gopro karma

GoPro’s Maiden Voyage

It’s no longer just a rumor. Photographers and camera enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting GoPro’s much-anticipated entry into the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle market since the company announced its plans to release its very own drone. The company had been signaling it’s desire to join the fast-moving UAV industry for years, but finally made its market entry official with Monday’s unveiling of the GoPro Karma.

Backpack-Friendly and User-Friendly

GoPro Backpack

Users can add a custom backpack designed specifically for the Karma.

The Karma offers a convenient folding design which enables easy transport in its accompanying backpack. The hyper-portable nature of the Karma should appeal to GoPro’s core customer segments and is compact enough to appeal to all kinds of enthusiasts, ranging from base jumpers to back country explorers and everyone in-between. Intrepid adventurers will have little problem scaling a mountainside or rappelling down a cliff in pursuit of the perfect video opportunity.

The system includes the Karma drone, Karma controller and Karma grip. It is offered in three different packages:

  • No Camera – Supply your own
  • Camera included – Hero 5 Black
  • Camera included – smaller, Hero 5 Session

The new Karma is Hero 4 Silver compatible, so current owners of that camera can simply purchase the available camera-less Karma package.

Karma Capabilities

GoPro says that its new Karma drone can achieve speeds of up to 35 miles-per-hour and that its remote control unit will be able to operate at distances of up to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). The Karma drone will be able to operate at altitudes of up to 14,500 feet. The one-hour charge time of the supplied lithium-polymer battery provides approximately 20 minutes of flight time, which is reasonably competitive with other camera drones that remain airborne for 20-30 minutes per full charge.

GoPro says its propellers are designed to provide more lift and less noise. Pre-programmed aerial maneuvers provide videographers with various easy-to-achieve, very cool looks in their footage.

The new GoPro Karma offers an innovative and versatile feature – removable stabilizers that can be mounted on one’s vehicle, helmet or bike. It’s also possible to insert the stabilizers into the Karma grip that’s included in the system.

Drone enthusiasts know that repairability is an important feature, and the Karma does not disappoint. Replacement arms come with the required tools.

Remote Control Unit

Users do not have to work off of their smartphones or tablets because the device comes with its own integrated remote-control unit which features a flip-up LED touchscreen with 720p resolution. From the remote control unit, users can pan and tilt the camera and start/stop recording at will.


Karma will work with either the existing Hero 4 Silver or the new Hero 5 cameras. The Hero 5 Black’s features integrate well with the new Karma drone:

  • 4K video capture
  • Electronic image stabilization
  • Voice control in multiple languages
  • GPS, with built-in no-fly zones
  • 3 microphones, reduced wind noise
  • 2-inch LED touchscreen display
  • Waterproof to 30 feet

The compact design of the Hero 5 Session is made possible by the elimination of the LED screen. It is still possible to set up shots on the small B&W screen or view images on your mobile device via GoPro’s camera app. The Session offers most other Hero 5 Black features.

Passenger App

The Karma will also benefit from GoPro’s brand-new Passenger app which allows other individuals to watch the drone’s streaming video or even co-pilot the Karma on a paired mobile device. The app offers users an opportunity to bring friends together in new and exciting ways.

GoPro Cloud Service

Another convenient feature is the ability to upload video to GoPro’s cloud service, available for a modest monthly premium. Video uploads efficiently occur during recharging. The cloud subscription service not only stores footage – it also makes it easy to edit and share video as well. Full cloud integration is an ideal system component in our age of unrelenting social media sharing.


It will be possible to order the Hero 5 Black and smaller Hero 5 Session on October 2, and Karma drone packages became available on October 23, 2016.

About the Author

Adam Shore

Adam is a Central Florida alum who recently left the Orlando area to relocate to Denver, where he enjoys shooting aerial photography of the Rocky Mountains. And to ski. He is a member of the AMA and was been a drone photographer since the early days of the industry. Follow him @dronegenuity.