GoPro’s affordable new Karma Drone with 4K camera-mounting is finally coming
Stephan Jukic – September 19, 2016
There have been rumors, leaks and very detail-thin information releases about GoPro’s Karma drone circulating the web for months by now (as we’d covered on at least one occasion) and many tech watchers were definitely wondering when this interesting new drone from the famous 4K action camera maker would finally arrive. Well now it finally has and it’s quite a cool little toy.
The Karma is quite compact, small enough to fit into a shoe box and it can also be neatly folded up as needed for carrying it around. With this, what you also get your hands on is a robust stabilization system which is removable, attachable to a handheld grip and usable for recording crystal clear 4K video while on foot as well.
Basically, this new drone is all about ease of use and in this GoPro seems to have succeeded quite nicely. The foldable design is a starting point for easy storage and GoPro was even nice enough to include a little backpack as a free accessory for this purpose. As for controls, users can fly their Karma with a simple and also easy to use clamshell controller which comes with its own built-in touchscreen display in one folding half and dual joysticks in the other half. Between these two there is a minimum of buttons to clutter things up.
The Karma does not come with its own 4K camera included if you buy the basic $799 model but an upgrade to the $1,099 package does come with GoPro’s new Hero 5 4K action camera and in any case the drone is fully compatible with all versions of the GoPro Hero camera, including the also 4K-capable Hero 4 Black. So if you’ve already got one of these, this is probably the most ideal UAV you can get for them. For stabilization, there is the already-mentioned 3-Axis gimbal which can also be used for handheld shooting and during flight, its stabilization hardware does a robust job of keeping the Karma’s video feed smooth and sharp.
Unlike many other drone designs (such as DJI’s best-selling Phantom drones) the Karma has its camera mount along the front of the drone instead of beneath itself and according to GoPro, this design is the case in an effort to eliminate the appearance of rotor blades in video and photo stills when the drone is flying forward at a tilted angle.
In terms of flight options, the Karma offers a very similar feature set to those found in other name brand drones, with autonomous flight modes for takeoff, landing, “return to home”, and orbiting. Along with these however are also other slightly more unique flight modes such as “Dronie”, “Cable Cam” and “Reveal”. There is also a “Passenger App” being released by GoPro, which allows others who aren’t flying your Karma to see its live video feed on their smartphones in 720p HD. Passenger App users can even control the Karma’s camera positions if you let them.
In-the-box accessories for the basic Karma package include the drone itself, a gimbal, the carrying backpack we already mentioned, the controller and even a selfie-stick to which the gimbal can be attached if you want to shoot on the ground without the drone.
We don’t yet know just how much of a performer the new GoPro drone is compared to its UAV rivals since this model isn’t going on sale until October but from what we’ve heard so far, the Karma should be more than a match for DJI’s Phantom 3 and 4 drones in its performance. We’re also expecting an average flight time that’s into the mid-20 minute range.
The GoPro Karma drone goes on sale October 23d and will be available in a basic $800 package with no camera included, a $1000 package with the GoPro Hero 4 Black camera and a $1100 Hero 5 camera package.
Story by 4k.com