DJI Mavic Pro Vs GoPro Karma drone | Which drone to buy.

Let me start this post by saying I am a big fan of both companies and have no allegiance or bias towards one or the other. I also keep a keen eye on both companies and watched both keynotes for the products.

Some of the specs may not have been released at the time of this post, so please don’t give me too hard a time if the facts are not all there right away.

Both drones are aimed at beginner to intermediate drone users with a big focus on capturing video. Both are capable of shooting 4k video at 30fps and 12MP stills, be that through GoPro’s Hero4 Black, Hero5, Session5 or the fixed DJI camera.

The GoPro press event for the Karma and GoPro 5 series was good, over the top as usual, but showed some really nice tech. The Karma is GoPro’s first drone and amongst the first fold down ‘portable’ drones that offer the GoPro mount and the only one with the added bonus of being able to use the latest Hero5 and Session5 cameras. The latest hardware and software upgrades to the latest GoPro cameras obviously complement the drones ability to shoot great video.

The one feature I think that everyone felt was missing was some kind of auto follow or tracking feature. We have been teased with these features from the AirDog and Staaker drones. Its something that is super appealing, just being able to launch the drone and let it do the shooting hands free.

The trouble is that GoPro have said ’the technology for auto follow is not quite there’. Then a week later DJI quite boldly tested that exact tech in their live launch event of the Mavic, that takes some faith in the technology to do. The product and brands integrity was in that drones hands during that demonstration. Another blow to GoPro was that you could order it online that day for pre-order, as opposed to GoPros ‘register interest’ strategy.

DJI are also putting the technology out in the hands of customers at selected Apple stores for a limited time. They already parnter to sell products through the Apple stores which is a killer marketing play to get seasonal sales. Another plus for DJI is that they are also offering ‘DJI Care Refresh’, a replacement service that allows you to receive two spare parts with express delivery. This is designed to get your drone back up in the air as soon as possible after a bad days flying. This is a service that is currently not in place for GoPro but coming soon,

 

But this is new territory for GoPro, so while DJI’s tech and marketing is polished and well executed, all they can do is learn for the next iterations. They do have a nice advantage in that they sell the worlds best selling action camera, meaning that they can control all the new shapes of the camera and mount accessories etc. This also means that they have an existing audience that are already invested in their tech and can upsell them the drone. DJI of course also have a huge market, but nothing really to upsell the drone to people. It is more an exercise in gaining new customers by making drones more accessible to the mainstream.
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Pricing
– £799 ($799) excluding remote
– $999 with remote
– $1299 with extra batteries / props / car charger
Pros
– Tiny form factor
– Obstacle Avoidance
– Better flying distance (with additional remote 4.3miles)
– Parts are cheaper
– Camera is more protected
– Gesture control features
– Subject tracking features
– Better battery life (27 minutes vs 20 minutes)
– Faster top speed of 40mph
– GPS and Glonass (Glonass is more dependable in conditions where GPS will fail)
Cons
– Cannot shoot free hand with the camera but the new auto follow features may overcome this
– It doesn’t come with the controller bundled in as standard and you really want a tactile controller, especially for the racing mode
– It doesn’t have a case or pack to store it all for travel
– FPV screen relies on having a charged phone
GoPro Karma Drone
Pricing
– £719 ($799) for whole bundle excluding camera
– Camera bundles are $999 with Session5 and $1099 with the Hero5 (UK pricing TBA)
Pros
– Removable camera
– Removable gimbal to use as handheld stabiliser
– FPV screen built in to the controller
– Voice controlled camera
– Could be bought in bits if required (camera / gimbal / drone)
– Better price point if you own the Hero4 Black or 5 cameras already
– Bundle includes a carrying bag
– Supports 4 cameras (Hero 4 Black and Silver / Session and Hero 5)
– Very good conversion rate from dollars to pounds
Cons
– With the drone, controller and extras it is pretty bulky
– The official accessories look to be very expensive

I think from a more all-round fun perspective the Mavic just pips the GoPro Karma drone to the post with its ‘sport mode’ and higher speed of 40mph. That feature kind of takes the drone beyond a filming a tool, although be aware it does disable the obstacle avoidance to get the extra speed. So you need to be on your toes.

From a video perspective I know there are issues with the ‘fisheye’ effect of the GoPro. But we are yet to see the new features in the Hero and Session5 to smooth this out. Neither cameras are in the hands of users currently, but the promise of better video stablisation from GoPro make for an exciting prospect. DJI’s cameras are also already well established and offer excellent video, so both will be excellent products no doubt. Especially with the gesture control and voice control features offered from each one respectively.

It will be interesting to see how both of these products progress. Adopting the drones this early you are taking a small gamble, but I don’t think you can go too far wrong with either of them. Both companies will be working hard to make sure that customers of these drones are happy. It is really a way to keep those customers and sell them accessories and upgrades in the future.

While the DJI Mavic Pro has clearly trumped GoPro’s Karma in many areas, you can’t take these products too much at face value. This is GoPro’s first foray into the drone market and they can improve some of the features of the Karma through software updates alone. I also notice that the ‘core’ or drone unit can be bought separately, which leads me to believe we will be seeing upgraded versions in time to come.

I think it is unfair to say they are incomparable as they are both clearly looking to take a share of the same market. But they do have a whole different set of features and specs, so you really just have to figure out what is right for you.

Both drones nicely compliment the companies current product ranges and will clearly sell in high volumes. In terms of which one to buy, I think it is really about which company you want to buy in to, as much as the drone. If you love the GoPro camera series then the Karma is a no-brainer because it comes as a neat all-in-one package on top of the camera you already own. You also have the additional flexibility of the handheld shooting with the detachable gimbal. On the other hand, if you are starting from nothing and want to to get in to drones as much as arial shooting then the Mavic Pro could be the right choice for you. The sports mode opens it up to be a fun hobby as well as a seriously well spec’d piece of shooting equipment.

You can see more about DJI’s Mavic Pro here and GoPro’s Karma hereThe Mavic Pro is available for order now and starts shipping mid October on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. GoPro’s Karma is set for release on the 23rd of October.

There will be tons more articles and video about these two drones for a long time to come. If you enjoyed this post then check out my Youtube channel for more GoPro and drone videos. Also feel free to let me know if any of the information has changed or your views on them.

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