Karma Drone has been the first and only drone by GoPro so far. The Karma Drone lets you fly high your GoPro camera in the sky, giving you a new perspective and some really cool shots of your extreme adventures!
GoPro Karma Drone Review
The tale of Karma Drone hasn’t been quite happy! With several complaints about its battery life and its initial battery flaw that led to many of these drones falling down, this product has been through a lot of rough patches. So much so that it had to be discontinued back in 2018! We’ll discuss more about that later. Now let’s cover a a few important technical details and key features of GoPro Karma Drone.
The image below shows exactly how a Karma drone looks like.
GoPro Karma Drone – Technical Specs
- Maximum speed: 35 mph (56km/h)
- Range (Max Distance from Controller): 0.62 miles (1 km)
- Maximum flight altitude: 14,500 feet (4,500m)
- Operating frequency: 2.4 GHz.
- Maximum wind resistance: 22 mph (35km/h)
- Dimensions: 303mm x 411mm x 117mm (opened); 365.2mm x 224.3mm x 89.9 mm (folded)
- Propeller length: 10 inches (25.4 cm)
- Weight: 2.2 pounds (1kg)
GoPro Karma Drone – Key Features
Camera: GoPro Karma drone can be used with the GoPro Hero 4, Hero 5 Black, or Hero 5 Session cameras. The design of this drone is unique in that the camera is placed on its nose rather than underneath its fuselage (as in case of most other quads). A stabilisation mount is also included to ensure shake-free footage with the gimbal.
Controller: The included controller weighs 625 grams and has a built-in 5-inch 720p touchscreen with a peak brightness of 700 nits. It offers one-touch operation for takeoff and landing. The battery life of the controller lasts for about 4 hours.
Operating modes: Karma drone has multiple automatic operating modes, which include:
- Dronie (for zoom selfies),
- Cable cam (for moving between one pre-defined point and another),
- Reveal (for panning until the subject is in the shot), and
- Orbit (for continuous circular pan around the subject).
Other Features: With GoPro drone, you can let your friends watch a live view of the drone’s footage. It also has the ability to be controlled from your smartphone. And, thanks to the amazing GoPro app, you can easily edit your shots as per your needs. The app lets you stitch together your footage, apply filters, music and more…
Have a look at the video below to know more about Karma Drone:
GoPro Karma Drone: Here’s what I think of It (Pros – Cons)
Launched in 2016, Karma drone debuted as one of the most versatile and portable drones in the market. When it was announced in late 2015, there was a great excitement regarding this product amongst GoPro fans. It was one of the most sought-after drones in the market then. But it didn’t quite match up to its competitors in terms of various factors like flying range, battery life, stabilized indoor operation etc.
What we like: The first drone by GoPro, Karma is one of the most compact drones for photography. It is noticeably slimmer than many of its rivals and can easily fit into a small backpack (it comes with one as well). The drone is also lightweight; you can easily carry the entire kit all day without too much effort! What’s more? Karma is highly durable and versatile. Most of its components (like props, prop arms, landing gear, gimbal) are user-replaceable, in case of any damage.
GoPro Karma drone comes with Karma Grip gimbal included in the package. So, in addition to having a drone for your aerial imaging needs, you can detach the gimbal and transform it into a handheld stabilizer for smooth, shake-free footage. You just need to pop the gimbal off the drone via a simple unlocking mechanism and insert it into the Grip’s handle. That’s it! You have a stabilised handheld camera. The grip is also compatible with the amazing GoPro mounting system, which enables you to attach it securely to your car, bike, backpack and more…
Now, coming to the major aspect of what a drone is for exactly: performance in the air. With automated take-off & landing, and simple controls, it’s easy to fly. The GPS sensors ensure that it will return home when the battery is down or if the signal between controller and drone cuts out. When in sports mode, it can zip along at a brisk 35mph, while responding quickly to all your commands.
What we don’t like: Unfortunately, the Karma Drone is NOT very sturdy while it’s in the air. As a flyer, it feels a generation or two behind its major competitors like DJI and Yuneec. Without any ultrasonic sensors or external cameras, the drone doesn’t hover in place as steadily as other drones. There also aren’t any intelligent collision-detection or “follow me” features that have today become standard on quadcopters.
Another thing that we’re not quite impressed about is the battery. Lasting only 17 to 20 minutes tops, battery life is one of this quad’s most glaring weak points.
Why was the Karma Drone Discontinued in 2018?
Karma Drone suffered a lot of setbacks in its journey. Just two weeks after it launched in 2016, the product suffered a full recall as there were several reports of drones spontaneously falling out of the sky after losing power during operation. However, the problem was later fixed after the company repaired the loose battery latch.
In 2017, Karma Drone reached the #2 market position in its price band, after DJI. But, there was still a lot of space between number one and two in the extremely competitive aerial market. Furthermore, a hostile regulatory environment in Europe and the United States reduced the total addressable market for drones. These factors, in addition to the company’s own financial woes led to GoPro’s abandonment of its drone aspirations.
So, in 2018 GoPro announced that the Karma Drone would be discontinued and that it will exit the drone market altogether after selling its remaining Karma inventory. The company, however, ensured that it will continue to provide service and support to its Karma drone customers.
GoPro Karma Drone Alternatives
There are many great alternatives to Karma Drone in the market. DJI, the current leading drone company, is one of the most popular drone makers for consumers in the world, with some amazing drones like DJI Mavic Pro and DJI Mavic Air.
DJI Drones are self-contained drones that include everything you need out of the box. They provide you with a great combination of high-end automation features and an outstanding performance. If you compare DJI drones with Karma, you’ll find that these drones by the Chinese maker are able to fly higher, for longer durations, and are capable of recording really high quality 4k footage.
Drone Pilot Opinion: Should you buy the GoPro Karma Drone in 2020?
As filmmaker, I’ve flown many different drones and the short answer to this question in 2020 is: No. As you know, GoPro Karma Drones have been discontinued by the company, and are no longer available for purchase. Combine this with the fact that there are actually much better drones available in the market presently, I would recommend you to buy GoPro Karma Drone only if you happen to find a really good second hand deal. Otherwise I’m quite sure that it’s no longer possible to buy a brand new GoPro Karma Drone in 2020.
For your information, I’m a DJI drone pilot and use only DJI for aerial photography and videography as it’s very reliable and has excellent image quality.
Would you buy the GoPro Karma Drone in 2020? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Also Check Out:
- 7 Best Drones for GoPro: Full Review & Specs Comparision
- GoPro Karma Battery: Specs, Flight time, Price [Review 2020]