When the GoPro Karma was initially released back in 2016 it was one of the most anticipated quadcopters to hit the market. The first drone product from GoPro, the excitement quickly turned to disappointed after there were issues with the Karma’s batteries that led to massive recalls shortly after launching.
Now, the GoPro Karma is back and free from those terrible issues that plagued the product during its release. The battery problems have been fixed and a few new features have been added with a firmware update, but is the GoPro Karma worth your money?
Let’s take a closer look to find out more:
Karma Design and Build
The GoPro Karma is a relatively compact consumer drone with a foldable design, measuring 36.5 x 22.4 x 9cm when fully folded together. Compared to some of the top consumer drones in recent years, the Karma is smaller than most in its price range, giving it good portability for users.
There are some that are much smaller and can fit into a pocket, but the Karma compact enough to fit into a backpack with ease. That said, there is a hard carry case included with the drone that has back straps for carrying, but you can easily place this inside of a larger backpack for added comfort when carrying.
Folding the Karma is quick and easy, seeing the arms folding forwards and the landing gear collapsing flat on the underside of the drone. The landing gears provide good stability for taking off and landing in most conditions, including slopes.
A notable design aspect of the Karma is the camera placement. Unlike most drones that feature a camera on the underside, the Karma has a front-mounted gimbal that sets the camera at the nose of the drone.
Not only does this increase upward movement but ensures that unsightly parts of the drone, such as the landing gears, rotor, or chassis, aren’t in frame when recording or taking photos. The gimbal offers fantastic stabilisation in the air, allowing for beautiful panning shots to be captured with ease.
Better still, the Karma has a removable stabilising gimbal, meaning the entire gimbal and camera can be removed in one easy twist motion. After this, you can connect the gimbal to the Karma Grip included with the drone to convert into a handheld stabiliser - perfect for taking smooth shots back on the ground!
Karma Flight and Performance
The GoPro Karma is a great drone for those with less experience flying, as it boasts intuitive controls that are great for first-time flyers.
For instance, there is an automated take-off mode that makes it easy to get the Karma flying in air, while a recent firmware update added a follow me mode that sees the drone use GPS sensors to follow the controller.
A return home mode ensures that the Karma will fly back to the positioning of the controller once the battery begins to drop required levels. Unfortunately, there is no detection sensors that mean collisions are possible, so beginners may want to avoid flying near obstacles when learning to operate the drone.
The Karma has an impressive range of up to 3km away and 3.2km in height, so expect to get plenty of distance with the drone, although the 17 to 20-minute flight time is somewhat disappointing. That said, investing in spare batteries can offset this issue, albeit at an added expense.
With a top speed of 35mph, the Karma is no slouch in the air, although this speed is only achieving when using sport mode. Average speeds remain smooth and easy to handle, highlighting the suitability for beginners - it’s a simple yet enjoyable flying experience in most instances.
Hovering is okay but nothing amazing, although the gimbal stabiliser does ensure that footage captured when hovering is clear and detailed.
A great feature with the GoPro Karma is the inclusion of a game-style controller. Resembling a controller for a video game console, it comes with a 5-inch 720p HD screen that provides a direct feed from the camera.
The controller features a standard design, with two joysticks for controlling height and direction while a few one-touch buttons for easier control. The built-in screen is a great touch, saving the hassle of connecting your smartphone to the drone and inevitably draining its battery.
Another awesome feature with the GoPro Karma is the fact a friend can view the feed from the drone from their phone.
Using the GoPro Passenger App, a friend can directly connect to the drone for a live feed of the camera is you fly it - they won’t be able to take control but can enjoy some of the amazing views from the camera.
GoPro Karma Camera
Unfortunately, the basic GoPro Karma package does not include a camera, although you can add this to your purchase but bear in mind it might double the price. However, those that own compatible GoPro cameras such as the Hero 5 will find their camera easily connects the drone, while there are attachments to connect older models up to the Hero 4 range.
The GoPro Hero 5 is certainly an amazing camera though, with stunning 4K footage that really enhance the abilities of the Karma. You can also connect the camera to the handheld Karma Grip, which also features stabilisation for capturing great footage on foot.
When using a Hero 5 with the Karma, expect breath-taking 4K video recording with lots of detail in every frame. The stabiliser gimbal really enhances the performance of the camera on the Karma, allowing for clear and detailed footage to be captured in any type of weather.
Those with a GoPro Hero 5 or Hero 4 that are looking for a quality consumer drone needn’t look further than the Karma, and those wanting to invest in a camera and drone won’t be disappointed on the drone with camera package.
GoPro Karma Drone Review