GoPro Karma (Re-Launch)
Earlier we wrote about if the new GoPro Karma can save GoPro as a company.
But then things went from bad to worse for GoPro as the Karma had to be withdrawn from the market. The reason? The batteries didn't last and in few cases, the drone justed dropped from the sky after flying it for few minutes.
Here is an example of a GoPro Karma 1.0 crash:
The launch of the GoPro Karma was supposed to be a momentous one in the history of the company. Unfortunately, the recall resulted in an even steeper drop of the public listed company:
GoPro Karma 2.0 – Second Chance
We are giving the GoPro Karma a second chance and let us look at features of the new Karma, which will be available again soon.
There are many aspects to this drone that makes it a formidable competitor to an already established line of DJI’s drones, the chief competitor for the Karma. However, at the time of writing this, DJI had already responded back to GoPro by launching their own foldable drone – the Mavic Pro.
This review, however, is about the features of the GoPro Karma. I will, however, refer to the Mavic Pro from time to time just to draw some comparisons. Going forward, the Mavic Pro and the Karma are going to be pitted against each other.
Quick Facts: What is the Karma?
- The GoPro Karma is a foldable drone. It’s small and lightweight and breaks the stereotype when it comes to big, bulky unibody designs that roamed the skies before it. The Karma is designed specifically for GoPro’s line of action cameras, the Hero 5 Black, the Hero 5 Session and the Hero 4 Black & Silver.
- For those of you who already own one of the above-mentioned GoPro action cameras, all you need is the Karma with the right harness and you have a complete set-up in place.
- The best thing about that is that you can swap cameras and even choose to fly the drone just for kicks when you are not in the mood to make images/videos.
- Having a proper action camera in place means you also stand to gain from all the best features of it. Image stabilization (the Hero 5 e.g., has digital image stabilization), for example, is a big bonus as well as the weather sealing properties.
- Comes with the separately available Karma Grip that works as a hand-held stabilizer when mounted with the gimbal
- A game inspired controller with live feed with an option to use the Karma by two flyers. One controlling the flight of the drone via the controller and the other one controlling the camera.
- Integrated 5” LCD screen with the game inspired controller
- Up to 4 hours of battery life for the radio controller
- Maximum flight time of 20 minutes on a full charge (about 1 hour)
- Maximum speed of 35 mph
- Maximum attainable height is 14500’
- Maximum range of the flight controller is 3280’
- Weight 1006 grams. The battery itself weighs 545 grams. Comes with a dedicated backpack for carrying the drone with you when not in use.
- Karma captures amazingly smooth GoPro footage in the air, handheld or body mounted.
- The Karma Drone folds to fit into the included lightweight case. Take it anywhere. When you're ready to fly, just unfold, attach the propellers and go.
- The Karma Stabilizer captures breathtaking shake-free video both in the air and on the ground.
- Remove the Karma Stabilizer and attach it to Karma Grip for ultra steady, professional-looking handheld shots.
- Karma Grip works with GoPro mounts, including the built-in shoulder mount on the Karma Case, to deliver ultra steady body-mounted footage.
Elaboration of its Specifications
A stabilized camera isn’t something of a novelty. The DJI Phantom series drones including the Phantom 3 versions and the Phantom 4 already have gimbal stabilized cameras. What the Karma adds to the equation is a weather sealed camera. This is the sort of camera that you can literally take and fly into any sort of weather without issues. Rain clouds and bad weather without any worries; as long as you are not encountering stiff wind.
Proper Camera and its Features
The ability to mount a proper camera to the underside of the drone means you get the best features of the camera too. One of them is definitely the waterproofing capabilities of the latest Hero 5. The other is the image stabilization. The Hero 5 is capable of shooting stabilized videos. Although this stabilization is digital in nature, it is better than nothing.
