DJI Mavic vs. GoPro Karma

Sep 29, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

DJI Mavic vs. GoPro Karma

Sep 29, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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It takes a lot of balls to be in the biggest photography show in the world, have a drone ready and be silent about it. This is exactly what DJI did, and it got me wondering. GoPro announced Karma – the company’s first venture into Drones (or anything non action cam for that matter), which took a lot of press, and DJI just let it happen and did not try to steal the spotlight. They simply announced Mavic a day after the show.

You know what this feels like to me? Like those fighting movie scenes where the odds are so off, that the big guy lets the small guy throw all his punches, then plant him with one stroke. To gouge if this feeling is correct, I researched and put together a side by side comparisson of both drones, feel free to join and voice your opinion.

GoPro Karma ($1,099.99 – with GoPro Hero5 Black)

YouTube video

OK, so this is the first drone for GoPro and for a first drone they did quite a nice job: folding arms design, low weight and support for three of the company cameras (so you can reduce price down to $799 if you have a GoPro Hero4 Black or GoPro Hero5).

On both the hero4 and Hero5, the video specs are much alike: 4k@30FPS.

DJI Mavic ($999 – camera included)

YouTube video

When the excitement about Karma went away, DJI introduced Mavic. This is by no means DJI’s first drone. After a complete Phantom line, an Inspire line, and a range of Zenmuse cameras, they have “some” experience.  We expect more from DJI and I think we got it. The camera is a 4K@30fps and is non replaceable.

Flight time

The Karma uses a 75.4Wh LiPO battery capable of 20 minute of flight time. The Mavic has a 43.6Wh battery but can fly for 27 minutes. So, that means half the battery power equals 35% more flight time. (not surprisingly the GoPro battery is double the weight of the Mavic)

Controller and flight modes

Both drones have some smart flying modes where they can track a subject, go around it and perform various cinematic moves. Weirdly, the Karma has no follow-me feature. Something that makes a lot selfie kinds of video almost impossible (skying, motorcycling, and anything where you want to focus on your sports rather than on flying). The Mavic, on the other hand, uses DJI’s “ActiveTrack” and will let you track, profile or fly while focusing on your subject.

Both drones have a game&watch dual deck style controller, but can also be controlled via an app.

Camera specs and Stabilization

DJI uses their own camera, which is a 28 mm (FOV 78.8° – 35 mm format equivalent) at f/2.2. GoPro uses a GoPro Hero 4 or 5, which means basically the same. Until GoPro adds a new camera to the range there is no significant difference.

Both drones use a 3 axes gimbal, and I would expect that results will be pretty much the same, in terms of smoothness. Time and reviews will tell.

Obstacle avoidance

I guess the Karma does not need obstacles avoidance as it is definitely less autonomous, but the Mavic has a ton of tech just for that sake. It has 5 cameras, 2 sonic sensors and the usual GPS system to help it not kill itself.

Ease of carry

The GoPro Karma weighs about a kilo and add to that a 0.5 kilo battery (so 1.5k). It’s about 36x22x9cm big and from what I gather (and the fact that the gimbal is exposed) it would need its own bag.

The DJI Mavic weighs about 0.75k + 0.24k natery so about a kilo all together. It’s 8x8x19mm and does not need an extra case.

Extra features

OK, this is probably not a deciding factor for someone who wants to fly a drone for shooting, but, it may be a factor for other things, so here goes:

  • The DJI Mavic has POV glasses which you can use to “sit” in the pilot’s place.
  • The Karma can detach the gimbal from the drone and use it as an action camera gimbal.

Which one is the drone for you?

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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23 responses to “DJI Mavic vs. GoPro Karma”

  1. Tweakie Avatar

    I guess it’s back to the drawing board for GoPro

  2. Kai Dean Avatar
    Kai Dean

    I have never really been interested in buying a drone until Karma was announced and then I definitely going to buy it as it was the whole package until the Mavic Pro was announced, now I think I am going to DJI, sorry GoPro but the tiny package that the DJI comes in is just too good to ignore and from the few first looks I have seen online it is a very good drone

  3. Craig Fouché Avatar
    Craig Fouché


  4. Gy Florucza Avatar
    Gy Florucza

    Certainly the Mavic comes with more feature. Don’t mention that actually is probably the only model with Full HD live video feed. Here you can find comparison of the top 3 popular selfie drones.
    BTW, I like the idea that you can use your old GoPro 4 with the Karma, this way you can make some savings.

  5. Jamie Brightmore Avatar
    Jamie Brightmore

    If anyone would like some more detailed stats, check out my comparison table:

    1. Landin Soroko Avatar
      Landin Soroko

      You have a fact wrong there:
      * Karma can use phone as screen.
      Other than that, great handy comparison, thank you!
      Also with the 13km “max distance”, where did you find that?

