GoPro finally took the complete wraps off its Karma drone that has been teasing for oh so long. There are a couple of huge wins that put the Karma on a separate plane from DJI Phantom drones.
First, it looks like it is much more compact than other the Phantom and other similarly-sized drones. The propeller arms and landing gear fold in so that it fits completely in a backpack – and you can leave the propellers attached.
Next up is the handheld gimbal. We’ve seen this in other drones like the Yuneec Typhoon line but GoPro’s Karma is a little more special because it’s GoPro quality and it’s more compact.
The fact that you can fit everything you need to fly into a relatively compact backpack and that you don’t need a ton of setup time is a pretty big win.
The included remote has a dedicated LCD touch panel so you don’t need to connect a separate mobile device for monitoring. That’s a smart call in my book and something I loved about the Yuneec Typhoon 4K drone.
There are also some other pros and cons for the Karma. The Karma doesn’t include a built-in camera. Instead you attach a GoPro HERO5 Black or HERO4 Black. That’s a pro because of the GoPro camera on the end but a con in the pricing. The base drone without a camera is $799 (for the HERO5 or HERO4). You can buy the Karma with a GoPro HERO5 for $1099. These are very typical drone prices and not exactly blowing our minds.
This would have been awesome 2 years ago. But the market is much more saturated now. GoPro will sell lots of these drones but DJI has a massive lead on GoPro and everyone else. Will DJI owners step back over to GoPro for a $1K-range of drones? Also, will the consumer gadget-geek market buy into the GoPro Karma as a more user-friendly drone?
The GoPro Karma looks like a very solid drone. I just don’t know if it’s a killer drone that can go up against DJI for the throne.
The Karma is scheduled to ship October 23. Check it out here at B&H Photo.
I’ve stayed away from the aerial drone photo/video products in the past because of the lack of transparency around regulations, FAA requirements, licensing type (pilot vs something else), and lack of insurance options that actually make sense. Some of that has changed in the past 6-9 months, but it’s not exactly straightforward and easy to figure out.
Because I am technically in business for myself, it’s viewed as business/commercial usage… so that means hoops to jump through, application, testing, and renewing a license every two years.
And my understanding is that the drone registration number (which is required to be visible on the drone) is tied to your commercial license. So even if you feel like going out for fun, practicing your skills, etc. it’s technically business usage and your business is liable.
Most insurance does not cover drone usage unless it’s specifically included/requested or under a separate policy. What GoPro should have done with their new “Plus” service tier is offer users an insurance option that is easy to manage and use. Instead, options like Verifly ($10/hour) are probably the easiest out there.
Will people skirt these rules? Yes.
Will people like me who want to abide by the rules lose business opportunities? Yes.
My Drone Choice says
GoPro’s Karma Drone definitely will put pressure on DJI to innovate at peak to remain the market leader. However, I still believe DJI Mavic Pro offers great functionalities over Karma. With regards to Karma Drone, it is good, but may not be better than Mavic Pro. The foldable feature looks unique for sure but, the flight time is a bit lower compared to Mavic Pro, which makes a huge difference for Drone enthusiast such as me. Anyways, keep up the good work.
GoPro’s Karma excepted to challenge the DJI drones head-to-head but in the end no good ending to the fairy tale. I owned a Karma drone which was doing well until the falling from the sky incident happened due to hardware glitches. Also, GoPro recently quit the drone business citing unable to cope up with drone market ever-increasing demands.
So, I would recommend either DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom https://mydeardrone.com/brands/dji/mavic-2-pro-and-zoom/ as an excellent alternative to GoPro’s Karma Drone. One more thing, you can still buy Karma drone while stock lasts, but you do not get any extended customer care or repair services.