Perhaps it’s because I don’t get out enough, but time and again I find a drone to be the best holiday fun. After all, you can’t fly them much in cities, where I spend most of my time – but give me a deserted tropical beach or stretch of desert and there’s all the soaring, soul-freeing sense of flying a kite, but cubed by its having a 4K HDR camera on board. Quite often, back at my desk during the working day, I’ll take a peek at the videos I’ve shot from a few hundred feet above Nevada, California, Queensland and north Yorkshire – and get quite lost in the beauty of them.
Only thing is, the PowerVision PowerEgg I’ve been using lately is magnificent, but it’s big. With its retinue of accessories, it takes up the netted-off half of my largest suitcase, give or take socks and underwear as padding. So when the innovative Parisian company Parrot announced its new ultra-portable Anafi, which appears to do much of what the PowerEgg does (and a bit more), I was interested. I’ve so far flown it in the Stockholm archipelago and upstate New York and its extraordinarily compact form has made it my top holiday drone choice. It is a brilliant piece of quirky French miniature engineering, and a joy to fly. It doesn’t have the jaw-dropping dinosaur egg form of PowerEgg, but its extreme foldable portability is a huge plus. It’s also an interesting, if not beautiful, design: when Parrot founder and CEO Henri Seydoux told me that it’s based on the form of an insect, it sounded like designer waffle, but it really does resemble a malevolent giant hornet in flight.
Drone fans will compare the carbon fibre-built Anafi to DJI’s Mavic range, which arguably has the edge in terms of solidity and finish. But the Anafi has a bunch of features that narrowly give it my vote. Above all, the Anafi is less than half the weight of the top Mavic, the Pro Platinum. It is also almost spookily quiet, boasts a rotating camera that can face directly up and has some amazing shooting effects, like a dolly zoom borrowed from Hitchcock’s Vertigo. A marvellous little machine.