The last few months have been very exciting in the quadcopter market as industry heavyweights have each introduced new product lines offering professional-grade features for a fraction of the cost associated with these same features a mere six months ago.
Enhanced GPS functionality, improved firmware, and better cameras are just a few of the improvements pilots can expect from the latest generation of flying cameras.
Parrot and DJI are two of the most well-known companies in the consumer-grade quadcopter industry and both companies continue to offer new products designed to meet the increasing demands of consumers and professionals using drones to create stunning aerial video and photographs.
While DJI’s product line tends to focus more on high-end consumer drones and some professional-grade equipment, Parrot models cater more to hobby-level enthusiasts by offering affordable quadcopters that will meet the needs of most entry-level drone pilots.
In both product lines, however, there are drones designed to meet the needs of most enthusiasts – whether you are just starting out in the exciting world of aerial drones or you’re a seasoned professional who enjoys having the latest tech innovations in this field at your fingertips.
But should you choose a DJI product or a Parrot product for your next drone? Well…it depends on what you plan to do with the drone, which features are important to you, and how much you are willing to pay for the technology
In this article, you will learn about the product offerings from both companies so that you can make an informed decision when picking out your next drone.
In the drone marketplace, there exists a thin line between toy quadcopters and enthusiast-level equipment.
In other words, consumers end up with a cheaply-made, yet inexpensive, toy that is difficult to fly or an expensive device designed for hobbyists that requires a lot of room and additional safety precautions to fly.
Parrot has always been good at walking right along that line by offering competitively priced products that will meet the needs of hobbyists and semi-professional enthusiasts alike.
The Parrot Bebop, for instance, represents Parrot’s latest offering and is affordable, yet feature-packed, despite being in the same price range as many of the “toy” drones sold at retailers around the country.
Parrot improved the Bebop over its predecessor, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 (read my full review here!), by installing a better camera and adding a GNSS chipset to bring a whole new set of features to this entry-level quadcopter.
The new camera sports an f2.2 fish-eye lens, 180-degree field of view, and a 14 MP sensor capable of recording 1080p video at 30 fps. Still shots can be saved in RAW or JPEG format and all footage is saved to the 8GB internal storage.
Unfortunately, no SD card slot is available on the Bebop to increase storage capacity. Image stabilization is handled by a digital algorithm rather than a gimbal. While this does affect video quality to an extent, it allows the Bebop to weigh and cost much less than comparable products offered by DJI.
One of DJI’s most popular products (and one that transcends the boundary between consumer- and professional-grade drone technologies) is the Phantom 2 Vision+.
The Vision+ is equipped with a powerful camera capable of shooting 1080p video at 30fps (or 720p at 60fps) using an f2.8 lens coupled to a 14 MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. Image can be stored in DNG RAW or JPEG formats.
It’s worth noting that while the camera looks different than the one installed on the original Phantom 2 Vision, the specs are about the same. The primary difference is that the Vision+ boasts the same 3-axis gimbal found on the professional-grade DJI Inspire 1.
Even with sudden movements, the gimbal actively stabilized the camera so video always looks smooth.
Much like its predecessor, the Phantom 2 Vision, the Vision+ offers many high-end features designed to make getting into the air as easy possible regardless of skill and experience level.
Some of these features include color-coded propellers that are self-tightening and a slot-loading battery pack (no connectors to mess with), and the quadcopter boasts flight times of nearly 25 minutes (one of the longest flight times of any modern flying camera).
Looking for more DJI drones? Read here my full DJI Lightbridge review!
What’s the Difference Anyway?
Especially if you are relatively new to the aerial photography scene, some of the specs above may not seem to make too much of a difference to you. In many cases, the differences are subtle enough that for a hobby-level enthusiast, you can’t go wrong with either option.
In other cases, however, the differences in both price and functionality can make one choice the clear winner over the other.
At over twice the price, there is no question that the P2V+, Inspire 1, or practically any other DJI aerial drone will offer more features including a more capable camera, longer flight times, and a three-axis gimbal system guaranteed to keep shaky video footage at bay throughout recording.
Adding the optional SkyController to the Parrot Bebop or AR.Drone increases the range of the drone and provides more ergonomic camera control, but the addition of this accessory adds so much to the final price of the setup that for only a few hundred dollars more, a pilot can upgrade to a professional-grade setup such as the DJI Inspire 1 or Phantom 2 Vision+.
Which model is ultimately purchased comes down to how much money an enthusiast wants to invest in flying camera technology as well as what options and features are important to a particular pilot.
If flight time isn’t much of a concern and you can deal with a slightly inferior camera, go with a Parrot product as it will be a fully-capable machine with a lot of high-quality features at a price point that cannot be matched by anything comparable in DJI’s lineup.
If, on the other hand, you want the professional features and quality that come with the higher price tag associated with popular DJI products, go with a Phantom series product or for the ultimate in modern quadcopter technology, pick up a DJI Inspire 1.
Both of these products feature high-quality 3-axis gimbal systems that eliminate camera shake. The Inspire 1 even has retractable landing gear to ensure that propellers and landing gear are never in the middle of the frame no matter which way the camera system is oriented.
Whether you choose to go with one of Parrot’s affordable, yet highly capable, products or one of DJI’s more expensive, but feature-packed, semi-professional units, you really can’t go wrong.
For the average enthusiast, a Parrot Bebop or AR.Drone 2.0 are both excellent choices that can capture impressive video despite an active gimbal system. The biggest limitations with Parrot products are comparatively short flight times and limited range.
DJI products such as the Phantom 2 Vision+ and Inspire 1 cost more than twice as much as Parrot’s products, but offer increased range (up to three miles in some cases) and flight durations of well over 20 minutes on a single charge.
Combined with a 3-axis gimbal system, there is no question that DJI’s products will meet (and probably exceed) your expectations. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not the additional cost is worth the added functionality before making a purchase decision.
Better yet, just buy both and see for yourself which one you like more. After all, once you get started in this exciting hobby, it’s hard to own just one
drone anyway .
Further read, The Best Camera Drones For Video Photography!