To be 100% honest, I had slightly mixed feelings about this test. There’s no question that the 21-megapixel Anafi camera drone is a well-engineered aircraft with much to offer, but by instinct I not “Mr FPV.” Donning “First Person View” goggles was, I thought, the preserve of the clique of talented pilots who race quadcopters at over 100mph. I hadn’t yet made the connection with photography, video-making, or just plain fun.
The Parrot Anafi was originally launched – without the FPV option – in 2018, pushing the DJI Mavic Air into a distinct second place in many respects with class-leading 25-minutes flight time and the unique ability to tilt its camera all the way up as well as down, and a cunning lossless zoom taking advantage of its 21-megapixels. The drone is light, while its controller somewhat chunky. Since its original launch a Thermal version has been added, as well as an “Extended Package” with three batteries and a bigger case. Now this Anafi FPV version gives you a kit version with controller and goggles…
Parrot Anafi FPV: features and handling
By choosing to co-opt your phone as the Cockpitglass 3’s display, Parrot keep costs down but the trade off is access to controls. Parrot address this with two sprung buttons, one which calls up a menu which is then operated using the joysticks (the Anafi will politely hovers in place). Once you’ve made your adjustment hitting the same button reverts to FPV view and the joystick returns to flight control mode. The other button invokes your phone’s camera, so you never need to push the goggles up to quickly ground yourself.
Each button is one end of a sprung lever which taps a spot on the phone’s screen. That neatly sidesteps a fiddly sync process, and eliminates any battery weight on the head. The only other adjustments are via velcro on the three straps and width adjustment for the optics (no focus control).
Complementing the Cockpitgoggles is a chic new backpack. Each of Parrot’s Anafi kits has such a nice case or bag that it’s hard not to see potential accessory vendors feeling unwanted. This might be the best of the bunch; with Anafi’s signature grey textured fabric. It’s compact and, when it’s belt is worn, it can be rotated to serve as a front-pack (a little like a paranoid tourist might), then opened ninety degrees like a shelf. This and the Hand Launch feature mean you can be in the air without even bending down!
The same Skycontroller 3 remote offers more functionality for photographers thanks to the latest update to FreeFlight 6. Following photographer’s requests, it’s now possible to utilise one of the shoulder levers as EV or Shutter Speed adjustment. Since the Anafi’s launch the app has acquired plenty more features too – manual control of all the key exposure functions, and white balance, as well as a histogram and “zebra” blown highlights overlay. These can even be found via the Cockpitglasses menu.
Parrot Anafi FPV: Specifications
Camera sensor: 1/2.4-inch 21-megapixel
Effecive focal length of lens: 23mm (26mm for video)
Shutter: Electronic (1 to 10,000 sec)
Video resolutions: 4K Cinema (4,096×2,160) or 4K UHD (3,840×2,160) at 24/25/30fps, or 1080P at 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
Still image max resolution: 4608 × 3456 (or 5,344 x 4,016 with fish-eye distortion)
Take-off weight: 320g
Max Range: 4km / 2.5mi
Size (folded): 168 x 83 x 49mm
System: Dual Wi-Fi (realistic range 1.1km)
Buttons: 2x sticks, 2x analog triggers, 2x shoulder buttons, Take off button, return to home button
Also included: Anafi FPV Backpack, USB-C cable, Spare props, 16Gb MicroSD Card
Anafi Cockpitgoggles 3: Build & Performance
Popping the goggles from their compact storage position is as easy as pulling the moulded rubber and the effect is satisfying. Perhaps it isn’t as sturdy as the DJI Goggles, but with a built-in screen and battery they cost considerably more.
Getting up and running is a simple matter of choosing FPV in the updated FreeFlight 6 then clipping in the phone (you do need to take care to line up the centre of the screen). The communication cable will still dangle between phone and Skycontroller 3 (the remote), but of course you won’t see it!
My iPhone XS Max seemed to offer perfect video (in or out of its case). The actual video preview, as with most drones, is 720p meaning high PPI screens will only improve the menu & icons. My only real complaint was that the weight of my phone seemed to rest on the bridge of my nose where the goggles are nearly devoid of padding.
Anafi Cockpitgoggles 3: In flight
The drone’s range is not affected, though pointing the controller in the optimal direction is somewhat harder – Parrot’s on-screen guidance helps but it’s best to set a short Geofence (as Parrot do by default).
Tweaking the settings is immediately natural; the battery does deplete while the Anafi hovers while you tweak, but that is true without FPV mode. The advantage is that in shielding of the goggles you get a much better impression of the true effect of your manual settings compared to a phone screen in the sun.
Whether you’re just flying for fun, or getting low/tight action footage, the new Dynamic Horizon effect in Arcade mode very quickly makes you feel like you’re blasting through the landscape like a miniature Luke Skywalker. The (easily hidden) on-screen graphics have a hint of targeting scope too – will it be able to hit that exhaust port?!
Parrot Anafi FPV : Sample videos
Anafi FPV sample video: Making a tight turn round a tree
Anafi FPV sample video: gimbal control
Parrot Anafi FPV : Verdict
The addition of FPV might seem a novelty at first – but because of the economical implementation it is one anyone considering an Anafi can afford to sample, and would be a shame to miss. The new Arcade control mode – especially when combined with the swooping ‘Cinematic’ and ‘Racing’ presets – make flying an altogether different experience, which makes it a lot easier to get close to the landscape and fill the 16Gb MicroSD card with some very dramatic 4K video.
The goggles are not without their flaws – extended use would be uncomfortable – and while the case is excellent it’d be nice to have the option to buy the goggles separately .