      1. Jamie Brightmore Avatar
        Jamie Brightmore

        Cheers. Can you point me towards some info so I can confirm the phone screen thing, I thought it was only the upcoming Passenger App that could hook into the downlink? The max distance is in the Mavic specs:

        1. Landin Soroko Avatar
          Landin Soroko

          I don’t recall, we’ll just have to see.
          Would you agree that the quality of the image should mostly that of the P4?

          1. Jamie Brightmore Avatar
            Jamie Brightmore

            Okay cool, I searched around but couldn’t find any info regarding the phone… considering how long GoPro have been working on this launch, they’re website really sucks and lacks info. It looks like the Mavic IQ should be very similar to the P4. If you want to check out a raw 4K clip, you can download one from the description on this video by a DJI rep: Looks nice.

          2. Landin Soroko Avatar
            Landin Soroko

            Yeah thank you I’ve already downloaded that haha.
            It does have the same sensor, and looking at that footage I think it’s pretty identical. I’m so anxious to press that ‘buy now’ button.
            It’s been sitting in my cart for a while now..

          3. Jamie Brightmore Avatar
            Jamie Brightmore

            Do it! I pre-ordered on launch day with the extras : )

          4. Landin Soroko Avatar
            Landin Soroko

            Just clicked order! It’s unlikely but I hope it gets here in Australia around my birthday on the 21st of October! :D

  6. joe_average Avatar

    Preordered mavic pro kit. =D. This saved me from buying the Airdog, whew.

  7. Mike Smith Avatar
    Mike Smith

    The specs of the camera may be similar, but lets not forget the fisheye look you get from GoPro vs the rectilinear view from DJI’s cameras. Apparently the Hero5 has an option to remove the distortion, but I haven’t seen how that looks yet. As of now, I’m leaning towards the Mavic or even a P4 over the Karma simply for the rectilinear images. Will have to wait for some real world images from the Mavic before I decide on either of these. I have an older GoPro Hero 2 that gets used maybe twice a year so I don’t see the ability to remove the camera from the Karma as much of a benefit for what I do. One thing is clear, it’s good to have competition in the market to give us all of these great choices!

    1. Joshua Tulberg Avatar
      Joshua Tulberg

      Go check out the raw footage Casey provided of the Karma on youtube. No noticeable fish-eye, w/ a horizon line that was straight as an arrow.

      1. Mike Avatar

        I did watch that video the other day. I was pretty impressed with the P4 image quality over the Mavic, but I see that Casey didn’t have it focused properly. I The hero 5 Session looked pretty good too. When he picks it up and turns it, and has the bridge towards the top of the frame, the distortion starts to show.

        The Mavic video that Michael Shainblum posted looked really good.

        As of right now, I think the Mavic Pro will suit my needs the best. The size and portability to keep it in my regular kit is a pretty nice option.

        1. Joshua Tulberg Avatar
          Joshua Tulberg

          You should check out the Karma *drone footage* from Casey (look for his previous videos), not this little tidbit that you screenshot. Because it looks to me like the Hero5 Session he filmed this in is set to WIDE angle, while the Karma footage appears to be properly set to LINEAR.

          Casey mentioned his lack of focusing on twitter, then proceeded to post Mavic drone footage the very next day that was still soft. Under perfect conditions: Little wind, slow movement, it seems you can get proper focus if you are touching the screen accordingly. But until I see the footage under not-so-ideal conditions I’m not convinced the video quality is up-to-par. I’m really hoping that with all the crap Casey gets, GoPro sends him a Karma, and he does a proper side-by-side comparison: P4 vs Mavik vs Karma

          1. Mike Avatar

            Yes, a side by side of all 3 would be great. Would love to see something from Yuneec thrown into the mix as well.

            Just watched the Karma in NYC video and you are right, the footage looked very good and the horizons were nice and straight. That’s good to know and thanks for pointing it out! On paper there are things I like about both of these, but still not sure which is the right one for me. Time will tell once these things are available to the general public.

  8. RoachForLife Avatar

    Did you guys see Casey’s video on YouTube. The quality of the dji was really bad. Maybe that will change in later units but the P4 and Karma were way better. Check it out for yourself

    1. Kaouthia Avatar

      I noticed that the Mavic’s props came into the shot too, a few times on Casey’s sample footage.

    2. Melbar Avatar

      i love how people build an opinion over ONE review that was done completely clueless……

  9. Half Chrome Avatar
    Half Chrome

    They are some solid drones. We’ve reviewed the Mavic, Karma, and Phantom 4. We’ve even built charts to help you easily decide which one is best for you. Check it out.