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GoPro Karma

So, you’re looking for a drone with a camera that will take pictures and videos from high up in the sky. You’ve probably heard of GoPro and know that they make pretty good cameras. The question is: Can the GoPro company make a quality quadcopter to pair with their well-known camera? They’ve made the GoPro Karma drone. Ofcourse there are other drones you can outfit with a GoPro camera

Let’s find out if it’s good enough for what you need.

What Makes the GoPro Karma Drone Different?

There are a few features that the Karma quadcopter has and doesn’t have that help it stand out from the crowd. The most noticeable of these is that the camera and gimbal it’s attached to are out in front instead of underneath as found on virtually every other similar copter.

The advantage of this location is that the drone’s propellers don’t (usually) show up in your pictures or videos. Of course, with other drones, if you’re really careful they might not be visible either, but it’s much easier to handle this problem with the Karma.

What’s In The GoPro Karma Box

Included in the package is the Hero 5 Black camera and the Karma Grip. The camera is waterproof, but you really shouldn’t take it out in bad weather. You can unclip the camera from its gimbal, attach it to the Grip, and find a multitude of other ways to take shots with it. It’s really like getting two separate gadgets in one.

Flight Time

On the downside, don’t expect to get more than 20 minutes of flight time with the battery, which takes about an hour to charge fully. More reasonable times will turn out to be from 15 to 18 minutes.

Collision Detection

And while you’re up in the air, be really wary of other objects because there is no collision detection of any kind built into your drone. It also lacks a “follow me” mode – something that is common to many other comparable quads.

Video Features

Finally, if you’re a serious videographer, you might miss the ability to adjust camera exposure in flight. Whatever the Hero thinks is the right amount of exposure is what you’re stuck with.

Specs and Features of the GoPro Karma

The Karma is a foldable drone that measures 4.6 by 16.2 by 12.0 inches open and 3.5 by 8.8 by 14.4 inches when folded. This makes it larger than its main competition in the DJI Phantom 4 and the Mavic Pro.

It weighs 2.2 pounds (1.06kg) which means you’ll have to register it with the FAA before you can legally fly it. That’s not a big deal, but it is an extra task to take care of.

When folded, you can tuck it into its backpack that also holds the Grip, the controller, the charger, and an extra set of props. Reportedly, the backpack isn’t as nice for carrying this equipment as you might expect. Still, it’s better than trying to lug everything around separately.

Other Features

The Karma uses GPS to help keep its flights stable. You get automatic take-off and landing capabilities, which makes it easier especially for beginning pilots to get going. There is a return-to-home function that kicks in whenever the battery power is low or when you try to move out of the range of the controller.

Range

What is that range? As with any drone, it depends a lot on your surroundings. With lots of buildings and other signals causing conflicts, your limit will likely be about 500 feet. Out in the wide open spaces, you could fly as far as 3000 feet – a bit over half a mile – away from “home”.

GoPro claims you can fly up to 35 miles per hour in Sport mode. Your mileage may vary with the weather. You should probably expect something more in the range of 20 to 25 mph.

To keep you from going too far, you can set up an adjustable geofence. You can also fly with the aid of a few special modes. You can go around and around in a perfectly circular orbit. You can use Cable Cam mode to fly point to point. And you can start with the drone focused on yourself, then pull up and away to see your surroundings using “Dronie” mode.

GoPro Karma Video and Still Shot Quality

Your Hero 5 shoots 12MP stills in either JPG or RAW format. JPGs are familiar to virtually everyone. We won’t explain RAW here. If you’re already heavily into photography, you know what that means.

For video, the quality depends on your speed setting. At 30 frames per second (fps), you get 4K quality, which is generally the best available as of this writing. Shooting at 60 fps brings your video down to full HD – still quite respectable. You can also record in super slow motion at 120 fps or even 240 fps. Video quality also will vary based on how far away your Karma is from the remote controller in your hands – the farther away, the poorer the footage.

Highlights of the Karma Remote Control

The Karma’s remote control opens up like a clamshell to show you a sharp touch screen with 720p resolution, 2 sticks for making maneuvers, a wheel to move the camera, and buttons for the Hero’s shutter and shooting mode. 

The screen shows you a “cockpit” view of your Karma’s flight. Built-in speakers give you audio cues to help make that flight as easy as possible.

Free GoPro Account

One task you need to complete before initial take-off is creating a (free) GoPro account. You can do this right from the remote controller itself.

Another item you’ll probably want to take care of from home before you head out for a flight is to download maps of the area in which you plan to operate. These can be extremely handy, especially since, as mentioned above, there’s no collision detection available in your Karma.

Verdict: GoPro Karma or No GoPro Karma?

Users say the GoPro Karma is a joy to fly. If any of its shortcomings really bother you, check out the Phantom or Mavic Pro instead. Otherwise, we think you too will enjoy your time flying and taking pictures and video with your GoPro Karma.

Hal Simmons

When I first started flying drones I was always afraid of damaging my drone. I would always be thinking what if. I questioned myself often and as a result it made me question various aspects of flying drones. In the process I learned a lot. This is why I feel I have a lot of information that will be helpful to beginners and intermediate drone enthusiasts. Of course I still have a lot to learn so join me on this journey and I am sure you will enjoy the adventure ahead of us.

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