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GoPro Karma: First thoughts

I have made no secret of the fact that I like what GoPro are doing in the action camera market, and my thoughts on the GoPro Hero  Session are here. I was very excited to hear, as I did a few weeks ago, that they would launch their own drone, to compete with DJI and the other manufacturers of camera drones out there, not least because I have been thinking about getting one of my own.

When they finally launched it Monday last week, I was seriously excited. Not only have they created what looks like the sleekest drone I have seen in the segment, but the modularity of it, where you can change cameras (within the GoPro range), and use the stabilising gimbal in a handheld or attached mode makes me think that they, with their first offering, are launching a DJI-killer.

As a former coworker commented, this is a product tailored and scaled to the camera it is designed to use, a camera which is the most recent offering of a solid product line.

My biggest objection to it, is the price. A number of pre-release speculations placed it in the same range as the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, while the actual price is $799 (without a camera), $999 (with a GoPro Hero 5 Session), or $1099 (with a GoPro Hero 5 Black) bracketing it between the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 (which are priced at $499 and $1199, respectively). Regarding the camera; while the session may be great for dedicated drone or helmet cam use, the handheld option is best suited to be used with a full-size GoPro, with its display back, which is the use case that I would suspect most users opt for.

Another interesting feature, is that you can let someone using a mobile device control the camera, and effectively have a pilot and camera operator setup, which I think will be interesting for many applications, even though I suspect most users will opt to fill both functions themselves. The day after the launch, Casey Neistat released a video showing off the drone, and what it can do. Here it is:

I think it looks pretty awesome, and am looking forward to getting my grubby hands on one. Realistically speaking, though, that’s some time away yet.

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