GoPro is a company that is known for its action cameras. However, the company also produces a drone called the Karma. The Karma is a foldable, portable drone that can be used for a variety of activities, including photography, videography, and action sports.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the GoPro Drone. We will discuss the drone’s features, benefits, drawbacks, and how to use it. We will also provide some tips for using the drone safely and effectively.
If you are interested in learning more about the GoPro Karma drone, then this article is for you.
What is the GoPro Drone?
The GoPro Karma drone is a foldable, portable drone that can be used for a variety of activities, including photography, videography, and action sports. The drone features a 3-axis gimbal that stabilizes the camera, even in high winds. The Karma drone also comes with a variety of accessories, including a handheld grip, a body mount, and a surfboard mount.
History of the GoPro Drone
The history of the GoPro Karma Drone is quite eventful, with several noteworthy milestones and events:
Announcement and Release: GoPro first announced the Karma drone in May 2015, generating significant anticipation for a drone from a company known for its high-quality action cameras. However, the drone was not released until September 19, 2016.
Recall and Relaunch: In November 2016, just a few weeks after the initial launch, GoPro announced a recall of the Karma Drone due to instances where drones were losing power during operation. The company offered full refunds to customers and worked to rectify the issue. In February 2017, GoPro relaunched the Karma Drone with the power issue fixed.
Discontinuation: Despite the relaunch, the Karma Drone struggled to compete against other drone companies, primarily DJI. In January 2018, GoPro announced that it was exiting the drone market due to the challenges of turning a profit in an extremely competitive market. This decision was also influenced by new regulations that made the US market for drones more difficult to navigate.
Software Updates: Even after the discontinuation, GoPro continued to support the Karma Drone with necessary software updates. However, these updates mainly focused on maintenance and did not significantly enhance the drone’s capabilities.
End of Service: In September 2020, GoPro announced the end of service for the Karma Drone. The company stated they would no longer be providing software updates or selling the Karma Drone and its accessories. While users could still operate their drones, any required repairs or replacements were no longer available from GoPro.
The journey of the GoPro Karma Drone was a rollercoaster, from the anticipation of its announcement to its initial recall, relaunch, and eventual discontinuation. Despite the drone’s innovative features and compatibility with GoPro’s popular cameras, it struggled to compete in the highly competitive drone market, leading to its relatively short lifespan.
Benefits of the GoPro Drone
The GoPro Karma Drone is renowned for its versatility and unique design, offering several advantages to drone enthusiasts and professionals alike. Here are some of the key benefits derived from various user reviews and expert assessments:
- Portable Design: The Karma Drone sports a portable, fold-up design, making it easy to carry and store. Its dimensions measure 14.4 x 8.8 x 3.5 inches when folded, which is smaller than many of its competitors, although not as compact as the DJI Mavic Pro12.
- Camera Placement: The Karma Drone features a unique camera placement on its nose, allowing for a greater range of upward movement. This design also minimizes the chance of the drone’s chassis or rotors being captured on video, providing cleaner footage3.
- Versatility: One of the greatest assets of the Karma Drone is its versatility. The GoPro package offers more versatility, with a removable GoPro Hero5 camera that you can use separately or attach to a handheld gimbal. This feature enables users to capture stabilized video in the air and on the ground, making the Karma more than just a drone.
- Total Stabilization Package: The Karma drone features a 3-axis gimbal that stabilizes the camera, even in high winds.
- Controller with Integrated Display: The Karma drone comes with a controller that has a built-in touchscreen display. This eliminates the need for a separate smartphone or tablet, and it provides an easy-to-use, immersive flight experience.
- Auto Shot Paths: The drone features built-in auto shot paths such as Dronie, Cable Cam, Reveal, and Orbit, which allow users to create professional-looking video sequences with just a few taps.
- GoPro Passenger App: This app allows friends to view your flight and control your GoPro while you fly, adding an extra layer of fun and interactivity.
- Safety Features: The Karma drone includes several safety features, such as built-in no-fly zones to prevent you from accidentally venturing into restricted airspace, and an automatic return-to-home function that triggers if the drone loses connection with the controller or if the battery is running low.
- Multi-purpose Karma Grip: The Karma Grip not only helps to stabilize footage when attached to the drone, but it can also be used independently for handheld or body-mounted shots, adding versatility to your filmmaking.
