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Table of Contents
GoPro Karma drone is already out in the market, which is something that people have been anticipating for a long time. This, was big news for GoPro because what it did, is it essentially converged their business into the same exact market, as the industry leader in the field, DJI.
As owner of three DJI Phantom and three GoPros, I was very intrigued. The first DJI Phantom ever owned was a DJI Phantom 2. What I liked about it, is that it allowed me to use my GoPro Hero3 and when I wasn’t using the drone I can take the camera off and do other things with it.
Practically, that didn’t turn out to be very useful, because the way that it was mounted onto the drone was too cumbersome to take off and on and off and on each time I wanted to use the GoPro myself. So I ended up believing the GoPro on all the time. Since then, DJI camera technology in their image quality has caught up, if not surpass GoPro image quality in their cameras.
Now the DJI Phantom 4 which the new one that I own, it will do 4k video, it would do 1080p at a hundred twenty frames per second slow-motion, the image quality is really good, a lot of manual controls. The most of all what i like about it, is that, it presents a rectilinear image, which means when you look at the horizon, there’s no distortion.
Let me just kind of go through what GoPro announced, that what’s new about the GoPro Karma is compared to what’s already on the market today. First of all, their price point for the GoPro Karma without a camera is 799 dollars, which is significantly cheaper than what it cost to buy a DJI Phantom 4. However , the DJI Phantom 3 which is still available in the market, can be had for much less than that.
The differences by DJI Phantom 3 versus a GoPro Karma, the Phantom 3 comes with its own built-in camera, a very high quality camera that. To get the GoPro Karma with a new GoPro Hero5 camera, it’s going to cost you eleven hundred dollars which in essence, puts it pretty close on par with what the DJI Phantom 4 sells for. Right now, the DJI Phantom 4 can be had for about, it over thirteen hundred dollars.
The things that GoPro is touting with a new GoPro Karma its form factor. Its slim, meaning that it has a very low profile. If folds the arms, retract, so it fits into a backpack and also has a detachable stabilizer. The gimbal is what they’re calling the stabilizer which also goes into a handgrip, they called the Karma grip.
This is not unlike what DJI has done in their top-of-the-line flagship drones, the Inspire 1. Inspire 1 also has a detachable gimbal that goes into a handheld mount but, that is at a much higher price point. What GoPro is also doing is that there including a backpack. A backpack, slimming profile, fits everything that comes with the GoPro inside it for transport. The grip, the drone itself, the controller and the stabilizer.
How GoPro selling this is that they’re selling is a complete system. It’s not just a drone that takes aerial photography, it is a way for you to take your GoPro and get whatever kind of shots that you want whether be handheld, aerial or mounted.
The GoPro Karma grip allows you to take all your existing GoPro mounts, amount the Karma grip to it, meaning that you can now have the stabilizer in your Karma grip, mounted on a bike handlebar, outside your vehicle. On the backpack that comes with a GoPro Karma, that big ecosystem a GoPro mounts is going to be really helpful in selling the GoPro Karma especially to die hard GoPro fans.
While GoPro is also saying, that this drone is very easy to fly. As one button take off, which at this point every drones in the market does. As a feature, what GoPro calling shot paths, basically it’s for automatic modes that allows a user who’s flying the drone to get a specific shot.
One of them is orbit. Orbit essentially let you fly the drone up in the air, click a button, set the radius of the orbit and set the center of the orbit and have the drone fly in a circular motion around it, while keeping the camera pointed to the center.
Drones have a second mode called the droney, which if you don’t know what a droney is essentially lets you set the drone up, in front of you, for selfie shot and have the drone fly backwards and up, revealing the location.Third motors reveal its like a Hollywood shot where, the camera is initially pan down and as it moves forward, slowly pans up revealing what is in front of the camera.
And , the third one is called cable camp. It’s a film industry term, where cameras mounted on the cable, so it could be fixed to slide back and forth and space, whereas in this case, it’s using their GPS coordinates.
I like the Phantom 4, the Karma’s controller is more like the game controller. It’s got a built-in LCD screen that folds up, and when it’s in the down position, it covers the gamepad. It doesn’t have any visible antennas, which makes me wonder one thing about its range and it’s not something we talked about.
If you don’t have a GoPro Hero4, you won’t have to buy new GoPro to make this work, because the GoPro Karma is compatible with the Hero4 and the newly-announced Hero5. With the built-in LCD screen, the GoPro Karma also doesn’t require a smartphone to use as your FPV monitor. So those are the things that, they’re touting as unique features.
