GoPro Karma Hero4 Black Kit

First impressions and Thoughts:

So really once you watch this video you kinda just gotta have a Karma right? I mean what great production, what great imagery, stable video, and what an awesome song.

So after that you can only think “shut up and take my money!” but then DJI comes out with the Mavic Pro and your thinking, shoot look at the ease of use, portability and autonomous features of that thing! Unfortunately I was not really in the market for “another drone” so either of them didn’t really appeal to me, however the Karma grip totally stood out as something i would want. But my brothers Iris+ had recently suffered a crash and hasn’t been 100% since, and as a good brother I felt it my duty to be fully informed in both so I can recommend my brother the right replacement if he choose to do such. After reading everything i could, watching every video out (great job DJI getting samples out to alot of people, GoPro really blew it with that part of marketing) I was totaly leaning toward recommending the Mavic. October 15th (Mavic release date) passes, then October 24th (Karma release date) and neither side had much to say on the shipping front, in fact both seemed to shit the bed in both actually shipping units out, as well as informing customers waiting about what the heck is going on. (shame on both of you). No one seemed to have anything anywhere, except GoPro did have a few select Karma bundles with the Hero4 Black camera instead of the H5B cameras. My brother stumbled across such a kit at best buy and promptly picked it up as we had a trip coming up and something is better than nothing. So here we are, one Hero4 Black Karma kit for lack of better options.

Slowly more and more as we opened the kit up i went from pessimistic to enthusiastic and I remembered why the Karma kit was so appealing, its not just a drone, its a drone, a gimbal, a gimbal grip, a touch screen controller and a GoPro camera. Theoretically you could switch from drone, to gimbal, and back to drone because the gimbal has a hour and 45 min battery life and the drone only has a hour charge time, so you could theoretically bang out footage somewhat nonstop, even if you in the field, you could use the drone, then gimbal and then pop the camera out by itself and get over 3 hours of shooting before you had to stop and charge it all back up, thats a big key factor to think about, not everyone is gonna be able to go out and buy 4-5 or even 10 batteries, especially right now while the batteries, just like most of everything on GoPro’s website is set to “coming soon”

Pros:

  • Ease to fly – I have been flying for almost 2 years now, but a majority of that has been FPV, I never really excelled in LOS flying so i stay away from it even though i know i should really practice more with it. But i have to say this is the easiest multirotor i have flown ever, even easier to fly than any of the cheaper toy drones. my first try out i was flying the Karma LOS pretty good, the smooth flight and stability just made me confident to fly around with ease.
  • Stability – I have used a good share of “drones” and i have to say this is by far the most stable quad ive ever flown, its like a frigging tripod in the sky, its crazy.
  • Stabilization – all i have to say is watch the videos below, i mean damn, the handheld gimbal is by far the best ive used, running at essentially full sprint it was smooth as heck, and the drone stability was crazy, you could look up and see the drone moving around in the wind, but in the footage its just like it was frozen in space.
  • “Not Just a Drone” – This is by far the key factor that sets Karma apart from competition such as the Mavic, Osmo, phantom, feiyu, etc. Karma is a whole “system” im not even really sure what to call it, an ecosystem, a kit, an all in one solution, whatever you call it you can come off the street, average joe, buy a karma kit and have so many opportunities in one kit. You can film for your 20 minutes or so with the drone, then place that to the side to charge and pop the gimbal into the grip for the hour and 45 minutes until that dies, then by that time you could go back to the drone (1 hour charge time) lets say your in the field and have no access to chargers, you can pop the gopro out and record for another hour and half, or however the battery life is on your camera because the whole time the camera was in the gimbal it pulls power from the device its in, so when you pull the camera out its ready to go. In this best case scenario your looking to have about three and a half hours of life from all the products before you are no longer able to film anything anymore.

Cons:

  • Charging – When first opening the kit it was a bit daunting, you have to charge the remote, the grip, the camera and the drone battery. Thats alot of stuff to not only charge but also maintain in the future, you’ll need to make sure each one of those is charged every trip or outing. To make things worse the drone charger comes with two plugs, one plugs into the 4S 5100mAh LiPo and the other is a USB-C plug that can charge your Grip, Remote or if you have the Hero5, but only one. so if you want to charge more than two things at one you are gonna need to buy a separate charger, and dont forget USB-C will only charge to the fill 3A rate if you use a USB-C charger like GoPro’s Supercharger, otherwise your only charging at a max of about 2.4A, if you have a charger that supports that, most iPhone or similar chargers only run at about 1A speed, so that will multiply your charging times right there by up to 70% longer.
  • Karma Backpack simplicity – The Karma backpack is nice, but there is some wasted room, most notibly there could be storage in the top half that currently is filled with egg crate type foam. There could also have been some straps or something like the velcro straps that Lowepro uses in thier DroneGaurd bags, because lets say your open your bag and you drop it off the table or its tilted to the side for some reason, there is nothing keeping your drone from falling out.
  • Karma Backpack Opening danger – The backpack also opens from the side, if you forget to zip it up all the way the bag could just open up or stuff could fall out the bottom.
  • Lag – Im used to dedicated, low resolution, 5.8Ghz feed on my FPV cameras. The quality sucks but the lag is nonexistent, making flying at highway speeds no problems, but with the karma, the mix between being so damn stable, the wide angle camera and just flat out lag on the controller made movements feel weird, you would tilt the camera but by the time you stopped the screen would be moving still and you would overshoot your shot because of the delay, im sure with time i would/could refine and train my hands and eyes to match the speed of the live feed, but as for now, it just feels a little scary to fly through the monitor.

Photos:

Videos:

Continually adding videos to this playlist as i upload them so check back from time to time.

FAQs:

Some Questions we had while setting up and playing with this

  1. Q: Does the Karma Grip charge the GoPro while the grip is charging and turned off?
    A: YES, it takes a second to start charging and if you remove and then reinsert the grip you have to unplug the grip and reinsert the USB-C cable on the bottom of the grip
  2. Q: Can  you access the SD card of the GoPro while it is inserted in the Karma Grip?
    A:Yes if you plug a USB-C from the Grip to your PC it will show up as a MTP device. If it doesn’t work try turning the power on because it didnt work at first then i powered it down and then back on and then it worked but maybe i was impatient and should have just waited.
  3. Q: Will the Camera stop recording if i shut off the drone?
    A: yes and no, the camera shoots in like chapters of a few minutes and if you shut off the drone without shutting off the camera while its recording it will corrupt that file, the camera will repair the file the next time. According from GoPro “Chapters are divided like this so that in the event of a jolt or crash that causes a file to become corrupted, only a portion of your video will have become corrupted and you won’t lose the whole thing incase our file recovery feature is unable to fix the file
  4. Q: Does the Charger  charge all my devices?
    A: Yes and no, It will charge your drone lipo as well as 1 USB Type-C device, so the rest of the stuff you have to BYO charger, especially if you have the Hero4 kit, youll need to either charge the camera through the gimbal as that charges, or you would need to use the supplies MiniUSB connector with your own charger.
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