Parrot Anafi first look: This ‘buggy’ foldable drone packs in 4K HDR
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Review Price: £629.99
Compact, folding design
25-minute flight time
Skycontroller 3 remote control
4K / HDR video
21-megapixel still images
GPS + GLONASS positioning
Parrot Anafi: We have a first look at Parrot’s foldable drone
Right now, the drone space is dominated by DJI thanks to its string of strong releases, including the Mavic Pro, Mavic Air and Spark. To tackle this, Parrot has recently relied on delivering value for money, such as with its Bebop 2 Power FPV. Released at the tail-end of last year, it was a decent alternative to the DJI Spark that seriously competed on price by packing in a great all-round drone alongside a raft of bundled accessories.
It’s this formula that Parrot has once again adopted with its exciting new folding drone that looks like it could seriously give the DJI Mavic range a run for its money. On paper it checks all the right boxes including long flight time, a compact portable design and a 4K camera that has some innovations up its sleeve – including a zoom lens and the ability to shoot HDR. Most importantly, the Anafi looks to be great value for money once again.
Parrot Anafi – Price
Parrot has announced that the Anafi will retail for £629 / €699 / $699. Amazon is currently listing a pre-order at that price. This undercuts the DJI Mavic Air’s £769 standalone RRP.
The standard Parrot Anafi kit comes with the drone, Skycontroller 3, carrying case, 16GB microSD card, USB-C cable, eight propeller blades and a propeller mounting tool.
The Parrot Anafi is available to pre-order now and will be available from July 1.
Parrot Anafi – Design and battery life
Drones aren’t traditionally the most exciting things to look at, even if the DJI Mavic Pro came in and shook things up a bit with its foldable design. The Parrot Anafi is the first interesting-looking drone I’ve seen in a long time, which perhaps shouldn’t come as too major a surprise considering this is the same company that delivered the Parrot Disco fixed-wing drone.
Clearly, the Anafi has taken inspiration from the insect world thanks to propellers that attach in such a way that they divide the Anafi into a bug-like design, which Parrot is calling the head, thorax and abdomen, just like your friendly neighbourhood bumblebee (although to my eyes it looks more like a dragonfly).
The propellers fold out in a slightly more intuitive manner compared to the DJI Mavic Pro and Mavic Air, which both have a pair of propellers fold out horizontally and the other set fold out vertically when setting up. Instead, the Anafi’s all just flip out, meaning you can go from its compact state to ready to fly in a few seconds.
Folded up, it’s the size of a bottle. It’s taller but thinner than a Mavic Air. The Anafi fits adorably into a travelling case, which, yes, Parrot is calling its ‘cocoon’. It weighs only 320g so it’s certainly something that you can throw in a bag or pocket, ready for your next impromptu flight.
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While the drone itself is arguably more compact than the Mavic Air, the same can’t be said of the Skycontroller 3 remote that comes with it. Its phone holster folds down, but it’s still quite a chunky controller that will be more difficult to transport. It also lacks the removable thumbsticks of the Mavic Air’s remote controller, which adds to its overall size. At 386g, it also weighs more than the Anafi drone itself.
The controller will, however, instantly connect to the drone once you unfold it, meaning you can be off and flying much quicker. There are also convenient zoom controls available from the shoulder buttons.
Both the drone and controller have a USB-C port for charging, which is most welcome. You’re also able to top up the battery from a range of sources including portable battery packs or your phone’s charger. That’s great news and a convenience not always available on other drones.
Parrot is saying flight time should be around 25 minutes, which compares favourably against the DJI Mavic Air’s rated 21 minutes of flight time.
As an aside for anyone wondering what the name means, it’s apparently an island just off Greece. Keep that in your pocket for the next pub quiz.
Parrot Anafi – Specs and camera
Inside Anafi is both GPS and GLONASS positioning, which it can use for its return to home feature. That should hopefully mean not losing the drone to the wilderness. It lacks the object avoidance of DJI’s drones, which was also the case with the Bebop 2 Power FPV. Adel Mamou, Parrot’s Head of Product Management, feels this isn’t a detriment as there shouldn’t be a reliance on automatic object avoidance when piloting a drone. Having witnessed a few drone crashes in my time even with automatic avoidance, he may have a point, but it’s still a nice feature to have.
The Anafi communicates with the Skycontroller 3 using Wi-Fi and each foot of the drone has dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz antennas. This means the omnidirectional communication system has a range of up to 4km (local regulations permitting) and can maintain a strong connection regardless of orientation. You can toggle between Film and Sports modes depending on the situation, and you can expect a top speed of up to 55km/h and the ability to withstand winds of 50km/h.
Using the FreeFlight 6 companion app you have access to a range of automated modes including the same ‘dronie’ shots I saw on the Bebop 2 Power FPV that create automated dramatic shots. There are also ‘Follow Me’ modes for times when you do want to go hands-off.
Arguably, some of the most exciting aspects of the Anafi relate to its camera. First off, it shoots 4K like the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air. It can shoot at up to 4K Cinema (4096 x 2160 24fps) as well as standard 4K (3840 x 2160 24/25/30fps) with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps. A first for drones is the Anafi’s ability to shoot video in High Dynamic Range as well, although you can’t use HDR in 4K Cinema mode. Still, that should hopefully lead to some seriously impressive footage.
On top of that, the Anafi also includes up to 2.8x lossless zoom when shooting in Full HD (1080p) resolution. If you’re shooting in 4K this drops to 1.4x. You can actually go up to 3x zoom if you don’t mind some image degradation. This lossless zoom is actually possible because of the 21MP sensor (5344 x 4016), which allows for some oversampling and the resizing trickery.
This ‘zoom’ ability also allows for another piece of camera trickery: dolly zoom. Just like your favourite movie scenes, this lets you move the camera while zooming to achieve the dramatic effect of compressing the background while zooming.
The Anafi can also take still images at up to 21 megapixels in wide mode, or 12MP in rectilinear mode in JPEG and DNG-RAW formats.
In order to keep your footage looking smooth, the Anafi has a 3-axis stabilised gimbal. This is actually 2-axis mechanically stabilised with the third achieved digitally. The gimbal allows the lens to tilt vertically by 180 degrees, which allows the Anafi to capture a similar ‘Reveal’ video where the camera smoothly tilts to reveal above the horizon for a dramatic shot.
I’m genuinely excited by the Parrot Anafi. I’ve been worried for a while that DJI was going to continue to dominate the consumer drone space unchallenged, but the Anafi looks like it could come in and seriously shake things up. It brings some seriously impressive specs, an innovative camera and gimbal system, and an eye-catching design. All of this while undercutting the DJI Mavic Air’s price point. This could be a recipe for one impressive drone.