Rumors about a GoPro drone called Karma have been in the rumormill forever, but it’s finally here. GoPro’s new drone costs $800, and for that you get a fold-up drone barely bigger than a shoebox, and a stabilization system you can take off, attach to an included grip, and use to capture silky-smooth footage on the ground.
GoPro describes it as “so much more than a drone,” and you can see where it’s coming from. Based on the launch footage, Karma is a highly effective gimbal for things like skiing and mountain biking. On its own, mounted to standard GoPro helmet or chest rigs, it makes for seriously pro-level footage. Attached to a cheap, easy-to-control drone, it could be a game-changer.
In the box with Karma, you get a drone, a gimbal, a fancy selfie stick to attach the gimbal to on the ground, a controller, and a carrying backpack for the lot. The one thing you don’t get is a camera, but Karma is compatible with existing Hero4 cameras and the new line of Hero5 cameras (we’ll get to those in a sec).
Details are a little scarce on the performance of the Karma drone for now, but it looks like it will be somewhere around DJI’s older Phantom 3 lineup. It’s more designed for taking quick shots during activities than professional-level videographers, and the controller reflects that.
It’s a small clamshell design that looks like an older Nintendo DS, with two joysticks to control things. There’s a few semi-autopilot features, like a cable cam that will fly the drone in a straight line. You also have the ability to share the camera feed and camera control with an iPhone or tablet, which should help with letting one person fly, and one person frame the shot.
But regardless of battery life or a fancy controller, the footage that comes out of the Karma drone looks amazing. A good camera — which most modern GoPros actually are — paired with the solid stabilization system means you should get footage on par with any $1000+ drone on the market right now.
Where GoPro’s really hoping to pick up customers is on the ground, though. You can take the gimbal and camera off a Karma drone and attach it to the included Karma Grip, which gives you a selfie stick with buttons to control the camera. More importantly, you can also mount the camera + gimbal to any existing GoPro mounting hardware, so you can cheaply and easily mount a stabilized camera to your helmet, chest mount, bike mount, or virtually anything else. That’s one thing a DJI photographer absolutely can’t do right now.
Aside from Karma, GoPro also released a new line of cameras. There’s a Hero5 Session, a newer version of GoPro’s cube camera, with 4K recording a voice control. There’s also a Hero5 Black, with no-enclosure-needed waterproofing, a big touchscreen on the back, and voice control.
The drone + gimbal + controller + carrying pack runs $800, or $1000 or $1100 in bundles with the Hero5 Session or Black respectively. It goes on sale on October 23rd, just in time for all the early bird Christmas shopping.