However, it’s the things that they don’t say that makes me wonder exactly what this thing is capable of. Number one, they don’t say much about the range of the GoPro Karma, from what i can tell on their website and their technical specs, it has about a 1 kilometer range, which is actually pretty decent. Most likely, you’re not going to fly further than 1 kilometers from you, especially if you’re in the US, where you’re sort of required to keep your drones within line-of-sight. So, usually if you’re flying farther than that, you’re not going to be able to see it.
Secondly, I don’t know what the battery life is. One of the shots in their promotional videos showing that it has an 18-minute battery life. I’m also not sure if we actually going to get 18 minutes or if that is just 18 minutes of hovering and non-aggressive flying. But the Karma doesn’t have as compared to other products like the DJI Phantom 4 is, the DJI phantom 4 has other sensors, besides the standard ones, like the accelerometer and compass and the GPS.
Gimbal and other specs
The DJI Phantom 4 also has, optical sensors pointing down and optical sensors pointing forward as well as sonar sensors pointing down. What that lets you do, is let you fly indoors when there is no GPS signal, from what i can tell the GoPro Karma is only going to be able to fly outdoors when it has a GPS sensor. It will probably fly indoors too, it just won’t fly nearly a stable and you’re more likely to crash into walls and objects.
And with the GPS module that has on the GoPro Karma, they don’t say whether or not it supports GLONASS which is the European standard. The DJI Phantom 4 supports both the US GPS standard as well as the European GLONASS standard, which means that you’re going to be able to fly this more reliably, internationally.
With a gimbal stabilizer mounted on the front of the drones, it’s going to be great because one of my biggest gripes with the DJI Phantoms, when I’m flying forward at a very high speed, the drone is tilted forward and with it tilted forwad so much, a lot of the times you’re able to see the propeller spinning, in the corner of your shot , which is kind of annoying to me. You’re not going to have nearly the same problem with the GoPro Karma.
GoPro Karma has the gimbal mounted in the front, basically eliminating all possibilities that you will see the propellers when you’re flying. On the other hand though, that makes me wonder about crash durability. I’ve crashed my DJI Phantom 2 a couple of times, and for the most part, it survived, it’s got some scratches. Once the gimbal, one of the balance and have to get it replaced, but for the most part by GoPro, in the DJI Phantom 4 escaped unscathed, after all the crashes.
With the gimbal on the GoPro mounted in the front and especially protruding so far away from the rest of the body with no protection whatsoever, now wonder how durable the GoPro will be in an event of a crash. There’s no statistics yet, because nobody actually has one of these GoPro Karma. They don’t actually release until the third week of October, but from all i can see, it’s most likely that this thing is not going to be nearly as durable in a crash as the DJI Phantom series.
GoPro is not selling this for the professional market, in fact, the professional market wants more flexibility than what the GoPro camera angles can offer. If you want the aerial photography drones for your independent film, you’re most likely not going to want your footage to have that signature GoPro fisheye look.
I would say the DJI Phantom series is going to be a better bet because it gives you erected linear squared-off image. The horizon is going to be straight, when you’re panning up-and-down things are going to be distorted.
Well, GoPro they’re targeting this for the mass market, for the consumers, for people who are into outdoor activities, they want videos of the mountain biking, snowboarding, exploring, adventuring, camping on edges of ocean cliffs and things of that nature. So, in summary i think the GoPro cameras going to do really well.
The price point is right at $799.I don’t know for sure but I’m assuming the Karma’s grip and the stabilizer is also going to be compatible with the GoPro Hero4. If you’ve already invested three to four hundred dollars into a GoPro Hero4, spending an extra hundred dollars to get a drone, with the stabilizer is kind of a no-brainer.
However, if you have to spend the entire level hundred dollars to buy a camera and a drone, i’ll really think twice about what you plan to do with it. The DJI Phantom 4 right now is ahead by 2 generations as compared to the GoPro Karma. Since the Phantom 2,DJI has advanced their product line by 2 generations.
The DJI Phantom 4 as i mentioned earlier has obstacle avoidance, which means, when it’s working properly, it is impossible to crash moving forward into any objects. And also has downward-facing optical sensors, meaning that when you fly indoors without GPS or Glonass signal,it will stay in place both in altitude and in position, which is not something i believe the GoPro Karma is going to be able to do without those sensors.
So without seeing one of these and playing with on these GoPro Karma in person. This is kind of my first impressions, of what the GoPro Karma going to be like.I think it’s going to be a great product, they’re probably going to sell a tons of these but, where they go from here is something that I’m interested to see.
Essentially GoPro and DJI have become the same company. Three years ago DJI made drones, GoPro make cameras and they work with each other to build an aerial photography platform. Since the Phantom 2 vision, DJI has been in the imaging business for a couple of years.Now GoPro is finally getting into the drone business. It’s an interesting fight and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here.