Drones have been more digital dream than shutterbug reality for two reasons: their cost and their challenging controls. The Parrot Anafi seeks to address both issues with a (relatively) inexpensive package that anyone can fly.
The Anafi is small, collapsing into a supplied case that’s smaller than a loaf of bread, and it costs just $700. That’s about $100 less than the nearest competitor, the DJI Mavic Air, which has less flying time and is louder than the Anafi but includes object avoidance sensing.
The Parrot Anafi is essentially a flying 4K HDR video camera, great for taking some shots at the family picnic or your next idyllic vacation spot. It fits in a briefcase or backpack, has automated video modes, and can fly for about 25 minutes on a single charge. The Anafi has a 2.5-mile range and is quieter than other drones, topping out at about 75 dB (nevertheless, I chose not to fly it near horses on one occasion).
An included remote control connects to your smartphone so you can use the app and screen to monitor the drone. Two joysticks on the controller are used to maneuver the Parrot Anafi, with flippers under the front of the controller to operate the camera’s 2.8 X optical zoom and swiveling gimbal system that allows you to shoot up and down within 180 degrees.
There are several automated modes for flying the Parrot Anafi drone, and it shoots and records video automatically (so you don’t end up flying it around only to discover later that you didn’t record anything). You simply tap a button in the drone’s smartphone app to get airborne. Then you can fly it straight up and push another button to, say, take a 360-degree video of the area or an aerial selfie or even shoot in slow motion.
There are also a couple of cinematic effects, like dolly back/zoom to create that scary monster sensation. You can also set the drone to follow you (handy if you’re biking or wandering through a scenic area), track an object, or even fly a route you trace on a supplied on-screen map. For the last maneuver, you should note that the drone will not follow elevations automatically or sense objects in front of it, so be careful where you tell it to go.
For all its simplicity, flying the Parrot Anafi – or any drone for that matter – takes practice. I’ve tested a half dozen models and still had a couple of minor crashes with the Parrot Anafi, usually caused when I watched the video feed on the smartphone/controller rather than watching the drone itself.
If you shoot any video – vacations, family picnics, etc. – then you’ll find the Parrot Anafi is an excellent complement to your auteur efforts. It’s as straightforward as they come, delivering excellent quality video, so you won’t be disappointed later that you didn’t invest in something better. And the aerial work will definitely add some zip to your videos. Available on Amazon.
An example of a video we shot using the Parrot Anafi – reviewing a 2019 Honda Pilot: