavic 2 Zoom, you can use the Dolly Zoom both flying forward or backward. Unfortunately, the Anafi shoots Dolly Zoom as a “selfie” mode, so your subject needs to be nearby in order for it to work. I’ve had some success flying manual dolly shots and it is something that can really add perspective to your videos.
Anafi Flight Modes
The Anafi has a plethora of flight modes. There are various reveals and selfie modes. Paired with the zoom capability, the Anafi does more than most drones. It has waypoints, return to home, orbit and object tracking. You will need to spend some extra cash using the Anafi FreeFlight app if you want access to all of the modes.
While the Anafi does have some free tracking modes the follow me feature is an in-app purchase that currently will cost $0.99, but normally will set you back $14.99 for Android and $19.99 for iOS. It really is something Parrot should have included with the drone for free.
The same applies to their flight planning. If you want to automate your Anafi flight you’ll be shelling out some more cash. Again, right now it is only $0.99 but eventually will set you back $14.99 or $19.99. Personally, I think this is a huge oversight and a large mistake that Parrot is making by not unlocking all of the drone’s capabilities to their customers.
Parrot Anafi vs Mavic Air
The Parrot Anafi is $100 less than the DJI Mavic Air, but does that make it a better buy? Really these two drones are very comparable. Both have a range of 2.5 miles and similar 4K capable cameras. The Anafi is lighter and quieter than the Air. It also has a longer flight time (25 minutes vs 21 minutes). The zoom feature does not exist on the Mavic Air.
|Parrot Anafi||DJI Mavic Air||DJI Mavic Pro|
|Weight||11.3oz / 320 grams||15.2oz / 430 grams||1.62 lbs / 734 grams|
|Dimensions folded:||244x66x63.5mm or 9.6×2.6×2.5in||168×83×49 mm (L×W×H)||H83mm x W83mm x L198mm|
|Dimensions unfolded:||175x239x63.5mm or 6.9×9.4×2.5in||168×184×64 mm (L×W×H)|
|Flight-time||25 minutes||20 minutes||27 minutes|
|Speed||33 mph||17.9 mph / 28.8 kph (Normal mode) 42.5 mph / 68.4 kph (Sport mode)||40 mph (65 kph) in Sport mode without wind|
|Maximum range||2.5 miles with controller||2.5 miles||4.3 miles|
|Satellite Positioning Systems||GPS & GLONASS||GPS & GLONASS||GPS & GLONASS|
|Obstacle avoidance||No||Yes, forward, backward, downward||Yes, forward, downward|
|Internal storage||16GB MicroSD card included, exchangeable||8GB MicroSD card included, and extra slot||MicroSD card slot|
|Transmission system||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n||OcuSync and Wi-Fi|
|Operating frequencies:||Wi-Fi at 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz||Wi-Fi at 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz||Wi-Fi at 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz|
|Camera sensor||Sony 1/2.4″ CMOS 21MP||Sony 1/2.3″ CMOS 12MP||1/2.3” (CMOS), Effective pixels:12.35 M (Total pixels:12.71M)|
|Lens (35mm)||23mm at F/2.4||24mm at F2.8||26mm at F2.2|
|Lossless digital zoom||Yes, 23-69mm photo, 26-78mm video||No||No|
|Shutter speed||Electronic shutter 1 to 1/10000s||Electronic shutter 8 – 1/8000s||Electronic shutter 8s -1/8000 s|
|ISO range||100-3200||100-3200||video: 100-3200 photo: 100-1600|
|Still photos||4:3 Wide: 21MP (5344×4016) 4:3 Rectilinear: 16MP (4608×3456)||4:3: 4056×3040 16:9: 4056×2280||4:3: 4000×3000|
|Photo format||JPEG & DNG (RAW)||JPEG & DNG (RAW)||JPEG & DNG (RAW)|
|Video||4K DCI (17:9) 4096×2160 @ 24fps 4K UHD 3840×2160 @ 24, 25, 30fps FHD 1920×1080 @ 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60fps||4K Ultra HD: 3840×2160 24/25/30p 2.7K: 2720×1530 24/25/30/48/50/60p FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p||C4K: 4096×2160 24p 4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p 2.7K: 2720×1530 24/25/30p FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p|
