Does your portable drone record video in HDR?
The popular drone maker Parrot has just announced the fruits of two years of design work: ANAFI, a drone capable of recording HDR 4K video (21 MP stills) that fits in your jacket pocket. The company focused its efforts on four main areas: Image quality, flight performance, foldability of the drone, and ease of use of the software.
Though No Film School hasn't had the opportunity to do a hands-on test with ANAFI, the specs and features do seem like they could be enticing for anyone who is currently shooting with a DJI Mavic (or similar category drone), so let's take a look at what those are.
ANAFI's claim to image-quality fame is that it is the only 4K drone to shoot HDR video. The secret to Parrot's HDR claim lies in the on-board Ambarella video processor capable of capturing video in 10bit color space which is supposed to make shooting in high-contrast lighting situations easier to handle. Why? Because the camera records more color and brightness information (64 times more) than a camera with an 8-bit processor.
Another differentiator is that the ANAFI can shoot in DCI 4K (4096 x 2160). Not all consumer "4K" cameras are able to shoot in that format and the ANAFI packs more pixels into the width of your footage and render it in the 17:9 aspect ratio (slightly wider than 1080p and UHD 4K footage which is 16:9).
ANAFI can shoot in the following resolutions, framerates, and aspect ratios:
17:9 Aspect Ratio
- DCI (cinema) 4k (4096 x 2160) @ 24fps
16:9 Aspect Ratio
- UHD 4k (3840 x 2160) 24, 25, 30 fps
- HD (1920 x 1080) 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 fps
Lossless Digital Zoom
In addition to ANAFI's HDR recording capability, the drone also features a lossless zoom functionality which allows filmmakers to digitally zoom in on their image with no apparent degradation in image quality. The 21MP image sensor is the key to this.
The sensor is capturing 5344x4016 pixels at all times which means that the sensor is "seeing" 1.4 times more information than is being recorded. Filmmakers can zoom in up to 1.4x (on DCI 4K footage) and up to 2.8x (on HD footage) without any apparent loss in image quality.
To take things a step further, ANAFI also has a built-in Dolly Zoom effect that allows filmmakers to zoom in/out on a subject while moving physically closer/further away. This creates a distinct cinematic look made famous by Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick, to name but a few famous auteurs.
Thanks to its smart LiPo battery, ANAFI can remain airborne for up to 25 minutes. This is impressive for a drone of this size (more on size later). The battery is constantly self-monitoring and relays critical information to the operator via the app regarding voltage, battery health, and expected remaining flight time. If the battery senses that its levels are dangerously low, it will attempt to return to its take-off point and land.
ANAFI has had its motors and propellers specially designed to make it the quietest drone in its class (quieter than Mavic Pro).
Equipped with 4 omnidirectional WiFi antennae (2.4GHz & 5GHz) in the feet, ANAFI is designed to maintain optimal signal connection to the remote no matter which direction ANAFI is flying in. The system continuously monitors and evaluates signal quality across the spectrum and automatically switches to the best available communication channel. In optimal settings, ANAFI has a controllable range of up to 4km.
Manual Control Modes
Sometimes you need to fly fast, and sometimes you need to fly slowly. ANAFI has been designed with two manual control modes: Film and Sport. Flying in Sport mode opens up the max flight speed to 33mph (55km/h). Film mode provides for the fine-tuning of things like the drone's inclination, rotational speed, camera tilt speed, and more.
Portability was a key factor in ANAFI's design and Parrot got a lot of its inspiration for ANAFI by looking at insects. The drone is divided into three main areas (much like insects are): the head (camera & gimbal), the thorax (electronics & mechanics) and the abdomen (the battery). This design lead to ANAFI being very portable, balanced, and lightweight, making ANAFI more durable.
Best of all, the arms only take 3 seconds to fold in for transport. Speaking of transporting ANAFI, the USB C connector makes it possible to charge ANAFI on the go using phone or PC chargers. You can charge ANAFI in the car, plugged into a laptop, or using a portable power bank.
ANAFI is constructed from super lightweight carbon fiber (filled with hollow glass microbeads) leading to it weighing a mere 320g. In fact, ANAFI is the lightest drone in its category.
Ease of Use
Freefly 6 is the name of the app used to control ANAFI and it offers a modern and, according to the company. intuitive interface. All of the main features can be found on the homepage, making it easy for novice and experienced operators to find the tools they need quickly. Autonomous flight modes make it easy for operators to quickly setup and execute shots, a huge time-saver that allows you to be more creative on-the-go.
Based on what we've learned so far about ANAFI, we'd love to get our hands on one and take it for a test flight. ANAFI seems like it would be a very attractive option for anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive, ultra-portable drone. For people who have been reluctant to use small drones for production due to the limitations of small sensors, technology keeps evolving and arriving in smaller and smaller packages. ai6 would be really interesting to see how the HDR stacks up to other drones and cameras in and out of its class.
Price & Availability
ANAFI can be pre-ordered today and will be available in stores as of July 2018. Price is $699 and will be available on Parrot.com, Amazon, and in select retailers.
- 21MP Image Sensor
- Ambarella Image Processor
- Still Image Recording in JPEG/DNG
- DCI 4k (4096 x 2160) @ 24fps
- UHD 4k (3840 x 2160) @ 24, 25, or 30fps
- 1080p (1920 x 1080) @ 24, 25, 30, 48, 50 or 60fps
- Lossless Zoom (1.4x in 4k, 2.8x in HD)
- Intelligent LiPo Battery
- Up to 25 Minutes Flight Time
- USB C Charging
- Parrot Skycontroller 3 Hardware Remote
- Dedicated FreeFlight 6 App