Comparison DJI Mavic vs GoPro Karma

DJI has abruptly launched a new line to get in before the retail launch of GoPro’s Karma, which is an entire suite of action sports video capabilities.  In a world of announcing new products far before launch, DJI is introducing a new maneuver by landing one in front of us with no warning.

And its name is the DJI Mavic Pro, a portable drone with a 4K camera.  The bad boy endeavors to take the Phantom 4, DJI’s previous top-of-the-line quadcopter, make it smaller, and shoot some awesome video.  The company is confident it can go to battle with GoPro Karma because it has the kind of portability of that model, while also being souped up in terms of flight capabilities.

So who wins? As we compare the GoPro Karma vs the DJI Mavic, the consumer is the clear winner as competition provides better options at more affordable prices.

What we compare is the following for each quadcopter:

  • Technological features
  • Foldability & portability
  • Camera performance
  • Flying & maneuverability
  • Value for money

Read more about DJI Mavic Pro here.

Read more about GoPro’s Karma here

Mavic vs Karma Features

To respond to the Karma, DJI went for the jugular of one controversial feature of its competitor.  While the drone world is quite excited about the Karma, many among it are a bit alarmed by the fact that the little guy doesn’t include obstacle avoidance.  That’s a trait many have grown accustomed to—while many flights in the wild blue yonder can capture some great footage, there’s also the necessity of flying on the roof of a parking garage or between trees (like if you’re recreating the Speeder Bike scene from Return of the Jedi), etc.

Safety & Features

To achieve this safety feature, the Mavic Pro is fitted with four vision sensors and dual satellite connectivity.  Upon takeoff, the Mavic hooks up with up to twenty satellites and thus tracks itself, being aware of where it is and where you are.

Another cool capability is that the Pro can follow you around.  That’s not half bad for getting footage of yourself tearing it up on a racetrack, kayaking, surfing, etc.  It also will make bystanders think you’re being tracked by the CIA, so you’ll have the whole area to yourself!

It also has a quirky feature of taking a selfie for you, either still or video.  These involves having the craft hovering above you, not too far away.  If you wave at it, you’ll get recognition and that will tell it to take a picture.  A lot went into something so specific and vanity-driven—well, that’s 2016.

Mavic vs Karma Flight Features

Features Obstacle Avoidance Automatic Follow Selfie Shots
DJI Mavic Yes
(vision sensor &
satellite connectivity)
No Yes (only with cell phone controller)
GoPro Karma No Yes Yes (photo & video)

Read more about DJI Mavic Pro here.

Read more about GoPro’s Karma here

The new killer app

These are traits not possible with the GoPro Karma, which, to be clear, is a fabulous innovation and feat of design.  And to add insult to injury, the Mavic, which is on pre-order now and set to ship Oct. 15, just before the Karma, copped a very key trait of the Karma: foldability.  The arms fold in to make it look, to go back to Star Wars, the Jawa transport, an asymmetrical rectangle.

That goes into your backpack no problem, with room for a granola bar on the side.  It’s not clear if they include the backpack, which the Karma does—a pack designed exclusively to carry it safely.  But the Mavic Pro becomes quite small when folded.

Camera Comparison

As for the 4K camera, we’re looking at 12 megapixels and 30 frames per second.  At 1080p, it’s at 96 frames per second.  That is solid.  But if we compare it to the Karma, we find that if you go with one of that copter’s camera options, the Hero 5 Black, you’d get 120 FPS in 1080 P.  Both the Hero 5 Black and the Hero 5 Session, the two options for the Karma (or you can use your own camera) have 1440 P capabilities too.

GoPro Camera (Hero 5) vs Fixed DJI

In general terms, since the GoPro is…a camera…when it branched into the drone field, it is, of course, going to emphasize the photography aspects and to shoot for the best footage capabilities possible.  The Mavic Pro comes with its predecessors providing a template and framework, and it builds on them.
You may be familiar with the flight of a DJI Phantom 4, and that provides a decent idea of how the Mavic rolls.  As for controllers, it gives a couple of options.  The first is a radio controller.  This of course, gives you the altitude and other vital stats, and shows you what the camera is shooting on its small screen.  However, you can also operate it with a smart phone, which is how DJI intends to make the Mavic accessible to a wide audience.  The satellite capabilities, described above, help with that too, since it’s remembering capabilities can make it land literally at your feet.  That’s clearly a bonus for new pilots.

Which one flies better?

Your experience with flying the Mavic Pro will be one of operating a light and compact unit, so small that it gives up a bit of speed, at least compared to other DJI models.  However, it does make it to the 40mph mark, and that makes it a bit faster than the Karma.  It will fly 27 minutes, just a bit faster than reported times for its competitor.  It’s probably the case that both combatants would like a dogfight that lasts a bit longer and will be working on that.

In any case, the flight with a Mavic Pro is pretty smooth and steady, and pics and video are as well.  The camera is built-in rather than snapped on, and this helps create good, clear images, in addition to the stabilization feature.

The drone is priced at $749 without the controller for those who want to use the smart phone.  The smart phone, by the way, is necessary for Active Track, which is the feature that follows a person shooting video of them, and for the selfie feature.  If you want to go with the controller, it’s $899.

Which drone provides better value?

For those with a bit of extra money, the DJI Mavic will look pretty tempting compared to the GoPro Karma.  It probably flies better overall, including a slightly longer life, and, if this is your thing, higher speeds.  The obstacle recognition is as big a deal as you want it to be, depending on your flight needs.

But one key takeaway here is that DJI isn’t messing around.  Just as GoPro has a great vision and a thorough way of meeting the action photographer’s needs, DJI is determined to remain competitive.  It’s hard to see them sprinting to market with this new model without anticipating many more aggressive moves on their part.  They are willing to innovate, and quick at doing so. In our quest to find the best drone, this can only be good news.

It’ll be interesting to see how GoPro reacts, but a pitched battle between these titans can only be good for the consumer.

Read more about DJI Mavic Pro here.

Read more about GoPro’s Karma here