- High Speeds and Long Range: The Karma drone can fly at high speeds and cover a significant range, allowing you to capture a wide array of footage.
- Easy to Fly: GoPro designed the Karma drone to be user-friendly, with intuitive controls and an easy-to-use interface. This makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced drone pilots.
- High-Quality Camera Compatibility: The GoPro Drone is compatible with the high-quality GoPro cameras such as the Hero series, which are known for their durability, exceptional image quality, and versatility. This allows users to capture impressive aerial shots and videos.
Drawbacks of the GoPro Drone
While the GoPro Drone, or Karma, offers a range of benefits, it also has certain drawbacks that users should consider. Here are some of the key limitations associated with the GoPro Drone:
- Lack of Obstacle Avoidance: One of the main drawbacks of the GoPro Drone is that it lacks an obstacle avoidance system. This is a feature that many other drones in its price range offer. The absence of this feature can make it challenging for beginners to navigate the drone safely and increases the risk of crashes.
- Short Battery Life: Another common complaint about the GoPro Drone is its relatively short battery life. Depending on usage, the drone typically provides up to 20 minutes of flight time, which is shorter than some other drones on the market.
- Limited Flight Modes: While the GoPro Drone does offer several auto shot paths, it lacks some of the more advanced flight modes found in other drones, such as follow-me or waypoint navigation. This can limit its versatility in capturing different types of footage.
- Price: The GoPro Drone, when purchased with a GoPro camera, can be quite expensive. This might be a significant investment, especially for hobbyists or those new to drone photography.
- No Zoom Capability: The GoPro cameras compatible with the GoPro Drone do not have zoom capabilities. This can limit the range of shots you can capture, especially when compared to some other drones with integrated zoom lenses.
- Compatibility: The GoPro Drone is specifically designed for GoPro cameras, limiting its compatibility with other camera brands or types. If you don’t already own a GoPro, this could require an additional investment.
- Limited Indoor Use: Without the presence of GPS signals indoors, the GoPro Drone can be challenging to operate, limiting its use in indoor environments.
- Bulky Controller: Some users find the GoPro Drone’s controller to be bulky and less portable compared to those of other drones that use compact, smartphone-based controllers.
Features of the GoPro Drone
Integrated GoPro Camera Compatibility
One of the most noteworthy features of the GoPro Drone, or Karma, is its compatibility with various GoPro cameras. These cameras, including the HERO4, HERO5, HERO6, and HERO7, are known for their superior video and photo capabilities. This integration allows users to leverage these high-quality imaging capabilities in the air, providing stunning aerial footage.
Compact and Portable Design
The GoPro Drone stands out for its compact and portable design. It has foldable arms and landing gear, which makes it easy to pack and transport. Moreover, it comes with a case that can be converted into a backpack, further enhancing its portability.
The controller for the GoPro Drone is designed to be user-friendly and straightforward. It features a built-in touchscreen display that provides real-time video feed and flight information. It’s easy to use, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced drone pilots.
The Karma drone includes an image-stabilization grip that can be attached to the drone or used separately with the GoPro camera. This versatile feature ensures that footage remains smooth and steady, whether you’re shooting from the air or the ground.
Auto Shot Paths
The drone also features several built-in auto shot paths, such as Dronie, Cable Cam, Reveal, and Orbit. These automated flight patterns allow users to create professional-looking video sequences with just a few taps.
The GoPro Drone includes a range of safety features to ensure secure and reliable operation. For instance, it features built-in no-fly zones to prevent users from accidentally entering restricted airspace. It also has an automatic return-to-home function that triggers if the drone loses connection with the controller or if the battery is running low.
Here’s a summary of the GoPro Drone’s key features:
|Integrated Gopro Camera Compatibility||Works with various GoPro Hero cameras for high-quality aerial footage|
|Compact and Portable Design||Foldable arms and landing gear, includes a case that converts into a backpack|
|User-Friendly Controller||Features a built-in touchscreen display for real-time video feed and flight information|
|Image-Stabilization System||Includes an image-stabilization grip for smooth and steady footage|
|Auto Shots Paths||Features built-in auto shot paths for professional-looking video sequences|
|Safety Features||Includes built-in no-fly zones and an automatic return-to-home function for secure operation|
Despite the discontinuation of the GoPro Karma Drone, its features and capabilities continue to make it a valuable tool for those interested in capturing high-quality aerial footage.
