It's been some time since GoPro talked of releasing a drone, over a year and a half in fact. Since then there has been much anticipation as to what its form and features would look like. After the announcement in September Andy Willmott finally got to see first hand what it's all about.
WITH so many other tech companies already venturing into drone territory, many have been waiting to see what the company synonymous with extreme sports would deliver.
Karma comes in a slim, sexy, well presented backpack. It's a slimmer travel case than just about anything with similar capabilities on the market. That is besides the DJI Mavic. The case is really compact thanks to the camera gimbal being mounted on the front of the drone rather than the underbelly like a Phantom.
The thing is, Karma isn't just one product. Karma is somewhat of a transforming chameleon. It is in fact more of an accessory suite for the GoPro 5. It consists of the GoPro 5, the Karma Drone and a handheld stick mount, the Karma Grip, although you can buy Karma minus the GoPro if you already have one.
It supports full functionality for GoPro 4 and 5. If you have a 3 you can use it but you can't control the camera functions through the system.
The gimbal actually unlocks and detaches from the drone, and then re-attaches to the Grip for completely portable buttery-smooth stability. The Grip also attaches to any of GoPro's accessory mounts such as a chest harness or helmet mount. We should start seeing epic downhill biking soon with ultra-smooth video.
What makes the Karma system unique is this versatility. If you already have a GoPro 4, or you buy a 5, you can add a handheld gimbal and drone to suit for only $1200. For GoPro fans this is excellent value.
The transmitter, or controller, for the drone looks a lot like a Gameboy and is very intuative.
The touch screen is built in, which means you don't have to tie up your smart device with messy leads, so it really is a nice neat unit.
It's durable and you can close it up and know it's not going to cop any damage with daily use.
It allows you to have a friend connect via an app to another smart device wirelessly and watch the video alongside you.
They also get basic control of the camera, too, which is cool.
It really is easy to fly. That's GoPro s theme for its new system. The drone, grip and the GoPro itself with its voice recognition are all designed to be easy to use and accessible to anyone.
So you don't really need experience flying a drone to have a go. The 'easy' flight mode softens all the controls and slows everything down so you can't get into trouble easily.
"The easy flight mode softens all the controls so you can't get into trouble easily."
If you are already comfortable flying a drone, it will feel far too slow in easy. It feels like the brakes are on. Taking it out of easy mode gives it a little more get up and go, but it's not designed to be a fast drone. The response is smooth and refined. Quite the opposite of the twitchy, responsive and faster Mavic Pro.
You really can't release a drone to the mainstream market these days without some autonomous features. Karma has some of the basics, but not as many as we were expecting.
With DJI's Mavic Pro also just launched and boasting a host of autonomous features allowing you to track moving subjects, it is a little surprisingthat Karma is missing them with GoPro's target market being extreme sports junkies.
ORBIT : Drone flies in a circle around you with the camera pointed at you.
DRONIE : The epic drone selfie shot, drone starts close to you and does a big fly away in one direction with you as the point of interest.
REVEAL : The epic Hollywood reveal. The drone flies in a straight line, the camera starts pointing down and finishes pointing at horizon.
CABLE CAM : Letting you plan the perfect shot, you save the start and end position, then set the drone to fly back and forth between those 2 points, leaving the camera to be controlled independently by you.
There is no 'follow me' mode or object tracking which I would have really liked to see, but putting that aside, the drone does have some great positives.
If you are new to drones you will be able to learn easily to fly and shoot epic-smooth video in no time, and if you love GoPro, you will love Karma.
On November 8 GoPro announced the recall of the approximately 2500 Karma drones purchased by consumers.
The full product recall followed the discovery that in a very small number of cases, Karma units lost power during operation. No related injuries or property damage have been reported.
Karma has not reached Australian shores as yet, so the recall mainly affects customers overseas, but it will affect the release date, which is now pushed to early 2017.
To make good GoPro are giving away a GoPro Hero5 camera to any US purchaser who returns their Karma... not bad compensation!
|GoPro Karma Drone Quadcopter Specifications|
|Radio control type||2.4Ghz transmitter included|
|Battery||5100mah 4S Lipo|
|Operating range||Up to 3kms|
|Flight time||Up to 20mins|
|Price||$1,195.00 with accessory case (minus GoPro) or $1650 with GoPro5|
Karma is smooth, relaxed, purposeful and, most importantly, easy to fly, You aren't going to beat anyone in a race, but you will shoot some beautiful smooth video.
You can expect up to 20 minutes. Plenty of time to get that epic shot, even with re-takes.
Across the new Karma suite from the GoPro 5 itself to the Karma grip and the drone, GoPro has a definite intention to make it accessible to anyone If you love GoPro and you aren't fussed about follow me and motion tracking features, then Karma is worth checking out.