Alright, since I finally got my new website up, let’s go ahead and make this my official stance on the two new drones that came out. I been getting a lot of questions from friends who know I do a lot of drone video and photography. First, newly into the drone market, GoPro has its newly updated GoPro Hero 5 in the Karma drone. Then there’s the drone juggernaut, DJI who released the Mavic Pro.
Let me start off by saying that I haven't personally tested either of these, but I have kept up with the reviews by several trusted bloggers. Check out Casey Neistat if you want a slightly more in depth review of the Karma and the Mavic Pro.
Without further fluff, lets look subject A. The GoPro Karma, with the ability to detach the camera and place it on a handheld, mountable gimbal, seems like an irresistible setup for someone who wants a full system in a small package. Its really incredible how easy it looks. Anyone who wants to have some fun making action videos/photos, this is what you want. In the past and from what I’ve experienced, GoPro’s camera is typically a smidgen ahead of DJI as far as image quality on a small sensor, and now with the reduced distortion, it seems like they are catering to a more professional crowd as well.
So even though the Karma and the Mavic Pro seem like direct competitors, they really two different sports in the same stadium.
For me, the most important thing in photography and filmmaking, is ease of use. In the past, that wasn't the case, and I think a lot of new creatives make the mistake that I made of prioritizing image quality over all. Eventually, everyone comes to the same realization. Story is king. In my day to day, the drone is just one of the tools that I use to tell a story. If I can fit that in a single bag with my other tools, that improves my ability to tell a story more completely. A lot of our big shoots involve so much gear that one extra bag for the P3P isn't really a deal breaker, but for those sunrise hikes it an enormous difference. Its always an internal debate whether to bring a regular camera bag or the drone bag. This is a case of, "The best camera is the one you have on you."
At this point, you can probably see where I'm headed. The DJI Mavic Pro just seems unbelievably more manageable as a drone. Look at this size comparison!
When ready to fly, the Mavic Pro is just slightly smaller than the Karma, but once you fold them up to transport, the difference is immense! It seriously looks like a tiny Autobot. Now check this out. Heres some dude holding it in his hand. Or maybe its a lady, I don't know. Dainty hands, and da finger. It do like dat.
Anyway, I can’t even fit my Canon 70-200 comfortably in my strait fingered hand like that. Chances are, I can take that lens out of my bag and pop the Mavic Pro right in its place with room to spare. The Phantom series needs its own bag for the most part. Yes, the Karma comes with a nice carrying case that can easily fit into any standard backpack, but I would have to chuck more than half my gear to fit it in my camera bag, and there is the divide.
Is that something you have to worry about? Probably not. Trust me, I would love to show up to every shoot with an arsenal of GoPros. They're awesome! I love the ease of use, image quality, the price, and I can store them in the water tank of my toilet if i wanted to. But alas, I can’t do that for obvious reasons. Plus, our clients would probably find it very odd that we use the toilet as storage space.
Fine, lets blabber about image quality a bit. What you get out of these small sensor cameras is incredible these days. Just look at what you can do with an iPhone. Honestly, I could care less if either one is a little better than the other. My current drone is almost 2 years old already and I'm quite happy with the image it puts out. If either of them put out an image on par with my current drone, I wouldn't even consider it a factor.
So its obvious. I'm getting one right? I’m probably not. Neither of them really offer a whole lot more than what I have now. Yes, its tiny. Yes, it does shoots 1080p at 96 fps for 1/4 speed slow motion. I know. But, for now at least, its not enough reason to spend money on a second drone. If the Mavic Pro controller had its own screen like the Karma controller did, it might be a different story. I know. Drone snob. I just like the idea of flying a drone with a Gameboy looking controller with its on screen. Using my phone as a monitor is kind of annoying and adds extra pieces to the puzzle. If only the Karma could fit in the 70-200 spot of my camera bag, it would have been the best of both worlds.
Verdict? If you're a professional in the market for a prosumer drone, you're probably going to want to pick up the Mavic Pro. If you're a professional with a drone, you have to ask yourself if the Mavic really gives you that much more than you already have. Maybe just save up for some new glass. If you're neither of those and your just looking to have some fun, a kick ass waterproof action cam that can fly, Is probably what you want.