How to Fly the GoPro Drone
Learning to fly the GoPro Drone effectively is essential for capturing the best possible aerial footage. Here are some tips and advice for making the most of your GoPro Drone:
Familiarize Yourself with the Controls
Before attempting to fly the Karma drone, it’s crucial to become familiar with the controller and its various functions. Take the time to read the user manual and understand the controller layout, including how to access different flight modes, control the camera, and initiate the auto shot paths.
Start in a Wide-Open Space
When learning to fly the GoPro Drone, choose a wide-open space with minimal obstacles. This will reduce the risk of crashes and allow you to become more comfortable with the drone’s controls before venturing into more challenging environments.
Practice Basic Maneuvers
Begin by practicing basic flight maneuvers, such as ascending, descending, turning, and hovering. As you become more comfortable with these basic movements, you can progress to more advanced maneuvers, like flying in circles or figure eights.
Plan Your Shots
To capture the best footage, plan your shots in advance. Think about the camera angles, flight paths, and the desired final look of your footage. This will help ensure you capture the shots you want, while also conserving battery life.
Use Auto Shot Paths
Make use of the GoPro Drone’s auto shot paths, like Dronie, Cable Cam, Reveal, and Orbit. These automated flight patterns can create professional-looking video sequences with minimal input, allowing you to focus on capturing the perfect shot.
Experiment with Different Camera Settings
Take the time to experiment with different camera settings on your GoPro. Adjusting the resolution, frame rate, and field of view can have a significant impact on the look and feel of your footage. Experimenting with these settings can help you find the perfect combination for your desired aesthetic.
Be Mindful of Wind and Weather Conditions
Wind and weather conditions can greatly impact the stability and flight performance of the GoPro Drone. Be cautious when flying in windy conditions, and avoid flying in rain or other adverse weather, as it could damage the drone and the attached GoPro camera.
Practice Safe Flying
Always adhere to local regulations and guidelines for drone use. Maintain a safe distance from people, animals, and property, and avoid flying near airports or other restricted areas. By practicing safe flying, you’ll protect both your drone and those around you.
By following these tips and advice, you can enhance your GoPro Drone flying experience and capture stunning aerial footage that showcases your creativity and skill.
Where to Buy the GoPro Drone
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, GoPro discontinued the Karma Drone and exited the drone market in 2018. Therefore, the drone is no longer available for purchase directly from GoPro or most retail outlets.
However, you might still be able to find the GoPro Karma Drone on online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, or in used electronics stores. The availability and price can vary greatly depending on the condition of the drone, whether it comes with a camera, and other factors.
How Much is a GoPro Drone?
As for the cost, the original retail price of the Karma Drone was around $800 for the drone itself, or around $1,100 in a bundle with the HERO5 camera. However, given its discontinued status, prices for used or new-old-stock models can fluctuate significantly.
It’s also important to note that since GoPro no longer services the Karma Drone, any necessary repairs or replacements would need to be handled by third parties or through DIY methods. Buyers should take this into consideration when deciding whether to purchase a discontinued drone model.
Please verify this information from the current date sources as the market dynamics may have changed post my last training data in September 2021.
Alternatives To The GoPro Karma Drone
Although GoPro discontinued the Karma Drone, there are several other high-quality drones available on the market that serve as excellent alternatives. Below, I will introduce some of these alternatives and provide a quick comparison.
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is considered one of the best consumer drones available. It features a 1-inch Hasselblad camera sensor, offering exceptional image quality. The Mavic 2 Pro also includes advanced features such as omnidirectional obstacle sensing, up to 31 minutes of flight time, and a more extensive range compared to the GoPro Karma. However, it is more expensive.
2. DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a more compact and affordable alternative. It offers a half-inch sensor capable of 4K video and 48MP photos. It also includes advanced features like obstacle avoidance, up to 34 minutes of flight time, and a range of intelligent flight modes. However, unlike the GoPro Karma, it does not feature a removable camera.
3. Autel Robotics EVO II
The Autel Robotics EVO II is another high-end drone with impressive features. It boasts an 8K video resolution, the ability to capture 48MP stills, and a robust flight time of up to 40 minutes. Like the Mavic drones, it features obstacle avoidance. However, it is larger than the Karma and the Mavic drones, and its camera is not removable.
