With Karma, US sports camera manufacturer GoPro wants to compete with Chinese DJI’s Phantom and Mavic. We put it to the test.
Go Pro relaunches its Karma drone gopro. After a reminder of the first version for a recurring battery problem, the American company hopes this time to get back on the right foot and finally enter the race of video drones, where DJI reigns almost as master. We tested it, here’s the verdict.
Stabilization. The three-axis stabilization system fulfills its function perfectly. The image does not move in flight, except for an inertia movement in the event of a sudden stop, which can be easily avoided by smoother steering. Note that the camera is in front of the propellers and that they are never visible in the image. A very good point.
Image quality. The model we tested is equipped with a Go Pro Hero 5 camera, which shoots in 4K at 30 frames per second. It’s accurate with a very interesting color rendering. Full HD mode is less efficient. Also missing is a 60 fps 4K mode, proposed by the Phantom 4 Pro DJI for example.
Security. Go Pro integrates automatic return with two options: return to the starting position or return to the user’s position. Both prove to be accurate. However, we did not have the opportunity to test the drone’s behavior in case of signal loss. The absence of obstacle detection can also be regretted.
The radio control. Nice effort from Go Pro. The radio control, with its roundness, is particularly well thought out, with its integrated screen and its sticks and buttons well positioned. It is very small in size. On the other hand, it is a pity that there are so many reflections under strong light.
The kit with the stabilizer “karma grip”. A good point for Go Pro, the Karma comes with a handle to adapt the camera’s stabilizer for ground shots. This is enough to amortize the price of approximately 1,300 euros when the competition chooses to sell this option separately.
We didn’t like it so much
The weight. With its folding arms, the Karma offers a relatively small footprint, but this advantage is quickly erased by the weight of the machine. Go Pro announces one kilo for the camera, 545 grams for the battery and 230 grams for the stabilizer, i. e. almost 1.8 kg in total, without the camera! When used, it is heavy, too heavy compared to the competition.
Reactivity. Karma is not a racetrack, a race drone. But that does not excuse the drone’s pathetic behavior in the air. In normal mode, the device does not reach 30 km/h and reacts very, very slowly. All this, of course, improves the image stabilization, but that’s less argument for the pleasure of flying. In sport mode, the drone becomes more nervous, with a top speed around 50 km/h, but suffers from a high inertia that affects the image and, above all, battery life.
Autonomy. Let’s talk about the battery! Karma offers just 20 minutes of flight time for one hour of charging. With such a large accumulator (545 g!), we had every reason to hope for something better. The total weight of the machine doesn’t help, that’s a shame.
Few intelligent modes. Go Pro does the strict minimum on this point. Three intelligent modes are available (Panorama, Cable Cam, and Orbit). No “Follow me” mode, therefore, to order the drone to follow its pilot. The modes present are tedious to use, with the need to determine the route before launching the automatic flight.
GoPro’s adventuring into the UAV market has come up against one obstacle: not to be a quadcopter specialist. The defects of Karma only accentuate the sensation of paying high prices for a product that is not fully optimized.