|Video format||MP4 (H.264)||MP4/MOV (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC）||MP4, MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264)|
|Image stabilization||3-axis hybrid gimbal (2-axis mechanical roll/tilt and 1-axis digital yaw), protected||3-axis gimbal, protected||3-axis gimbal (pitch/tilt, roll, yaw), not-protected|
|Max tilt range||– 90° to +90° (180° total)||-90° to 0° (default setting) -90° to +17° (extended)||Pitch: -90° to +30° Roll: 0° or 90° (Horizontally and vertically)|
|Intelligent Flight Modes|
|Smart Shots||SmartDronies, HyperLapse, Orbit, DollyZoom||Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, Asteroid, and Boomerang||Dronie, Helix, Rocket|
|Sphere Panoramas||No||32MP Sphere Panoramas||No|
|Hand gestures||No||Yes||Yes for Dronie|
|Slow Motion||Yes, FHD @ 60fps||Yes: 2.7K @ 60fps or FHD @ 120fps||Yes: FHD @ 96fps or HD @ 120fps|
|WayPoints||Yes, Flight Plan||Yes, only with third-party app Litchi||Yes, and with third-party app Litchi|
The Mavic Air also has some advantages. It is a bit smaller and has a more compact form factor. It also utilizes a full mechanical three-axis gimbal. The Mavic Air has front and rear obstacle avoidance, while the Anafi has no obstacle avoidance sensors. The Mavic Air is also capable of shooting 4K at 60 fps whereas the Anafi is limited to 4K in 30 fps.
The Anafi is a solid drone but it does have some limitations. The first and most glaring issue is the lack of obstacle avoidance. While I don’t believe that this is a deal-breaker, it is important to note especially when flying automated flight modes. There is an added bit of peace of mind that comes with obstacle avoidance.
Another thing that I don’t like about the Anafi is the controller. The holder does not expand to hold a tablet, and it could have been designed to better accommodate large phones. I don’t like having to remove my phone from its case in order to fly. The zoom and gimbal controls are also not as precise as what we are accustomed to with DJI products.
The controller does have a nice layout and feel, but it is heavy, especially compared to the drone itself. The benefit of this added bulk is that the remote’s battery seems to go forever compared to the smaller remote control batteries of the DJI Mavic and Spark models.
The design of the Anafi isn’t my favorite. Parrot built it to mimic the look of a bug. I’m not sure why an insect was their inspiration, but that is the path they chose. The gimbal-forward design is certainly useful, and it does a decent job of protecting the camera.
Parrot does not supply a charger. Instead, you will need to supply your own. The Anafi charges via an included USB-C cable that connects to any USB charger. If you use a low-power adapter, like one included with most phones, you’ll be waiting up to 3 hours to charge. We recommend you pick up a USB charger that is rated for 2-3 amps of output if you don’t already have one.
The worst design feature on the Anafit is its memory card holder that is buried under the battery. It is difficult to access and fragile. Our friends at Drone Valley have stocked the fragile compartment door, should you lose yours.
Is the Anafi a Keeper?
Parrot is clearly not ready to roll over and hand the consumer market completely over to DJI. The Anafi is an innovative drone that will get some great aerial footage for the hobbyist and weekend warrior.
I love my Anafi, it is a great little drone. The Anafi’s zoom, advanced flight modes, and 180-degree gimbal provide plenty of creative flexibility for pilots of all skill levels. Is it perfect? No. Am I trading mine in? Never.
Score a deal by ordering your Anafi from Amazon and get a second battery for free. Click here to learn more about the DJI Mavic Air.
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