GoPro HERO action cameras have long been a popular choice for aerial image makers because of their small size, light weight, and ease of mounting. Now GoPro has put two and two together and created its own aerial platform: Karma.
Karma is a compact quadcopter that is designed to fold up easily for transport into an included lightweight carry case or the available GoPro Seeker backpack. The drone integrates a gimbal stabilizer that can alternatively be detached and used terrestrially with the Karma Grip Handle. Unlike third-party platforms that work with GoPro HEROs, the Karma features full control integration when used with the HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO4 Back, or HERO4 Silver. You no longer need simply to hope for the best after pressing Record and sending the bird into the air.
Those familiar with aerial imaging drones will note the gimbal-mounting position is a bit unusual. The camera is placed at the front (“nose,” if you like) rather than underneath. This enables the HERO to achieve a greater tilt range with the tradeoff of more restricted panning, which can be compensated for simply by rotating the entire drone. It also helps to make aircraft orientation very clear. With basically symmetrical quadcopters that center the camera, it can be very easy to lose track of which end is the nose and which is the tail, whereas with the Karma, you can always distinguish the front based on which way the camera is pointing.
The Karma’s controller (“transmitter” to those coming from the RC world) features a distinctive clamshell design that flips up to reveal a video game-pad-style control surface and touchscreen display. The display allows you to view a live image, access settings, and control the HERO. There is also an auto takeoff and landing button to make flight as seamless as possible, even for beginners. When using a mobile device and the GoPro Passenger App, a second user can take part in the experience, as well. From the app, you can view the camera feed and even operate the camera while the pilot focuses on flying.
The Karma features GPS and all the autopilot-assisted features we’ve come to expect from multi-rotor platforms. These include automatic return-home on low voltage or loss of contact with the controller, and no-fly zones to help keep you from flying into restricted areas. You can also program Auto Shot Paths to help you get the best footage possible. These video-oriented flight modes include the “Dronies” selfie mode, Cable Cam for aerial tracking shots, Orbit for circular shots, and Reveal, which starts close and pulls back dramatically.
The gimbal included with the Karma is detachable and, when coupled with the included Karma Grip, can be used freely on terra firma. The Grip supplies power to the gimbal and has camera controls built in. In addition to handholding, the grip can be combined with other GoPro mounts for use in a very numerous range of applications. Additional Grips will be available separately for shoots requiring longer battery life.
The Karma powers from a 5100mAh LiPo flight battery that will keep the drone in the air for up to 20 minutes. The battery takes about an hour to charge, and optional spares will be available, so you can keep a few on hand.
For added peace of mind, GoPro will offer the GoPro Care protection plan with the Karma. This extended warranty adds a year to the stock warranty and includes two full years of accidental damage coverage. Additionally, a range of spare parts will be available and the Karma will also come aircraft-only as the Karma Core for those who want to replace the drone component only.
A variety of accessories are also available to supplement the Karma line. These include Harnesses, which enable you to use the Karma Stabilizer with your HERO model. Harness are available for the HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, and HERO4 Silver. Since spares are always essential in the RC, world you will find a range of parts, including motor arms, propeller sets, and landing gear, not to mentions batteries and cases.
The following Karma bundles are available or coming soon:
For more information on the Karma and available accessories, please visit the B&H website. Fly safe!