4. Parrot Anafi
The Parrot Anafi is a more affordable alternative with a unique feature – a camera that tilts upward 180 degrees for unique shooting perspectives. It offers up to 25 minutes of flight time and features like follow-me and waypoint navigation. However, it lacks the obstacle avoidance found in DJI and Autel drones.
Each of these drones has its unique strengths, and the best choice depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. Whether you prioritize camera quality, flight features, portability, or affordability, there’s a drone alternative to the GoPro Karma that should suit your needs.
Is GoPro drone discontinued?
Yes, the GoPro Karma Drone is discontinued. GoPro announced in January 2018 that it was exiting the drone market due to stiff competition and challenges in turning a profit. The company also cited an “extremely competitive” drone market and regulatory concerns in the United States as factors in its decision.
As a result, GoPro no longer manufactures the Karma Drone, and in September 2020, they also announced that they would stop providing software updates and would no longer sell the Karma drone or its related accessories. However, existing Karma drones can still be operated, but users need to be aware that repairs, replacements, or support are no longer available from GoPro.
Does GoPro do drones?
GoPro is no longer in the drone business. They introduced their drone, the Karma, in 2016 but decided to exit the drone market in January 2018 due to stiff competition and challenges in turning a profit.
Why was GoPro drone discontinued?
The GoPro Karma Drone was discontinued for several reasons:
- Competition: The drone market is extremely competitive, and at the time of the Karma Drone’s release, it was going up against some strong competitors, most notably DJI. DJI’s drones were generally seen as more technologically advanced and offered more features at a similar or even lower price point.
- Technical Issues: The Karma Drone faced significant technical issues. Shortly after its launch in 2016, GoPro had to recall approximately 2,500 Karma units because of an issue that caused them to lose power during operation. Although GoPro addressed this issue and re-released the Karma, the recall was damaging to the product’s reputation.
- Financial Performance: GoPro cited the challenges of turning a profit in the drone market as a reason for discontinuing the Karma. This was likely due to a combination of the competition, the cost of addressing the technical issues, and the relatively niche market for drones compared to GoPro’s other products.
- Regulatory Environment: The regulatory environment for drones in many countries, including the U.S., has been tightening, with increased restrictions on where and how drones can be flown. This made the market less appealing for GoPro.
As a result of these factors, GoPro announced in January 2018 that they were exiting the drone market and discontinuing the Karma Drone. Since then, GoPro has focused on its core business of action cameras and related accessories.
What is the best drone to use with a GoPro?
3DR Solo Drone: 3DR Solo was specifically designed with GoPro cameras in mind. It offers a dedicated GoPro mount and a live HD video stream from your GoPro directly to your smartphone.
Yuneec Typhoon G: This drone is also designed to be used with a GoPro camera. It offers a GoPro mount and features like follow-me, return home, and geo-fencing, which can make flying easier for beginners.
Potensic D85 FPV Drone: The Potensic D85 FPV Drone is compatible with GoPro Hero 2/3/4. It offers features like GPS return home, follow me, and a high-speed flight of up to 50km/h.
Please keep in mind that drones can have different levels of GoPro integration. While some may allow full control over the GoPro’s functions directly from the drone’s controller, others may only provide a mount for the GoPro, requiring you to start recording before takeoff.
How long can a GoPro drone fly?
The GoPro Karma Drone has a flight time of approximately 20 minutes on a full charge under ideal conditions. This duration can vary based on several factors, including wind conditions, the maneuvers being performed, the weight of the payload (such as whether or not a camera is attached), and the overall health and age of the battery.
How far can a GoPro drone fly?
The GoPro Karma Drone has a maximum range of up to 3,000 meters (or about 1.86 miles) under optimal conditions. This range can be affected by a variety of factors, including the operating environment, interference from other electronic devices, and regulatory restrictions in some countries.
Bottom Line: Is the GoPro Drone Any Good?
While the GoPro Karma Drone may have been discontinued, its innovative design and integration with GoPro cameras left a mark on the drone industry. Despite its early exit from the market, the Karma highlighted the potential for drones as an exciting tool for capturing unique and dynamic footage.
Today, even though the Karma is no longer available, there are many other high-quality drones on the market that offer similar or even superior features. Whether you’re a budding aerial videographer or a seasoned pro, today’s drone technology offers a multitude of options to help you capture the world from a whole new perspective.