The Karma is a great tool for that breathtaking selfie that you always wanted to. It is loaded with features for that. Zoom Selfie is what I am referring to. Another great shooting mode is the Cable Cam mode. The Cable Cam mode follows a fixed route between two fixed points. This mode is perfect for shooting those panoramic shots or setting the camera on a time-lapse mode for that breathtaking time-lapse sequence.
Two-User Control and Compatibility with Smartphones
The Karma can be controlled by two users. An excellent in-flight view is streamed onto the built-in LCD screen. One user controlling the flight of the drone while the other controls the functions of the camera. The gaming joystick controller feels perfect for those gamers and racers who would love to use the Karma as a device to satisfy their racing urges. Apart from that, the Karma can stream to compatible android and other devices as well.
Still on the subject of flight control. The GoPro comes with a built-in touchscreen. It supports live-view from the Hero camera that you mount on your drone. The Mavic Pro, on the other hand, comes with a small LCD screen that displays only essential flight data.
To use the features of a live-view screen you will need to attach a smartphone or phablet. There are both advantages and disadvantages of this system:
- First, you need to have a separate smartphone to be attached to the controller. That can be a little bit of a hassle.
- But on the flip side, the quality of the display depends completely on you. You can attach a high-resolution smartphone and enjoy full HD live-view display.
Comparison with main Competitors
The main competitor of the GoPro Karma will be the newly launched DJI Mavic Pro.
The standard has been raised by GoPro and has been responded well by DJI. To start off the Mavic Pro is the speedier of the two drones in flight. The Mavic Pro beats the GoPro Karma 40 miles to 35 miles per hour. Not only that the DJI Mavic Pro stays longer in the air than the GoPro Karma 27 minutes to 20 minutes.
The Mavic Pro beats the GoPro Karma 40 miles to 35 miles per hour. Not only that the DJI Mavic Pro stays longer in the air than the GoPro Karma 27 minutes to 20 minutes.
While still on the topic of flight, the Mavic Pro has a much longer range of 7km compared to only 3 km for the Karma.
- The DJI Mavic Pro folds down as small as a bottle of water, making it small enough to bring with you everywhere.
- New OcuSync transmission system offers up to 4.3 miles (7km) of transmission range. Fly at up to 40mph (64kmh) or for as long as 27-minutes.
- ActiveTrack, TapFly and other smart features make professional looking video effortless. True 4K, fully stabilized ensures smooth footage
- Obstacle Avoidance combined with sensor redundancy increases flight safety and reliability.
- Vision positioning paired with GPS and GLONASS ensures precise positioning indoor and outdoors.
One big plus of the Karma is definitely that it has a proper camera at the heart of the system. Being a proper camera and an action camera at that has its undeniable advantages. The Hero 5 Black which is the latest to be launched by the company is a weather-sealed unit. This is something that the camera of the Mavic Pro lacks. Plus, the camera and the gimbal stabilization is detachable. This, together with the hand-held rig that gives you the same result as a hand-held stabilization rig. This adds an incredible amount of value to the system.
If you take pure shape and convenience of transporting then the Mavic Pro is a better buy than the GoPro Karma. The Mavic Pro is lighter and more conveniently packed away than the GoPro Karma.
The wings of the Karma fold snugly but the rotors don’t. With the Mavic Pro, both the rotors and the wings fold in. This makes the Mavic Pro a far better drone to transport.
One of the key features of the Mavic Pro, and the Karma lacks this, is the absence of the follow me home feature. This is crucial when your drone runs out of power or you are out of sight.
Another important feature lacking in the Karma is the obstacle avoidance system. However, the Karma has a built-in no-fly zone mapped into its system. This is done to avoid over-inquisitive members of the public from flying their new acquisition over sensitive and no-fly areas. Plus, it has a series of Auto flight modes which come in handy when you want to make that perfect selfie.
Overall the Karma is a fantastic drone and there is no doubt about it. But the Mavic Pro is going to give it a run for its money.
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Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.